Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sucking it up in a Stroke Play Tournament

I recently tried to qualify for the Pennsylvania State Mid Amateur Championship which is being held later this month in Williamsport, PA.  The Mid AM is for players over the age of 25 and that have a handicap index less than 7.4.  I chose to enter the qualifier this year for three reasons.  First, I prefer to play competitive golf over social golf.  Second, the qualifier was held at Sunnehanna Country Club in my hometown.  Third, I wanted to test my game under pressure to see what I need to work on for the remainder of this year and next.  There is no better way to test your game and nerves than by playing competitive stroke play golf.  Unlike team sports you are out there on your own with no one else to blame and nowhere to hide.
The start of the event was delayed by two hours due to heavy fog.  So, after we warmed up we had a nice long wait before we teed off.   Any time I play stroke play in qualifiers I try and handicap the field to know what I need to shoot to make the cut.  In this case I was thinking 78 or 79 would make the cut and advance to Williamsport.  So, all I had to do is play reasonable well and I would get through.
Well, my plans were altered on the first hole as I had “one of those starts”.  Without reliving the events of the entire hole (in an effort to keep my sanity) lets pick up the action on my fourth shot from the greenside bunker.  The first hole is a par four and yes, I was laying four in the greenside bunker, not good.  The sand conditions at the course that day were heavy and wet due to the morning fog.  So, I tried to pick the ball a little cleaner than normal (hit closer to the ball) and harder since the ball was about sixty feet to the hole.  This is where the terror began, as I bladed the ball over the green, down the hill and into the woods.  I found myself with my ball against a rock, in thick trees on an uphill slope.  After a few whacks in the woods, a poor chip shot and two putts I walked off the green with a double digit score.  It was the highest score I have made on a golf hole since I was eight or ten years old.  Needless to say I was very disappointed and just a little angry at myself.
After that debacle I knew I was going to have to grind to post a respectable score and not embarrass myself any further.  I could have easily threw in the towel and gave up or not posted my score.  However, neither is my style.  So, I buckled down and fought all day to shoot in the mid eighties.  That was certainly not my plan at the start of the round.  However, I was proud of my effort, patience and stick to it ness.  I kept telling myself all day that every one that plays the game competitively has one of “those moments” at some point.
In the end, I hung in there, played my hardest on every shot and never gave up.  It was not my best performance by any means but I am proud of the effort I gave.  In stroke play golf every shot counts so whether you play well or poorly the scorecard does not lie.
What do you do to stay focused and positive in stroke play tournaments?

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