A Thanksgiving to Remember at Rio Secco

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Rio Secco Golf Club

Henderson, NV 11/24/2011

Yesterday was a pretty special day for me. Not for what you would normally think for it being Thanksgiving though. My wife and kids are back in Alabama celebrating the Holiday with family while I’m left at home with the envious pleasures of working Friday and Saturday this weekend. So yesterday I took advantage of my Bachelor weekend and went and played Rio Secco. They were having a Shotgun start at 8:30 am and for $40 I couldn’t pass it up. This was the first time I have ever golfed on Thanksgiving and to my surprise practically every course in town was doing a shotgun start. The green fees went from $40 all the way up to $85, so with Rio Secco being as nice as it is, it was a no-brainer to play there for that price!

Rio Secco


The conditions couldn’t have been better, a little overcast and the temps in the mid 50’s, by the end of the round it was creeping around 70°!!

My warmup went really, really well! I was hitting every club with good consistency and even my driver was pretty solid. I definitely felt ready for the round after a quick chip and putt session we headed off to number 17 to start the round.

The first tee shot I made great contact but it was a pull shot left of the fairway. A bad miss so to say, I ended up in a fairway bunker with a really good lie. I chose my 5i with the intent of getting some distance and keeping the ball in play in the middle of the fairway, and I nailed it! I left myself a nice 90 yard shot that I hit and had a GIR on the first hole! Great way to start the day! The problem was, I misread the Green chart and played the shot too short which left me a long uphill 40′ putt. Needless to say, a 3 putt for bogey was the end results.

The day only got better from there. On number 3 I drained a 40′ putt for Birdie that was no doubt one of the prettiest putts I have ever made.

I was really happy with the way I played the Par 5’s. I’ve always had the mindset that I have to hit Driver-Wood on the par 5’s bet yesterday I put that thought away and played more to my game style. Driver, Iron & Iron. On 17 it worked on 18 it would have worked minus a bad 3rd shot. 7 it worked, again minus a bad iron swing and on 8 I played it perfectly.

Putting wasn’t very good though. 5, 3 putts made my putt total a lot higher than what would have liked it to be. Make those all two putts and I shoot 90!! Get rid of my unnecessary penalty on 11 and I shoot 89!! Now that would have been a cause for celebration!

I am celebrating though, I improved on my previous best at Rio Secco by 12 shots! 12 SHOTS!!

Rio Secco


The biggest difference from the last few rounds I played to this one was something I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks at the range. That’s what I’m calling the 80% rule. Bill and I were talking one night at the range and he was telling me about an interview he saw with Tom Watson. Mr. Watson was talking about how a tour pro wall always puts themselves in a position to hit their approach shot at 80% of full power.

When I started to think about it, the idea of swing at 80% it completely consumed me for like 5 days! When I started thinking about how I play and how I approach each shot I take I was really rather embarrassed about it. The first thing I do after I look at the lie of my shot is to get the distance, let’s say for this discussion the distance is 155 yards. For me, that’s my 7I. What I’ve never thought about was is this, that’s my 7I at 100% if I hit it perfect. How often does that happen, well for me not often enough! But, a more controlled less aggressive 6I let’s say at 80% is a perfect shot for me.

I couldn’t wait to get to the range last Friday. It was at the end of the night the week before when Bill told me about what he saw with Tom Watson, so I had a full week to digest and analyze the ideology of the 80% rule. That range session last week was awesome. More controlled, more relaxed and more confident I had one of the best sessions to date as far the practice range goes. That was until my 5I came out of the bag. To put it bluntly, I suck with my 5I, have for a long time, and my 4I isn’t much better. I could swing it at 80% but the ball wasn’t going anywhere, no snap, no compression just a lame duck ball. My 8I was going further.

Frustrated was the half of it, I was pissed! Not a right mindset for golf. There is just something about the longer clubs and me that doesn’t get along very well. Ready to pack it in Bill came up with a suggestion. Instead of an 80% full swing, he suggested an 80% 3/4 swing almost a punch shot of sorts. Wouldn’t you know, it worked! I was hitting the ball probably 50 yards further with an 80% 3/4 swing than with an 80% full swing. I didn’t have a lot of balls left to hit that night so when I got to the practice range at Rio yesterday I was excited to try it again.

I couldn’t believe how well the ball was coming off my clubface, it was really exciting for me to aim myself at the 185 flag and with a 3/4 swing and my 5I get the ball there with no issues! Then I gave it a try with my 7I and 8I and hit some fantastic shots dead at my targets!

Having that shot in my bag I know is what helped me shot that 95. I never tried to do more than what I was capable of at 80%. Not that everything was perfect, I did manage to execute a few miss hits, but, those miss hits didn’t hurt me like they have in the past, at 80% though, there were a lot fewer miss hits!!

Next up is my first lesson with Dustin and that’s tomorrow! Very excited about it and I can’t wait to tell him about this round at Rio Secco!

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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