Surviving Chambers Bay

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What a dramatic finish. A finish that left me a little emotionally confused. At the beginning of the day on Sunday there were plenty of story lines and any number of ways the day could go that would have left me satisfied with the result at Chambers Bay. I was really rooting for the golf course to give us a great champion and great tournament. Especially after how much I personally enjoyed playing the golf course.

I am a big fan of Jordan Spieth and was certainly rooting for him. I love the Dustin Johnson comeback story and after him coming close on several other occasions, it would have been satisfying to see him win one. Who couldn’t get behind Jason Day’s story? Overcoming vertigo and fighting through a tough course to play even when you’re not fighting dizziness. Even Louis Oosthuizen, whose swing I covet probably more than any other professional golfer. WIth as few moving parts as he has, it looks like he can never make a bad swing. Just about the only player I didn’t want to win was Grace. Through no fault of his own, I am just not familiar with him and am gonna pull for the Americans (I know Day and Louis are not American) over him.

Then throughout the day we get some incredible rounds by Adam Scott, who snuck in there and posted a number. Rory makes a bomb at 13 with some scoring holes to go and looks like he could sneak into the mix only to fall apart late. Overall it was just an incredible day of golf. Despite the criticism of the greens (BillyHo, I love you man, but sometimes its best to just keep quiet), I think the USGA did a phenomenal job of setting up a scoreable golf course for Sunday to give some fireworks.

I don’t have the strokes gained stat for DJ on Sunday, but it has to be depressing. Forget the three putt on 18… He was putting on a ball striking clinic early on and getting nothing out of it. If he would have putted even average, he would have won the tournament by three strokes. His driver and irons were incredibly good. The flatstick failed him. It is hard to blame him though. On bumpy greens, even the slightest shake in confidence just gets amplified. My heart breaks for the guy.

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But the man of the tournament…

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GCAT – Chambers Bay

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Golf is a game best played against the golf course. However, it’s difficult to ignore the play of the guys in your group. This blog is a lesson in why that’s important. But first…

It’s finally US Open week. I have been looking forward to watching this one, particularly because I had the privilege of playing Chambers Bay on the GC Am Tour last year. I was lucky enough to play the golf course 3 times with a local caddie.

My first impression of the golf course is that it is gorgeous. The course is cut out of an old quarry and so the holes wrap around, up, and down through a large bowl that is sitting right on the Puget Sound. There are plenty of elevation changes and interesting holes to keep the golfer engaged. It is the first course I have ever played that is fescue grass through and through. This makes for fairways that blend seamlessly into the greens, a natural look. However, it also leads to some complications in terms of the golf as it can be difficult to determine when your ball is “on” the green vs. “off” (which matters when you are trying to determine whether you can legally pick up and clean your ball).

The greens can have quite a bit of slope to them and it plays very much like a links course. In my opinion, it makes for a fun golf course allowing for creativity. But admittedly, some of the greens are a little silly… No. 12 comes to mind where my caddie joked that he believes several elephants were buried under the green to create the large mounds. I am okay with a dramatic green on a drivable par 4. It makes it so birdie is not guaranteed just for hitting the green. We’ll see how it works when the green speeds are pushed to the limit.

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I’ll kill two birds with this post. I’ll give you an idea of the golf course by walking through my final round in last years tournament. This way, I can give an idea of what playing the golf course is like and at the same time show the fault in getting wrapped up in chasing the leader. It is more important to play your own game.

For the tournament, we were super lucky with the weather. It never did more than spit on us and temperatures were relatively warm in the 50-70 degree Fahrenheit range, even in the early morning. Day one of the tournament was particularly challenging as the wind was up, blowing 15-20mph made for a tougher golf course and the scores showed as much. The average score for the course in my flight was 83.11.

Round1_scorecardI played well on day one to get some separation from the field and to put myself in contention. I earned a spot in the final group on day 2. I would at least get to see what the leader was doing and I had a three shot cushion to the field behind me. It was a good opportunity to make a run at it, but then we started playing…

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A lonely sport… Why I love the game

“(Golf) is a lonely sport. The manager is not going to come in and bring the righty or bring the lefty. You’ve just got to play through it. And that’s one of the hardest things about the game of golf, and it’s also one of the best things about the game of golf. When you’re on, no one is going to slow you down. When you’re off, no one is going to pick you up, either. It’s one of those sports that’s tough. Deal with it. For us, unfortunately, you have those days and they’re five hours long.”
-Tiger Woods

I saw this quote from Tiger after his rough showing over the weekend at the Memorial. I love this quote. This is golf. It can be lonely. Even more so when you play poorly. But it is this aspect of the game that makes it great and difficult at the same time. While the game in itself can be lonely, for me, it was a tool to deal with loneliness.

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3 Footers… NYMHM 6/8/15

1) Golf is hard

Before we all pile on Tiger Woods (and there will be plenty of piling), let’s all admit that golf is hard. Tiger is not the only one who struggled on the week as a whole. Just take a look at who failed to even make the cut at the Memorial:
Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, and Charl Schwartzel.

Phil Mickelson shot a 78 on Saturday and hardly a word is shown. Golf Channel surely didn’t spend 20 minutes dissecting every shot of his.

There were 4 other pros that failed to break 80 on various days:
Steven Bowditch (80-Sunday), Brendan Steele (80-Sunday), Lucas Glover (82-Sunday), Andrew Putnam (82-Sunday), Sam Saunders (80-Friday).

Those guys get to post their 80 and sneak out the back door. They don’t have to talk to the media, they don’t have to deal with 20 minutes of Golf Channel coverage displaying every chunked wedge or hooked driver. Not trying to build sympathy for the guy, but lets all admit… Golf is hard.

2) Tiger Woods

I am starting to hate rooting for this guy. If you haven’t gotten it by now, I’m a Tiger diehard. I would have never picked up a stick if it weren’t for Tiger. Whether it be injuries, rust, or yet another swing change, he hasn’t played golf worth watching in a couple years and yet every time he tees it up I am glued to the coverage. This weekend was no different. I followed every agonizing stroke as he made the cut on the number. For the first two days his game looked bipolar. The guy clearly has no confidence off the tee. I wish I could hit his tee shots for him. When he did get it in play, he made plenty of birdies. We’ll ignore Saturday for now. In the other three rounds, Tiger made 5 birdies per round. That is enough to shoot some low scores. At times this weekend his putter looked like a magic wand again. He putted great Friday or he misses the cut.

Then there was the debacle on Saturday. I never thought I’d see the day where the greatest player my eyes have ever seen would struggle to an 85. What makes it more difficult is that it never looked like he quit on the round. Watching the ‘highlights’, the guy had one of those rounds where a lot of his non-tee shots weren’t off by much, but instead of kicking on the green, they were kicking in bunkers. I’ve had that round, I never expected to see Tiger have that round. Its frustrating. Miss a couple shorties and the round gets away from you. In a way that gives you comfort, even the best in the world can struggle to find it. On the other hand… Wow! Tiger never would have had this happen a few years ago.

Really the only positive is that he finished the round. There was no injury. No bones he had to pop back in place. No deactivated glutes. So as strange as it is to say, I’m just glad he finished the thing out. It has to be extremely humbling to be first off the tee on Sunday dressed in his red and black when you are used to having that late tee time. But he gutted it out and finished with a 74, knowing he would finish DAL… Dead Ass Last… for those unfamiliar. So there it is, I’m just glad he finished. That he appears healthy.

But before I can move on and wait for the next one… Remember, Chamber’s Bay is just around the corner and I picked him to win at St. Andrews. Boy does that look like a long shot…

What the hell is he doing? How is he improving? He must be seeing something in practice that is just not translating, but that swing off the tee box looks awful. The amount his head moves is disgusting. He appears to have the patience to ride this swing change out. He has been there before… But I’m starting to enter panic mode. He doesn’t have enough time. He needs to start playing good golf. I say this because I selfishly want him to break Nicklaus’ record (18 majors). Hell, at this point I just hope he breaks Snead’s record (82 PGA Tour wins). I want to be able to say without a doubt that I grew up watching the greatest player of all time dominate the sport. It’s a scary thought that someone as magical and artistic could just lose it. Become a mechanical robot. So obsessed with finding the perfect swing that he might have missed the fact that he already had it.

Man. I’m rooting for him. But it’s getting tough to watch. He is showing flashes of brilliance with easy birdies, but a whole lot of ‘where the hell is this going’ off the tee.

3) Jordan Spieth

The guy is sneaky good. He needs to eliminate the one shady round he has played in each of the last several weeks and he’d be winning every tournament. He continues to play fantastic rounds on Sunday and grab a piece of the clubhouse lead. I love this kid. I can’t wait until he figures out just how good he can be.

Lipouts… Compounding mistakes

We make mistakes in golf and in life. The key to being successful at either is to limit those mistakes and to avoid compounding them. A bogey by itself will not wreck your scorecard, however, turning that bogey into a snowman can send the round spiraling into disaster. There were plenty of examples of pros compounding mistakes this weekend.

Dustin Johnson was tied for the lead at the Byron before this snowman:

Rickie Fowler was in the mix before he made a pair of 8’s to finish his day in Ireland on Saturday.

Compounding mistakes. There is nothing more frustrating than writing a squiggly number on the scorecard and knowing that it was self inflicted. I’ve battled compounding mistakes a lot this year. Exhibit A. However, this post is not about how I compound mistakes on a golf course. This is a post about how I compounded mistakes outside of golf on Sunday to lead to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day… Read More