Golf Never Felt So Good

After a near-two-month government-imposed golf hiatus, I finally went to the range and played 9 socially distanced holes today at TPC Potomac. It was glorious, and I am sore everywehre.

I certainly didn’t factor a two month hold into my improvement plan, but I was pleasantly surprised at what elements of my game survived the wait.

I started off by hitting around 80 balls on the range, most of them being mid-irons. There was definitely some rust, but after about a half hour my game was in good enough shape to try it on the course.

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On the par-4 first hole, I hit a high-fading driver that finished in the right rough. The lie was good, but I was blocked by a tree, so I hit a layup wedge just short of the left fairway bunker, then hit 7-iron towards the green. My 7-iron was a hair short and left, leaving me just short of the left bunker. I hit a 35-yard 60-degree wedge toward the center flag and two-putted for double.

On the par-5 second hole, I hit an even bigger driver fade, landing even lefter. Luckily, the area where I landed had been recently cut down and I found my ball without too much trouble. I hit a layup 6-iron towards the fairway, and ended up in the left fringe. From there, I hit a powerful draw with my 3-hybrid, coming to rest on the lip of a bunker 5 yards long of the green. With an awkward stance, I hit a poor chip and three putted, a result of my expecting the green to be way faster than it was. This was a theme of the day.

On the par-3 third I hit an excellent 6-iron to 15 feet and two-putted for a routine par.

On the par-4 fourth I hit a low fade that came to rest in a nice spot on the left fairway, leaving about 150 in. I hit a mediocre 7-iron long, low, and left, leaving a nasty chip from the bushes. I left the chip on the apron, 5 yards short of the green, then chipped it to makeable range. I hit the putt too softly and wound up with another double-bogey six.

On the par-4 5th, I hit a nasty high cut with my driver which wound up on a hill, in the rough, 162 yards from where it started. I then proceeded to smoke a 6-iron 181 yards, but 30 yards left of my target (In my defense, the hill did push the ball that way, and the green is narrow). I hit a solid pitch with my 60, then two-putted for bogey.

On the challenging par-4 6th, I hit a really nice drawing driver 235 yards into the left rough, which is a good place to be on this hole (right is trouble). My driving improvement was courtesy of my realizing that I’d been subconsciously opening up the face of my driver at address (explaining the high cut). I got aggressive and tried to take three-wood over a tree to get close to the green. I almost pulled it off, but hit the top of a tree leaving a 100 yard approach to the green. I hit a 56-degree wedge about 10 yards short and right of the flag, leaving a long putt for par. I didn’t hit the first one even close to hard enough, and I three-jacked it for double

aOn 7 I hit another line-drive fade that got a decent amount of roll and ended up in the middle of the fairway. I hit three-wood 172 yards into the left rough. I tried to get fancy, hitting a 50-yard flop onto the narrow sloping green. I came up two yards short and wound up with a bunker shot, which I hit to 5-10 feet. Once again, I two-putted, missing from makeable range. At least I was playing golf.

On the long par-4 eighth I hit decent drive, but still had 200+ yards to the green from the middle of the fairway. I hit driver off the deck and wound up in the bunker that guards the front of the green. I followed that up with a shot which my playing partner billed “one bounce from greatness”. Its final hop was just short of carrying onto the green and rolling straight for the hole. Instead I had a chip, which I hit reasonably close (4-5 feet), leaving me with bogey.

On the fun par-3 9th, over a ravine, I pulled 8-iron, which I feared might not be enough club. Pleasantly, it was plenty. I hit it 155 yards to about 25 feet and two-putted for a closing par.

That all summed to a 47 from the silver tees. Since my last round in Arccos, my average driving distance is down 20 yards and my short game and irons are supremely rusty. Nevertheless, based on what I saw today, I’m confident that with practice I can get back to where I was within a month.

My legs are sore. My hands are tender. My right shoulder and hand ache way more than they should. Nevertheless, I’m ecstatic to be back at it, working towards my goal of getting to scratch by age 30 (Is that the goal? Seems like a good one). Nature is providing me with a forced few days of recovery, with a storm brewing tomorrow, and temperatures reaching the 30s on Saturday, but I look forward to getting back out there in a few days to reestablish my callusses.

I rather like many of the golfing changes COVID has forced. Not raking bunkers is blissful, not worrying about the flagstick saves time and energy, and being forced to walk is probably good for my health and my wallet (though I feel bad for some other golfers for whom that choice is less tenable – It seems like it’s a very temporary change). Welcome back, golf. I’ve missed you.

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