Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Byrned on the Back 9

John F. Byrne Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2273/2610 - 4883
Par: 33/34 - 67
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 116
Score: 44/49 = 93
Date: June 20, 2011

Coming off the good round I played last Friday at Neshaminy Valley, I went to John F. Byrne Golf Club in Northeast Philadelphia yesterday for another early test of just where my game is at right now. This would be my sixth round of the season, so I should have a good indication of what is and is not working in my game. Byrne is one Philadelphia's five municipal courses, and one of three under the management of Billy Casper Golf. Formerly Holmesburg Country Club and designed by Alex Findlay, Byrne sits in a valley formed by the Torresdale Creek. The creek comes into play on no less than eight holes as it meanders through the course. Byrne also sits across Grant Avenue from its more famous neighbor, Torresdale-Frankford Country Club, which was designed by the legendary Donald Ross.

 John F. Byrne Scorecard

My round got off to a horrible start, as a topped opening shot traveled no more than 10 yards off the the first tee. I hacked it down towards the creek, then up the other side and when my ball finally found the bottom of the cup on the first green, I had an opening 7. I followed that up with a double bogey at the 193-yard Second Hole, which plays downhill. After hooking my tee shot at the Third Hole, I was able to wedge on, but three-putted for a bogey 5. The fourth Hole is on my dreaded "Nightmare Nine." Off an elevated tee, the 293-yard Par 4 plays down and over the creek through a narrow opening in the tree line, then uphill from a fairway that slopes left-to-right. The green juts out of the side of the hill and missing right can leave a difficult chip or pitch. My tee shot caught a tree of the left, but made it over the creek. From there I hit an 8-iron short that bounded right below the green. I played it like a bunker shot and blasted on then made my putt for a par. A long three-putt bogey at the equally short Fifth Hole brought me to the Sixth, a 142-yard downhill Par 3, with the green just beyond the creek that crosses in front. After missing to the right, I chipped on and two-putted for a 4. My tee shot at the 240-yard Par 4 Seventh Hole, which doglegs slightly to the right found the trees as I tried to cut the dogleg. This led to another bogey 5. At the 168-yard Par 3 Eighth Hole, which plays longer because its slightly uphill, I hit a 4-iron short left, pitched on, then made a 20-foot putt for my second par of the round. The 376-yard Par 4 Ninth Hole plays over the creek and then straight uphill to a well protected green. After just making it over the creek with my tee shot, I made a sloppy double bogey 6 to finish off a front nine 44. Although I wasn't hitting the ball all that well, especially off the tee, I was still pleased with my score as I walked to the Tenth tee.

 The Par 4 Fourth Hole

The back nine at Byrne starts with a tee shot across the valley and over the creek. My tee shot found the creek and my third shot out of the rough scooted up the right tree line. I then hit a wedge well left of the green, pitched on, but left myself well above the hole and my first putt ran a good 15 feet past the cup. I missed the comebacker to start with an. There have been a few course changes on the back nine, beginning with the Par Eleventh Hole, in which the tee box has been moved further to the right and back a bit. As someone who hits a draw, this has created a more difficult angle to the pin and I missed badly to the left of the green and wound up with a double bogey 5. Things didn't get any better at the 516-yard Par 5 Twelfth Hole, where I hooked my drive into the trees on the left, pitched out, then hit my 4-wood left. This led to another 8. I rebounded just a bit with bogeys at the next two holes--Par 3s of 89 yards and 219 yards respectively. At the 156-yard Par 3 Fifteenth Hole, I hit a 6-iron which drew nicely into the middle of the green and two-putted for my third par of the day. The Sixteenth Hole, a 465-yard Par 5, features another change, with the tee box being moved to the right, closed to the Twelfth tee. This has taken the slight dogleg left out of the hole and made it play much straighter. Here I hit my best drive of the day, just finding the left rough. I then hit my 3-hybrid to lay up about 30 yards short of the green, pitched on and made a 15-foot putt for birdie, my third of the season. The tee box at the Seventeenth Hole--a hole that has caused me a great deal of problems the last couple of years--has been moved up about 25 yards. This round would be no different. I hit my hybrid off the tee and hooked it into the old part of the Sixteenth fairway, up against some fescue-type grasses. Although I had a clear look at the green from about 50 yards, I had a bad lie and completely missed the ball on my swing. I then punched forward, chipped on above the hole and three-putted for a 7. The Eighteenth again plays across the valley, over the creek and up the hill. I hit the middle of the fairway, left my approach shot short, chipped short, chipped on and two-putted for a disappointing double bogey 6 and an equally disappointing 49.

 The new tee box at the Eleventh Hole

Two 8s, a 7 and a 6 on the back nine was not what I was expecting after my front nine. I need to get a bit more consistent off the tee, especially with my 4-wood and hybrid. I seemed to be playing my second shots out of the rough too often. And my putting needs to get better. I am still missing too many short putts. I switched to an Odyssey White Hot Rossie for this round and felt a bit better with my putting, so I think I'll keep it in the back for at least another round or two. My irons, chipping and pitching have been the one constant in my game so far this season. A few more rounds and sessions at the practice range, as well as the practice green, should help me work out those problems.

 The Eighteenth Green

Overall, I can't be too unhappy with my score. It was my sixth consecutive round in the 90s or better this season after getting off to a very late start. I feel my scores can only get better from here with a little more practice and playing.


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