An unexpected new course was added this week, as I was able to get in 5 rounds. We went back to Blackhawk in Beaver Falls, Pa. about a 45 minute drive. This is the course that has 36 holes and each nine is named 1 2 3 and 4. This is where we finished the front nine in one hour and twenty seven minutes and they told us we would have to speed up. I thought I would never go back but my friend Andy suggested we play there and this time the 36 holes worked out and we played nines 1 through 4. I have to admit I really liked playing the 2 courses and the greens were in great shape running a nice 7 on the stimp and were very smooth. This course features a lot of short par 4’s but has some nice par 3’s and a couple of really long par 5’s. Course 1 and 2 played 6100 yds. and course 3 and 4 played 6300 yds. They both played to a par of 72. Neither one of us played very well as I shot two 81’s and Andy shot 81 and 83. I had already had a hot dog there and really didn’t feel like having another one. Now let me take a deep breath as I write these numbers down, 81, 81, 80, 80, and one final 80. The definition of consistently lousy. I am through with mental madness and have replaced it with I don’t give a shit. This winter I will go through some of these mental experiments but lets just say for now they have failed miserably. It’s back to drawing board and another beautiful week ahead. At least we got course number 92 in and the search will continue, at least for now.
Another rain shortened week, as it rained pretty much all day on Saturday. The three rounds I played were as up and down as the weather, with scores of 81, 73 and 84 today. Putting has been the big problem but ball striking today was not exactly superb. Since my game is in a state of limbo, I thought I would write about a subject that is strictly mental and certainly has nothing to do with swinging a golf club and that is green reading. Now I have read all the books and watched a lot of instruction on TV, concerning reading greens but it still can be one of the most mystifying and frustrating parts of golf. I can deal with over reading or under reading the break of a putt, but when I think a putt is going to break 3 inches to the left and it breaks right then that can really leave me bewildered and deflated. Now even though we see on TV, that the tour pros can misread a putt, one thing that they do, is they spend a lot more time than we can in actually reading the putt. They look from behind the hole, to the side, and from behind the ball. In fact, despite what you read about getting on the side below the hole to get a feel for the distance of the putt, the pros do a 360 around the line of the putt almost every time. If we took that much time to read our putts then every round would be of the 5 and 1/2 hour variety. Now I don’t know if it would even help, if we took that much time in reading our putts. Your never going to read in any instruction book to take that much time in reading putts, because of the slow play issue. Let’s face it, that is where the tour game really slows down, when it comes to reading putts. Are greens that diabolical or are we making something hard that may not be all that difficult. No matter what method you use to read greens, when you are finish, there are one of three things that are going to happen.
1. You know how this putt is going to break and you are right, make a confident stroke and the ball goes in.
2 You know how this putt is going to break and you are wrong, make a confident stroke and miss.
3. You are unsure how the putt is going to break and you have to do something, so you try to commit to a line, make a tentative stroke and most likely miss the putt.
Now you can do 2 and 3 for only so long and you will begin to lose confidence and your putting begins to fall apart. Right now I do not see a solution to this problem. I’m not saying there isn’t one. I just don’t see it for right now. Yes, I know all the green reading rhetoric. Start reading the green from 20 to 30 yards out, it breaks toward the water, it breaks away from the mountain, there is a high point on the golf course and everything breaks away from that, and the grain grows toward the setting sun. My favorite is the one about water being poured on the green and you visualize where it is going to puddle and flow. Doesn’t that make you want to visit golf courses when it is pouring rain and take pictures of all the greens that are covered with water. So, green reading is a problem that must be solved if one is going to play to his full potential. The mental madness was more like just madness this week. Another week awaits and the weather is looking better. Maybe I will take 5 minutes to read every putt. How to become the most popular golfer in your group in just one easy lesson.
Because of weather problems only three rounds this week, but added a new course this week. On Wednesday we went to Mountaineer’s Woodview golf course, about 6 miles south of Weirton, West Virginia, a 50 minute drive. The golf course was very tight and relatively short with very small greens and no sandtraps. It was 62oo yards from the blue tees and played to a par of 72. The greens ran a 6 on the stimp and were very smooth. Even though the greens were small they had quite a bit of slope in them and were a challenge to putt. The fairways and rough were just fair and the course for lack of a better a term had some real ugly areas. I have to say, I liked the course but it was not worth the trip. The hot dog at ther turn was one of those big fat ones, which I don’t care for, but it was cooked well,and tasted pretty good. They did not have any onions which was a downer. This course was a lay up course with many short but tight par 4’s and par 5’s but yours truly wanted to have “fun” and took the driver out on every hole but one and paid the price. I could only muster an 83 on such a short track and David didn’t do any better shooting a an 86. But it was a gorgeous day and we did have a good time hitting many punch shots under trees. Course Management F. The rains came on Thursday but Friday was cool and sunny and I shot 78 from the blue tees at South Park and with the help of a 40 foot par putt shot 1 under on the last 5 holes. Today after a poor front nine, I managed to shoot even on the back, for a 77 at Ponderosa, a pretty tough track. I am doing what I call mental madness. The results so far while not great are far from discouraging. If I continue to make progress with mental madness, I will explain what all this nonsense is, I am talking about. In order to help the mental madness along, I am going to play golf courses this week that I not only know but really like, just to see how I do. This may finally answer the question how much is this game mental and how much is it physical. Ninety one courses down and nine to go.
A very busy week with two new courses added, a tournament, and a good round today. On Wednesday we went to two new courses. We went to Bedford Trails in Coitsville, Ohio about a 70 minute drive. I had never heard anything about this course but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The course was about 6300 yards from the blue tees and played to a par of 70. The course was nice and flat with some heavily tree lined fairways. We had to start on the back due to some on course maintainance, and the back nine was much narrower than the front nine. To start off on the back it was more of a challenge than coming into the turn when you know what kind of state your game is in. The greens were very smooth and ran about a 6.5 on the stimp. This course had a great variety of holes with some being pretty tough but none of them were unfair. The fairways were very good and the rough did have some bare spots but was not overly long. This course was very enjoyable to play and was well worth the trip and very reasonbly priced. The hot dog at the turn was nothing special but was tasty. We played pretty well with David shooting an 82 and I came in with a 75. Then we went back down the road into Pennsylvania to Tanglewood Golf course in Pulaski Pa. This course was about 6100 yards from the back tees and played to a par of 72. Although I liked this course and the price was right here too, it just wasn’t quite as nice as Bedford Trails. The greens ran a 5 on the stimp and fairways were not as good. The design of the course was good with a good variety of holes and some that were quite difficult. But it had what I call the typical fake par 5 of 425 yards which was tricked up so it would play as a 5. It was a shame, because this would have made a great par 4 with water down the left and close to the green. But all and all this course was fun to play with a nice flow to the course. Just to do something different, I got a chile dog at the turn which was quite good. Even though I thought this course was easier some of the holes were tough to play for the first time and both David and I scored a little worse. I shot an 80 with some erratic driving and David had an 85. Then on Thursday I played in the South Park Senior Championship and my day was a synopsis of my entire year. It was boring, some chip yips and a putter that was luke warm. I drove the ball pretty well, but my iron game was just so-so and wound up making only one birdie. I did not take advantage of the par 5’s just making 4 pars. Twice it took me 4 blows to get down from about 20 yards which led to a double bogey and a bogey. Despite all that I managed to shoot 78 which put me 4th in my age group and about 18th in a field of 70. For some reason the scoring was not that good. There was a 3 under 69 and a 71 but no one else in the field broke 74. There was some wind and few tough pins but I really don’t know why the scores were so high. Today we went to Buffalo Golf Course, which is one of my favorites and shot a nice solid 4 over 75. I did something today that was pretty drastic on the mental and physical side of the game that has been evolving. Again, this could be just dust in the wind but we will see. Overall this was one of the better weeks with the weather being just gorgeous and getting to courses 89 and 90. So the original goal has been met. I have played 90 golf courses within 90 minutes from my house. It has taken just a little over 3 years. When I started this I thought it might take a little over a year. Maybe I should I run for Congress Ha! I am still going to try to make it an even 100 and will still try to find the answer. I think I have a better chance of getting to 100.
Decided to do the holiday blog since I played 18 today. It was an interesting week with some hope on the horizon. Played 4 rounds this week beginning with a 73 at Indian Run, an 80 at Fort Cherry, a 77 at Rolling Hills Country club my old stomping grounds back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and finished at Highland Springs with a 78. The funny round was at Fort Cherry. After giving my big disertation on club selection in my last blog, I had some real issues with club selection at Fort Cherry. I hit short irons, a PW, 9iron, and a 55 degree SW all long on holes 7, 8, and 10. This definitely got in my head later in the round which made for the 80 on a fairly easy golf course. I think what the issue was, I was not playing attention to some swirling winds. My short game made a vast improvement this week. Putting was my best of the week. Even though this did not translate into any spectacular scoring it was nice to see the ball go into the hole a lot more. My chipping is improving also. I think I may be making some progress on the mental game. Only time will tell. For the four rounds I had 29, 31, 27, and 31 putts. My GIR’s were not that great 11,6,6, and 7 but I am not too worried about that. My chipping and putting are impoving simply because of a new mental process and one that I am applying to the long game as well. I am dividing the mental game into three sections and each one is pretty critical to playing decent golf. This has only been one week of success, so we will see if this will be worth revealing or not. This week I will be playing in the South Park senior championship and we will see how some of this holds up under the heat. I am going to add two new courses this week as it looks like the weather is going to be very nice. The search continues with new vigor.