Join us on a golf vision quest
A golf website to aid the journey to perfect your swing, make more putts, hit longer drives and get your handicap down to scratch.
Lifetime golfer afflicted with the dreaded chicken-wing bent left arm at impact. Been working on fixing that for the past 9 years. Struggle mightily to keep golf handicap under 7. Hoakalei Country Club, located in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, is my home course.
Started playing golf when I was 11 years old.
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All Golfers Know This Feeling
Getting the career low golf round into the clubhouse
We've all been there before. We've got a career round going, now we just have to get it into the clubhouse.
Easier said than done.
Golf is like fishing...there are tons of stories about the one that got away.
But every once in a while we're able to finish a career low round without any disasters.
It usually comes down to one critical golf shot that keeps the round alive.
Comfort Zone and Golf
When I was playing golf at the Air Force Academy, every so often our golf coach would make us play from the forward tees.
His theory being if you're not used to shooting low numbers then when you finally get there you'll be out of your comfort zone and will be prone to bad holes and bad shots.
He likened it to driving through an unfamiliar city for the first time.
The first time you drive through the city people tend to drive more cautiously and slowly than normal.
They also tend to be extra vigilant and most likely tensed up around the arms, shoulders, neck and back.
I've found when I'm driving in an unfamiliar environment I tend to forget things like blinkers, checking my rearview and I might even miss a turn or two.
However, after driving the route a few times we all start to relax and whip right through to wherever we are headed.
Shooting low numbers is the same.
If you've never done it before you start thinking differently and before you know it you've choked away a great round.
It's happened to all of us.
It's hard to get that career round of golf into the clubhouse.
It just is.
Professional golfers go low all the time.
Ever wonder how they do it.
I don't know about you, but if I find myself under par during the round I'm normally not thinking about making 3 or 4 more birdies.
I'm taking my foot OFF the gas and trying to coast in.
Pros are STOMPING on the gas pedal and are trying to go even lower.
Because they are comfortable being under par.
The more you are there the more comfortable you'll feel.
The career low round
Comfortable or not, for us average golfers our career round usually comes down to one key shot.
And it's normally a shot that has given us problems in the past.
We can feel the pressure mounting during our round as we take the career score deeper and deeper into the round.
It's like a pitcher in baseball throwing a no-hitter.
Nobody wants to say anything for fear of jinxing the low score.
And in the back our minds we know the key shot is looming ahead.
Waiting for us.
Lurking in the distance.
It happened to me a few months ago.
I was out playing by myself and was hitting the ball fairly well.
I finished the front nine at 3 over so the round was going good but nothing spectacular.
Then I birdied 10 and 13.
Now I was in unfamiliar territory and I was out of my comfort zone.
I've shot under par before but not in a long time and definitely not on my home course.
Hoakalei Country Club
My home course is Hoakalei located in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
It's an Ernie Els design with 137 deep and unforgiving bunkers.
It also has 13 water holes, fast greens and trade winds that consistently blow 10-15 miles per hour.
The rough looks benign until you get in it.
It takes playing the course a few times before you realize the rough, while not very high, snarls your club and is extremely hard to chip and hit out of.
And there's number 8.
Number is a ridiculously hard hole. It plays 400 yards into the wind with water down the entire right side and out of bounds left.
The green is guarded by bunkers and water and it's severely sloped.
In the Sony Open qualifier the stroke average was almost 6.
On Saturday's if you par it you'll normally take home the skin.
It's a good challenge so for an almost 60 year old man playing it at 6226 yards, it's a great test of golf.
You must hit it straight, have a good bunker game and make a few putts.
Breaking 80 for me is a good day.
It's not unusual for a golf course to have an amen corner popularized by Augusta National's 11, 12 and 13.
At Hoakalei it is 14, 15 and 16.
14 is the number 8 of the back nine, 15 is long and the green is hard to putt and 16 plays into a wind funnel created by two housing areas on either side.
Getting through these three holes with pars is hard.
But that's not what was worrying me.
I just accepted the fact that I'd probably make a bogey or two.
I was more worried about number 17.
To my surprise I parred all three and wound up on 17 tee at 1 over.
The critical shot
The 17th hole at Hoakalei is a par three that plays about 170 - 200 depending on the hole location.
It normally plays down wind with a lake and a bunker left of the green. The miss is short or to the right.
Almost anything left will miss the bunker and end up in the lake.
A 6 or 7 is not an uncommon score.
My miss is left. Especially with a hybrid.
With each par on 14, 15 and 16 I had been dreading this shot.
Hit it even halfway straight and the worst you'll make is a 4.
Number 18 is a fairly straightforward par 5 so I knew all I had to do was get past this one key shot on 17.
I was playing by myself and there was no one else on the course so I was taking my time.
But, I just couldn't get situated over the ball and had to back off twice.
I almost never do that.
It was all nerves.
I took a deep breath and tried to focus on how little the shot really mattered in the grand scheme of things.
Being almost 59 does have its perks in that you can normally find a healthy dose of perspective without trying to hard.
With that in mind I stood over the ball with one swing thought.
Easy hands and commit.
I knocked it on the green and made par.
Parred 18 too for my low round in a long long time.
Got a story about your critical shot.
Let's hear about it here.
The Golf Blow Up
On the other hand we've all had rounds that started well and ended in disaster. I once birdied 4 of the first 6 holes and shot an 81. I had pars on the other two holes by making 40 foot par saving putts. So I essentially one-putted the first 6 holes. I knew it couldn't last and I eventually blew up on the back nine.
Favorite Golf Club
My favorite club is my R-90 sand wedge. I've had it since 1976 and all the grooves are completely worn away. Consequently I don't get near the back spin I should be getting with a sand wedge. When it's on I can get up and down from anywhere but when it's not I struggle around the greens. I know I should get rid of it but just can't seem to part ways with it.