Lag's Playing Blog (Out on the Links!)

My New Years Resolution for 2013 is to start a playing blog to document my rounds and my thoughts on playing, and hopefully share some insights here and there… on the other side of ABS which is to get out and play GOLF!

I take my golf seriously, and enjoy the challenge of my three opponents. The Architect, The Weatherman, The Greenskeeper’s daily set up.

Hopefully I can get out and play more golf this year, as I feel it is vital to being a quality instructor to not only keep in touch with the game, but also be able to execute quality shots from time to time and maybe even post a few respectable scores.

For those new here… I always play persimmon and blade irons. I prefer both the feel, sound and aesthetic of what the classic stuff has to offer, and it certainly gives me superior feedback which is vital to me as I don’t get out to play as often as I would like.

I also play by feel and don’t use yardages. I may glance at a 150 marker for a general reference, but I don’t step off shots.
Most classic tracks the greens are smaller and you can usually see where the pin is and where the leave should be. I pull a club based more on trajectory than yardage. No different than hitting a lag putt or chipping, pitching etc. I believe that playing by feel has it’s own unique skill set that develops ones golf intuition over time. I find it very freeing and gives me much more confidence playing knowing I am capable of gauging distances by sight. Hogan played this way also for many of the same reasons.

Generally if not exclusively, I play persimmon tracks. I like the older courses that flow with the lay of the land… and we have a lot of really nice ones out here in California. I live in the SF Bay area and enjoy the natural beauty and topography of this historically turbulent area of earthquakes and volatile weather!

Great! Looking forward to reading about your rounds. I think the playing blog will be a nice addition to the site.


1964 Tommy Armour VFQ 2 - 9
1962 Dyna Turfrider 1 iron
1958 Spalding Model 28 Driver
MT Mac Gregor 2 Wood
R90 SW, M85 Converted Gap, MT Split Sole PW
Tommy Armour Ironmaster custom converted chip roller.

First round of the Year at Oak Creek CC in Sedona AZ where the folks live on the 6th fairway. It’s a gem of a course designed by Robert Trent Jones and a real persimmon classic. Clocked in about 6600 from where we played it… and I always enjoy the challenge of playing here. It’s a stunningly beautiful backdrop for a round of golf… which is a big part of why I enjoy many of the classic tracks.


After a 12 hour drive from SF to Sedona, I took a few days to enjoy the family and holiday before heading out for a game with dad and his Men’s club crew. They play an early morning game.

After not having played for a month, I felt a bit creaky on the first tee, but did find some time to do some bag work two days in a row before we played. I rolled a couple putts across the frozen practice green… ( YES FROZEN!) There was scattered snow on the course also. Having always fought morning stiffness, I usually try to play my golf in the afternoons, and I also prefer some wind to make things more interesting. So I have certainly been known to hit a less than desirable shot off the first tee, usually right as my new Spalding Model 28 driver that Mike set up for me will not send the ball left anymore with “the pole”.

The opener is a 5 par about 500. Somehow I found the insert and hit a solid fade right down the center. Pulled a 1 iron out and surprisingly caught it dead flush and it hit just short of the green into the up slope which thankfully took the speed off the ball and it pop right up onto the green exactly pin high left 20 feet from the cup. Next I pulled out the chip roller and rolled it right into the cup for an eagle. What a way to start the year! No warm up… nothing.

Dropped a shot on the 2nd after a nine iron hit the frozen green and bounced 10 feet in the air like concrete and missed an 8 footer.

The par three 7th was fun hitting the pin from 170 with a 5 iron… until it scattered the ball 80 feet away from the cup and I failed to two putt that one and left with a second bogey. Finished the front nine plus 1 after catching a bit of a flier from the left rough and chipped it by about 10 feet from just over the green down to a front pin. Never good to go over a green, but it does happen some times. The ball landed 6 feet from the pin so it was not a bad swing, and the tee shot was not too bad either as the hole shapes right to left.

The back nine starts with another 5 par, but this time I made a poor club selection going at the green with a two wood which brought a bunker that sits about 40 yards short of the green down the right side into play and I leaked the shot into it. Caught the long sand shot a tad heavy and left it just short of the green with a front pin, and hit a poor chip past the hole trying to protect leaving another one short from a tight lie. Missed the downhill putt and took 6. A final bogey on #17 due to a poor left approach to a tucked left pin gave me very difficult chip from pin high I failed to convert.

The rest of the round was pretty solid play… lots of fairways and greens and two putts but the final tally was a 75. Certainly a disappointment after such a remarkable start! No birdies though on the opening round of the year…but an eagle!

What did I learn?

Frozen greens are hard to play on… for the first nine holes at least. Tough to get the ball close having to run everything in.
Short irons felt a bit rusty… but encouraged by some nice long iron strikes… lots of 1 irons off tees. Didn’t make any putts other than the first… but the rolls all looked good for the most part… pace was pretty fair, and just the reads were a bit off. Each time I play here I get to know the course a bit better. Drove the ball pretty well. Nothing alarmingly bad. Golf is a tough game sometimes!


1964 Tommy Armour VFQ 2 - 9
1962 Dyna Turfrider 1 iron
1958 Spalding Model 28 Driver
MT Mac Gregor 2 Wood
R90 SW, M85 Converted Gap, MT Split Sole PW
Tommy Armour Ironmaster custom converted chip roller.

What a difference a day makes.


Love the bogey free rounds! Doesn’t happen all that often these days especially where I play most out at Mare Island where bogeys are going to happen because of the severity of many of the holes.

My thought teeing off was to try to hit every fairway and every green. Play very conservative and just make lots of pars and take the birdies when they come. I hit the first ten greens right out of the shoot. Every shot was played correctly and positioned correctly. It was a shotgun start, so we started on hole #7. First birdie was on the 13th or the 7th hole I had played. A nice 7 iron to 8 feet. Two holes later I hit one of the flushest 2 irons in recent memory into the par 5 15th from 210 out over water. Just nailed it right at the flag… landed 6 feet from the cup and skipped just off the back fringe. Converted for birdie #2. Ironically enough, I missed the next green short right with a 7 iron but as I always preach, it’s usually an easy up and down from short right compared to long left. Just caught it thin. Not a great chip but rolled in a nice 8 footer for par.

More solid golf after that until I got to #1 my 13th hole of the day. After the eagle memory I decided to really go hard at a driver and thought I might try to slightly turn “The Pole” over a bit with a high draw and catch a bit of downwind. However, the pole usually says no to right to left shots and this drive went right into absolute jail. I had to play down #9 fairway with a 6 iron to lay back of more trees, and then played an 8 iron up and over a tall row of trees to just short of the green. I made a clutch up and down a making another 8 foot saver with the chip roller. Picked up one more birdie on the par 5 3rd, making a nice 20 footer after a pitch shot checked up too quickly. The last three holes I had nice tries from 12, 15, and 20 feet which narrowly missed.

Nice to get that first round in the 60’s under my skin with the second round out for the year.

What I learned was to remember the power of patience and conservative play just plodding along with fairways and greens.
I did not miss one putt inside 10 feet all day which for me feels pretty remarkable. Made 5 putts from 8 feet or longer.
Each time I have a putting round like this… it just adds more and more confidence to the chip rolling method that requires little if any practice other than a bit of pace on the longer putts. So similar to how the early players putted in the hickory age with putters that looked like golf clubs and continued into the steel age with the likes of Locke and Sarazen.


Nice round Lag

I think this will be a very popular thread, thanks



Great idea for a thread. I look forward to following it.

Recently I have been playing the VFQ (very fine quality) Armour Blades. They have the thinnest sharpest soles I have ever played other than maybe the Maxfli Pro Specials I used the whole time I was on tour. Just love the ProPel #1’s in these. These are a totally stock set and were made with zero offset. I think this is only one of three sets that I own that I have had to perform no alterations on other than bending them 6 down. I did put a newer set of cord grips on them. The other set I love right now is the 56 Dyna Set with the green band rocket shafts. That set must have been owned by a good pro player in the past because the shafts in them appear to have been tipped at the factory. They are really stiff and still have the original leather grips on them that I brought back to life with a couple Lexol treatments. Neither set did I have to alter one bit to get them up to my preferred ABS dead weight specifications. They actually did make iron sets this heavy and stiff back then.

It’s great to have some sense of where the clubhead and clubface are at when going out to game them. In the past… I had to hit a lot of balls to gain a sense of feel, heaviness in the heads etc… so I could feel the club properly. It’s nice to have that feeling a bit going a month without playing a round.

I think the third stock set I have are my 62 Haig Contour Sole’s. Not much of a contour sole compared to what goes on today… just a hint really in comparison to other sets from that era. The 56 Dynas are a straight flat cut on the bottom and they are the best for really feeling what the club is doing through the turf. The flat cut will give the best feedback when analyzing your divots. Always take a look at your divot after hitting a shot. There is a lot of good information there.

Fun design on the VFQ blades with the triangular dot face set up.

My two wood I am probably going to ditch the ProPel wood shaft in it and go to an iron shaft also to really stiffen it up more.
While I have intentionally put in a looser shaft so I can turn it right to left (it is still tipped 4 inches) I have noticed I can still hook one from time to time… and that is not a shot I need in my bag. Since most of the time I am hitting it off the ground which tends to inhibit a draw… a slightly looser shaft is ideal … and having the ability to turn it slightly right to left comes in handy on a lot of courses where it is essential to work the ball that way off the tee. As I have become more and more accustomed to “The Pole” set up with the crazy tipped one iron shaft in my driver, I feel I need a bit more structure in the 2 wood now.

The classic tracks when playing persimmon require a lot more long iron play… both into the greens and off the tee. Right now I have a pretty strong set on the top end with a 3 iron, 2 iron, 1 iron, 2 wood, and driver. I do need a 4 wood in there also, but haven’t put a proper one together yet to work into the super stiff shaft protocol I have been playing for the last 8 months.

Just for clarity, the shafts really are no stiffer than what I have in my irons when put on a deflection board which is the best way to fine tune a set in my opinion. I have posted before I am not a fan of frequency matching for hitters.
Shafts don’t oscillate pre impact, they flex when force is applied. The really stiff shafts in the woods take a lot of the toe dip out of the equation also as does flattening out the heads.

Oak Creek is one of my favorite courses to play. I had the lead there in the Sedona Open 2 years ago after the first day with a 65, and was in contention the last day and just hit a horrible block from 150 in the middle of the fairway on 9 into that water that shouldnt have even been in play and made double and ended up missing the playoff by 3 shots. How do you play number 6 there, its not a very long hole but its pretty narrow with the ob left and that hazard and dropoff area to the right? Do you hit driver there or hit an iron off the tee? Its seems like its an advantage there to be able to hit driver and get way down there for a short wedge shot which is what i did but most people seem to layup with an iron off the tee there because of the ob left and hazard right.

On 6, you have to hit it straight… and since the fairway slopes pretty significantly from left to right, the tee shot asks for a draw off the tee. I just aim down the right center and hit a 1 iron… and make sure I turn it right to left. I can’t really hook a 1 iron, not with it sitting at 6 degrees flat, so I don’t worry about the OB left. If I ever did make some horrific swing at it and did hook it… it would get on the ground so fast it still would not likely get too far left of the fairway let alone the OB line.
A good 1 iron will leave me only about an 8 or 9 iron in. At worst a 7 iron. A back left pin can be a bit tough to access playing with the ball below your feet from the fairway. It’s not really a birdie hole unless the pin is right. I just play to the center of the green and take par. If I make a birdie great, but not really something I would aggressively go after.

My best is a 66 out there a couple years ago. Dad told me that in the Sedona Open guys are shooting 63 and stuff like that… but of course with the modern gear. If you have a good day with the frying pan, I would imagine hitting mid or even short irons irons into the five pars which is not how that course was intended. The 5 pars to me are beautiful risk reward situations if you coming in with the intended lower trajectory shots. Even with persimmon I hit a lot irons off tees. #2, #5, #6, #8, #11, #12, #14. So then pulling a long iron into one or maybe two of the five pars gives a real workout for those clubs.

65 is a good score on that course regardless of what gear you are using. Tricky greens to putt. I never have felt in control of the reads out there.

Excellent new thread lag, looking forwards to further installments & inspiration

Very nice blog you began here John! Quick question on the Rocket shafts for the dynas. Did they make different flex’s for the Rockets? How do I identify a stiff shaft other than the green label bands??


Yeah that course would be a much better test obviously with the old equipment with the modern stuff every par 4 is a wedge approach and 2 of the par 5s are reachable with mid/short irons so it plays pretty easy, if everyone had to hit alot of long irons into those greens you would get a much better idea of who the best players are. They do get the greens very fast which makes it more of a challenge, but theyre also pretty soft. My friend played with Mac Ogrady a couple years ago in it and said he hit the ball very well but shot 74 with several 3 putts and 4 putt on 13 after hitting his tee shot to 3 feet above the hole.

Rockets are Rockets… meaning the stiff and regular shafts are the same shaft, but the stiff ones are just tipped more… usually the first step you would find above the ferrule will be about an inch closer or lower than a regular one.

I can feel a shaft’s flex in two seconds by just bending it into the ground. If it feels firm it’s stiff and if it bends a lot it’s not.
In the old days there had defection boards… I have one at home and will take a pic of it when I get back. It’s a good method to check shaft flexes. Now’s it’s all frequency matching which I don’t agree with.

My 56 Dynas have these special tipped green band Rockets, so I just use that set now as a template.

For instance, if you had nine 2 iron Rocket shafts… you have your set. 2 - PW. You would set your first shaft up in the two iron, then you would cut a half an inch off from the tip end for each club moving down through the set. So if your first step were say 8 inches above the ferrule with a 2 iron… then your 3 iron step would be 7 1/2 inches above the ferrule. Then we can assume your PW would be 4 1/2 inches below your 2 iron step… which would clock your PW step at 3 1/2 from the top of your ferrule.

Now on the grip side… you would just tip the lengths typically at 1/2 inch increments… obviously getting shorter from the 2 iron down.



Went out with the same game plan as the other day… just try to hit every fairway and every green. As well as I have been rolling (chip rolling) the ball around on the greens… I figured I should make a couple. Today I hit the ball solid… played very conservative and hit 17 greens. As absurd as it sounds to come of the course disappointed, I was quite disappointed because we started on #10 and I hit all nine greens on the back. Made the turn and hit every green until #18. So 17 straight greens hit today… which is good quality ball striking for me. Also played another bogey free round through 17 holes of play. So what happened?

The 9th hole at Oak Creek… my 18th for the day is a long par 4 with water down the right and is reachable off the tee if you hit a driver… you could run right through the fairway. OB left, but not really consideration for me. Most players would hit driver because the hole is long and try to hit over the left fairway bunker…but you would really have to hit a perfect drive with a high draw. I am more of a low ball hitter off the tee by choice. I can tee the ball high play it forward and hit a high draw if I have to… but I would also be bringing in a hook shot into the equation of possibilities. I very rarely try to do this unless there is no trouble anywhere, and I don’t play courses like that very often. I don’t like moving the ball around in my stance much.

So to continue… I chose to hit a 2 iron off the tee. Could not have hit it better and I took the water out of play compromising a longer iron into the green. It’s a fairly big green. I hit an absolutely perfect 2 iron with a 5 yard draw right down the center and it ended up even with the fairway bunker, leaving me about 180 to the green. Although I was dead center in the fairway… my ball was sitting down on a very bare lie. The grass is freezing at night this time of year so the ground when it thaws is staying a bit muddy… so it was a mud pan lie basically. The ball was also a bit below my feet and the pin was tucked back left. A sucker pin really. So I’m six under coming into 18, and I have a chance to shoot my lowest round here… I have a chance for another bogey free round… and I have a chance to hit all 18 greens. Ironically I am faced with my most challenging shot of the day. I really needed to draw a ball into the green from a poor mud thin lie and the ball below my feet. Not a good option really… possible sure… but not the percentage shot. So I had to decide between hitting a hard 6 iron and try to turn it right to left… but if I miss the shot at all… hit it thin… I could lose it short right of the green into the water and probably make double bogey. The other option was to take more club and aim left and try to cut the ball away from the pin into the center of the green. I won’t likely shoot 65 but it seemed the better option to finish with a par and a 66, no bogeys and hitting all 18 greens. I would feel very good about that after the round.

So I went with the 5 iron cut approach. I think coming down I just feared hitting it thin and came down a bit steep and tugged it a hair left of where I was aiming… it might have cut back but as it was coming down it clipped a tree branch and spit the ball straight down leaving me short left of the green with a very difficult pitch from there having to play over the left bunker to a pin with not enough green for me to stop the ball. Very disappointing to miss the green, blow my perfect green hit round… and now had probably blown my bogey free round. I hit a good pitch but still could not keep it on the green… I had just a short chip from about 15 feet from the back rough and chipped it up to about a foot for the day’s only bogey. Just hate finishing a round like that. But always nice to bogey the last and shoot 67.

So how did a good round like this develop?

I am not a one shot at a time player. I believe a round of golf is going to have a flow to it… there will be times when you are playing well and it feels easy… there are usually times when you play a poor stretch of holes and have to learn to manage that based upon what you have been doing… and what you can to to lessen the damage when things don’t feel like they are going your way… You can take a lot of the luck out of the game by hitting the ball in the fairway… but there are still divots out there… sprinkler heads, cart paths… someone in their yard starting a lawnmower in your backswing etc.

On my first hole today… #10, a five par… most players automatically pull driver… This hole shapes right to left… and a straight drive down the middle will put me through the fairway. I would have to draw the ball to do that. So I play my 2 wood. Nice draw… and still possible to get home with another 2 wood if I nail it. I hit it good but came up just short of the green about 10 yards short. Pin front and I am pitching up a hill. Tight lie on frozen ground at this point. I can’t really open the face much and hit a flop shot because the ground if frozen. So I used my 53 degree gap and just bumped it up there and left myself about 8 feet below the hole… Straight in putt. Lipped the putt out on the left edge. So I did feel I let a good start get away from me. Solid green and fairway pars on 11, 12. 13 is a fairly short par 3. Hit a 7 iron in that just didn’t quite get to the back tier, and spun left and back down the slope leaving me a long putt from about 60 feet.
Just trying to two putt. Big right to left break… and blammo… dunked it from 60 feet! I’ll take those when they come…
Made a 15 foot birdie on the next. 15 is a reachable five par, and the hole I hit the memorable 2 iron into last time. There is a fairway bunker up the right side which I usually can clear. I hit a nice drive but just a bit low, and it caught the last two feet of the bunker and while it did skip out… it took off about 50 yards of roll I would have normally got had it cleared.
I had to lay up… wedge in and took par. Missed a 15 foot birdie putt on 16 right in the jar two inches short. 17 I just missed the fairway right and had to keep a 9 iron under a tree branch but then get it over a tree after that. This was one of the precise trajectory plays. Not a hard shot as long as trajectory is spot on. Hit it crisp and it landed and stopped on a dime 2 feet from the hole for a kick in.

So I give this hole by hole play here to show how momentum can really affect a round. You get a gift horse… then roll in a nice putt, then hit an iron in close. Then stick one in for a tap in. Birdied 3 out of 5 and could have been 5 in a row easily…
in other words… the feeling of “on a roll” was alive and well. I stuck another 8 iron 8 feet on #18 and lipped out my downhill putt. So 33 on the back nine without birdies on either of the 5 pars. So really a 4 hole stretch of peppering them in close.

My back nine… (the card’s front nine). Birdie on #1 with a 10 foot putt. Birdie on #3 after chipping up from greenside for a kick in.

So I am kinda in a different zone now in my head than on the front nine. I’m 5 under after 12 holes. I could try to get aggressive and hope for more flag peppering… and try to shoot 64 or something like that… or I can just keep playing solid golf and to some degree protect the nice round I have going. Risk and reward… get aggressive, go pin hunting … but that could cost me a couple bogeys coming in. So I re assessed by round a bit and decided to go back to more conservative play, and keep with my goal of hitting every green. Played center of the green on a par three with a 7 iron… par. Hit iron off the tee on a short par 4 with a front left sucker pin and played into the center of the green and two putted down the hill for par.


How do I play #6? I was thinking about you on the tee! I am not sure I have ever even seen the OB left! I did today! lol
Pulled 1 iron… and hit a hard draw down the center perfect. I had about 125 remaining. Pin was back left! It was really in between a 9 and a wedge for me… I thought if I hit a hard wedge, which I don’t do often… I would take out of play over the green. I had a very nice lie, so no fear or thinning it… or coming down steep and tugging it. Just hit a really nice full flush wedge with a hint of right to left on it and it nestled 8 feet left of the pin. I decided to not give the hole away, and hit a firm putt right into the back of the hole. (6 under) and still playing conservative.

Hit a nice iron right at the pin on the par three but came up short by about 3 feet. 6 iron… just got up in the air bit too much… good shot though. Par.

17… the tees where up a bit and the guys in my group are egging me on to hit driver and try to drive the green. I can hit a good 1 iron down the middle or left side and have a wedge in… why hit driver? It would be a miracle shot to run it up through a 20 foot gap on the left side of the green and also have to hit that the right distance? NO WAY!

I hit the 1iron perfect and had about 80 yards to the pin. Pin was up front behind a bunker. I didn’t have a really great lie for a wedge… in fact the ball was really sitting UP… which is easy to get under it… and leave it in the front bunker… I have hit 16 greens in a row and played 34 straight holes out here without a bogey. I gave it a bit of extra juice and played it about 30 feet past the hole… not a great shot… but an easy two putt.

What did I learn?

Patience patience…Making 6 birdies is not always firing at pins all day long. Patience, Patience. No birdies, one eagle my first round. 3 birdies no bogeys the second round. 6 birdies 1 bogey the third round.

I putted really nice the last two rounds. No three putts… no shot putt misses. Lots of 8 to 10 footers, one bomb, and a couple 20 footers. I am quite aware that the putter is going to play hot and cold with us… just as playing at a craps or blackjack table. But I really like the odds while using the chip roller.

I have certainly hit the ball better… but the putter was the key here to a 69, 67 combo. What am I feeling?
Line feels like a given… so I only have to think about pace. With the chip rolling method, I really work the clubface open and to the inside. This makes pulling a putt hard to do when the putter head is coming from the inside. If anything … this feels like I am going to push the putt right… but coming into impact… I actively use my hands a bit and a level rotation of the shoulders so I am actively closing the face into impact which makes me feel I am not going to miss right. I am trying to essentially hook my putts but from a flat lie angle and level rotation just like my golf swing. I don’t feel I am playing two different games anymore. I felt a nice continuity from driver to putter… and for some reason I just had a nice feel for pace on these greens… I don’t always feel the pace… but when I do… this is usually when I have good putting rounds.

Next up… Monday, ABSer…JRICH99 and I are going to play a new course north of Sedona I have not played… so these rounds are tough because it really takes me at least two rounds to start to feel a golf course and what I have to bring out there to play a quality round… but I always enjoy the challenge of trying to get around the optical illusions some architects put out there to throw off your distance perception. For me… it is critical since I don’t play with books or pin sheets.

After that… it will be a while before I get to play again… so am sure Mare will be just waiting to beat me up because bogey free rounds are not offered up there very often… almost never.

Great post and nice round lag


68 Seven Hills CC Sedona AZ


First two thoughts:

1.Thank goodness there are no pictures on a scorecard!
2.This course is a bowling Alley!

This was a first look at this course for me. Very tricky layout. This place requires precision shot making. Designed by the great Tom Weiskopf who played his whole career in the persimmon age. This is a persimmon track no doubt.
ABSer JRICH99 and both our fathers joined us for a game around this wonderful layout. I would really enjoy playing here again.

Well, I’m glad there are no pictures because while the score was more than pleasing, it was not a textbook round of perfect ball striking by any means. I hit a few very suspect shots, and a couple very poor shots that I got away with due to nothing more than some good fortune.

Three birdies and an eagle allowed me three mistakes to card a 68 on this challenging par 70.

This kind of golf is exactly the reason I count my blessings for having Mare Island and my home track. Because of Mare, I don’t fear these kind of courses. Mare forces you to think on every shot… and I get bored to death if I don’t have to think on every shot on a golf course. Arrive at ball, laser the pin and play from a flat lie to an huge green is not my cup of tea.

This was some real golf out here.

Bogeyed the first hole right out of the shoot which never feels good. I simply played the wrong kind of shot into this green.
There is a slope right of the green you can use to play off or favor, and I took an 8 iron right at the pin and pulled it a bit, and it got over the green left… a real no no in golf. After seeing the green I would play a lower ground runner into the right side of the green with maybe a 6 iron from 135, and just feed it in there. Tough chip from back there, and no conversion.

Second hole I hit driver but should not have. Although it is 450 yards… there is no reason to bring the left fairway bunker into play… and beyond that bunker the fairway bottlenecks and it’s a sucker shot to try to thread one in there. I hit a good drive down the left side that ran into the bunker. A one iron off the tee would leave me a 4 or 5 iron into the green and I take all trouble out of play. In this case I hit a great shot with a 6 iron from the bunker to about 15 feet above the hole and made the putt. A birdie, but not really the way to play this hole.

The third is one of only two five pars on the course. Both five pars have very tricky tee shots. This third hole… even though it is a par 5, I did not hit driver. The fairway was just too tight. I figured a 1 iron and maybe another iron would still leave me a wedge. Case in point here… just because a hole says par 5 DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY mean hit driver.
If you don’t think you can get the ball in play 90% of the time… hit the club that you think you can. In this case, after a good 1 iron off the tee, I made a poor swing with a second 1 iron and cut the ball too far right and almost landed in the shrub bushes. My ball was actually just into the junk, but I had a swing and a playable lie so I was able to get the ball on the green and made par. (escape #1)

Two holes later I made my second bogey by skulling a 1 iron off the tee about 150 yards. I didn’t feel comfortable setting up because I could see that a driver would be too much club, and with the hole being a sharp dogleg left, I had to turn the ball right to left which is difficult for me to do with a 1 iron. The third element was that the ground was frozen and I could not get a broken tee in far enough so I had the ball teed too high for a 1 iron. So in an effort to compensate I knew I had to come into impact high, and I just skulled it in an awful way. Straight, but leaving me out of reach of the green. Another nice 1 iron got me greenside short right about 30 yards out and I hit a beautiful pitch to about 3 feet. Did I miss the putt due to a guilty conscious? Who knows… at that point I felt I gave away another unnecessary bogey.

Came back with a birdie on the next hole which was a short four par. While it really is an iron shot off the tee, the fairway just shaped in a perfect left to right way along the water, and it was exactly my typical shot shape with a driver, just a low bullet power fade that ran up close to the green. Not a very good pitch shot as I was trying to play off a slope to the right that I carried too far to get the bounce, but I holed a 12 footer for birdie.

On 8 I hit a wedge fat and left the ball short of the green, but chipped up for a kick in par. Not pretty after hitting a wonderful drive. I didn’t have a four on the card until the 8th hole. Pretty unusual for sure, but turned in 35.

The final bogey came on the 10th a par three. This again was a poor club selection because I could not see the green from the tee and didn’t know the shape of things up there. The pin in reality was back right, but it looked middle to me and the green appeared to run diagonal form short right to deep left which was actually the opposite. About 160 I pulled a 6 iron and played a draw shot that I tugged a hair and I hit it hard thinking the hole was uphill I would need to hit if full. Second bogey from missing long left into a bunker. No shot really. The right shot was to fade in a 6 iron and feed to the back right pin. So a combo of errors. Miss information and a bit of a tugged shot from working the wrong shape.

So being 1 over after 10, doesn’t look like anything great is going to happen out here today. Don’t know the course, not hitting it all that great today… and tough to hit it good really with so much uncertainty on so many shots trying to figure out a very tricky course as a play and go.

On eleven I hit a 1 iron off the tee and the green is a blind green down tucked over a hill. I hit a 9 iron right at the pin, but had no idea where it was going to be on the green… ended up a foot from the cup for a kick in. I’ll take it.

The 12th, is a short four par, multiple ways to play the hole, great hole really offering good risk and reward situations. Safe play is maybe a 4 iron right of the center bunker with just a wedge in from there. I this case, I felt I could carry the fairway bunker and get the ball down near the green. I pulled the 2 wood so I could turn it a bit right to left.
Well, best shot of the day… maybe of the year… just nailed it perfect… it hit over the bunker and ran right up between two greenside bunkers and stopped dead even with the hole 10 feet right of the cup. Nice to make the putt for an eagle two.

So how quickly things can change. I’m thinking now if I can put together some good shots and holes, I have 6 holes left and who knows… maybe I can birdie three coming in for a 65… wouldn’t that be nice.

13 is the toughest hole on the course. A long par four that is also a sharp dogleg left but you can’t hit it too far or you end up in a creek that you can’t see from the tee. It’s a long iron into the green with a huge bunker in front of the green, and the green is much to severe for the trajectory of shot that would typically come into this green. There is also a tree in the middle of the fairway. I didn’t like this hole… it’s too much in my opinion. I teed it high and gambled with a shot over the corner which paid off leaving me only a 6 iron in, but I was almost in this creek I didn’t see. I hit a nice 6 iron in 25 feet left of the pin, but the green was way too severe for my tastes for a hole this long… it would be silly if the greens were running really fast. The right way to play this hole would be to hit a 2 iron off the tee and try to run it out just past the fairway tree, and then come in with a 3 iron to a difficult green that is not shaped correctly for that trajectory.
I made par, but this is not a great hole.

14 I had no idea where the green was off the tee. I thought it was a sharp dogleg left, but a bunker deep into the right side of the fairway made no sense. I played right short of that bunker then found the green to be straight up a hill behind some trees. Wedged on and missed the bird from 15 feet.

15 is the other par 5. I again played a 1 iron off the tee to lay up short of the fairway bunkers down the right side. The hole doglegs hard left. It was downhill and my ball ran out and still got to the bunker. Should have hit 3 iron. Pitched out, pitched on… missed the putt. Didn’t birdie either of the par 5’s which is a disappointment.

On 16 the sun disappeared behind the rocks and it dropped 15 degrees in temp really fast. Suddenly my hands are getting numb and I realized I would not be able to do much… just try to par in. I did hit a really nice 4 iron into the par 3 #17 that hit the front of the green just right of the pin, but it caught a false front and pulled back 20 yards down the slope. Cold hands I bladed my pitch 30 feet past the hole. I walked up quickly, too one look and hit the putt and knocked it in!
No pictures!

18 we came up the hill out of the canyon and caught the sun again for another 5 minutes… just in time to finish our round without freezing solid. Nice drive and a 6 iron to 20 feet, and two putted.

What did I learn?

I think it’s important to always keep faith in your round. You never know when a couple great things might happen… and it’s important to keep yourself in the game if you can. Play smart, avoid the big mistakes and even on an off day, with a bit of luck you can still post a really good score. It sure helps to make some putts too!.

What to work on?

Didn’t feel the shaft slotting at transition today like it was a couple days ago… so need more SS work.

Probably my last round for a while as I will be heading back to SF and the deck.

I remember hitting a thin 1 iron in winter once. My hands nearly fell off.
Our winter , the ground never freezes, so im guessing your thin 1 iron hurt a touch “ouch”


really like reading about your rounds lag, appreciate it.

One of the points I hope readers here can take away from this, is that even good players hit poor shots. Sometimes horrible shots.

I used to really be hard on myself if I hit a poor shot. I was quick to blame my swing, or a technique flaw etc. But what we are really trying to do is increase our probability for success on the golf course. There are a lot of things we can do with our technique and gear… but also how we manage our game, the shot selection, how we are going to work the ball and trajectory.
Getting solid on short putts. Learning a putting stroke that is easy for us to repeat and feel from day to day. Something that feels natural really helps in putting. Tightening up chipping and wedge play can do wonders.

Good scoring is not always about pulling driver out of the bag on every hole. Just because a hole is a par 5 or a long par 4, does not mean driver is always the club.

We need to learn to weigh risk and reward.

Where are we in our round? How are we feeling? How to avoid getting ahead of ourselves. When to go for it… when to stay more conservative.

This blog is not a look into swing theory. There is some in that we can tip things in our favor, but we will never play great golf all the time. I’ll have some bad rounds on here for sure. Lot’s to learn on those days.

Ultimately we want to have fun, and while scoring well is inevitably more fun, we get there through trial and error, and learning what works and what doesn’t will be a quicker way to lower scores and a bit more enjoyment.

A bad day on the course is still better than a good day in the office!


Mare Island Golf Club

I couldn’t seem to decide if I was playing good or horrible today. I put a nice puncture wound into my left ring finger right where I grip the club in my left hand. Did this cutting a piece of wood just bumping it over to line up with a chop saw blade two days ago. I think a little bit of pain caused me to flinch on a couple shots.

Mare was playing very tough because the greens were scalped down to US Open speed, but they had been beaten to death by a ton of earlier play and looked like a mine field by 3 pm. In spite of that, I made three really nice putts from 15, 20 and 10 feet on #9, #12 and #17.

After just missing a birdie putt from 10 feet on the first,
bogeys came on #3, the tough par three where I left it in the front right greenside bunker with a 4 iron. Was trying to hit a baby draw into a front pin placement and just caught it a bit thin so it didn’t shape properly.

Bogey on #6 as I had to play a low 5 iron from under a tree and while the shot hit the green near the pin, it didn’t check up and left me a difficult chip down the hill from over the green. The tee shot was not good and was really to blame here.

Bogey on #7 was due to a poor drive that hit into a tree down the right side of the fairway. Just made a few poor swings… and you can’t make poor swings at Mare. You pay… with bogeys or worse.

#8, I struck a nice 2 iron just off the back left of the green, and made a nice chip for the conversion.
Nailed a drive on #9 that actually got over the usual crested landing area at the top of the hill, and ran out to only 110 from the green. Nicely played wedge to 15 feet under the hole and dropped the putt for a birdie. 9 is usually a very tough hole to birdie because of the severity of the green.

Finishing 2 over on the front is not great, and I thought maybe I could pick up a couple birdies on the back and turn the round into an even par round. That was my goal making the turn.

I played #10 and #11 nicely hitting both approaches to about 10 to 12 feet but didn’t convert either.

Thank goodness there are no pictures on the scorecard. #12 was probably the worst hole I have played in a long time. I choked up on a driver to keep the ball low and was planning on hitting a little cut up the hill and just get the ball into play. But I cut it too much and ended up in the hazard on the right. I usually hit 1 iron here and probably should have done that instead. I played out of some thick weeds in the hazard and moved the ball about 30 yards but I did get it back into the fairway. Then I hit a wedge a bit fat and it came up 10 yards short of the green. Pin was cut right in the front, and if you don’t make it up the hill, the ball will roll back to your feet. I played a ground ball chipping with an 8 iron bumping it up the hill, but it ran out 20 feet past the hole. Amazingly I holed the downhill putt for a bogey. I thought back to other times I have hit an iron into a green 20 feet and three putted for the same score. Golf is a crazy game.

Played the next two holes solid for pars but then made yet another bogey on #15 which is a tough play up the hill into the wind to a tight pin over a bunker. Just got the ball up a bit and it came up short and didn’t convert.

#16 I flushed a 7 iron right at the pin landing about 3 feet from the cup with the ball finishing 10 feet past the hole. Nice putt but just lipped on the left side.

#17 I hit another super pure 8 iron right at the stick stopping 10 feet above the hole, this time I canned in right in the heart. Parred 18.

What did I learn?

I think if you have a cut on your hand in a critical area, you should either wear a bandaid, or just grit your teeth a little harder and play through it. I hit a lot of really nice shots, so I don’t think I am too far off playing some good golf again. The pain in my hand I think caused me to not “orbit pull” enough through impact and caused my wrists to uncock prematurely a couple times causing a few fat shots that cost me bogeys I might not normally have made. Two nice stretches of good ball striking 8,9,10,11 then 16, 17, 18 saved this round from going higher, as well as some nice putts falling in spite of the very difficult condition of the greens.