2020 Golf Thread

I had a thoroughly mediocre, no-birdie 79 this morning at Dunbar. Hit a ball out of bounds, popped up a drive into a bunker on the 14th I've literally not been in for at least a decade, and generally struggled in most areas of my game. The most worrying thing is that I'm really struggling to read the greens (and at my home course as well) - it's really hard to make any putts if you can't figure out where to aim. Part of that is down to the influence of the wind on putting on links courses, which is always a factor to bear in mind, but I'm just not seeing it at the moment.

One mitigating factor in my defense today was the fact that even though the first hole at Dunbar plays to the east, the second to the west, the third to the south and the fourth back to the east, I somehow had the wind in my face on all four holes. In fact, the wind was basically in my face or no better than quartering for the first 10 holes, which makes it really tough to get into any kind of swing rhythm. And then there was the threesome in front of me which played from the back tees and always waited until the group in front of it was at least 350 yards away, and then generally hit a horrid selection of duffs, pulls and pushes with ugly looking swings that never suggested they should have such high opinions of their abilities. I particularly enjoyed watching one guy barely clear the burn 80 yards in front of the 17th tee, then the entire threesome waiting next to him for the green to clear 230 yards away (even though he was in the rough, and had another burn to carry), and only after he'd pushed his second shot way right did everyone go and look for another tee shot that had been pushed into deep rough to the right of the bunkers to the right of the fairway. I'm just sharing that story in case anyone suffered from the misapprehension that everything about Scottish golf is sweetness and light.
 

BaseballJones

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@Conigliaro's Potential - when you miss putts, is it more because of a misread, or more because you don't hit the ball where you aim?

For me, it's a wild mix of everything. If I make a good read, I'll struggle to hit where I aim. If I hit it true but miss, I look at it after and think, geez, I didn't see that at all.

And is speed or direction a bigger issue for you on the greens?

Generally my approach is to try to get the speed right, first and foremost, especially on any putt outside like 6 feet. I just need to get it around the hole, and proper speed is the best way (that I figure) to get it close. Am I way off there?

I've got a terrible swing plane with my putter. I mean obviously occasionally I drain some putts, but it's a huge weakness. Any tips on improving putting from even 6 feet and in? I know I cost myself 3-5 strokes a round from that distance.
 
@Conigliaro's Potential - when you miss putts, is it more because of a misread, or more because you don't hit the ball where you aim?
A bit of both - I'm not always great at starting the ball on the line I pick, but I think it's at least as often that I pick the wrong line in the first place. Direction is generally much more difficult for me to get right than speed; I'm generally around the hole for distance, particularly as I don't tend to be as aggressive as someone like @FL4WL3SS, but sometimes that can mean late break in a putt defeats me in a way that it wouldn't if I were charging the ball at the hole. (Of course, my two three-putts today both involved getting my speed wrong and banging the ball 4-5 feet past the hole, so there you go.)

I did work a lot on my putting "swing plane" during the lockdown, trying to get more of an in-to-in motion going - I'm prone to going more out-to-in or straight-to-in - and I'm also trying to take shorter backswings and be more positive in accelerating through the ball, particularly from short distances. But to be honest, to answer your last question, I think so much of putting is really down to concentration. The most important thing I can do when putting is to focus entirely on making sure the little white line on top of my putter is at the same place at impact as it was at setup; how it gets there is much less important than making sure it gets there, and there are a lot of ways to make sure it gets there.
 

FL4WL3SS

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I'm only really aggressive inside of 15 feet. Anything outside of that and I'm fine lagging the putt and taking what's there.

I loathe leaving make-able putts short. I am confident enough inside of 6 feet that I would rather risk a 2-4' second putt than not giving the first a chance to go in. I make a lot of birdies and the occasional three putt with this approach. I'm ok with that. Our men's club keeps track of stats and I'm averaging 3.3 birdies per round played in competition and less than 1 three putt per round (0.8).

I'm also averaging 2.2 doubles, but we won't talk about that :)
 
I am confident enough inside of 6 feet that I would rather risk a 2-4' second putt than not giving the first a chance to go in.
I guess my only counter to this is to ask whether you think shorter putts raced at the hole at such a speed are more likely to actually go in than putts which you aim to finish no more than a foot past the hole. Obviously your way takes most or all of the break out of short putts, but you're also making it much less likely to hole putts which might only catch the edge of the hole. (To say nothing of the current COVID situation whereby the flagstick has to remain in the hole - and at least on my course, it's often leaning the wrong way. That's hopefully a temporary situation, of course.) But if it works for you, I'm not trying to dissuade you!
 

FL4WL3SS

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Define what a short putt is. Anything inside of 3 feet I don't race at the hole, my goal is always to finish 1-2 feet past the hole and take the more aggressive line.

Overall, I tend not to worry about a short comeback putt as long as it means I'm getting the putt to the hole the majority of the time. I'm not perfect, obviously I leave some short occasionally and occasionally I'll rip one 4 feet past the hole.
 

Doug Beerabelli

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@Conigliaro's Potential - when you miss putts, is it more because of a misread, or more because you don't hit the ball where you aim?

For me, it's a wild mix of everything. If I make a good read, I'll struggle to hit where I aim. If I hit it true but miss, I look at it after and think, geez, I didn't see that at all.

And is speed or direction a bigger issue for you on the greens?

Generally my approach is to try to get the speed right, first and foremost, especially on any putt outside like 6 feet. I just need to get it around the hole, and proper speed is the best way (that I figure) to get it close. Am I way off there?

I've got a terrible swing plane with my putter. I mean obviously occasionally I drain some putts, but it's a huge weakness. Any tips on improving putting from even 6 feet and in? I know I cost myself 3-5 strokes a round from that distance.
My son learned this one, and suggested it to me. Putt tees 3, 6 and 9 feet from the hole. Take three balls. Sink all from 3, then 6, then 9. If you miss one, you go back to 3 feet and start again. It’s really forces you to think about and figure out a consistent stroke. It also builds your confidence in those inside 6 feet putts.

I’m sure there are drills to help with the squareness of the stroke consistency, too (or being on consistently on your preferred stroke plane).
 

Gunca

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Mar 5, 2020
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Tomorrow is my first 18 hole round with my best friend in over 2 weeks. I’m incredibly excited, which means I’ll inevitably play terribly.

We’re typically the two best dressed golfers on the course, aside from his Aussie hat, as we get our golf attire heavily discounted at Burlington, Marshall’s, and the like. I’ve been planning an outfit for a few days now in anticipation for tomorrow’s round. I’m definitely going to stink it up out there, but I’ll look damn good doing it.
 

jercra

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Actually looks like you would need to qualify in CO: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/2302572

There's still time to signup and play!
Man, that last qualifier is at my home course 2 miles from my house. Shooting high sixties to low seventies out there is pretty normal for me. But, the actual mid-am is like 4 hours from here. Not sure I can pull of that trip.
By the by, you've intrigued me about the science of lip-outs, and whether a lip-out can actually add speed to a putt. My inclination would be that it can't - unless the lip-out redirects a ball onto a downslope, in which case the speed gained is actually from the slope and not from the lip-out itself, and a half-assed internet search finds a few forums which (eventually) agree:
But perhaps any smarter and more physics-inclined golfers here might disagree?

Fair enough.
I mean, you know how we get satellites to places in deep space, right? And how figure skaters speed up their spin rates?
 

jercra

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My son learned this one, and suggested it to me. Putt tees 3, 6 and 9 feet from the hole. Take three balls. Sink all from 3, then 6, then 9. If you miss one, you go back to 3 feet and start again. It’s really forces you to think about and figure out a consistent stroke. It also builds your confidence in those inside 6 feet putts.

I’m sure there are drills to help with the squareness of the stroke consistency, too (or being on consistently on your preferred stroke plane).
Check out putting plates. Really simple tool that you can take to the course with you that help drive consistent contact and consistency.
 

BaseballJones

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18 at Mount Snow, VT. 75 degrees and very breezy. Nice mountain resort course. Back tees. Nearly 7,000 yards. Lots of ups and downs and some beautiful terrain.

43 on the front including a three putt from 8 feet on the first and a triple bogey 7 later on the front nine. Did make a 25 footer though so that makes up for some of it.

39 on the back. One godawful duff that would have made a first year player proud. Two more three putts from 12 feet. Ugh.

But made some great shots. Six drives of 300+. Flushed a bunch of irons.

82 total on a not so easy course playing it for the first time, and in windy conditions.

I’m pretty pleased overall. Three birdies on the day and just the one bad hole.
 

BaseballJones

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Sounds like a lot of positives to take away from that round and a few notes to improve. Successful round.
For sure. Those pesky 2-3 footers that I miss routinely bit me three times today. I need to implement some of the strategies you guys suggested for me in order to improve. But ball striking was very solid. If I can ever get even just not-awful with the flat stick, maybe I can become a decent player.
 

jercra

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The best trick ever for making 2-4 footers is to make 2-4 footers. Sounds dumb, but everyone gives them to themselves and then wonders why they struggle with them. Make them if it's not for a 7 or 8 and it makes them a lot easier when it counts. Good round though. I haven't played there in decades, but I remember it being a really tough track. No forgiveness on bad shots.
 

MeddlePAL

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Apr 14, 2006
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The best trick ever for making 2-4 footers is to make 2-4 footers. Sounds dumb, but everyone gives them to themselves and then wonders why they struggle with them.
Giving yourself a 2 footer is generous... someone giving themselves a 4 footer is ludicrous.


I largely agree with your point though... I'm just shocked there might be people out there giving themselves over a yard to the hole.
 

jercra

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Giving yourself a 2 footer is generous... someone giving themselves a 4 footer is ludicrous.


I largely agree with your point though... I'm just shocked there might be people out there giving themselves over a yard to the hole.
Seriously? I've seen a dude claiming to be a 2 handicap give himself about 5 eight footers and claim he shot a 74. This was in a money game on Memorial Day of this year. He took like $170 from the group. As a reward, he shot an 88 and 87 in the 2 actual tournaments he's played with us so far.

Edit: This is why everything worth more than $5 should be played into the hole. It takes 4 seconds to make a 6" putt, so just go ahead and make it. Gimmes are for fucking around in practice rounds.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Seriously? I've seen a dude claiming to be a 2 handicap give himself about 5 eight footers and claim he shot a 74. This was in a money game on Memorial Day of this year. He took like $170 from the group. As a reward, he shot an 88 and 87 in the 2 actual tournaments he's played with us so far.

Edit: This is why everything worth more than $5 should be played into the hole. It takes 4 seconds to make a 6" putt, so just go ahead and make it. Gimmes are for fucking around in practice rounds.
I was shocked when I started playing the money game at my club that they allowed gimmes. I've put a stop to it and now we force everyone to hole out. If you're in the same group as the guys you're betting with and have say over the gimme, then no big deal. However if 3-4 groups are going out with money on the line, no fucking way.
 

jercra

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In other news, how would you like to go into the last hole of a tournament tied for the lead, make an eagle and lose?

I had something similar, though much less important, happen to me last year in a CGA event. I hit a beautiful drive and lipped out my approach shot for a 2" birdie putt. My 7 handicap opponent yanked his drive into the deep rough left and bladed his approach that hit the flag at what appeared to be 100+ mph and dropped in for an eagle on one of like 8 holes I wasn't giving him a stroke on. I think he shot 72 as a 7.
 
When I used to work for State Street in Edinburgh, the company held an annual matchplay competition using full handicaps, and one year I got drawn against a guy who didn't have an official handicap but said he played off 15. We played our match at Braid Hills, a unique course on a hill overlooking Edinburgh with great views of the city and a lot of short par 4s. I played out of my mind that day and was four under par going to the par-5 11th, where I holed a 30-foot eagle putt to go to -6...and when my opponent rolled in a 25-footer for his own eagle - with a stroke, for a net albatross - I was 2 down. It was unreal; I parred the 12th and birdied the difficult par-3 13th to go to -7, still the furthest under par I've ever been in a round and likely ever will be in a round, and was trailing in the match. (I wound up fading the rest of the way, losing at least one ball in the gorse en route to a 3&2 defeat; no way in hell was he a 15-handicapper.)
 

BaseballJones

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These stories are incredible. I love this thread.

As to the idea of making people hole putts out...agreed. The easiest way to avoid the old “you’re not gonna give me that?” is to just have everyone have to hole out, plain and simple. No fuss, no muss.
 

Zomp

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Sand bagging story.

I used to play in the National Father and Son tournament with my dad. 3 day event in Myrtle Beach. It was so much fun. There were divisions of 8 teams all based on combined handicaps.

Anyway one year my dad and I go. I’m 16 at the time and I was probably a 9 handicap. My dad was a 15. We play our first two rounds with a father and a son from North Carolina. Similar handicaps except the first day the son shoots 75 and the dad 79. Next day same thing. Son is somewhere around 3 over and the dad broke 80.

They ended up smoking the division and finishing in the top 5 nationally.

The next year my brother wants to play. So he plays with my dad. I’m now a 7 handicap and I play with uncle who is a 23.

Guess who is in our division? Yup. Same guys from North Carolina
 

Over Guapo Grande

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@Conigliaro's Potential I sit right around a 13. On Sunday I went out and shot a 37 on the front (best ever 9, including mini gofl). I followed it up with a 46 on the back to basically hit my number. It was like from holes 7 thru 16 I forgot how to make a swing (I got through 7,8,9 via smoke, mirrors, and duct tape). If I kept making good swings (I stopped turning, and got armsy) I could have maybe put up a really good score (for me). But sub 70? Yah, in your spikes, I'd be pissed as well.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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These stories are incredible. I love this thread.

As to the idea of making people hole putts out...agreed. The easiest way to avoid the old “you’re not gonna give me that?” is to just have everyone have to hole out, plain and simple. No fuss, no muss.
The counter to that.... when I play against my brother, it is for pride. Any betting is for entertainment purposes only. I'll make him hit a few close ones. Then start giving him them... with the idea that if we are close going into the final holes, I'll stop giving them to him. We generally end up 5&3 (for or against), so it doesn't end up mattering. But the idea is sound.
 

Gunca

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Mar 5, 2020
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What about the reverse sandbagger? You know, the people who shoot 85 but will post a sub 80 round for their ghin. They’re my favorite.

I know a guy who wants to be a low handicap so bad that he’ll shoot 83 and post 78 or 79. His current index is 3.4, but I truly believe he hasn’t legitimately shot his handicap once this year. It’s embarrassing.
 

BaseballJones

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What about the reverse sandbagger? You know, the people who shoot 85 but will post a sub 80 round for their ghin. They’re my favorite.

I know a guy who wants to be a low handicap so bad that he’ll shoot 83 and post 78 or 79. His current index is 3.4, but I truly believe he hasn’t legitimately shot his handicap once this year. It’s embarrassing.
By “reverse sandbagger” you mean, “liar and cheater“?
 

FL4WL3SS

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These stories are incredible. I love this thread.

As to the idea of making people hole putts out...agreed. The easiest way to avoid the old “you’re not gonna give me that?” is to just have everyone have to hole out, plain and simple. No fuss, no muss.
My reply is usually "if you have to ask, it's not good". Will shut them up the rest of the way.
 
My best "sandbagging" story is actually about my father. He was a very good golfer in his day - a 1 handicapper at his peak - but tore up both of his knees playing high school football and had any number of surgeries thereafter, so his game could wax hot and cold depending on how he was feeling. He owned his own business, and when we became members at Atlanta Country Club, back when it hosted the PGA Tour stop in Atlanta, he would pony up a few bucks to sponsor the tournament and get an entry in the Wednesday pro-am. (And when his knees weren't up to it, he would let me play in his place; over the years I played with the likes of Don Pooley, Bob Tway and Steve Jones, although I'm still jealous that the one year I was off to college and my younger brother got to play, he was paired with Hale Irwin.)

Anyway, in 1984 the tournament was the week after the US Open at Winged Foot, and we were all rooting for Fuzzy Zoeller going into the 18-hole playoff on Monday...until the pro-am draw was held on Sunday evening, and my dad got drawn to play with Greg Norman. Norman got killed in the playoff by eight shots, but to his credit he was still there in Atlanta to play on the Wednesday. Now, my father had played a bunch of bad rounds that year (quite a few of them alongside me) and posted some pretty bad scores, so his handicap was up to 15 in time for the pro-am. But I guess he was feeling pretty good that day, because he shot a gross 72 on his own ball - for a net 57. He beat Norman by three shots, straight up: playing from very different tees, of course, but still. In a five-man best-ball team of Norman and four amateurs, my father completed every hole and was -15, and his team finished -20, tied for first place in the whole event. And the best part was my dad going onto the 7th tee, their 16th hole of the day, and looking Norman in the eye and asking, "So, do you get a shot here? (Norman laughed - he was great fun back then, still a young Aussie and not yet jaded by everything that would happen to him on tour, so as you can imagine it was quite an experience for both me and my dad. And Pete Bender even let me carry Norman's bag down to the fairway on the 2nd hole while they went back to their distant tee, so that's the time I "caddied" for Greg Norman.)

Statistically, I think it should be impossible for a 15-handicapper to shoot an even par round. But the American handicap system makes this much more possible than the current-but-soon-to-be-obsolete British system: here in the UK, your handicap can never go up by more than 0.1 in any given round, and because only tournament rounds count to that effect, it takes a *long* time to get worse - very few golfers ever see their handicap go up by more than two strokes in any 12-month period. But in the US, you're effectively a new golfer every 20 rounds: if you play every day, within three weeks your handicap is brand new. So I *think* it's possible my dad's round was legitimate...but it's certainly a data point in favor of the UK system.
 

jercra

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The counter to that.... when I play against my brother, it is for pride. Any betting is for entertainment purposes only. I'll make him hit a few close ones. Then start giving him them... with the idea that if we are close going into the final holes, I'll stop giving them to him. We generally end up 5&3 (for or against), so it doesn't end up mattering. But the idea is sound.
To be clear, giving putts in match play is not only acceptable but encouraged; both to speed up play and to fuck with your opponent's head as you so rightly do.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Anybody play Connecticut national? Playing tomorrow after work at 5pm. Twosome riding. Hopefully we can get in 18.
I get spoiled in the PNW during summer, it doesn't get dark until around 10pm at the solstice and right now you can easily play until 9.

On the flip side, it's dark all day during the winter.
 

yeahlunchbox

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Anybody play Connecticut national? Playing tomorrow after work at 5pm. Twosome riding. Hopefully we can get in 18.
I'm a big fan of that course, my social club has our yearly tournament there. I haven't played there outside of the tournament yet though.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Going to Vermont with the better half for a week. Staying around Burlington, trying to find a couple courses to get some early AM rounds in, but nearly everything I've found is either closed or private. Any Vermonters know a decent track or two within an hour of Burlington? I'd hit up some of my old QC courses if the border were open

edit: Jay Peak 80 min away may be my best bet
edit 2: Stowe Country Club looks public, $100 to walk it and 40 min away. The pickins are slim
 
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Over Guapo Grande

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18 at Mount Snow, VT. 75 degrees and very breezy. Nice mountain resort course. Back tees. Nearly 7,000 yards. Lots of ups and downs and some beautiful terrain.

43 on the front including a three putt from 8 feet on the first and a triple bogey 7 later on the front nine. Did make a 25 footer though so that makes up for some of it.

39 on the back. One godawful duff that would have made a first year player proud. Two more three putts from 12 feet. Ugh.

But made some great shots. Six drives of 300+. Flushed a bunch of irons.

82 total on a not so easy course playing it for the first time, and in windy conditions.

I’m pretty pleased overall. Three birdies on the day and just the one bad hole.
I may be mis remembering, but I believe that course was a LPGA stop in the mid 90's. I had a summer job selling lemonade at tournaments. This was when the CVS Charity Classic still went to Pleasant Valley .... Zinger grabbed a $3 lemonade from me and left a healthy tip. We did an LPGA course in VT...It was on a ski resort, and we stayed in Brattleboro ..
 

Doug Beerabelli

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Going to Vermont with the better half for a week. Staying around Burlington, trying to find a couple courses to get some early AM rounds in, but nearly everything I've found is either closed or private. Any Vermonters know a decent track or two within an hour of Burlington? I'd hit up some of my old QC courses if the border were open

edit: Jay Peak 80 min away may be my best bet
edit 2: Stowe Country Club looks public, $100 to walk it and 40 min away. The pickins are slim
I haven’t had the chance to play it yet (my daughter is a student there), but the Middlebury College golf course might fit your criteria. Probably 45 minutes to an hour from Burlington.


http://www.ralphmyhregolfcourse.com/
 
I'm back from my 7:30 tee time this morning, having played with an acquaintance (the son of one of my wife's friends) who I've had out to Dunbar a few times in gloriously sunny conditions. On the first hole, I drove into a bunker, hit the lip with my 2nd and had the ball roll back into the bunker, wedged out with my 3rd, pushed my 4th just to the right edge of the green - maybe 20 feet from the hole - and had it hit a screw on a sprinkler head and shoot all the way across the other side of the green, and wound up making a double. So to go on and shoot 72 after starting with a 7 is pretty gratifying: I had three birdies, and even on my two bogeys I had breaking six-footers for par which I just missed. It was generally a very good putting day, and an acceptable ball-striking day; I did have one very good break when I pushed my drive well right on the 8th and managed to land on a grassy path only six feet wide with impossible rough on either side of it (and then hit a 7-iron to 20 feet and made the putt for birdie), but other than that I was very steady, and that puts me in a great frame of mind to watch the PGA Championship the next few days ahead of my next competition round on Saturday.

Pete, my playing partner, also plays off a 5 handicap but beat me in our match 3&2; he bogeyed the 18th for a 70. He was hitting the ball *so* far, clearing the farthest fairway bunkers on several holes and driving to 20 feet from the hole on the slightly downwind 353-yard 4th hole; I felt like Chez Reavie to his DeChambeau.
 

BaseballJones

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Well, two days after my nice 82 at Mount Snow, I posted the worst round I've had since I was 13 years of age. A 107 at Point Sebago, Maine, where absolutely everything completely went to hell. I have NO idea what happened, but you name it, I did it. Sliced. Hooked. Topped two balls even (!!!!), hit one off the hosel. Duffed a 70-yard pitch. It was like I was a first-year player just trying to learn the game. It was unfathomable.

Usually, one aspect of my game isn't up to snuff. But on this day, literally everything was terrible. Couldn't find the fairway. Couldn't hit a green when I had an easy 150-yard or in shot. I guess I putted ok, believe it or not, which shows you how awful my ball striking was.

How a player like me (normally in the 82-88 range) posts a freaking 107, I'll never know. It was frustrating, embarrassing, but at a certain point, it just got laughable.

So I'm not the best golfer here, but I wonder how many of you have the full range I've got (anything from a 75 to a 107 in a 10-month span)???
 
So I'm not the best golfer here, but I wonder how many of you have the full range I've got (anything from a 75 to a 107 in a 10-month span)???
Weather can easily make this possible in Scotland. A few years ago I played an inter-club match at Dunbar which I won despite shooting approximately 96 - it was so windy that three times I putted into bunkers. (Twice from more than 60 yards from the green, because putting seemed more sensible than any other option, but still.) But that's not really what you're talking about, is it? My condolences...I certainly know what it's like to feel so helpless on the course like that.