2015 was a mixed year on the golf course for us here at OneBeardedGolfer.com. There were plenty of highlights, laughs had, and memories made on some fantastic golf courses. But getting the ball from the tee to the hole efficiently continues to prove elusive.
Despite the arrival of the One Bearded Baby, I was able to play a lot more golf than I expected this year. I completed 56 rounds of golf, which included 18 9-hole rounds.
Plus, I was able to compete in two scrambles, including a negligible contribution to the this year’s winning team in the ΠΚΑ Omega Chapter Bryan S. Clark Memorial Golf Scramble.
That’s just under 900 holes of golf spanning from January 24 until December 29, reinforcing my hypothesis that in Central Kentucky, there’s at least one day each month with golf-worthy weather.
A total of 32 different golf courses received my furry patronage in 2015, including 21 courses that I’d never seen before. The golfing adventures included memorable stops in four states: Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, and North Carolina.
The Club at Olde Stone is simply a remarkable golf course, rivaling the best tracks in Kentucky. It’s long, tough, fun, gorgeous, and immaculately conditioned, with perhaps the best, fastest greens I played in Kentucky all season. Bogey was a good score on a majority of the holes, yet I didn’t feel brow-beaten at the end of the round.
My initial foray into golf in Indiana didn’t disappoint at the Belterra Casino Course along the bank of the Ohio River between Louisville and Cincinnati. This Tom Doak creation provides a stern test of shot-shaping execution mixed with some traditionally less taxing resort golf features.
Three of the four courses played along the Robert Trent Jones Alabama Golf Trail provided the sort of challenge and excitement I’ve come to expect from the Trail courses and provides the ultimate destination for a Guys’ Getaway Golf Trip on a budget.
The Judge at Capitol Hill is visually awe-inspiring with dangers that cut like a knife. It was easy to see why the PGA Tour awarded a new stop to the Lakes Course at Grand National, with its stunning beauty and varied shot making requirements. And the Senator Course at Capitol Hill was unlike any golf course I’ve ever played: a high-mounded links style course with massive, roller-coaster worthy greens created whole-cloth on the plateau high above the Alabama River.
And despite the near-death experience with several swarms of mosquitoes, I had a great time playing the North River Club in Beaufort, NC. It’s fun, attackable golf course that will get better with age, though I suspect the eventual completion of the surrounding housing development will eliminate some of the more scenic aspects of the course.
The long-term highlight of the year was participating in the Kentucky Golf Association’s Amateur Series. Influenced in no small part by the opportunity to play at Olde Stone in the Series opener, Cincinnati Slim and I ended up sticking with the once-a-month tournament schedule all the way through the Series Championship.
These one-day, flighted tournaments were a real blessing for my game, forcing me to face reality and abandon any remaining notions of my vanity handicapper past. Seeing familiar faces each month added an element of camaraderie to the outings, and I’m grateful for the newfound acquaintances that have become budding friendships. I’ve already calendared the 2016 edition tournaments.
My GHIN profile reveals that I produced an average raw score of 86 for 18 holes. That’s playing the ball down, keeping real scores, and including all of the (many) penalty strokes for hitting the ball into hazards and out-of-bounds. Not good.
Of all the stats one could glean from the GHIN system, the ones that jump out at me are the miserably low greens in regulation (GIR) percentage (29%) and brutal up-and-down percentage (21%).
Sure, I’d like to hit the ball further and drive the ball in the fairway with more regularity, but the miserable GIR and scrambling statistics are what will really hold me back until I’m striking the ball at my full potential.
Yes, there were rounds I played this year during which (mostly) everything went well. The KY Amateur Series at Houston Oaks comes to mind, where I came back from an opening double-bogey to post an 82 and finish in the money for my flight.
But as the season wore on, my ball striking grew more inconsistent and more frustrating. I know that it’s equal parts mental and physical, and after a few weeks away from the range and the course, I’ll be looking to my teaching pro for some guidance and some corrective suggestions.
At the tail-end of 2015, I tried to play through and injury. Rather than proving my mettle and how tough I was, my golf game disintegrated into complete chaos.
My body tried to compensate for a strained group of shoulder muscles (traps, delts, and/or rotator cuffs) in ways that I’m not sure I’m fully conscious off, which lead to some terrible swings that quickly became habitual.
On the tee box, I started missing/mis-hitting the ball in a way that defies my limited understanding of physics. I’m not talking about a one-off fluke of a bad swing. No, I suffered through this newfound “swing” phenomenon on three different courses over a period of weeks.
It was an unbelievably soul-crushing experience that’s left me with nothing but questions and fear heading into the 2016 season.
All is not lost, however. I have a plan in place to improve my fitness and flexibility. I’ll be seeking the assistance of my teaching pro to settle my mind as much correct my physical errors.
2015 was a good golf year. I visited a lot of new courses and relished the opportunities to rediscover some that had been laying dormant in the memory bank.
I didn’t accomplish all that I set out to do, but I’m looking forward to getting to work and back out on the course in 2016.
Happy New Year, Dear Readers.