Even though this is a golf blog the Burgh is buzzing over the Pirates taking a 2 games to one lead over the St Louis Cardinals, in the best of five series. Tomorrow is game 4 here in Pittsburgh and hopefully the Pirates can win it and take the series to get into the NLCS. Its been a long wait after 20 consecutive losing seasons but we are on a roll baby. BEAT EM BUCS AND THE BUCS ARE GOING ALL THE WAY, ALL THE WAY. I just aged myself terribly with that last line taken from the famous 1960 season, when Bill Mazeroski hit the greatest home run in World Series history, to beat the Yankees and win the series in the bottom of the ninth. Well I guess I have to talk about golf now. The week wasn’t too bad until today. I shot 78 at Village Green and a 76 at Indian Run to break the 6 round streak of 80 and above. On Thursday I started to get a little cold. You would have thought I had contracted the Bubonic Plague the way I played today. In the first 13 holes I had 9, yes count them 9 double bogeys and not one was caused by a penalty stroke. This on my way to a 94. The second time this year I failed to break 90. Now if someone had bet me that I would not break 90 this year twice, let alone once, I would be a pauper today. The funny thing was I felt better as the day wore on. It was a gorgeous day too, in the 80’s with lots of sunshine. The game is definitely goofy. Next week will be a short golf week, thank God, as I have to attend a veterinary meeting in Columbus next weekend. I will be playing only 2 rounds of golf. Trying to come up with some mental key or process this year has taken a bit of a toll on my game. I have got to staighten out some physical flaws that have cropped up, and kind of get my swing back. Its supposed to rain tomorrow but the rest of the week looks good so I should get the 2 rounds in. Lets hope something inspires me this week and the Pirates are in the next round.
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.