Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in chip shots, Golf Courses, Mental Game, Mike Southern, My Rounds, putting, Swing Mechanics, Windy Shots | Posted on Monday, November 7, 2011
When I woke up for my round at Apache Creek Golf Club yesterday, it was a balmy 48 degrees. Brrrr. There is a low pressure system that is making it's way down from the Pacific Northwest and we are beginning to feel the effects of a cold front that is sweeping through the Phoenix Valley.
I have been very spoiled in the fact that I have lived in places where I can play golf year round. I have always been treated to great weather and have never really had to play in uncomfortable conditions. In Miami we had to deal with rain and high winds, but for the most of the year it was still warm.
The tee time was set for 6:50AM by J.B. whom I had met through this blog via Facebook. We had been trying to set up a time when we could get in a round for months but something always came up whether it was work or family related. J.B. whom I soon found out can hit the ball a country mile, is a morning golfer. During the summer when the sun rises earlier, he is often the first one on the tee for a 5:30 start.
Keeping true to form, we were the first golfers at the course, arriving before any of the employees. It was still dark and for me, very cold. I just kept looking towards the eastern horizon, hoping for a glimpse of sunlight. As we chipped around the practice green with glow in the dark golf balls that J.B. had which were pretty cool, my hands began to get numb. I was beginning to wonder how I would be able to hold my clubs.
After checking in at the pro shop, we headed to the driving range to warm up. Except there was no warming up for me. I had no feeling in my hands and it was hard for me to keep a handle on the grip. It reminded me of my days playing baseball in New England during early March. Mishits with an iron felt like the stinging sensation you get when you hit the baseball off the wrong part of an aluminum bat.
My drive from the first tee tailed off to the right which left me with a long approach of about 205 yards into the green. I hit hybrid and fell short and right of the green. I chipped it pass the hole about 20 feet and was left with a downhill putt. I held the putter as best as I could, let my shoulders swing, and drained it to save par.
Great start. Unfortunately, my hands could not warm up and I missed every fairway on the front nine. When you miss the fairways at Apache Creek, you are at a huge disadvantage. This is a true desert style course and golfers are penalized severely for wayward shots. Having to play many of my shots off of a hardpan lie led to four double bogeys on the front.
It wasn't until the turn that I was finally able to feel my fingers again. The sun had come out, and even though it was still in the low 60's, because of the bright sunshine, it felt a lot warmer. It showed in my tee shots. I hit four out of the seven fairways on the back nine and my iron shots into the greens were a bit more accurate.
I wasn't pleased with my overall performance, but I didn't expect much since I hadn't played in almost a month and a half. While much of my struggles were due to the weather, some of it had to do with being mentally rusty as much as mechanically rusty. When I look back on the round, I made decisions that I know I wouldn't have when I was playing three or four times a week. When I was playing regularly, my golf IQ improved as well as my swing which led to better scores. I just need to get out more and I'm sure it will all come back.
I have a new found respect for professional golfers when they have to compete in less than perfect weather. This past weekend, The Champions Tour held their season ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park GC in San Francisco, California. The temperature was similar to what I faced and on top of that, they had to deal with windy conditions. Yet many of them were still able to shoot par or better. They are that good.
It looks like I'm going to have to invest in some warm golf mittens especially if I'm going to be playing more rounds with a "crack of dawn golfer" like J.B. The cold front is supposed to remain for a while and I would like to have some "feeling" in my shots. It's either that or wait for it to warm up again, but for me, that might take too long. Have a great round and always hit your target.