Ah, September. I almost missed the turning of the calendar this year because our entire summer felt like September, and FINALLY, this past week we had what felt like summer.
My first reaction when I realize it's September is to panic. We've hit the downhill slide of the golf season and I know I've got to take advantage of every opportunity I can to get out on the course. Every year at this time I look back and wonder where the summer went. Our window of opportunity opens in May (sometimes April if we're lucky), and in the next few weeks the golf shade will start to be pulled down. Wait! I'm not ready yet!
After Labor Day we usually see a drop in play, so the course is usually ready to welcome us after work...we can usually still get in 18 holes before dark if we don't have to wait. I love that about fall. I also hope to get in a few rounds with my favorite golf pals before the end of the season - half of the fun for me is getting to spend time with so many cool people. Just a few days ago I had headed over to have some "me time" with the course and get some practice in, and instead I ended up running into a couple of guys and having a really fun 9-hole round.
Yesterday was a really great golf day for me, too - I played 9 with one of my curling teammates and because it was such a nice day we decided to walk - normally, I'm a cart girl who likes to zip around the course as fast as I can, so hoofing it brought a whole new element to the day and my game - everything slows down a notch and I actually take time to see the course. We never had to wait for a group in front of us because the pace was perfect (until the last few holes), and it just felt good to take some deep breaths and soak in the sights and aromas of fall. I was a little worried about carrying my bag with my sore arm, but I feel pretty good today!
And apparently my golf game appreciated it, too - after a crummy 3-putt bogey on the first hole (#10), I parred the next 3 holes before getting to the par-5 14th - this is a good birdie hole for me if I play it smart...my game plan is usually, if I hit my drive inside the 200yd. marker I'll try to go for it, and if I'm more than 200 I'll lay up. I hit my best drive of the day and ended up about 170 out. With a pond on the right and wind coming from the left I wasn't feeling all that great about hitting the green, but I pulled out one of my trusty hybrids and aimed at the left of the green.
I had that rare feeling of having a great swing and when I looked up my ball was slowing moving towards the front center of the green (with the pin front right)...I'll admit it, I thought to myself, this could be close! It lands and takes a funky bounce left instead of right and I'm about 15 ft. away just barely on the green. It felt good to walk off my slight frustration on getting the bad bounce and I was able to refocus on the fact that I hit the green in 2!
Our greens fell victim to "dollar spots" and I was facing a "plinko putt" that looked pretty straight if it holds its line. My brain went into defensive mode because lately I have been blowing putts 6 to 10 feet by the hole...while an eagle would be great, a tap in birdie would get me back to even, so I really needed to slow down my putter a bit. I lined up my putt and gave it my best guess - a couple small hops offset each other and all of a sudden it was going right for the hole, but did I hit it hard enough? If it weren't for the dry conditions I probably would have been one revolution short, but instead it leaked its way into the right side of the hole for an eagle!
One-over to one-under just like that. I don't know about you, but now my whole round goes into defensive mode - the back is my harder side, and the next 3 holes are like my own Amen Corner. All I want to do now is par out - I'm not even thinking about birdie. My only competitor is the course, and I'm a nervous wreck.
#15 is a long par-4 for me, but thankfully it's playing downwind. I am able to get to about 160 out in the left rough. I've got a good lie, but my brain is scanning my past approach shots and I get an alert - You always pull it left here! I want to fight against that, but missing the green right isn't the best either. All that thinking converted into a tentative swing which left me just on the front right of the green to a middle left pin.
With another plinko putt and a right to left breaker, I really don't want to blow it by too far. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too tentative and leave myself about a 6 footer for par. I can see the line - one ball to the right...now it's just getting the right speed. I talk to my Titleist and tell it how important this putt is, and thankfully it listens! I'm realizing that you just can't baby putts up there with the bumpy greens. One par down, 3 more to go!
The 16th is a 135 yard par-3. The wind is coming straight left and the pin is back right. I'm at hybrid distance and on this hole I have a tendency to pull left...and with a bunker left, that is not where I want to be today! I aim for the center of the green and take a full swing. I land in the front half of the green and leave myself about a 20 footer for birdie. I feel pretty good about my safe play, but in the back of my mind I know I could have clubbed up one and probably could have been pin high. But playing for pars, this is a good shot.
This green is in good condition and as one of our "original" greens, I know it plays a tad slower than others. I know the line and I try very hard to keep my head still and not look up - I've been doing that lately and pulling all my putts left. It's a good effort, but I leave it 6 inches short. Any other time I'd be really disappointed, but at the time I'm just relieved to put another par on the scorecard.
The 17th is one of my nemesis holes - it's a shorter par-4, but it's a slight dogleg left (not good for my slice), with water on the left, trees left of the green and 2 bunkers on the right. When the wind is coming from the west (downwind) I almost always hit a 3-wood, but today the wind is directly in our face from the east and I'm going to need to hit driver to give myself a good approach into the green. I have to block out some bad swing thoughts and I aim at the left rough line - it cuts towards the bunkers, but I'm safely in the rough on the right side and have a pretty decent angle at the pin.
I'm starting to feel some nerves and it shows in my approach - I hit the right club but I pull it left and end up pin high about 4 ft. off the green in some good fringe. I decide to putt through the fringe to a downhill hole about 15 feet away that will break a little left to right. I babied it, never really giving it a chance to go in but leaving myself a tap in par straight up the hill. Three down, one to go.
The 18th hole (my 9th), is a dogleg left with a pond on the left. When playing downwind I can clear the corner of the pond and leave myself a short wedge in, and darn it if we're not almost dead downwind now. Defenses kick in and playing safe wins out over risking the pond (Sorry Bob!), but I'm also realizing if I go right and hit my driver I could actually put it in the trees right. I've never hit my 3-wood off of this tee before and I'm not feeling confident with that option. I've been in this position before and have racked up bogey or worse, so I'm just not sure what to do.
I pull out the Hyper X driver and try to aim for the center of the fairway - with my cut (that I can't control) I will probably end up in the right rough, but it's actually a good angle at the green. I hit it about three-quarters and I end up exactly where I expected...about 115 out. Now that we're closer to the lake, the wind has really picked up and it's coming straight left - the pin is on the left side and if I go too far left to play the wind I'll end up with a short sided chip and if I slap at it I could end up in the right bunker. I decide my best option is to hit just short of the green, if it sticks I'm chipping up the hill, but there is a pretty good chance to have it roll up, too.
I pull out my trusty 10-iron (Big Bertha 2004 model) and take a deep breath. I hit it left, into the wind and I'm realizing this could be short if the wind knocks it down...but it lands about 6 feet short and takes a nice big hop to the right and starts rolling up the green - the break is back to the left and it starts moving it's way back towards the hole...it ends up about 18 inches away. A tap in birdie for a 34!!
The bad news is that with Men's League playoffs going on on the front 9, I didn't have the opportunity to try to break par for 18 holes (my goal for 2009!). But it was fantastic to celebrate a great day with a great pal on a beautiful September afternoon. I hope I'm doing the same thing this afternoon. It's time to make the most of September!!
Filed under: 2009 Goal, hybrid, wind, Fall, Eagle, September