Tag Archives: course management

Golfing Greedy – Like The Atlanta Falcons

Remember in this year’s Super Bowl when the Atlanta Falcons came out and took a 28-3 lead after four minutes in the 3rd quarter.  Then what happened?  They got greedy and continued to try and throw the ball instead of running out the clock out, which ultimately ruined their chance for victory.

Today, I learned that greed is not good on the golf course either.

Yesterday I had a full swing lesson and continued to work on my ball striking.  Today’s round started off great at Rattlewood.  I was nutting my driver, making good decisions, and working my lesson plan perfectly.  I played the front nine with one bogey and one birdie and felt very much in control, and maybe a little bit cocky as we headed to the par-5 10th hole.  I pounded a drive and left myself 215 yards uphill.  Then the Kyle Shanahan in me took over.  I forgot I was still in learning mode and elected to go for the green with a 3WD.  I have never gone for this green in two but had never driven it this far before.  What would you do?  I knew the green was surrounded by bunkers and felt a greenside bunker shot to a middle pin position was no problem.  Sure enough I landed in a bunker, but then chunked two sand shots and made double.

Feeling cheated out of a birdie opportunity, l stayed aggressive and tried to drive the green on the 11th hole which was playing downwind, downhill, and only 323 yards.  I stepped on a driver but blew it into the lake guarding the right side of the fairway – bogey.  On the par-3 twelfth hole, I clubbed down and tried to hit a 3-iron on a shot that called for a 5WD and pulled it left for another bogey.  At the end of the inward half, I had carded a 10-over 46, and like the Falcons, left the course in a state of shock.  Where did I go wrong?

I think it was the second shot on #10.  I haven’t hit a bunker shot in a month.  During my lessons, I’ve been focusing on full swing and no short game.  I’ve had plenty of reps with my sand wedge from various distances in the fairway.  I should have laid up to a good yardage and pitched on for a good birdie chance.  The decision on 11 tee was flat out stupid.  I could have hit a 4-iron in the middle of the fairway for an easy wedge or 9-iron to an accessible pin.  The rest of the back nine was a combination of mental and physical mistakes that compounded themselves.

What’s frustrating is that I know not to get greedy and to play to my strengths, but I do it anyway!  It happened to me and to the Falcons, does it ever happen to you?

Dinged By The Donkey

Picture by illinoisreview.typepad.com
Picture by illinoisreview.typepad.com

Do you ever play golf at a course and know before you tee off you’re going to play bad?  Does this happen at a course that is a repeat offender?  It does for me and happened again yesterday.  Why do these nemesis courses hold a spell over us and what can we do about it?  Do you have any strategies?

The Plan:  I ventured out to Poolesville, a seemingly innocuous municipal track in western Montgomery County, where I never play well.  My approach would be to play it while in the midst of a hot streak and hope my good play would carry over for the day.  The game plan was to warm up exactly as I had for my two previous rounds: chip, putt, hit range balls, and go.

I knew I was in trouble after my first chip on the practice green rolled 30 feet past the flag and off the surface.  The greens were lightning fast, and the first three rounds of the season I had played on slow to medium speed greens.  So the entire time I was warming up on the range, I was thinking, “How am I going to handle these fast greens?”  Coincidentally, I didn’t strike it well while warming up.  See anything wrong with this picture?

So off I went and I immediately short-sided myself with my approach on #1.  I flubbed a pitch shot which led to a double.  It seems I double this first hole every time out, which is a source of frustration and is always in the back of my mind.  Fast forward after six holes and I was 8-over with three doubles on the card, and I got downright mad because this meaningless muni was beating me down like a rented mule.  The course was totally in my head.

The adjustment:  When your game goes to crap you can either give up or change something.  Never give up.  Usually, I’ll make one of two types of adjustments depending on how bad the garbage smells.  If my head is full of swing thoughts, I’ll dump them all and just fire at the target, but this wasn’t a swing pretzel day.  I wasn’t hitting it well, but the culprit was poor course management.  The second type of adjustment is to mentally start over.  I quickly recalled a comment a reader once made about a round they had played with Mike Weir.  They said that Mike was playing this particular course for the first time and didn’t make a putt all day, but shot 67 because he never missed a green in the wrong spot.  Exactly the reminder I needed.  So I drew a line on the scorecard after the sixth hole to represent a restart on #7, and scribbled out three words:  “BELOW THE HOLE” on the card.  I find that if you place a visual reminder somewhere, it often works to solidify and reinforce a commitment you need to make and I needed to stop shooting at the flags and ensure that when I missed my targets, they missed in the right spots.

There’s a lot to be said for good course management even if it means playing more defensively.  After the adjustment, I went into stability mode and played the last 12 holes in 3-over par (2-over on the back nine while only hitting one green in regulation).  At the end of the day, the carnage wasn’t too bad but the course had won again.  Next time out, I’ll be armed with some better course management strategies and hopefully will be able to clear all remaining mental baggage.  I’m gonna get you Poolesville!