Looking back at my blog posts, it has been nearly a year since I was last actively posting. That was a post on Cantlay’s hot streak. My, oh, my, how things have changed since then. Undoubtedly, I have been actively keeping an eye on things in the world of golf. yet, I have yet to get back to full swing yet.
At the end of July, I got a chance to go to the driving range with a good friend and show him a few things. It also gave me a chance to get back into the swing of things with golf.
I felt like I was ready to tackle the course, but I know that I need a few more driving range sessions and a round or two on a par 3 course before I play a round of 18 at a par 72 course again. But I’m feeling that itch and I’m back to swinging the clubs like a winner.
I’m looking forward to getting back on track and back to swinging the club on a regular basis. Until then, check out the video and enjoy.
Next up has got to be a major championship. Cantlay has not won one yet. And that seems to remain a point of contention for many observers without Cantlay having to say much about it himself.
Patrick Cantlay has a record in the majors that no one but the golf press really would write home about. Missing the cut at 2 majors stands out. Not even ranking for a top 10 position in any 2021 major stands out as well. In fact, He ended up tied for 15th place at the U.S. Open. His best performance in a major event left him tied for third at the 2019 PGA Championship. With dismal numbers like that, it’s hard to imagine Patrick Cantlay bringing home some PGA major event hardware home any time soon.
Kyle Porter just dropped an article on CBS Sports regarding Cantlay and his failure to win a major. In Porter’s own words, he was sure to say: “This is not a criticism of Cantlay’s game.” However, no matter how you question it or pose it as a wondering, even an inquisitive inquiry, it boils down to the inability of Cantlay to claim a victory in any of the 4 major championships.
The Future Odds on Cantlay
Despite his latest victories, Cantlay is not a favored pick for a major with some oddsmakers. It’s a toss-up when you consider his past record in majors and his recent victories on the PGA Tour.
Golfodds.com has names like Dustin Johnson (16/1) and Jon Rahm (10/1) ahead of Cantlay at 20-to-1 odds of winning the 2022 Masters. Vegas Insider has Rory McIlroy as a top pick for the 2022 PGA Championship with Cantlay somewhere in the midst of the fray behind Brooks and Xander. The Sports Geek points out: “Patrick Cantlay is a +550 betting favorite at BetMGM to win a golf major in 2022.”
But did fantasy golf experts have Cantlay on their top picks for this one? Do oddsmakers have the final say through the final round? Or, are all of these predictions just throwing caution at the wind when we just have to have it played out in reality?
I am not going to lie at all. I liked what I saw on the course. It was a joy and an honor just to witness it.
Unlike some things in the world of sports, the Wyndham Championship delivered on thrills and moments worthy of ESPN golf highlights. And for there to be a 6-way playoff at the Wyndham Championship, that was all the more exciting to watch.
Congratulations:Kevin Kisner for winning the 6-man playoff and earning a $1,152,000 windfall. It was his first win since 2019 and the fourth PGA Tour win of his career, but it was his first playoff win. Congrats!
My Condolences: My man of whom I am a fan Kevin Na almost brought it home by finishing 15 uner (-15) and shooting rounds of 68-64-67-66. His final round of 66 at 4 under par was good enough to tie for 2nd but remains impressive nonetheless.
What Happened?: Russell Henley was in the lead, then there was a bogey on the second hole. That’s no big deal. Plenty of pros recover from that. It was the four bogeys on the back 9 that gave him a +1 finish for the final round. Ultimately, he missed out on the playoff opportunity and had to settle for tied for 7th with -14. I get it. It happens to the best of them just like it happens to the rest of us. Golf can be merciless at times.
My Hats Off to You: Chesson Hadley striking paydirt with his first career hole-in-one on the 16th hole. Not only was it his first ace on the PGA Tour but it awarded 1 million Wyndham rewards points on behalf of charity. Truly my hats off to this dude, especially for his happy hop of a reaction to hitting it in one shot.
First 6-Man Playoff on the PGA Tour
It was nothing less than amazing to see it play out no matter how it turned out. The thrill of a 6-man playoff on the PGA Tour was truly a treat.
I mean we’ve seen playoff holes before. They’re nothing new. They usually are the stuff that breaks down to exposing the tenacity and toughness of players to go the distance. However, your typical playoff might include 2 or 3 players in a playoff as the norm. It might even require not playing again until the next morning due to the loss of daylight. We’ve seen that before, too.
But a 6-man playoff offers a thrill like none other before. It was the equivalent of a World Series going extra innings with a series knotted up 3-3 and coaches using every arm in the bullpen to nab that victory. Or, it is like OT in Game 7 of an NBA Finals series that has the best of best matched up and going at it for the title. It’s not an everyday occurence and we owe thanks to the PGA Tour and its stellar players for delighting us with such an impressive round of golf and a bonus with the playoff itself.
For me, it’s almost a no-brainer. I enjoy my Cobra F-Max irons. I love the weight of the irons in your hands and the grip. They’re used clubs, but I had a choice between them and a set of some Taylormade irons and hybrids. I don’t have the Cobra driver to go along with the set like DeChambeau, but I also don’t have a personalized fitted set of clubs made just for me.
I can say that my current driver made just for me is sitting outside of my bag more than it sees usage on the course. Why? Because just like the many pros we see them tee off, my tee shots go and drift off this way and that way based on some heavy-handed swinging I am bringing from the shoulders and some alignment issues at address. I brought back my Taylormade Burner and put it into action, but I have found that I can also get more control with my 3 or 5 wood. I can even use a hybrid to launch it off the tee at times.
What the real problem is me and my level of consistency. I need to find that swing groove again off the tee. I am working out differently and it’s also impacting my game. When I was mainly running for exercise, I was slimming down and that should in my level of endurance and energy. Nowadays I do mainly bodyweight exercises with HIIT workouts and floor exercises. I am not losing weight as I put on some muscle mass here and there. This impacts my game as my shoulders and arms are coming down and into the ball, sending that Callaway Chrome into flight. that’s where I see my struggles come from, not the club itself.
Am I ready to go back to my personalized driver yet?
Not quite. Once I settle down and settle into a solid swing rhythm, I think I will be there. For now, I am good with getting my practice rounds in and getting a few more Mulligans in my favor on those wild drives.
Brian Penn of All About Golf suggested I invest in some lessons. I’m not ready to do it yet. I will probably pull the trigger some time this fall and see what comes of it. For now, like I said before, I will take a few wild drives and make some remarkable recovery shots. After all, half of the fun is seeing what trouble you can work your way out of with your clubs. The same ones you got yourself into trouble with.
My time on the gold course has been a continual learning experience. I’ve come to enjoy the little lessons that have come my way by way of learning what works and what doesn’t work for my game.
What Doesn’t Work
It’s always obvious what doesn’t work. The problem is that it’s not always the same thing that doesn’t work. During some outings, I can swing my 7 wood, solidly smack a golf ball against the thin club face, and smash it like a laser unto the green from within 150 yards. Other times, I find myself struggling to get off the tee.
What Works (For Me)
I have learned to put into practice and play what works for me. I cannot speak for anyone else or substitute what works for them and drop that into my repertoire.
I got to go for what I know by applying what works for me.
That’s a struggle on the golf course at times when you have some golf buddies who always have a library catalog of golf tips and knowledge like the next Ty Webb with insights like “Be the ball.” You cannot make every swing adjustment that works for that other dude because he’s all of 5’6 and you’re over 6 feet tall. His swing is troubled by an outside to in swing path with a dip in the shoulders. You just have issues with your alignment at approach and keeping your head down through your swing with your hybrids and long irons. Almost anything he has to say to you is null and void for your game.
Play it smart: think through your next shot based on the conditions and the course
Play it safe: consider the obstacles or hazards in play as well as the course layout like doglegs or low-hanging tree branches near the fairway
Play it strategically: limit the recovery shots by playing the best option available and planning the follow-up shot after that
My goal is to improve my scorecard results. I want to land somewhere between 85-88 on a consistent basis, approximately 75% of the time. I want to feel confident when I go out to play that I will enjoy myself as I fish a birdie out of hole on a par 3 every now and then. That’s what I want and where I am headed.
Most folks who know me know that I am not a big fan of par 3 holes. That being said, I have also challenged myself a few times here and there to play an entire par 3 course. It might sound contradictory, but you really have to follow the logic on this.
My last golf outing that I posted about a few weeks ago felt like a true dusting, not even the type of play that I would call a comeback from a long lay off. It did prompt me to sure up certain parts of my game which had shown some rust and lackluster maintenance. It got me rethinking about consistency across the board and how much more consistency I needed with some fundamentals like alignment and approach.
I felt like a par 3 course like Singing Hills Pine Glen was just what I needed to get me back on track.
Swinging and Switching Up at Singing Hills Pine Glen
Nestled at the foot of East County foothills of San Diego just a short drive from the Sycuan Casino and Resort, Singing Hills is a golfer’s paradise in Southern California. As opposed to its 2 other 18-hole courses, Oak Glen and Willow Glen, Pine Glen is an 18-hole par 3 course that covers a lot of ground at just over 2,500 yards. This course has a total scorecard of 54, but it offers some challenges to make you knuckle down and choke up to keep your shots on target.
You get the point. I was all in my head the front 9. I shot a 39 and paced myself for another disastrous round, but I was angling in the right direction. My swift swing found the sweet spot on that 7 iron a few times and I felt confident. My main issue was that chipping from greenside or even the fringe left me putting for par or worse. I was not giving myself many birdie opportunities.
So, you see the scorecard. You see those 4 GIRs that rarely ever show up on my pics of scorecards. What that really means is that I had some changes that I had to make and I made them going into the back 9. On the 9th hole I had come up short on the left side of the green after a rocket of a shot with a 6 iron dropped in thick grass. The greenside short shot I tried to tap for a little roll caught too much speed and left me with a long putt for par. Then, after putting it past the hole, it took me 2 more putts to close out the hole. That hole got me psyched on how to conquer future holes, though.
I switched up my swing and alignment to get myself swinging on target again. This is one that you don’t get to on the range much because everything is static and nothing changes up much. That’s why I consider some rounds like this as my best practice rather than swinging away on the range with some soggy mat of artificial turf.
As you can see, I started getting my shots on target and putting myself in position to putt for birdie. That’s your best option if you are going to lower your scores, get in a position where you are putting for birdie or better. Putting to save par is too much work when you’re over 20 feet out and you’ve got bad read on the line. If you are putting for birdie, you can simply putt to the hole and follow that up with a putt in the hole for par. Improving my alignment got me on target with some greens in regulation and a handful of par holes to save my hide. The remainder of the holes on the back 9 were bogeys, but I have to admit that some of those were just errors in my putt reads or short game shots that didn’t pan out as I had planned.
Lesson Learned: Switch Up Where and When You Need To
My game is a testimony to trial and error. It speaks volumes about how much time I spend wondering if I am implementing the right techniques rather than testing out what I am doing and making adjustments from there. I need to trust myself more and make slight adjustments where and when I can in play. My cousin was a wild driver off the tee, ending up in the most peculiar circumstances for an approach shot, but I would always be amazed with his recovery shots that got him in a great position for birdie or par in a lot of circumstances. I don’t want the wild shots off the tee that force me to make amazing recovery shots. I want that consistent play that allows me to evaluate my circumstances at the moment and make a judgment call to switch things up here and there to improve my play.
I must have missed the memo, but I certainly can say that my latest outing in golf didn’t get me any closer to breaking 90 or breaking 100. In fact, it simply proved what I know good and well for my own personal golf game. I need more consistency to get better results.
I will even give myself a break. Over the past 2-3 months, I have been heavily into tennis. Playing doubles with co-workers once or twice per week and trying to organize groups of folks to just come out and try it with us for fun and fellowship with a little bit of fitness. And, might I add, I am decent enough to hang even when the temperature tips to about 90 degrees or so.
But this latest golf outing was nowhere near a comeback.
It was like more of a proving ground that what needed work when I left off after Spring Break still needs some work and what I thought I had down and under control still leaves me with drives veering off too far to the right or the left of the fairway.
Willowbrook Country Club
Venture outside of San Diego proper eastward and you will come across Lakeside, a rural area where the summer weather is unquestionably hot as hell and the scenery is majestic with mountain views and wide open terrain. Nestled in the midst of Lakeside and surrounded by mobile homes, Willowbrook Country Club is a nine hole course designed for you to play twice. While playing with Cousin Robert, we went for the white tees on the first round, and then the blue tees on the second round.
The course is in decent shape and the rates are reasonable even with a cart. The staff was friendly and attentive, especially as we awaited teeing off due to the men’s regular Monday tournament in session when we arrived a little early to check in for our tee time. There are plenty of trees and enough water on the course to keep you trying to angle your shots to avoid them. For me, it was like I was on the EPA’s most wanted list and continually hitting anything with bark and leaves on it.
All in all, the course gives you enough of a challenge to keep you working on your game’s necessary tweaks. In my case, I found the types of holes designed on this flat dessert-like oasis to seem more fitting for an early morning tee time with a cool breeze and some June gloom to keep the sun at a distance. But you can only go dogleg left so many times before you have to hit a par 3 over water or decide between trying to drive a short par 4 with the flag behind the brush and sand trap or just lay up in the hopes of getting on in 2 shots.
My Letdowns Left Me Looking for Relief
I spent way too much time with poor shot selections. You know the kind that I mean: chip shots between 2 trees with dangling limbs, approach shots where the alignment is off and you end up in the other fairway, and 3 putts upon 3 putts. man, I really thought I had those 3 putts down.
Despite all of the poor shots and lost balls, I still had my moments out there. My chip shot on the first hole over the trees that I would eventually deflower and damn near destroy on the second round showed promise and left me just off the fringe. My choice to go with a 3 wood when things looked wild off the tee was right on point and gave me a shot at birdie that fast greens do not allow. And of course I had to figure out my hybrid game which offered me some saving grace in a few instances on the course.
Mulligans were being called out countless times. This wasn’t one of those rounds where you felt like tracking any balls into the woods and bushes with the summer heat and any potential disturbance of local critters like reptiles. Like I always say, that’s why they come in packs of 12. Just toss me another one from my bag, bro.
Overwhelmed at Over One Hundred
No matter how bad my scorecard looked, I didn’t expect it to look that bad. But I got to be honest. It was a poor showing of course management and shot selection to go along with just plain gamesmanship. i was basically just out there without any strategy. That’s where I really got overwhelmed, I believe. My entire approach that day was just swinging and seeing where it went rather than trying to navigate the course with strokes in mind.
My first round looked like it might have some promise, but when I look at the scorecard I know that shows signs of an inevitable uphill battle. Throw in that second round and you see nothing but squares and double squares. And yes that is a ten on the 10th hole. I cannot even go into the depths of despair that I went through on the same hole that I had just done okay on in the first round.
Lack of Consistency Without Any Loss of Confidence
I mean I would be a fool if I just said that I am done playing golf due to a poor round. Look at guys like Lefty or Bryson DeChambeau when they miss the cut. They do not run and hide from the golf paparazzi and emerge the next season with a new coach, new caddie and new clubs. They take it on the chin and come back the next time with that prior round off their mind. They come back with a refreshed perspective and a can-do attitude about what is ahead of them. They make a plan to make things work out better than did previously.
Oh, believe me, I am reeling from some of these numbers. I can handle a few double bogeys and an occasional snowman, too. Just let me chip in for par or birdie off the fringe. Let me get a few pars and birdies along the way with those short par 4 and par 5 holes.
Whether you follow golf closely or you just peep in occasionally during the golf season, you have most probably heard of both Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. If you have been keeping up with the latest golf news, you know things have gotten ugly between both golfers, especially if you follow the headlines and digs dished out via social media. In essence, it’s a full blown feud in the eyes of sports media and other media outlets.
What it means so far is that the pair have not been set up to tee off with one another as many had anticipated. What it looks like is that DeChambeau has taken to video to deliver one of his latest blows, and Koepka has utilized the opportunity to shift the focus and spin the narrative in another direction during the U.S. Open Championship. At this point, in the final round, DeChambeau remains 2 strokes off the lead and tied for fourth, while Koepka is stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack tied for fourteenth place. The final numbers have yet to come in, but from the looks of it, DeChambeau appears to be the only one of the two in the running, and the feud can pick up where it left off until the next tourney comes around.
After struggling to scramble for make the cut, Lefty finds himself currently tied for 63rd place at +8 through six holes. That might sound like an issue, but I am sure that he has enough scrambling left in his game to inch up a few spots on the leaderboard before it’s all said and done. After all, he’s one of those players that will let loose like never before on the last day.
Schauffele is another story. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to stay in the hunt for many tournaments recently. The 27 year old golfer is poised to play a promising round today and just might surprise us all with where he ends finishing this final round. We have yet to see and golf usually rewards its fans with some final round surprises.
No matter how you see it. It is good to see the U.S. Open Championship back in San Diego and at Torrey Pines. All that is left is for us to see who comes out on top and what other thrills we will witness along the way to hoisting of that trophy. Hell, with just a few strokes off the lead, Rory McIlroy might be able to work his way into a fight for the lead throughout the day. That would make for a daring finish right there.
Most golfers can say that the challenge of your average golf course comes down to its design or its incorporation of the natural landscape into the course design. Whether it be the flowing waterways that present a hazard running parallel to and across a course’s fairway or the rocky hillsides of local mountain ranges, most courses tend to place you smack dab in the middle of nature with a few added challenges to boot. To be honest, most golf courses have their own built-in challenges.
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Aerated Greens Add a Challenge
Playing Cottonwood the other day gave me a discounted tee time and plenty of challenges on the putting surface. The course is an East County of San Diego County staple with its wide open fairways and reachable par 5 holes. Take into account that landing in the rough tends to come at a high cost for the average player, this course continues to reward straight drives and soft chips onto the green with little backspin. . . even on aerated greens.
Decent Play Despite the Heat
An added challenge for this day was the heat. I was on my way to the course and found myself battling temperatures pushing beyond 90 degrees. As I drew closer to the course, the higher the temperature rose. By the time I reached the course, the temperature was somewhere between 92 and 95 degrees. Thank God for dri-fit golf shirts and board shorts.
Despite the heat, I still had a decent outing. I found myself pulling my drives to the right initially. My on-spot analysis gave me every indication that my hands and clubhead were moving out of sync with my body, but I did not make a major adjustment immediately since my recovery shots were placing me in a decent position. Those right-sided drives would come to cost me on holes #10 and #17, robbing myself of yardage as obstructions cut down the ball flight of my tee shots.
Oddly enough, my tee shot on hole #13 placed me smack dab behind a tree line and facing about 195 yards out from the green. I smacked a 5 wood low and it threaded the needle between a wishbone-looking branch of a tree for a straight pathway that left me about 10 yards short of the green. Having survived that hole with bogey, I began to adjust my alignment on the tee and cut down on my tendency to pull my drives to the right, but I slipped back into old habits on hole #17 and it proved costly.
My scrambling got me out of trouble a few times and I thank God for that type of recovery on the course. However, even scrambling here and there isn’t enough to get you shot at birdie or par. In most cases, it is just enough to keep playing that bogey golf. On the front end, my 3 double bogeys cost me. In theory (and hindsight), if I had cut that down to just a single double bogey, I would be sitting pretty with an 89. But my 91 was well earned. My putts rolled well despite the aerated greens, edging the hole more often than I care to mention, so I continue to play with confidence.
Aerated greens? I’ll take the challenge. And I’ll take the discount as long as it’s still available.