So yesterday I played in my first PGA event for about 3 years and it was a blast. The event was a PGA Trainee Open day which I was invited to by close friend and Murrimbidgee Golf Club Trainee Professional, Cameron Mackay. It was a great day for golf with a slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky, and 21 degrees.
The Location: Riverside Oaks - Bungool Course
This place is an incredible golf course, a great combination of links and woodlands style holes with plenty of water and well manicured fairways and greens, whilst not an overly long course there is plenty of times you have to stop and think about the shot you are about to play, it would be fun (but very challenging to play a SpeedGolf round here. The greens were quite hard and some of the slopes made certain parts of greens unplayable.
After starting our day on the 4th hole with an easy 2-putt par I thought I was in for a good day, then BAM, double bogey on the 5th, bogey on the 6th and only managing to make par after driving 2m from the green on the 290m 7th hole. A very shaky start indeed.
Through the 16th hole after a bit more scrambling and a couple of birdies I was still scoring reasonably with 3 over the card, then came the meltdown. With 5 holes to go and a few good birdie opportunities to come I was feeling really confident until my 9 iron into the short par 3 17th (Pictured) went through the back.
As you can see from the picture looking from where my ball was back towards the tee the green has 2 distinct tiers as well as a few other undulations and slopes, at this point my ball was about 5m from the green and 3m above the hole. I hit what was the best possible chip I could, which proceeded to roll out about 20 feet past the pin - there was now way I could have stopped it. To cut a long story short, I walked off this green with a 6 and the par 4 18th with a 7.
Late round implosion complete, we were back at the first tee with 3 holes to go and my playing partners were looking at me strangely as I pulled only 4 clubs out of my bag (3w, 7i, GW, Putter). I told them I was going to shoot 1 under for the last 3 holes using only 4 clubs, even after explaining about Speedgolf during our round they all agreed that I was completely insane and there was no way I could do it, but I had other ideas.
The Final 3 Holes
#1 336m Par 4
After hitting a pretty average cut up 3 wood to the widest part of the fairway I had left myself with a long (118m) gap wedge to a raised green with a blind hole location. I knew I had to get every piece of it and somehow managed to hit it to a perfect position about 6 feet from the hole with no slope. Result - Birdie
#2 388m Par 4
Knowing that I had to get a good tee shot away with water all down the left side and barely having enough length to get home with a good 3 wood and 7 iron, the pressure was too much and I made a terrible swing, I double crossed myself and instead of hitting a strong draw into the right hand side of the fairway the ball flew high and left landing in the edge of the second part of the hazard. I could have easily given up all hope, but I didn't and hit 7 iron from 185 to about 20m short of another raised green. Somehow I miraculously chipped it with my GW face opened way up to about 8 inches to tap in for Result - Bogey
#3 300m Par 4
Another block cut from the tee (story of my day) left me with the impossible task of hitting my second from about 70m on the wrong fairway to a pin I couldn't see about 6m above me and over a hill, I was really making it hard for myself. I set myself and hit what I thought was a solid pitch but it wasn't until I jogged up and over the hill I could see my ball about 10 feet from the pin. I was stoked and I knew I would have every chance of holing another birdie putt. I was slightly below the hole which gave me a fairly straight putt that I hit firmly into the centre of the hole. Result - Birdie
What did I learn from this round and more importantly my Birdie - Bogey - Birdie finish???
Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and go for it, no matter what others think or say you are the only one who can control your destiny (or your golf score). So once you set yourself a goal you are the only one responsible for following through with it. I also reminded myself that golf is a game of highs and lows and you have to just take the good with the bad. It's very easy for us to give up and throw a score away (like I did on holes 17 and 18) but you can always re-focus and set new goals. This is also true in life...
Never give up, it's OK to move the goalposts and adapt your thinking, and sometimes you have to just golf like no-one is watching.