I hate to admit it but I’m in a funk and it’s not a good James Brown funk.
It’s a funk that dates back to the end of last year and as much as I’ve tried to quite the storm of inadequacies, my golf game is rapidly spiraling out of control.
Case in point this past weekend, where I tee’d it up at one of my favorite tracks in Vegas the Rio Secco Golf Club, I had a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of round.
Off the tee I was pretty solid and around the green I played exceptional, I’ll let the nine 1-putts speak for themselves, but my iron game took a big dump from my first swing on the course. I say on the course because as of lately my trend of a solid warm-up continued. I couldn’t miss on the range. If there has ever been a perfect example of “throwing darts” it was on display while I was on the practice range.
Aside from a not so good warm up at Shadow Creek, Sunday’s pre round session was yet another solid outing as far as warm-ups go. But much like my previous rounds the level of skill set I was showcasing on the range unfortunately stayed there. My worst fear as a golfer has started to become true. When it matters I’m faltering but when there’s no pressure or circumstances to execute I’m lights out.
The first hole of the day was a catastrophe. My tee shot, even though it found the fairway, was weak and faded out to the right. Where had I hit a decent drive like I’ve done in the past I would have been hitting a 6iron or 5iron to the green. That weak tee shot now left me with 190+ to the flag and the ball was sitting a good 4-5” above my feet. With my hybrid, which I’ve been on fire of late, I topped the shot. Thankfully it managed to meander down the fairway and only drift a little into the first cut of rough. I actually had a great look at the green. With only 75 yards to the pin and considering I was on fire just a mere 20min ago on the range, I stood over the ball with my 56° wedge and visually saw the ball hitting the pin. It was beautiful in my mind but reality had a different outcome planned. Instead of the short I had visualized I “bladed” the hell out of the ball, ran it through the green where it ended up on the hillside. From there I was left with a very fast downhill chip shot to the flag. When it rains it pours and so it was fitting that I chunked the chip shot and ended up three putting. Not the ideal start at all.
I was really happy with my work off the tee, minus the par 3’s of course. My “lack of power” I’ve been fighting with finally suppressed itself somewhat thanks to some solid advice from Wade after we reviewed a video I sent him. I haven’t talked about it much lately, the lack of power that is, mainly because it’s been embarrassing how weak my tee shot’s have been. I’m no monster off the tee but when I’m used to hitting it 250 or so and that number has been reduced by 30-35 yards it’s just a tad demoralizing.
Thankfully with the work I put in after the talk with Wade I’ve seen the distance numbers come back up and along with those figures my ball striking with my irons has also shown some improvement. Not on the course obviously but at home and at the range I’m starting to see some worthy improvements. That’s what made the horrible iron play leave such a bad taste in my mouth.
Even with the decent play off the tee there’s still much room for improvement but hitting 71% of the fairways on a tough course was nice to see. Add in the fact my distances were back to normal and I was pleased with how my driving went for the day. That made a tough day not so hard to bear.
Chipping, beside that first chunk shot on No 1, was outstanding. I was all over the pin with my chip shots and because of how successful I was with my 52° wedge in hand that led to the best stat of the day; 28 putts with nine 1-putts.
That’s no typo. Nine 1-putts and 28 total putts are both records for me. Without a question Rio Secco has some outstanding greens, best in the valley if you ask me. They’re fast, smooth and true and I LOVE putting there. It certainly helps to know the course too. The more I play Rio the better I’m getting at understanding just how much the valley comes into play on some of the greens. I’ve been perplexed in the past but as the rounds are accumulating I’m no longer in a state of confusion when I see putts breaking in ways that in the past would have left me scratching my head.
So where did it go wrong? My irons, I just sucked ass with them and it’s been that way the last couple of outings.
On the Par 5 5th I hit a decent drive, little on right side but very playable considering the length of the hole. I hit my 3 wood, no, let me rephrase that, I murdered my 3 wood and left myself a short 90 yards to the pin. My 52° wedge is my 105-95 yard club depending on my grip position. Even though my middle irons have been an abomination recently my wedges have been consistent. I’ve played the 5th at Rio many times but I can’t remember a time where I was in this good of a spot for my approach into the green. 90 yards with the entire green to work with due to the middle back pin placement. Coming up 5 yards short of the green was the last thing I was thinking about. I had birdie thoughts flying out of my brain like crazy but, another fail and yet another bogey where birdie should have been the outcome.
The very next hole I came out and blasted a drive into the perfect position for the tricky 6th hole. With only 130 yards to green center and an up front pin location I decided to take an easy 8-iron instead of forcing a 9. That shot faded on me and I was no faced with a very tough bunker shot. Bladed the bunker shot, penalty for an unplayable, a chunked pitch shot and 2 putts had me score a triple where Par was a given.
Over and over again throughout the entire round I found myself hitting bad iron after bad iron. With as many fairways as I hit and how outstanding my chipping and putting was there was no way that I should have shot a 100. But that’s what happened. 51/49 another triple digit score and another round where I left the course wondering WTF just happened.
The six penalties didn’t help, two of those were from tee shots that I hit too good. Yes, I wrote that, too good of a tee shot can happen and did, twice. On the par 4 11thand the par 4 14th I hit through the fairway and had to play a lateral. The other errors were from just poorly executed iron shots.
Being able to take away some good from a bad score is tough but this round it was a no brainer. I putted lights out and my chipping was excellent. The few bad tee shots, mainly the ones I hit too good (I love saying that, it’s such a farce but still is fun to say) were punishing so I can’t talk up how well I hit the driver even though deep down I know it much better.
I’m at a total loss when it comes to my iron play though. My range sessions have been excellent and my pre round warm-up has been outstanding. Getting on the course though something is going on in my head that’s causing disaster to set in and I’m dumbfounded.
So back to the garage I go where I’m going to continue to work on my fundamentals and see if some repetition can maybe assist me in executing on the course where it’s just a little bit more important than a range session or warm up. Hopefully that will help me at least slow down this “Funk” that has overtaken my game.