Course: Shingle Creek Golf Course (Orlando, FL)
Clubs: Adams 9064LS driver, Adams F11 3-wood, Mizuno Fli-Hi CLK hybrid (20*), Wishon 555C 3&4-iron, Wishon 555M 5, 6, 8-PW. Miura K-Grind SW, Ping Tour-S Rustique LW, Edel Columbia Putter.
Ball: Srixon Z-Star
Preview: I didn't go into part IV, course strategy, because I believe that course strategy in golf is fluid in nature. Trying to make it rigid and something you have to stick by does the golfer no good. They'll either screw themselves up or they will not even attempt a gameplan. And as the old saying goes, those who fail to plan are planning to fail.
The key for me was to keep in mind the 3 Zones (Danger Zone, Birdie Zone and Safe Zone) and just try to hit a lot of greens. Hitting a lot of greens is usually a pretty sound strategy.
The course was wet from the previous night's rain and it was humid, so the ball didn't travel far. The greens were slick from the get-go, about a 10 on the stimp to begin with and once the dew got off the ground they were inching towards an 11.
We played in a twosome as the other member of our group withdrew.
#10 - 390 yards par-4
I hit the ball okay on the range and then started hitting my driver pretty ugly. Still, I got it so it was serviceable. I hit a low-pullish type driver that found the fairway. The pin was in back-right. I decided to hit a 9-iron to the middle of the green. Once I hit it, I just crushed it. But, it was one of those 'OMG, I am just about to kill it...so lay off on it at the very last millisecond' shot. I found the green about 35 feet away.
First putt was well, well short...by about 7-feet and I missed the par putt and made bogey (+1)
#11 - 410 yards par-4
On my practice round Friday I found that you don't want to go into the fairway bunkers on the right because the 2nd shot will be extremely hard. I smoked a driver here, but the ball didn't get much roll. I decided to aim at the flag because I only had a 9-iron into the green and if I missed right, that should leave a makeable up-n-down. If I miss left, I should be on the green. I hit the 9-iron solid, but pushed it pretty badly.
I then tried to chip a LW, but I caught it a little thick...but still had a 5-foot par save. I missed that putt, but the good news was that I knew what was going on with my putting. But, I made bogey (+2)
#12 - 565 par-5
Another good driver right down the middle. I hit a 3-wood good, but it cut a lot. I was going to use my 3-wood judiciously beforehand, but starting +2 and having a good lie and an open shot changed my mind here. I wound up on the cart path and took a free drop. It's not an easy shot, so I just tried to get it on the green, which I did with a SW to 35 feet. Here, the speed was entirely better and I made par (+2)
#13 - 390 yard par-4
Typically, this hole is simple. But, they made it difficult...the rain made it even more difficult...and ole 3Jack made it even more difficult.
First, this is a gigantic green. They stuck the pin all the way back left, which makes the hole a lot longer. The dew and the rain from last night didn't make the hole any shorter. And I push a driver pretty well out to the right, but wind up okay.
But..to make it harder I looked...and looked....and looked...and looked....and I left my 7-iron on the range.
Hey, who needs a 7-iron?
So, I choked up on a 6-iron and flush one right at the flag to about 25 feet. This was a very good putt that was a smidge too hard otherwise it would have broke into the cup and I made par (+2)
#14 - 430 yards par-4
Going into the round, my strategy was that #3, #6, #8, #14 and #15 were holes I had to focus on to determine my round. These holes are all difficult in their own right and require about 8 full swings to get thru.
I got distracted and that made me uncomfortable on the tee and I hooked one and it went nowhere with the tall rough that was extensively topdressed with dew.
I thought I could get there with a hybrid and was feeling confident with my hybrid. I hit that club and hit it well, but short of the bunkers. I then hit a pretty good pitch with a SW to 5-feet, but I left myself above the cup. Fortunately, I could make this putt and I saved par (+2)
#15 - 180 yards par-3
This is a difficult hole because there's room for error, but not a lot of room because of the trouble left and rght. They moved the tees up on this one and I fired a 6-iron right at the flag to about 10 feet. I actually played the cup right at the hole, something AimPoint Golf has helped me tremendously with...realizing that the are plenty of putts where one just needs to aim at the cup. And I sunk the birdie putt. (+1)
#16 - 490 par-5
This hole kinda shows how much the dew and the rain had affected the distance. On my practice round I reached the green with my second shot with a 3-iron (and could've reached with a 4-iron). I hit a good driver and had 250 yards to the green. I decided to give my 3-wood a shot...again...playing for my 'average swing.' And I hit it pretty good, but into the greenside bunker.
I kinda figured the sand bunkers out and hit a nice long sand bunker shot to 8-feet. I then hit my first putt with a jittery stroke about 2-feet bye and almost missed the comebacker, but came away with a par (+1)
#17 - 195 yards - par-3
I usually don't fire at flags on Danger Zone shots, but I looked short and figured that was a decent place to leave it. I looked left and I thought that was a decent place to leave it as long as I didn't go long or too far left. I looked right and that was a makeable up and down, but a more difficult one at that. So I flushed one that was going a hair left of the flag to about 15 feet. Probably the best feeling putt all day, that lipped out and I made par (+1)
#18 - 415 Yards Par-4
Hit this one okay, but pushed it a bit. My playing partner said it hit the cart path twice and I only had about 90 yards into the green, but with a semi-difficult lie in the rough. I wanted to make sure I got it over the greenside bunker and had a bit too much juice. Played the high anchor point beautifully and had the line, but 2.5 feet short. I then made the par save (+1)
#1 - 413 yards par-4
Part of the theme was that they kept the pin positions on the back part of the green and because they have big greens, that made the course play longer. Combine that with the wet and soft ground, the course played quite longer than it said. This hole, for instance, was playing like a 440 yard hole.
Still, I kept with the goal of hitting greens and playing the zones correctly and playing for my average swing.
I hit a good driver down the middle. I then hit a 6-iron that I pulled, but found the green. This left me with a 50 footer. I had the line on the first putt, but was short. I then made the 3.5 footer left over for par (+1)
#2 - 530 yards par-5
I hit a good driver down the middle. I then decided to give the 3-wood another shot and hit a very good shot straight as an arrow. I then had about 80 yards into the green, but in the rough. I tried to get cute, but left it short of the green. I then tried to play a bump-n-run with a SW to the flag, but hit it well short. I then thought the putt was a straight aim at the cup putt, but it broke left and I made bogey...on a par-5 (+2)
#3 - 394 yards par-4
I told myself that I refused to let this hole get to me. I hit a hybrid here on Friday and it didn't make the fairway (although I didn't hit it well) and I still wound up okay. I smoked the hybrid here, but it still didn't make the fairway. Even worse, I had a difficult uphill lie.
I was about 180 yard away and I told myself, 'you are hitting PW and just getting it out of there unless you are convinced otherwise.'
When I got there, I started to realize I had a shot with a 5-iron. I thought my average swing should wind up okay, but not great. And I can still make a bogey. But a good swing may do me well. Well, I took a great swing from an extremely difficult lie and knocked it to 30 feet on the green.
Unfortunately, I botched that up. I left the first putt about 5-feet short and mis-read both putts (still not sure how those putts broke left) and made a bogey. (+3)
#4 - 510 yards par-5
I hit a driver down the middle. In the past, when the ball was traveling further, I've reached this green with a 3-iron on the 2nd shot. But today I was 255 yards away. I decided to play safely with a hybrid that I smoked.
The next shot is not my specialty. A 40-50 yard pitch that has to get up over a tier. But I did that and left myself to 15 feet.
I have a thing with my putting stroke and I tend to make the putt a high percentage of the time when i do this. From a stroke length perspective, it feels like I'm jabbing at the ball. The follow thru is very short. But, from a rhythm perspective...the rhythm is perfect...same tempo back and thru.
I did that here...the jab stroke with perfect rhythm and drained it for birdie (+2)
#5 - 190 yards par-3
I have yet to miss this green in regulation and I'm not sure why. Here I had to figure out what club to hit because they had us well up from the back tees. I decided on a 5-iron and flushed it to 20 feet. I then took that jab stroke with rhythm and just missed the birdie and made par (+2)
#6 - 430 yards par-4
This was another hole that I knew I needed to make some good swings on. Unfortunately, the drive was pretty poor...a weak push into the right rough. It didn't go anywhere with that long, wet rough.
I then could have hit a 3-iron, but chose a hybrid since I was hitting it well and rifled it at the middle of the green. I had a 15 footer for birdie, but it was sitting up against a hill.
I took another 'jab stroke with rhythm' and just missed this birdie putt as well and made par (+2)
#7 - 161 yards - par-3
They put the pin up front here, which made the hole shorter. It was a smart thing because play could have taken forever if the pin was located in back.
I looked left and right and decided a miss left was better than a miss right. I pulled the 8-iron a tad, but found the green. Another good 'jab stroke with rhythm', but I mis-read it a tad and missed right. But, I made par (+2)
#8 - 440 yards par-4
I figured out an important part to this hole on Friday. When you get onto the tee, the course's GPS system doesn't read the hole. The hole reads 390 from the back tee. On #9 it reads 445 from the back tee (the GPS doesn't read there either because you are not on course grounds...technically).
What I believe is that Shingle Creek screwed up the yardages. The 8th hole is about 445 yards and the 9th hole is actually about 390 yards from the back tee.
Either that or I hit 220 yard drivers on #8 and 340 yard drivers on #9.
This gives the golfer a completely different perspective of the hole.
I hit one very high here, but safe. I then had a 5-iron into the green, but I hooked it and it went left of the bunker.
1) Get it close if you can
2) If not, give yourself an uphill putt.
3) If not, just get it onto the green.
I couldn't do #1 or #2 with confidence because it was a tough shot, so I hit it to 15 feet.
AimPoint says to aim 16 inches right of the cup...I did that...and nailed the par save (+2)
#9 - 380 yards par-4
I got screwed here. I crushed my hybrid, right down the middle. But, if you see that tree in between those 2 fairway bunkers...that was in my way...as I was in the middle of the fairway. And I was in between clubs. I played the ball up in my stance a little to help hit it higher, and I wound up closing the face and hooking the ball into the left bunker. The pin was cut back left, so I did the dreaded short sided of myself.
But, I knew this shot. I just took out a LW and didn't choke up on it and hit the bunker blast to 5-feet. I figured out the putt, said 2 inches outside the cup and drained the par save (+2)
THOUGHTS: I made the mid-am as 70 was the low and 75 made it. The results can be seen here.
Overall, I'm very happy as it hasn't been a smooth ride and I was +2 thru 2 and hung on to win. I think the metrics based strategy paid off as I only felt like I pissed away about 4 strokes (#10, #11, #2 and #3) instead of 10 strokes. And given that I have not played a tournament since 2009 and then 9 years before then, I'll take it.
I *almost* decided to do this in the Shingle Creek parking lot.
I think starting +2 thru 2 helped because I started to think 'whatever happens...happens.' I also think that concentrating on hitting green after green in regulation helped as well. I hit 13 greens and the ones I missed were in a position to be hit in regulation.
Now I'll be off to the Old Marsh Club in Palm Beach Gardens...a Pete Dye design. I feel like I'm at a severe disadvantage given that I have to take time off from work to play a Dye course that I've never played before. But, if I've gotten this far (without a 7-iron ) I might as well give it the ole college try.
2 shots Impeded