Aerated Greens and More Challenges

“A great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer’s mind.” — Tom Watson

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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.

Scrambling Saves the Scorecard

Let’s be honest! If you keep pulling your drives to the right, you will not hit too many greens in regulation nor set yourself for too many birdie opportunities. You’ll work against the thick grass of the rough, having to select a club and shot based upon how the ball lies in the thicker grass as opposed to how it might be sitting on the fairway. So, hitting 3 fairways and 1 green in regulation did not help to improve my scorecard.

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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.

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Spring Break Golf PLans

Spring Break golf plans are underway. Every single day during the week of Spring Break this year has some element of golf on the to-do list, even if it isn’t all play. Whether it be a bit of wedge work and chipping around the green or walking 9 holes in the morning hours, this week is dedicated to getting out there and getting back on track to breaking 90 more consistently.

Spring Break Golf PLans for 2021

After some review of my winter break golf spree, I have chalked up my lessons learned and see how to add more balance to days off and spending time between rounds of golf on productive work like my freelance writing, weekly video livestreams, and organizing multiple side hustle projects. I have made an initial decision regarding my dilemma to go spikeless or spikes, purchasing the Skechers Pivot spikeless golf shoes. Other than a few extra pounds from bouncing from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, I believe that I am armed and ready to get back out there on the course.

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Limited Daily Doubles

Roll back the calendar a few years ago, I would have definitely felt fine about taking advantage of free replay or playing early AM and then again at twilight on the same day. I learned my lesson and I definitely will take it easy, spreading out my daily doubles during this time of intensive play. My regimen has to include at least half a day gap if not a full day off from playing twice in one day. The body needs what it needs.

Walk More, Ride Less

Like I said, working from home and sitting on Zoom has not been the best thing for my health. I have truly had to change some things up in order to get my fitness back on track. That is perfectly fine and it fits perfectly into my playing plans for Spring Break golf rounds this year. My focus is to walk 75% percent of the time or more. If that’s the case, then I need to be sure that the Advil is packed, the water bottle is filled, and my pre-game stretch routine includes some deep or dynamic stretching.

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Breaking 90 is an Ongoing Goal

I have broken 90 multiple times. That is not the problem. I can play primarily bogey golf and catch that one par to break 90. The formula is not that hard to calculate. Execution is the key. That’s a major factor when you start talking about golf and errant drives, remarkable recovery shots, and yipped chips around the green.

Here is my short list for keeping my head in the game and getting out of my own head:

  • Control: I want to remain in control and that means not forcing myself to make a lot of poor choices that leave me with limited shot options. Know when to layup. Keep an eye on where I am with hitting the fairway consistently. Manage my expectations and play the shot that will deliver the most benefits with the least amount of trouble. Play under control and keep swinging.
  • Confidence: The more I play the more confidently I play. That might be more than just me, but it makes a difference. You can be 1oo confident. That’s cocky. We don’t want that. We want confidence in our swing and shot. That’s where we want to be this Spring Break.
  • Consistency: This comes from doing thing right time and time again. Don’t make drastic changes. Adjustments are fine. Those don’t cause us to get too far off into our own head. Major changes can cause
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Overall, I am ready to hit the course this Spring Break and see what rust I can shake off and what new adventures that I can experience. I have a good idea of where i would like to play, so I will keep you posted as I post throughout this week.

Keep swinging and having fun.

MLK Day: A Day Off, A Day on the Course

I rarely pass up a good deal. And, when it comes to good deals on a round of golf, I am usually game. That’s what I came across online for walking 9 holes at Carlton Oaks Country Club at 7 AM on MLK Day. I took that with a quickness.

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Carlton Oaks Country Club (Santee, California)

Located in the midst of a residential area, Carlton Oaks Country Club is tucked away between the 52 Freeway and the single family homes of this eastern suburb. In an era where many courses seem forsaken by management and groundskeepers alike, this course still retains its luster as the morning sun pushes up from behind the nearby hilltops and shines upon the dewy fairways. Even with the morning mist rising from grassy open areas, this course offers plenty of built-in challenges embedded within the front and back. It also includes water coming into play on some key holes, especially a forced layup for most golfers on the final 18th hole.

Play to Your Strengths

My switch back to the TaylorMade Burner with the 10.5 degree head has been awesome off the tee. I am seeing more lift in my drives with less drift and pull. Right now, I am just under 40% of fairways hit. I expect that to bump up on my next outing for a similar course. I can gain a little bit more control extending my arms through impact and following through further. Plus, if I can be honest, I could truly have utilized my 3 wood off the tee to have given myself a better second shot in a few places. Implement that strategy on 2 holes, and then I am busting over 60% fairways hit.

Maybe next time.

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More Par Opportunities and Close Calls

After my play at Cottonwood, I knew one of my struggles was not giving myself enough of a chance at making par. What does that mean? If I average two putts when I make it to the green, then my best shot at par is to get to the green with at least a birdie opportunity. For instance, I took some time to read and watch Today’s Golfer’s instructional article and video on scoring better on par 5s. I am not there yet, but I am getting closer.

My par on the 15th was after my third shot with a hybrid landed above the hole just off the green. By following that up with a light chip shot that rolled within inches of the hole, I was in the prefect position for par. Fast forward to the next hole and I found myself in a familiar position at the same hole I had chipped in for par my last time on the course, but this time fate killed my chip shot just inches from falling into the hole and forced me to take a bogey. It was a heartbreaker, but like I said before, you limit your chances for making par when you force an all-or-nothing shot for par off the fringe or at an extensive distance.

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Next Time I Play. . .

  • I will have on some lightweight golf shoes
  • I will consider my 3 wood on some holes surrounded by hazards
  • I will try to shave 2 strokes off my score
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