Tuesday, October 6, 2015

AMPing Up My Game

This golf season has been a struggle, especially with the driver off the tee. I have put myself in more bad positions off the tee this year that in recent memory. It has led to many frustrating rounds. Earlier this summer, I switched from my Wilson Staff Smooth Driver to a TaylorMade Aeroburner, but I had trouble finding the fairways with both.
Hoping to change my fortunes, I recently purchased a Cobra Golf AMP AMP Cell-S Driver from RockBottomGolf. I got it at a great price since RBG was having a sale in conjunction with the PGA Tour Championship. The driver is 46-in in length and has a loft of 10.5-degrees. Unlike other versions of Cobra's AMP drivers, this one has a fixed hosel, while the others had an adjustable hosel that allowed you to change the ball flight.
The reviews I read before making my purchase were very positive from most of the players who used this driver. Most were very pleased with the distance and accuracy it delivered. I am hoping this driver will help as much in the accuracy department for me as it does in distance. Unfortunately, due to last weekend's rainy weather, I was not able to take my new driver to either the range or the course, but I'm hoping to give it a workout tomorrow night at the practice range.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Fairways Fade

The Fairways Golf Club
Warrington, Pa.
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 43/57 = 100
Date: September 25, 2015

Hoping to put my wretched play at the The Rookery South two weeks prior behind me, I teed it up at The Fairways Golf Club, looking to get my game back to track. But a giant fade off the first tee was the opening sign that things weren't about to get much better. If that wasn't enough of an ominous sign, my 7-iron approach to the green hit something--I suspect a rake in the right side bunker--and bounced back into the water fronting the green. That meant an opening 7. I did manage to regroup and make a par at the Second Hole, but a triple-bogey 6 at the short par 3 Third Hole confirmed this round wasn't going to be a good one.

The Fairways Scorecard

Although I managed to shoot a 43 on the opening nine holes, the same I shot my last round at The Fairways when I shot an 81, this score had a weird feel to it. I triple-bogeyed two of the four par 3s on the outward nine, as well as the opening hole. I did manage a birdie at the 327-yard Par 4 Fifth Hole when I hit 4-wood off the tee, then hung my approach shot out to right and into the greenside bunker. From the sand I splashed my ball onto the green, where dead into the cup! It is the first birdie I ever made on a hole-out from the sand!

A triple-bogey at the Third Hole

I took the 43 to the back nine, still wondering if I was going to be able to post a good score despite my erratic play. That was answered with a topped tee shot at the Tenth, where it took three shots to get out of a bunker. An opening 8 on the outward nine. In all, my shots found bunkers on 8 of the 18 holes during my round. Another 8 at the Thirteenth. Another triple-bogey at the Fifteenth where it took three shots to escape a bunker. And a 10 at the Eighteenth brought me home in 57, for a total of 100.

A holed shot from the right bunker for birdie!

My short game was very poor and cost me many, many shots. And getting off the tee was a problem. Several weeks ago, because I was hooking a lot of my tee shots, I put ome lead tape on the toe of my driver. That seemed to help for awhile, but the last two rounds it has caused me to hit a bad fade of slice. That fade off the tee led to my fade on the back nine. I can remove the tape and hopefully, I can remove the errors that have plagued me for the last two rounds.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cashing In at Golf Galaxy

Again, because of commitments both foreseen and unforeseen, there will be no rounds of golf this weekend. But last Thursday, I did get a chance to go shopping at Golf Galaxy. Thanks to my GG Scorecard, I earned a $10 gift certificate. When you use your Scorecard when making purchases, you earn points, and for every 300 points you earn a $10 gift certificate. My latest customer loyalty certificate expired on Saturday, so I made my trip to Golf Galaxy.
I looked around to see there were any good sales on clubs, either new or used, but found nothing I would consider a bargain, even with $10 off. So I opted to pick up a box of Titleist DT Solo optic yellow golf balls, three Golf Pride VDR golf grips and a role of high density lead tape. Nothing very exciting, but all necessary items. I had lost four balls during my last round, so it is good to restock. I also like to have extra grips in case I need or decide to re-grip a club. And I often use lead tape to help correct my shots when I am fighting a hook or slice, or want to get a lower center of gravity on my irons.
The great news that recently came out is Golf Galaxy is combining its rewards card with Dick's Sporting Goods' Scorecard. Dick's has owned Golf Galaxy for several years now, and while both had customer loyalty cards that earned points, they couldn't be used at the each other's stores. Now, points earned at GG and Dick's will be combined and earned rewards gift certificates will be honored at either store, although I understand you only be able to use a GG rewards certificate at Dick's to purchase golf merchandise. Either way, it is a win-win for us GG and Dick's shoppers and something that was long overdue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Roughed Up at The Rookery

The Rookery South

Yards: 2886/3253 – 6139
Par: 35/36 = 71
Rating: 68.6, Slope: 123
Score: 53/54 = 107
Date: September 11, 2015

It has been a few years since Mrs. Muni Golfer and I have taken a Labor Day week vacation at the Delaware shore, but we got away for five days. I was hoping for two rounds, but unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. I did manage to tee it up at The Rookery South last Friday, but the course was soggy and didn't help my rusty game.

The Rookery South Scorecard

I knew it was going to be a long afternoon when my opening tee shot went way right into the Eighth fairway. For there I hacked it up towards the green and when my second putt finally found the bottom of the cup, I had an opening 10. I had trouble off the tee most of the day--I hit four balls in the water--and consistently put myself into difficulty with the thick, wet rough. My iron game was a struggle and I was tentative with my chipping and pitching all day. The fact that there was little roll didn't help either.

The Eighth Green where I made birdie

I had three highlights for my round:

   * At the 362-par, par 4 Eighth Hole I hit it into the right rough and from a side-hill lie, gouged a 6-iron onto the green about 10 feet from the hole. I made the putt for a birdie.

   * At the 155-yard par 3 Ninth Hole, I hit my tee shot to the front of the green, chipped to two feet and made par.

  * At the monster, 566-yard par 5 Eighteenth Hole, I found the fairway with my driver, laid up with my 4-wood, then hit a 7-iron to about 15 feet. My birdie putt was just wide of the hole and I tapped in for a par.

The Ninth Hole where I made par

Overall, I shot a 107; a disappointing score considering I shot an 87 at The Rookery in July 2014 and a 92 with borrowed clubs in September 2013. As we now enter the fall season, the rounds are coming further apart, so it may be difficult to regroup.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Making Up For A Lost Weekend

Practice Range
Bensalem Township Country Club
200 Brown Ave.
Bensalem, PA

Due to reasons both seen and unforeseen, last weekend was a total loss for playing golf. My golf on Saturday and Sunday was limited to watching the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour and the European Tour from my recliner. Knowing that this coming Labor Day weekend will also be busy and exclude any chance of making onto the links, I decided to hit the practice range at Bensalem Township Country Club tonight to try as best I can to keep my swing in a groove.

The practice range at Bensalem
Armed with a small bucket of balls, I warmed up with my Orange Whip, then hit 10 wedges to loosen up. Then, as I did in my last practice session, I used a method called random practice where you try to simulate playing actual golf bu not hitting the same club twice in a row and hitting at different targets across the range. In hitting the 34 balls that were left after the 10 warm-up wedges, I hit A Driver, 4-Wood, Fybrid or iron off the tee, then a fairway wood, hybrid or iron off the mat. I would also practice chipping and pitching to certain targets.

A four-legged gallery watched practice in the twilight
My swing wasn't too bad tonight, and overall, I was pretty pleased with how I did. I am hoping to get back on the course shortly after Labor Day as I prepare to take my game into the fall.

Monday, August 24, 2015

And the Streak Goes On...

The Fairways Golf Club
Warrington, Pa.
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 43/38 = 81
Date: August 23, 2015

Taking last weekend off after two consecutive rounds in the 80s the previous two weeks, I was anxious to see if I could keep the momentum going on Sunday. Playing my third consecutive round at The Fairways Golf Club, I teed off at 1 p.m.; teamed by the starter with a retired couple, John and Rosemary.

The Fairways Scorecard

After splitting the fairway with my opening drive, I hit a fat 7-iron that came up just short of the pond fronting the first green. I pitched over the pond into the right rough and chipped on, then made my putt for a 5. I had parred the First Hole the previous two rounds, but I was happy with the bogey as I headed to the Second Hole. After pulling my tee shot left behind a tree, I shanked a chip across the fairway, then ditched my next shot into the bunker which led to a 7. I was not hitting my irons particularly well, but I was putting well and managing to get the ball into the hole without too much damage. I made par 4s at the short Sixth Hole and the difficult Eighth, and a it was only a four-putt at the Ninth Hole that prevented me from shooting lower than a 43. Not as good as the 40 I posted the previous round, but a good score for the way I was hitting my irons. I could feel my game improving and my confidence building.

A par at the Sixth Hole got my round started

I opened the back nine by hitting my Wilson Staff Fybrid RS straight down the middle and had just a short sand wedge into the green. I two-putted for my third par of the day. At the Eleventh Hole, I again found the middle of the dogleg right and then hit an 8-iron to right side of green, where I sank the downhill putt for birdie! An 8-iron at the Twelfth Hole found the left bunker, but I blasted out to a foot for a tap-in par. I pulled my 4-wood left off the Thirteenth tee and then came up woefully short with my 53-degree wedge. I chipped on and two-putted for a bogey. Another 8-iron off the tee at the Par 3 Fourteenth found the left rough, but I chipped on a two-putted for another bogey. Through five holes on teh back nine, I was a mere one over par. At the Par 3 Fifteenth, I again found the green, and my 15-foot birdie putt just lipped out. My only real hiccup on the back came at the 323-yard Sixteenth Hole, where I pushed my tee shot right and out-of-bounds. My second tee shot found the left side of the fairway, but I went long to the back of the green with my gap wedge and three-putted for a triple-bogey 7. That put me at 4-over through seven holes. I hit a long drive at the Seventeenth, and my approach from the right side of the fairway found the rough left of the green. I chipped on and made my seventh par of the round. I again pulled my drive left at the home hole, then found the right bunker with my 7-iron approach. I blasted out and two-putted to finish the closing nine with a 5-over-par 38 and a total of 81 for the round.

A bad tee shot at the 16th led to a triple-bogey

The back nine was some of the best golf I had played this year, and had it not been for the errant tee shot at the Sixteenth and the four-putt at the Ninth, I believe I might have shot in the 70s. I am feeling very confident with my game right now. The move back to the Wilson Staff clubs has really given me a significant boost. While I did hit my irons somewhat poorly to start the round, my iron game got better and better as the round progressed. I look forward to continuing this streak of good golf as the summer starts to fade and the fall slowly inches forward.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Welcome Back Mr. Wilson!

I have made some changes to the arsenal of clubs in my golf bag over the past few weeks. These changes have coincided with two of the better rounds I've played this year. After making a switch to TaylorMade/Adams Golf equipment earlier this season, I have decided to go back to the Wilson Staff clubs I have used with success the past few years. These clubs are mainly the driver and irons, and I've added in a Fybrid--a cross between a fairway wood and a hybrid--as well.
Although Wilson Staff doesn't get the love and respect it deserves, mainly because it only has five players on its PGA Tour staff, the company makes golf clubs as good or better than the major equipment manufacturers that over-populate the Tours. But Wilson Staff does have a rich history in the game. Their irons have won more majors that any other brand. Wilson Staff clubs have been used by some of the game's all-time greats, including Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Cary Middlecoff, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw, Payne Stewart, Bernhard Langer, John Daly and Vijay Singh.

So here is what I currently carry in my golf bag:

Driver: Wilson Staff Smooth. 10.5 degrees. This driver was introduced in 2007/8. While it is one of the oldest club's in my bag, it remains one of the best drivers I have ever hit.
Wilson Staff Smooth Driver
4-Wood: Callaway X2 Hot. 17 degrees. I have carried a 4-wood for several years now. Research has shown that most amateurs get more distance from hitting a higher lofted 4-wood that a traditional 15 degree 3-wood. It is also easier to hit off the fairway.
Callaway X2 Hot 4-wood
Hybrid: Wilson Staff Fybrid. 19.5 degrees. A cross between a fairway wood and hybrid, Wilson's research has shown that the Fybrid's loft and length (41-in.) makes it easier to hit from the fairway that a traditional 2-iron, 3-iron, or 7-wood.
Wilson Staff Fybrid
Irons: Wilson Staff Ci7s, 4-iron through Gap Wedge. These irons were also introduced in 2008 and have mostly been in bag since 2010. A cavity-back iron, they give me better control, but also the distance I need. I may swap out the 4-iron for a Wilson Staff 4-hybrid.
Wilson Staff Ci7s
Wedges: Solus 4.1, 53 degrees and Solus 420, 56 degrees. These wedges have a cavity-back design, allowing for better forgiveness and helping to get the ball in the air. The crescent cut on the sole of the club allows you to open the clubface to hit from a variety of conditions. These are the best wedges I have ever played.
Solus 4.1 Wedge
Putter: Odyssey XG #9, 34-in., with a WinnPro X 1.32 over-sized grip. The putter is a toe-weighted, heel-shafted, flanged blade with a soft white insert.
Odyssey XG #9 Putter
I hope this arsenal, which includes 10 Wilson Staff clubs, will continue to produce the consistent golf I've played over the past few weeks. In any case, I plan to stick with Wilson Staff for the forseeable future.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Give It A Rest

After teeing it up for seven consecutive weekends, I decided to give my
body a rest. Despite consecutive good rounds the previous two weeks, the forecasts called for soaring temperatures and humidity, so I figured it was a good time for a physical and mental break.

Although I didn't play any golf this past weekend, I did add a new Wilson Staff Fybrid RS to my bag. The Fybrid--which is 41-in. in length, has a loft of 19.5 degrees and comes with a UST Mamiya VTS Proforce shaft--is meant to be a bridge between fairway woods and hybrids that replace longer irons, replacing the 2-hybrid, 2-iron and 7-wood in the bag. In my
Wilson Staff Fybrid
case, it will be the bridge between my Callaway X2 Hot 4-wood and my Wilson Staff Ci7 4-iron. Wilson claims that their studies have indicated that the Fybrids' loft and length are optimal for hitting long shots from the fairway.

I purchased the Fybrid new online from BudgetGolf.com for $9.97. At that price, I couldn't afford not to take a flyer on the club. It cost nearly as much for shipping as it did for the club. I already have a Wilson Staff Fybrid RS 4-hybrid, which was in my bag the two previous seasons. Depending on how well the 19.5-degree Fybrid performs, I may replace my 4-iron with the 4-hybrid. I hope to test the club out at the practice range later this week before taking it to the course next weekend.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beginning of a Streak?

The Fairways Golf Club
Warrington, Pa.
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 40/44 = 84
Date: August 8, 2015

After finally snapping my run of awful golf the previous Saturday at The Fairways Golf Club, I decided I should return there this past Saturday to see if I juts had a lucky round or if my golf game was beginning to show signs of life. I only made one slight change to the clubs I had carried the previous round, swapping out my Adams Tight Lies fairway wood for a Callaway X2 Hot 4-wood. The weather was absolutely gorgeous--upper 80s with a slight breeze--as I prepared to tee off late in the afternoon.

The Fairways Scorecard

Hitting my Wilson Staff Smooth Driver off the first tee, I found the right side of the fairway and had only an 8-iron into the hole. Although I just missed the green to the left, I was able to two-putt for an opening par, just like I had the previous round! Because I had been hooking a lot of my shots with the driver, I had decided to put some lead tape on the toe of the club to see if that might help the problem and seemed to be effective at the First Hole. At the Second Hole, I over-hit my driver and hit a low fade that missed the fairway badly to the right. However I managed to recover, but a miss-hit chip led to a double-bogey. Another par at the short Par 3 Third Hole was followed by a bogey at the Par 3 Fourth Hole. Standing on the tee at the long, 372-yard Par 4 Fifth Hole, I was tempted to hit the 4-wood after the driver produced the slice at the Second. But I told myself to have confidence, so I pulled the driver and striped a beautiful shot right down the fairway. Even though I made a 6 on teh hole, I was proud at how I had performed off the tee. A three-putt bogey followed a poor tee shot at the Sixth Hole, and another three-putt led to a double-bogey at the Seventh. But I redeemed myself at the 355-yard Eighth Hole. Seeing the tees had been moved up 10 yards, I hit 4-wood off the tee and found the center of the fairway. I had an 8-iron into the green, which you cannot see from the fairway. I hit it to eight feet and sunk the putt for a birdie! Another three-putt bogey at the Ninth Hole gave me a 40 for the opening nine holes, one stroke lower than the previous week.

Some lead tape on the toe has helped my driving

Although I was playing well from tee-to-green, my putting was not as consistent as it had been recently. I was missing too many short putts. I could easily have shot a 38 or 39 on the front nine if I could had made a couple of short putts. This would continue on the back nine. In addition, I took two shots to escape bunkers on three different holes. But I was hitting it much better off the tee, especially with my driver. For the round, I hit 9 of 11 fairways off the tee; probably my best effort of the year. I basically played bogey golf on the back nine, except for two holes--Fifteen and Seventeen--where my bunker play did me in. I shot 44 on the back--four strokes better than the previous week--and 84 for the round. That was five shots lower than the 89 I had shot previously.

A Wilson Staff Fybrid will soon audition in my golf bag

Based on my last two rounds at The Fairways, it feels like my game is rebounding from the horrible six-weeks stretch I had earlier in June and July. I hit the driver much better and my iron shots much crisper. It is easier to play this game from the short grass of the fairway than the long rough off it. Although I will not get a chance to practice this week, my confidence level is up and I am looking forward to teeing it up this coming weekend.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Finally! At The Fairways

The Fairways Golf Club
Warrington, Pa.
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 41/48 = 89
Date: August 1, 2015

It has been six long weeks of frustration. Poor tee shots, fat iron shots, chunked or skulled chips and inconsistent putting. Six weeks in which I manged only 11 pars in 90 holes played. In which I lost nearly two dozen golfs. But that all ended Saturday at The Fairways Golf Club. In shooting an 89, I played my best round since shooting an 86 at The Fairways on June 19. It was only the fourth time I managed to break 100 in the 10 rounds I've played year.

The Fairways Scorecard

The turnaround began earlier in the week, when I decided to go back to the Wilson Staff Smooth Driver that I had played most of last year. I also returned to my Wilson Staff Ci7 irons. I kept the Adams Tight Lies 4-wood that I been carrying, as well as the Solus wedges and Odyssey XG9 putter. I rounded out my bag by adding my 20-degree Elevon Tour 3 hybrid back in the bag, along the Ci7 4-iron in place of the Alpha Rx 4 hybrid.

Wilson Staff Smooth Driver is back in the back

Armed with the new configuration of 14 clubs in my bag, I hit the first tee at The Fairways. My opening drive naturally went a bit left, but from the rough, I managed to hit a low short iron shot that rolled to the back of the green. I two-putted and had a par at the First Hole! Was this just an aberration or a sign of things to some? I quickly found out at the Second Hole. I again hot my tee shot into the left rough, but my 7-iron approach shot found the green. Although I three-putted for a bogey, I had played well two holes in a row. Even though I went bogey and double-bogey over the next two holes, I was playing more consistently. At the Fifth Hole, 372-yard par 4, I hit the fairway off the tee, found the green with my approach, and two-putted for another par! My tee shot at the Sixth Hole was pushed to the right and came up just short of the creek that crosses the course. That shot would have found water in the past few weeks, but it stayed dry, although I did make a double-bogey 6 when I three-putted. I made three consecutive bogeys from there, but finished the front nine in 41. It is one of the lowest nine hole scores I've shot this year.

The Fifth Hole where I made par

The back nine was not quite as clean as the opening nine holes, but I still played better golf. I made a par at the 139-yard Twelfth Hole after just missing a 15-foot putt for birdie. I also made three straight double bogeys at holes 14-16, and an 8 at the 374-yard par 4 Seventeenth Hole when I took three shots to get out of the right bunker. But I recovered at the Eighteenth to make a nice 5 after hooking my tee shot left. The back nine 48 wasn't great, but it was much better than the way I had been playing.

I just missed a birdie at the Twelfth Hole

Overall, I hit it better off the tee on Saturday, and on those occasions when I didn't, I didn't compound my error by making three or four bad shots in row afterwards. Except for a few instances, I hit my irons much better, as well as my chips and pitches around the green. And my putting was consistent. I will take a lot of confidence from this round and I look forward to continuing the improvement during my next round this coming weekend.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Grind Continues at Upper Dublin

Upper Dublin Golf Club
Dresher, Pa
Yards: 2932/2650 - 5582
Par: 37/33 - 70
Rating: 64.7, Slope: 114
Score: 53/56 = 109
Date: July 26, 2015

Buoyed by the confidence from my practice session last week, I teed it up at Upper Dublin Golf Club, formerly known as Twining Valley, under a hot sun on Sunday. That confidence lasted all of one hole, as I took an 8 on the opening hole, a 434-yard par 5. I followed that up with a 7 at the downhill 316-yard par Second Hole and another 8 at the 467-yard par 5 Third Hole.

 The scorecard when the course was called Twining Valley

I should have known that things were not going to go my way in the Pro Shop when I paid as they informed me they were out of scorecards. How does a golf course run out of scorecards? I started my round with 12 golf balls in my bag and finished 18 holes with 5. I somehow managed to eek out two pars; one at the short 256-yard par 4 Ninth Hole and another at the uphill, 138-yard par Eighteenth. I shot 109 for round, the seventh time in nine rounds this season that I have failed to break 100.

The short Ninth Hole where I made par

While the greens fee at Upper Dublin are incredibly cheap--I paid $20 to walk after 12 p.m.--you really do get what you pay for at this course. This course is hard-scrabble the whole way. The rough is so high and thick that golf balls are easily lost. And the greens are the slowest I have played anywhere. Upper Dublin is a course I play every 4-5 years and I don't see that changing any time soon.

A par at the Eighteenth finished the round

As for my game, it's back to the drawing board as I re-evaluate my game, my clubs, my practice and my course management. Perhaps it is time to employ the old KISS method: Keep It Simple Stupid! Stay tuned.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Playing The Fairways GC at Bensalem CC

Practice Range
Bensalem Township Country Club
200 Brown Ave.
Bensalem, PA

With my golf in dire help of help, I went to the practice range at Bensalem Township Country Club last night to work on my game. I experimented with a new method of practice as I hit a small buckets of balls of the range.

Typically, there are two practice methods when you go to the range: blocked and random. Blocked practice is when you take your bucket of balls and hit virtually the same shot, with the same club, at the same target, over and over and over. Although this method is extremely useful if you are changing a certain part of swing, it is, unfortunately, how most people practice at the range.

The practice range became the front nine at The Fairways

In random practice, you attempt to simulate what you doing on the golf course by not hitting the same club or same shot twice in a row. I used this method last night by playing the front nine at The Fairways Golf Club on the practice range at Bensalem. For example, the First Hole at The Fairways is 341-yard par 4. So I hit driver, which I duck hooked to the left. I estimated that would have left me about 160 yards to the green, so I hit 6-iron for my next shot. And I aimed at a flag that was to the right of my hitting bay. That shot would have come up short, so I chipped with my 53-degree wedge to one the nets in front of the hitting mats. I did this for each of The Fairways nine holes. I hit all the shots on each hole until I feel I would have been on the green.

Twilight descended on the range

I started my practice by some stretching and swinging my 8-iron with a weighted Swing Sock on it. I then hit six sand wedges and six 9-irons to warm up. I then went into random practice, playing the nine holes. After I finished palying the nine, I hit 13 drivers, alternating between my TaylorMade Aero Burner and an old Maxfli Blue Max Driver. I hit them both a bit better than I have been hitting my driver on the course. I finished up hitting seven shots off the tee and mat with my TaylorMade JetSpeed 3-hybrid.

Maxfli Blue Max Driver

Overall, I hit the ball a little better than I have been hitting it on the course. I hit a few good shots and a few bad shots. I was lacking distance and power in more than a few of my iron shots. I will take a positive feeling away from this practice session. I think using random practice will help me moving forward.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wilted at Walnut Lane

Walnut Lane Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 2173/2098 - 4271
Par: 31/31 - 62
Rating: 59.9, Slope: 91
Score: 53/45 = 98
Date: July 18, 2015

Hoping to reverse my current golfing fortunes, and armed with 10 new additions to my golf bag, I teed it up at Walnut Lane Golf Club. Tucked into the Wissahickon Valley, which is part of the Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, Walnut is owned by the city, but operated by a non-profit entity. Designed by legendary designer Alex Findlay and opened in 1940, it is a short course, but challenging through its tight, tree-lined fairways, hills and valleys, and unique Par 3s.

Walnut Lane Scorecard
Saturday's weather was extremely hot and humid, one of the hottest of the summer so far. Still, as I stood on the first tee, I had a good feeling a about my round. That lasted all of one hole. After a benign bogey at the short Par 4 First Hole, I hooked my tee shot at the Par 3 Second Hole. Unable to find my ball, I took a drop and made a 7. At the Third Hole, another short Par 4 that doglegs left, I hit three consecutive tee shots left; the first two out-of-bounds.That led to an 11. Three lost balls in two holes. All season I have been searching for my customary draw, or right-to-left shot. On Saturday, my shot was right-to-Fore, Left! At the long, downhill 218-yard Par 3 Fourth Hole, I hit the ball over the green and it naturally cam to rest on top of a pile of sticks. That led to a double-bogey 5, but considering the way the previous two holes had gone, I wasn't too disappointed. The Fifth Hole is a 184-yard Par 3 that doglegs left over a deep valley. After pulling my tee shot left--notice the theme here--I hit chipped over a waste are onto the green and two-putted for a bogey. At the Sixth Hole, I hit my tee shot fat, which led to a triple bogey 6. At the Seventh Hole, a downhill, 357-yard Par 4, I hit my Driver left, then pulled my 4-hybrid left and out-of bounds. Fourth lost day in seven holes! I dropped and hit it again to the back of the green, then two-putted for a 6 instead of a par. At the short Par 3 Eighth Hole, I found the green off the tee and two-putted for my first par and second decenty hole of the day. A double-bogey 6 ended the front nine with 53.

The Eleventh Tee looking down from the green
At this point, I was drenched in sweat and my legs were beginning to feel the effects of the heat and the hills. But I was determined to try and turn things around on the back nine. At the Tenth, I skyed by tee shot left and very short, which led to a 7. The Eleventh Hole is  tight, up-hill Par 3, where I hooked my tee shot for another lost ball and made a 5. The twelfth is a dogleg left that plays over a ravine off the tee. I hit a draw off the tee and made a 5. At the Thirteenth Hole, a short 125-yard Par 3, I sat for about 10 minutes and made a bottle of nuun energy drink. Of course, when I did resume, I hit my tee shot left and made a 4. At the Fourteenth Hole, a 147-yard Par 3, I uncharacteristically pushed my tee shot short a right, then chunked my pitch shot. Needed to hit my third shot between two bunkers, I lobbed it up and onto to the green, where it tracked all the way to cup and dropped it for a par!!!! Buoyed by this, I was determined to grind out the round and break 100! A decent tee shot at the 340-yard dogleg right Fifteenth Hole left me with a 8-iron into the green, but I came short, took two shots to chip on and made a 6. I made bogeys and the back-to-back Par 3 Sixteenth and Seventeenth Holes. Standing on the tee at the 360-yard Par 4 Eighteenth Hole, I went back and forth between hitting my Driver or 4-Wood. I choose Driver and hit it left for my sixth lost ball of the day. I hit my third shot just short of the green, then took four more shots for a 7 and a back nine 45. But I had grinded it out and I had broken 100! No small feat for me lately.

The chip shot I holed at the Fourteenth
Other than my putting, don't quit attitude and somehow breaking 100, there is very little positive I take away from this round. My tee shots were horrible, my irons were poor and most of my short game was weak. I definitely need to get to the practice range this week to try and find an answer so I can begin to turn this season around before it is too late.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Change for (Hopefully) the Better

There is a saying in golf that goes, "It's not the arrows, it's the Indian." That means that it's not the golf clubs' fault when a golfer is playing poorly, it the fault of the player, himself. And while much of that rings true during this slump I am experiencing, I still feel it's time to shake up my golf bag and the mix of clubs I carry.

TaylorMade Aero Burner Driver
So over the six days, I have examined the clubs in my golf bag and made a few changes. Some clubs have remained, while the majority have been replaced--at least for now. So here is new composition of the 14 clubs currently in my golf bag:
Driver: I am sticking with the TaylorMade Aero Burner that has been in my bag since the end of May. Even though I have wildly inconsistent with it--even shortening by a half-inch to gain better control--I feel confident that will soon begin to yield better results for me off the tee.

4-Wood: I have upgraded the Adams Redline RPM 4-Wood that was in my bag with a newer Adams Tight Lies 4-Wood I purchased at Golf Galaxy last Saturday. The Tight Lies is one
Adams Tight Lies
degree stronger, but both are the same length. I used it in my round last Saturday at The Fairways Golf Club and was impressed with the results. I expect to be as good off the turf as it is off the tee.

Hybrids: I have replaced my steel-shafted 3- and 4-hybrids with new TaylorMade Jetspeed hybrids. I purchased the new hybrids last night from Golf Galaxy, which had them on sale for about 40 percent of their original retail price. Combined with an e-mail coupon that I received and I got them for practically cost. These new Jetspeed hybrids have a Matrix graphite shaft and match my old hybrids almost exactly, except the new 3-hybrid is one
TaylorMade Jetspeed Hybrid
degree stronger. It will play as a 5-Wood/2-iron in my bag, while the 4-
hybrid replaces my 4-iron.

Irons: I have replaced my Wilson Staff Ci7 irons, 5-through Gap Wedge, with an old set of TaylorMade 200 irons, also 5 through Gap Wedge. The 200s, which came out around 2002, are a cavity back iron that looks and feels more like a blade iron. I have had very good success with them in the past and I hope they will instill some needed success in my current game.

Wedges: I am sticking with the Solus 53- and 56-degree gap and
TaylorMade 200 Irons
sand wedges that have been the bag for several years. These wedges are the best I have ever played. They are extremely versatile and I like the fact that they are more of a cavity back than a blade, which helps with forgiveness.

Putter: I have played a great deal with a Snake Eyes MCS2 putter through most of this year, but I have been horrible on short putts all
Odyssey XG9 Putter
year long. My last two rounds, however, I have played with an Odyssey XG9 putter and I have been much better on both my long and
short putts. It has a WinnPro X over-sized grip, which has helped my with my feel. This putter is staying in the bag.

So there you have it. Only four of the 14 clubs in my bag last week have survived. Ten new clubs have entered the bag and will comprise my arsenal when I tee up this weekend and the forseebale future. I will keep you apprised of now they work out.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Grind

The Fairways Golf Club
Warrington, Pa.
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 51/53 = 104
Date: July 11, 2015

Just when I think my game reached rock bottom last week at John F. Byrne Golf Club, I played an even worse one at The Fairways Golf Club on Saturday. I was hoping that returning to The Fairways, I course that I know so well, would give my game a boost and help to instill me with some confidence. It did, perhaps, just the opposite.

The Fairways Scorecard

It started on the first tee, where my driver struck the turf well behind the teed golf ball, and I managed to hit it about 125 yards. Hitting the turf well behind the ball, or "fat", was to become a recurring theme of the round. I had to lay up short of the pond that fronts the first green, only to dunk my third shot into the water--a quadruple bogey. Triple bogeys at the Third and Fourth holes. A double bogey at the Fifth after hitting my tee shot out-of-bounds. A double bogey at the Seventh was followed by another quadruple bogey at the Eighth after I putted my fifth shot off the front of the green. Somehow, miraculously, I managed to par the 133-yard Ninth Hole. An gut-wrenching slog to a 51 on the Front Nine.

The Seventeenth Hole, which I parred

I took renewed hope to the Tenth Hole after the par at the Ninth, but any hope for a back nine comeback was dashed with a 9, followed by an 8 and the Eleventh Hole. Somehow, someway, I continued to grind it out on the course, actually making five 4s on the last seven holes, including three pars and two bogeys. These were offset by another quadruple bogey at the Par 3 Fourteenth and a another 9 at the closing Eighteenth. It was the second round in a row at The Fairways that I shot 53 on the back nine.

The TaylorMade Aero Burner remains in the bag...for now

The main thing I need to do is keep grinding away on the course and the practice range, trying to find my game, somewhere, somehow. It might get worse before it gets better, but that's what I have to do. I am also contemplating--no, change that to making an overhaul of my golfing arsenal. All that will remain from the current setup is my TaylorMade Aero Burner Driver, Solus wedges and Odyssey XG 9 putter. I will update you on the changes--and the new bag setup--later this week.