Friday, July 21, 2017

The South Course at BlackHorse.

This past weekend I decided to stay right here in Cypress and play one of the two courses at BlackHorse Golf Club, which is just a mile down the road from while I live. They sent me out to the South Course and since I've not played either course I had no issue with letting them make the choice for me. Surprisingly, the first tee was wide open and I was able to start at my leisure.

The first hole was a straightaway par-4 with tress lined along both sides of the fairway. I hit a decent drive but pulled my wedge shot to the green to the left side of the green, leaving myself with about 40-50 feet for birdie. I hit a decent putt but still left it about 6-8 away for par. I thought I made that putt but it tailed away on me. From where I was a 3-putt wasn't a terrible sin, especially on the first hole.

The par-4 second hole
On the second hole (seen above) I hit my drive with a bit of the tail off to the right, toward the hazard. It wasn't too serious and it was still hit solid but while it was in the air it concerned me a bit. I ended up only being about a foot from the edge of the fairway. Again, I had a wedge for my approach only this time I managed to hit it more toward the spot I aimed for, leaving myself about 20 feet for birdie. I made that putt and went back to even par.

The par-3 fourth hole
On both the third and the fourth holes I hit indifferent iron shots to the green, each of which managing to find greenside bunkers. Neither shot was terribly difficult with all things considered, in fact the bunkers where damn near perfect, especially compared to what I've played in lately. Both times I blasted out to within two feet of the hole for tap-in pars.
The tee shot on the par-5 fifth hole
The first of the par-5 holes on this track was next. Since I didn't have an idea as to how far the water tracked down on the right side I played it safe and took a wider line to the left. I hit a good drive but managed to semi-block myself from taking a decent shot at the green in two due to some trees in between me and the green. I tried to hit 5-wood over and around them but hit it heavy, turning my go-for-it into a layup. I had about 50 yards left to the front hole location and managed to hit a lob wedge to about 5 feet. I thought that putt just had to go right but it refused my suggestion, giving me the cellophane treatment and I settled for par.

I played the next three holes bogey-par-bogey mainly due to the fact that I started to hit those weak iron shots again. I felt decent with the driver, though I wasn't exactly mashing it every time I hit that club either. This has gotten to the point that I am really starting to purposely overclub in hopes that I can avoid trying to swing too hard or out of control. Its worked for the most part as I'm at least keeping it in play. The biggest problem with the distance thing tends to be with anything longer than a 9-iron or wedge, even then I'm still hedging my bets with a longer club.

Anyway, despite this issue I found myself only two-over coming into the par-5 ninth hole :

The view from the tee of the ninth hole
This is really a pretty short par-5, measuring only 420 yards on the card from the tees I was playing. However, as you might be able to see there is trouble everywhere. There is a hazard running across the fairway that you need to carry and trees line the fairway on both sides. A hazard hides in the forest to the right and the hole just looks narrow. Naturally, I hit what would be my worse drive of the day here, snapping it hard to the left around and/or into the trees to the left. I hit a second ball since I had no idea what was really over there and managed to coax that one into the fairway.

I never did find the first ball. While the trees thinned out a bit over there I just never saw it. Of course, I have no idea just how far the ball ended up travelling or exactly how far left I hit it. I might have clipped a tree branch along the way. Whatever the case, now I lie three in the fairway, about 195 yards from the hole. The green looked as if it was sorta tucked toward the trees to the right so I had to be sure if I missed the green it was to the left. Using 5-wood I managed to hit a pretty good shot to about 25 feet left of the hole and two-putted for a bogey. Yep, what could have been.

To the back nine we go and my drive on this hole was kinda pathetic. Granted, it was humid and now the club feels like it wants to start slipping and such but I only managed to drive it about 200 yards, leaving myself a 7-iron into a 353-yard hole. I reached the green but just barely and walked away with a par despite the lack of power with either shot.

I hit better drives on the next two holes and went par-bogey, failing to get up and down from the bunker on the 12th green. This brought me to the short but attractive par-3 13th :

The 13th green
The tees were up as I only had 96 yards to the hole according to ye olde range finder so I grabbed my gap wedge and swore I was going to try and take a better cut at the ball this time. I did, though I did pull it just slightly, and ended up about 20 feet long and left. The putt for birdie had a fairly decent swing to the right and seemed a bit fast as well. While I didn't quite play enough break I did coax my ball down to tap-in range and earned my par.

The view from the 14th tee
On the 14th I hit another really weak drive and left myself about 170 yards to the green on a 370-yard par-4 that had a fairly sharp dogleg right in it. My 5-iron approach was hit a little better but it had that little leak to the right I've been getting, causing it to trickle off the green on the right. I had an iffy lie at best as the rough here can be a bit of an issue. I ended up pitching my ball much like a sand shot and got a similar result, placing it about two feet away for par.

The 15th is a par-5 that had a hazard left and another that crossed the fairway about 250 yards from the tee. I managed to navigate my ball over that crossing hazard with a rather poor layup shot but at least I was still on grass. My wedge to the green was solid for once and I now had about a 12-footer for birdie that I would go on to make. Despite the way I was hitting the ball I was even par for the back nine. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up to be quite honest.

The short par-4 16th hole
 The 16th is a short par-4 that gives you a couple of choices. You can take driver and try to go toward the green or take something less than driver and play out to the right, over or around the traps. By this time I ran into a threesome and joined them for the rest of the round. Two of them took the risky play and they told me it was about 230 yards or so to get to the little fairway over the hazard and in front of the green. Not feeling incredibly confident in my ability to accomplish that feat with a breeze in my face, I took 3-wood out to the right. I hit that pretty well, technically going through the fairway and in essence lengthening the hole. I still only had about 80 yards left so I grabbed my sand wedge and promptly hit one of those weaker filet-like shots that was lucky to get on the green. From there a three-putt for bogey, though again I'm not terrible angry about it as the hole was cut in a fairly silly place on a downslope toward the edge of the green. In fact, I think all four of us took three putts to get in since no one could gauge the speed or the break very well.... and they were members!

A look at the par-3 17th hole
Measuring 138 yards on this day I elected to hit 8-iron on the 17th hole. I hit this shot a bit more solidly but again had that little flair to the right. I caught the right side of the green and again faced a challenging first putt, this one having a ridge between me and the hole that was about 30 feet away. As what usually happens, I hit this putt a little too hard after leaving the previous putt on the last green a little short of the hill. This time I managed to make the 10-footer coming back to save my par.

The approach to the green of the par-5 18th
The closing hole is another short par-5 that gives you a chance to go for the green in two, however trouble is again everywhere. The fairway is a but tight and has a turn to the left where the landing area would be. If you are too far left you block yourself from the green a bit.There is also a hazard running in front of the green and going left is in the trees and/or the hazard. My drive was decent but a little left and in the rough, but not in horrible position for a go at the green. The problem was the lie I had wasn't very clean and the pin was tucked way to the left side of the green (if you can tell in the picture above).

I decided to just punch a 9-iron short of the hazard and leave myself with some sort of wedge to the green. I now had what should have been a very comfortable gap wedge left from here but I hit another of those annoying leakers to the right. Good thing there was plenty of green over there so I was still putting for birdie. I had about 40 feet left but at least this putt was simple compared to the last couple of chances. I gave it a good rap but left it about two feet short, close enough for a par and a score of 37 on the back side, giving me a 76 for the round.

I still don't know how I'm doing it.

I made a few putts. I somehow hit nine greens in regulation. The tees I played are a little short (about 6100 yards) but I will have to say that the course was playing a little long as some recent rain has prevented any real roll outs on the drives (I even had a couple of pitch marks in the fairways to cover up). Outside of that wild drive on the ninth hole I never had any trouble keeping the ball in play. Regardless, I need to figure out what I'm not doing to get the clubface squarely into the back of the ball. I'm sure its only some degree of hand-eye coordination is keeping the ball relatively straight right now.

As I type this on Friday, I have hit the range a couple of times since this round. Yesterday I decided to strengthen my grip by turning the hands a good bit to the right on the club. I do remember that there was a time in the past that my hands would creep further and further to the left, just because it feels more comfortable sometimes. While it can be hard to tell with range balls it did feel as if I was making solid contact with the stronger grip.

Another problem that keeps creeping up is my alignment. I've always been bad about aiming further right than I think I am (a lot of us do) but in an effort to "fix" that tendency I tend to end up with my shoulders angled left in comparison to my body. Sometimes my hips end up that way as well. I believe that can cause my weak leakers as I try to correct all of that with my arms and/or hands. For whatever reason it seems more prominent with the longer irons than anything else.

In any case I'll give it a go again tomorrow. I'll make a conscious effort to align myself a bit better and see if the stronger grip and a better turn helps get me more on track. Or I'll shoot 95. We'll see!