Sunday, April 10, 2011


I have been remiss keeping my followers up to speed on my golf game, but I have some exciting news today! First some background. A few weeks ago, I played Southern Dunes Golf Club with Chad Feldheimer. The wind blew the entire time at about 15-20 m.p.h. This was a precursor of Scotland and my game was not up to the challenge. If you did not hit the ball squarely in the middle of the club and had any side spin on the ball, the wind just took the ball and played havoc with it. I actually thought I hit the ball well and shot a 91.

The following day I played with the Deer Hunter and Gardener at the Cholla course at We-Ko-Pa. We-Ko-Pa is the Fort McDowell Indian Tribe resort, casino and golf course. The Cholla Course at We-Ko-Pa opened in 2001 and was designed by Scott Miller. It is ranked as the no. 4 public course in Arizona. The other course, the Saguaro course, is rated the no. 1 public course in Arizona. I was playing really well and I came to No. 18 needing par for an 84. The 18th hole is a gorgeous 410-yard par-4 finishing hole (see layout). I hit my drive 260 yard straight down the middle (downhill) and the ball came to rest about 10 yards in front of the bunker guarding the lake. The flagstick was in the back of the green about 160 yards. I hit a 6-iron on the screws and fly the ball into the back bunker. My confidence in my sand game was zero. I had already left one bunker shot in the sand and tried to putt out of a second bunker because of my frustration. This time I had a downhill lie with the water staring at me from across the green. I left my first two shots in the sand, finally got the ball out and 2-putted for a 7! I was beyond frustrated.

The following weekend I took a one-hour lesson from Heath Morgan, one of the PGA professionals at Kierland Golf Course. I had heard good things about Heath. I wanted to focus on getting out of the bunker and putting, which are two areas of my game that are sorely lacking and you can get immediate results. We went out to one of the holes and I hit a few shots out of the bunker that I either hit fat and did not get out of the bunker or hit thin and slammed into the face of the bunker. Heath then had me hit some pitch shots from the grass that I hit reasonably well. We talked technique and he told me that most amateurs that try to hit 2" behind the ball actually hit 4" behind the ball. He told me to use my pitch stroke and try to hit to ball. Surprise! I hit an inch or two behind the ball and the ball flew out of the bunker on a bed of sand. The take-aways on the sand shots were: Take pitch shot practice swings outside of bunker; Soft hands; choke down on club; weight more on your front foot; and, most importantly, try to hit the ball, not 2" behind the ball.

We then went to the putting green and he watched me continually push my putts weak and to the right. He made a couple of fixes and my alignment was better and I was rolling the ball so much better. The fixes were: left hand more in the palm of the hand (rather than the fingers); and follow-through twice as long as backswing (do not decelerate).

Now, the exciting news! I shot a 79 at Stonecreek Golf Club. Everything was clicking. I was driving the ball straight and fairly long. I was hitting my hybrids and mid-irons well and I was hitting my short irons great! I made some 10'-20' putts (I also had a few 3-putts) and I got out of four bunkers and actually made two sandies! Stonecreek is a par-71 course, 6,871 yards from the green tees with a course rating of 72.8 and a slope rating of 131. No pushover. I shot a two-over par 37 on the front 9 with 3 bogeys and 1 birdie. I was one-over par through 6 holes on the back 9 and then I started leaking oil. I chunked my approach shots on 16 and 17 and missed 3-4' bogey putts on both holes for double bogeys. On 18, I partially righted the ship with a drive right down the middle of the fairway and a 3-hybrid from about 180 yards to the left fringe of the green, but it took me 3 putts for a bogey. I was 8 over par for the round and 5 over par on the last 3 holes. But I shot a 79! Oh my God!

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