Golf – full of ups and downs

Golf can be full of ups and downs

It has been a while since my last blog. Must say that I’ve been really busy with moving house, getting new products developed and playing some golf events. Everything has calmed down for the moment so I hope to add to the blog more regularly.

Back to the golf.

I played in the Club Championships recently. My Club still has a 36 hole stroke qualifying, followed by match play. I like this format. It really makes you knuckle down, especially in the early rounds of the match play. With only the final played over 36 holes, it is easy to get behind in the early rounds and get bundled out.

I was playing well and found myself in the final. I was matched against the new ‘young gun’ of the club. He is half my age and looks like having a big future.

The day was dominated by the weather. With wind gusts of 85 kilometres an hour and lightning fast greens, the course was nearly unplayable. Two or three holes were deemed unfit for play – even after the hole was relocated to a flat spot on the green, the ball was still blowing off the green.

My automatic game is second nature to me now. Despite the conditions I keep playing ‘my way’. I strive to forget about technique and let my natural style lead the way. I must say that it can be very frustrating when the golf ball gets blown all over the place and your score creeps out. Even more annoying when you see the ball on the green, only for it to later blow off into a bunker. Such is golf.

The beauty of match play is that your actual score becomes irrelevant. The important factor is how you play compared to your opponent. With such radical conditions in the final, par became a great score. Some of the holes into the wind were nearly impossible and those down wind weren’t much easier – it was a real battle.

I had some luck and was better able to deal with the conditions than the young champ and I came out on top. It is always a thrill to win and for most golfers the Club Championships is the biggest event of the year.

My winning feeling didn’t last long.

I played in the Australian Open qualifying on Monday. My form has been good and I went into the round feeling confident…maybe too confident.

I like challenging myself and feel that I am better able to handle the extra pressure of a qualifying round or other tournament than I was 10 years ago. I used to ‘choke’ and let myself down. Usually I would try and play differently and totally stuff things up. Over the last few years I seem to have more good days than bad.

Monday’s round was perhaps the most frustrating game of golf I played. I lost a golf ball on the third, resulting in double-bogey. It wasn’t the worst shot I’ve ever played and perhaps was a bit unlucky. I managed to get back into the round after making an eagle on the par five 5th.

The 9th hole was the major turning point. It is a short par 4 (250 metres uphill) playing into the wind. I cracked a drive and it looked like the ball would be on the green. The ball bounced right and trickled into a green side bunker. It wasn’t a difficult shot – I also consider myself to be good at bunker play. For some reason I left the ball in the bunker the first time and the second attempt went over the green. I made a silly bogey and killed all momentum.

I then made an even worse mistake. I stopped going automatic and worried about my score and game. After making some bad swing and decisions I had ruined any chance of progressing further.

After thinking about the day’s events I believe I made two crucial errors. If I had my time again I would have changed my approach slightly;

1. Be less aggressive off the tee. The tee shot on the third was too aggressive. It was only a metre or so from being perfect – but it caught a tree and was never found again. I could have still hit an aggressive shot – perhaps a hard five iron and made an easy par or birdie. The driver was hit or miss – the wrong decision in hindsight.

2. Keep going automatic. I let my frustration get the better of me. If I had relaxed more on the ninth hole and played more instinctively I would have more than likely played a better shot. I also practically gave up and let my mind wander all over the place. Although I probably wouldn’t have qualified, it would have been good to finish off the round strongly.

Golf can be such a frustrating and annoying game. I had trouble sleeping on Monday night – going over each shot many times. If you want to be a good player you have to accept these bad times. They make the good experiences so much better.

I look forward to my next competition and will learn from my mistakes. I’m sure my next round will be much better. I also plan on experimenting playing more conservatively off the tee. I like to hit the ball hard – but this doesn’t mean I need to hit driver on each hole. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Golf – a great game but also very humbling! And you never stop learning.

Update: My mistakes above are very common. After over 400 articles and thousands of comments from golfers from around the globe, many struggle with driving from the tee. We definitely go to aggressive. We don’t know when to gear up or gear down. Learning this is important.

Automatic golf is still the best way. Years later I have almost conditioned myself to play automatic golf by default. No matter how well or how badly I’m going, I’ll hit the auto button. I say “almost” because I’m human and fall off the wagon every now and then. It’s a great game isn’t it?

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