This past weekend I was allotted some time to go out and play a few rounds with a couple of my really good friends. Getting out and playing is always a bonus nowadays so when I can combine my outings with some buddies it’s always a better day no matter how we play.
I don’t want you to think based on that last statement that I don’t care anymore, playing well is very important to me but I found out in chatting with Randy that there was a downside to fully enveloping myself in the game. He said to me on the 15th tee while we were waiting for the group ahead of us to clear the fairway “You sure seem to be enjoying yourself more lately.” It was a conversation that I’m glad we had. I was completely oblivious to how insane I have been over the past couple of years as I’ve struggled trying to improve.
Randy was funny, he let me know how he used to think at any moment my head was going to explode because I didn’t execute a shot correctly. I wish I could remember some particular instances to rationalize what had happened but I’m just going to let those days from the past stay there and be moments my friends can reflect on for how I’ve changed my approach to the game.
It was a nice moment for me for a couple of reasons. For one it was nice to know that Randy was enjoying the time we were spending together, mainly because I wasn’t going all Norman Bates on myself while we played. More important though was my awakening to the fact that I’ve changed for the better in my attitude and demeanor on the course.
Several years ago I went through a huge transition in my life where I lost a lot of weight. Diet, exercise and a will to better my life had me on a roller-coaster as I endeavored through the highs and lows. The experience was rough and I struggled for many months to maintain my goals. Even though I knew I was improving my health and my appearance there were times I was ready to give up and go back to the easy days of couch sitting and ice cream eating. It wasn’t until the first time I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while and with a simple statement that went something like this; “Wow, you look great! How much weight have you lost?” Changed my outlook forever. That moment is the ultimate affirmation on how your hard work and determination made those tough days completely worth it.
Now in that situation I was working towards a goal and hearing from an outsider that I was achieving what I was trying to obtain was overwhelming. It was the confirmation I needed to keep going and not give up on my plans.
With Randy’s comment I had nearly the same revelation but on a different level. I haven’t made a deliberate effort to enjoy myself more but I think because my play has gotten better I’m not in the depressed state I use to be in every time I went out and played. That’s a change I’m glad others are seeing especially someone whom I respect and consider a close friend.
Even though this past weekend I didn’t play to the best of my abilities, knowing that I’m not considered the psychopath I used to be was rather uplifting and with that being said here’s how my weekend of golf went.
Primm Valley Resorts – Saturday Morning
On Saturday Dan and I headed out to Primm Valley and played the Desert Course. The wind in town was pretty brutal and I was sure it would be worse once we made the 40min drive to stateline. Remarkable though the wind was nonexistent for the most part and we had near perfect playing conditions. I just wish the same could have been said for the course.
My warm up went incredible well, so well in fact I tweeted this out right before we headed to the first tee.
— Mathew Wangrycht (@TheBrkfastBall) April 12, 2014
Talk about a monumental jinks.
As well as I did in my warm up I couldn’t transfer one bit of it to the course. My driving, which has saved me over the last couple of rounds I played, decided not to participate for the morning 18 holes. I was all over the place and that put me in same really bad spots that were hard to recover from.
As my swing has improved I’ve started coming into the ball much better and in doing so I’m hitting a little baby draw. It’s somewhat exciting to see considering I’ve hit a fade forever and prior to that a nasty slice. Still though I’m having a hard time adjusting to the draw flight and I still find myself aiming, almost subconsciously, at the left side of the fairway for the fade. More than once I hit a beautiful tee shot that drew itself right into the crap.
My other struggle for the early round was the greens. Slow as molasses compared to what I’ve been putting on in my backyard and I just couldn’t make the adjustment quick enough. Had all the greens been consistent I probably would have stood a better chance but they fluctuated from one to the next and it just messed with my head.
My lone highlight came on the 18th hole when I drained a 45’ putt to wrap up the round. That felt great considering how bad I scored for the day.
It was one of those rounds when I looked back at it I wondered how in the hell I didn’t shoot 85 yet I also considered that I should have shot 110! It was just a weird round.
Wildhorse Golf Club – Saturday Afternoon
Thankfully they day got better. We loaded up and drove back to town where we had a 3pm tee time at Wildhorse.
Wildhorse is by no means a top ranked course in town but for $20 it hard to pass up. Yes you have to deal with some oddities that come with paying $20 for a round like No cart girls, spider webs in the water cooler boxes, no coolers on the cart and several people who have no business being on a golf course but other than that it’s still golf.
This second round of the day didn’t start off on the right foot either; I started out Double, Bogey, Triple before everything finally started running on all cylinders. I played the next nine holes at +, it was nice to finally see some consistency, even though it only lasted nine holes. The greens were even worse than Primm but after finally adapting to the conditions I started rolling the ball the way I’m used to seeing it.
Even with the struggles at the beginning I managed to claw and scrape out an 87. Considering I left so many shots out on the course and carded 35 putts there was a real chance I could have matched or at least tied my best round so far. I did manage to birdie the 9th and the 18th holes so unlike my lackluster performance at Primm, the day ended on a high note and I left the course knowing in my head that my game is close… real close!
Arroyo Golf Club – Sunday Morning
After a long nights rest I woke up Sunday ready to hit the links and prove that the Primm round was a fluke. What I wasn’t ready for was Mother Nature flexing her mighty muscle and pummeling the valley with 35mph winds for the entire time we played.
35mph winds suck, this is true. What makes them worse is when it’s dead in your face for the majority of the holes. I spent my warm up session hitting some low shots trying to adapt but with the high trajectory ball flights I get from the G25’s it wasn’t an option for me to try to go out and play a style of golf that not conducive to my game.
Knowing that we were going to get beat up by the wind most of the day might have quelled my desire to score well, I mean seriously there was no chance I was going to be able to go at the greens from 175 yards away with a head wind. I think collectively as a group we decided let’s just have some fun and see what happens.
Mentality however, the wind did not change the fact that I had a three match win streak going on against Randy and as much as I wanted to get it to four Mr. McClary was doing everything he could to end my win streak.
Back and forth we battled, I was down two, then we were even then I was up five. It was a great head to head game even though our scores were pathetic the fact we both were doing shitty in crappy weather made it entertaining at best. After losing my lead I plugged away and with a little help from Randy stepped up to the 18th tee with a 3 stroke lead.
Both of our drives hit the fairway and I was that much closer to a victory the only thing that stood between my 4th straight win against my boy was 170 yards of green well manicured grass. I wish I could tell you that I was nervous and my mind was scrambling on how to play the shot right and not jack it all up. The truth though is settling and disturbing at the same time. You see I was completely calm. There was no reason to be anything but calm. I had a three stroke lead with a fairway approach to the last green of the match.
What happened next will go down in my group of friends as one of the worse collapses you’ll ever see.
Stroke 2: A pulled draw that ended up I could only have hoped in a playable lie. Randy was quick to point out that he was sure it was OB and that I should hit another. I had no choice but to agree and hit my provisional.
Stoke 3: I was able to find my ball at least, that was the good. I came to rest basically in somebody’s backyard with the ball sitting on some hardpan dirt. I had a stance thankfully but about 15 feet in front of me was a large tree that made the shot a lot more difficult. I would have had to hit the ball perfect considering the lie and with the risk/reward favoring the risk side I decided to punch out the fairway in the little window I had to the fairway in front of the green. I made excellent contact, maybe too good and clipped a branch from the tree sending the ball straight down into the same hardpan. Only this time it was sitting on a dramatically more difficult lie.
Stroke 4: For this shot I had no stance at all. My ass was in the middle of an extremely thorny bush that was cutting at my legs every time I tried to reposition. The tree I had clipped was directly behind me and because of its proximity I had no backswing. My only option was to punch out backwards away from the hole, which I managed to do.
Randy by the way had hit his second shot just short of the green on the left side and was left with a pitch shot over a huge, daunting bunker to get to the pin. Back to the madness:
Stroke 5: Had my second ball gone out-of-bounds and I would have had to play my provisional, I would have dropped 3 (penalty stroke) and hit 4 from the same spot. It made me wish that ball went OB because I was 10 yards in front where my provisional came to rest. Not having to go through all that mess in the dirt and bushes might have led to a clearer mind and a better shot, who knows?
For my 5th stroke I hit a really good wedge and Randy even sighed as it left the clubface. We both thought it was a perfect shot. When I made contact with the ball I was certain all I was going to have left to wrap up the match was a 3 footer or less. Randy on the other hand was going to have hole his very difficult pitch for a tie and to do that it was going to take a seriously good shot.
The wind just sucked the life out of my shot; my error for not playing a 3 club wind instead of 2 club wind I played, and the ball came up about four feet short of the green.
Stoke 6: Randy hit his shot and it was a damn good one. Putting it close enough that it forced me to hit a good shot or it was a guaranteed loss. Again this is where I wish I could say I was nervous as hell and my hands were shaking with anxiety as I got in my stance. That was the furthest thing from reality though. I was calm as could be. Chipping has become almost second nature to me and this was the most simplistic chip shot that I had attempted over the last two days. So you can see why I chunked the hell out of it and didn’t make the green.
Stroke 7: I grabbed my putter and nestled the ball up to the hole but it was pointless once the ball curled away from the cup. Randy was now the one in control and he could secure the win with a 5 foot putt, which he did.
Randy made his putt even though the gentleman that joined us the 16th hole three jacked from 6 feet not a half a step away from where Randy’s ball was marked. “That was sure hard to watch!” I said as he lined up his putt. If there is anything that exist that you never want to see it’s somebody 3-putt from pretty much the same spot you’re in. Nerves of steel that fella has though because he hit it right in the heart and drained the putt.
Two things happened in Sundays round that have not taken place in one of my rounds in a very long time. On the first hole, with my second swing I completely whiffed at the ball. Trying to muscle up the ball with a new 3Wood I’m playing and that nasty headwind had me so out of my element I whiffed for the first time in years. All I could do at the time was laugh about it because it was so ridiculous it happened. I said to Randy “If I lose this match by one stroke I’m going to be pissed!” Sure enough that whiff cost me.
The other was the chunk on the 18th green chip shot. How in the hell that happened is beyond me! I chip so much now that my backyard is functional. I felt like Jim Furyk at the Ryder Cup a few years ago as I hurled over in disbelief after it happened.
Regardless of my loss to Randy and my streak against him coming to an end I think overall I played pretty well considering what we all were up against. The wind was freaking brutal.
Hopefully the scar tissue left over from my ultimate collapse doesn’t hang around too long. I have some outstanding golf coming up in the next couple of weeks. How outstanding you ask? How about TPC Summerlin, Wolf Creek and Shadow Creek on back to back to back days!
Some much-needed time in the garage working on a few things with my irons is where I’m going to focus my efforts over the next 10 days. I hit some really good shots over the weekend but there were too many that had I executed better would have led to some much better scores and a fourth win in a row against Randy!