Friday, October 21, 2005

An 87? No Big Deal!

I visited a golf course that I haven't played in some time although it's my home course. Maple Moor has been undergoing a renovation since Billy Casper Golf took it over last year. It really hasn't improved at all.

In spite of the soggy fairways (this was one of their biggest problems...drainage!) and very weedy grounds I did really well today. You see I haven't played golf in two weeks nor did I visit a driving range in over a week. I was a bit tight and didn't expect much of myself. That could be why I scored so well!

I noticed when my expectations are really high, whether it be on the golf course or in some other aspect of my life, I rarely get what I expected. When I set my standards a bit lower I seem to be able to overcome any difficulties.

Today I didn't expect anything to come of my round. I didn't expect to break 90 and certainly didn't expect to hit my shots crisp. But I did do one thing which made the difference in my game. I went over to the putting area and practiced for about 20 minutes while waiting for my tee time. I really made sure that I could read the greens. The first thing I did was to hit across the green to the other side (about 40 feet). I watched the ball as it broke and didn't care too much if it dropped. I mean, how many of us drop 40 footers?

After several minutes of long putting I then settled in on putts of about 20 feet. Mid length. And I attempted to make those putts. Again, my intent was to watch how the greens broke and gain confidence in my hand-eye coordination.

Once I gained confidence I then got even closer and finished off with short putts, inside of 10 feet. I needed to make sure that my stroke was clean and consistent. Once I felt comfortable I went to the desk and claimed my tee time.

I played golf with two really nice Japanese women, Tomomi and Yumiko who had the same time as me. I'm glad we met. They played a good game and we all felt comfortable playing together.

There was no rushing around the course, no people behind us pushing us to proceed. As a matter of fact there was a group in front of us which were playing slow so we asked if we could pass and did so.

Nothing about my round of golf was spectacular. I was hitting my 200 plus yard drives and my woods were working fine. My short stuff saved my game. Pitching, chipping and putting gave me the saves I needed today to post three birdies and five pars. Not bad for a girl who started the round with a 7 on a par-4!

Once I calmed down everything fell into place. This is only my second round in the 80's so I guess it's pretty special although I came away from it feeling a little numb and not remembering much about it...sort of like when Freddie Couples is interviewed in the middle of a round and he seems oblivious to what's going on around him.

My new motto is "steady as she goes" because I realized that there weren't many ups-and-downs and I didn't get frazzled when I hit a bad shot. Rebounding well saved strokes and kept my head clear.

I hope you play an even round of golf this week and make sure to practice your putting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sorenstam Rips Through Canyons Course

Annika Sorenstam shows her finesse at Bighorn Golf Club after defeating 19 top golfers on the LPGA tour.

At the Samsung World Championship Annika Sorenstam quietly climbed the leaderboard while all eyes were fixed upon young phenom Michelle Wie. Sunday confirmed Annika's right to sit atop the LPGA throne while the remainder of the pack stood eight strokes behind.

A final round 69 gave the Swede her third victory this year and ninth overall in which she has clobbered the competition with an eight-stroke or better advantage.

As Sorenstam strode confidently along the fairways and greens of the Canyons Course others like Michelle Wie were having their difficulties. Wie looked somewhat amateurish as she lost her grip several times taking several unplayable lies without asking rules officials about her concerns. She did ask for help on two occasions. Okay so Michelle is just sixteen and still learning.

Wie went a bit too far on Saturday as she took a drop from an unplayable lie after alerting Grace Park. Although Michelle didn't realize it her ball landed nearer to the hole after her drop. She went on to save par but was alerted to the infraction on Sunday after the end of play after Sports Illustrated writer Michael Bamberger spoke to tour officials about it. After reviewing the tape both Wie and her caddy were escorted back to the seventh hole and the scene was recreated to prove that Wie was slightly closer to the hole. This resulted in a DQ for Wie on Sunday causing her possible fourth place finish (and $53,126) to be deleted from the record books. Let's hope the newly-crowned darling of Nike has now learned her lesson to always ask for assistance when contemplating the Rules of Golf.

"I learned a great lesson" said Wie, choking back tears. "From now on I'll call a rules official no matter where it is, whether its three inches or 100 yards."

Even though the media dubbed this tournament "The Michelle Wie Show" it was evident that no one could catch the number-one golfer in the world. Annika clearly had the lead and kept it even though the ladies were almost rained out after the completion of an almost eight-hour round.

Annika had all the right shots in her bag. Her winning ways increased the lead to nine strokes over Gloria Park at the turn on Sunday. Nobody even tried to stop Sorenstam. They were all busy chasing solo second place which finally went to number-two golfer on tour Paula Creamer.

Paula played steady golf this weekend despite not being showered with attention. I know that the ladies love the spotlight so I'm glad the Pink Panther kept her head and played evenly throughout. Creamer's final round 70 beat out Gloria Park by one stroke for solo second place. I think that the wedge for eagle on the 12th hole inspired her to finish strong.

Gloria Park didn't have a great Sunday in contrast to Creamer's comfortable round. Gloria's final round 74 ended with a disappointing bogey.

Natalie Gulbis finished tied for fourth place along with Meena Lee and Cristie Kerr. Lorena Ochoa was found in the middle of the pack once again and Birdie Kim, 2005 U.S. Open winner, can be found at the bottom of the list tied with Heather Bowie separated by seventeen strokes from Annika Sorenstam.

But young Paula Creamer summed up Sorenstam's victory best by saying, "She's probably sending a statement to the world that says, "I'm here. I'm still the best player."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Looking Forward to Watching the Samsung World Championship

Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis sure have their work cut out for them today.
Michelle Wie is hot on the trail of the top female golfers in the world and she's only sixteen!

Annika doesn't really do her best on Sundays. That's why, during the past few days, Annika has built a solid lead. When she slips up a bit today, those extra points will come in handy.

Okay so Annika may NOT slip up's just a prediction.

As I'm watching the Samsung right now I notice that Michelle Wie has turned up the pressure and is now in double digits with only Gloria Park and Sorenstam ahead of her. The 65 she shot the other day really proves that the Hawaiian has the "stuff" to be great. Wie also chokes a bit under pressure so I'm waiting to see whether or not she pulls through...oops, she just bogeyed and dropped back to 9-under. Okay, I'm just proving my choking theory while writing.

And what has happened to Cristie Kerr? Cristie has had her medical problems, that's no secret. Kerr still has two wins this season under her belt so I guess she rebounds well when she keeps her eye on the prize.

But nobody is putting any real pressure on the Swede who has won this event four times. Looks like Annika might surprise herself and win this event an unprecedented FIVE times!!

Holy Smokes!

In the last 8 leads going in to the final round Annika has pummeled her competition and has won. If she gets off to a hot start here she will clinch another title. I saw the crystal trophy and its worth the effort!
Could it be because Annika regularly plays this particular golf course? I read in my local newspaper, the Journal News, that Annika has a piece of property on Big Horn Golf Course..hmmm...
There was a delay for about an hour or so which changes the mental game of the girls as they sit and think too much...yet another problem...sitting and thinking instead of just going out there and putting it all on remote control.

Gloria Park had to take an unplayable. The other day Park had a snowman. It's good watching the best in the world choke a bit. It makes our bad shots just a little more bearable.
Natalie Gulbis is another rookie...only 22-years-old! She now takes the prize as the number one player who hasn't won a tournament this season. Okay, no real prize but her situation sounds a bit like shades of Phil Mickelson. Mickelson happens to be my favorite golfer to those that haven't read through my Golf-for-Beginners website and just pick up this weekly feed.
So as the action is just beginning I'm hoping for a read duel between the LPGA's top golfers and newly professional and newly VERY WEALTHY Michelle Wie. I hope the battle is hot and not a runaway. Sorenstam's lead was four entering the final round and now it's five.
I also hope that the LPGA becomes more popular and people realize that great golfers don't always have to hit the ball 400 yards like on the PGA Tour. Sometimes finesse and grace are better taught by females. ;-)
To be continued...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Playing Golf in the Rain

I was fortunate to get out of work early with my husband on Friday. We headed over to Saxon Woods Golf Course for a quick nine.

Even though the forecast said rain I figured that it's just as important to hone my skills in bad weather as in good so we decided to see how the elements affect the score, swing, mood and all other factors.

Barry was on his best behavior (c'mon women, you know what I mean). It wasn't raining yet but there was a steady fog creeping in and we could just feel the dampness in the air but we figured that it wasn't the score that was important but the practice.

The cold and damp stiffened my bones and my ability to turn fully seemed harder to do. But they say that you have to work with whatever you're given that day so I took it easy. In doing so my swing slowed down and I developed my tempo which, when it's working, is a thing of beauty.

Rain began to fall. I noticed my golf glove getting a bit slippery. My hands weren't getting dry no matter WHOSE shirt I wiped them on. I noticed that although my distance control was right on the club was spinning around in my hands causing the club to turn over. This forced more of a draw than anticipated.

At one point my golf ball landed in a wet sand trap. Although I tried to get the club into the sand I noticed that it was banging into the sand but not pulling through the sand, thus my ball was hopelessly rolling back to it's initial spot in front of me. It was almost comical. Thank goodness that this was just practice and I wasn't in a competition or my score would have been astronomical!

It is really important, if you plan to improve your game, to know the elements. Wind and rain can wreak havoc with your game if you don't practice in these conditions. I found that out this week AND I wound up having fun doing it. The idea is to take a companion with you to make the experience unforgettable. You'll be laughing about it for years to come!