Friday, June 02, 2006

The busy times of an unemployed golf addict

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last post. (Come on, that's hardly pulling a Jam-Boy.) I have let several topics pile up, so this post could get long-winded. Where to start?

Well, unemployment is really keeping me busy. Over the last couple weeks I spent some time down in Dana Point visiting my family and hosted my best friend as a houseguest over the long Memorial Day weekend. I've been dreaming up and researching business ventures for my future, planning a vacation with Greg, and of course, I've been playing some golf.

Golfing with the folks

While visiting my parents, I managed to get them both to agree to play golf with me! Dad plays occasionally (probably once or twice a year) but he's a natural athlete. He used to play a lot, so he's definitely got me beat on experience. Mom was inspired by me to take up golf and has had a whopping two lessons. Her second lesson really turned her off but I was thankful she still wanted to get out and play with us. We went out one afternoon, and since they're not addicts like me, we set out to just play nine holes at San Juan Hills. Dad gave away his golf clubs a couple years back, so they both had to rent sets. I played from the white tees with dad and mom played the reds. They rode in a cart together and I really enjoyed the way they communicated and watching my dad coach my mom through the process. It was so cute! I hope they start playing golf together.

Dad and I were pretty evenly matched, at least that day. I didn't exactly have my "A" game with me and it was kind of hard to get in a rhythm, but the day wasn't about playing my best, I guess. Mom commented on how similar our swings are - big and smooth. I out-drove him once or twice (of course, he refused to use his driver, opting instead for the 3-wood for better control) which pissed him off in his jovial way. Heehee. I only beat him by one stroke, which pissed me off in my hidden way.

Mom was a real trooper, literally, clocking around 7000 steps on her pedometer. She didn't hit it far, but she hit it straight and she really has focus. There is so much to learn at that stage. Trying to actually hit the golf ball while learning rules and etiquette can be overwhelming on your first outing. I hope she keeps at it, not just so I can play with her more but because I think she'd really enjoy it and could be quite good. Overall, it was a great afternoon. They want to come up here and play with me and Greg, and I hope they do that soon.

Golfing with Ariana

My best and longest-time friend, Ariana, came down from the Bay Area to visit me over the long weekend. Last time she came down, I got her out to my local par-3 nine-hole course and she really enjoyed her experience there. She's not a natural athlete or even sportily coordinated at all, but she has a great sense of adventure and understands the lure of the sport. Plus, she has her own growing business now and recognizes how playing golf can be an asset in that regard. She has a very competitive nature (as do I - you should see us at dice or cards!), so it will be interesting to see if she applies that to golf as she learns and gets better. She has signed up for a six-week muni lesson plan and even though that hadn't begun before her visit, she was eager to get back out there and play, so we went back to that same course. Her goal was double par, and even though it was only her second attempt at the game, she nearly reached that goal, missing it by only a couple strokes! Another fun afternoon and another golf recruit successfully signed up.

On Memorial Day, we went to a fun little gathering at a friend's house. Good barbecue, great company, and the fiercest, most aggressive game of croquet I've ever seen!

Defending my title

Our golf club plays tournaments once a month, and after a couple months of stroke play qualifiers, May was our first round in the bracket match-play eliminations toward club championship. As reigning club champ, I automatically qualified first and this year, my handicap index just barely has me playing in A-flight. Since I'm at the higher end of it, my first opponent still had to give me eight strokes.

**Explanation of match and stroke play for beginners - skip it if you know**
In tournament play, your handicap index is translated to a course handicap depending on the difficulty of the course and each set of tees has its own rating. It's all formula based and very mathematical. In stroke play, everyone just "gets" that number of strokes and it is subtracted from your total gross score for a net score, and best net score wins. In match play, you're only playing against one opponent, so whichever person has the higher course handicap gets the
difference of the two numbers. You play to win each hole rather than a better overall score. Each hole is assigned a handicap rating (1-18) based on difficulty of the hole. So, if I get 8 strokes, I get them on the eight hardest holes. This means on any of those holes, I can bogey and he can par and we still tie that hole. In match play, putts and holes can be conceded. For example, if your opponent reaches the green in two with an easy two-putt and you hacked around and got on in five with a long putt in front of you, you can concede the hole rather than play it out. In our club, we play a simultaneous stroke play tournament, so we play out every hole.

I won my match handily, beating my opponent 7 and 6 (beginners: that means I was up by 7 holes with only six to play so the match was over at that point) and played out the rest of the round well enough to take second place in the stroke play event.

My next match is against one of the best golfers in the club. He's consistently on top of the birdie club, usually wins at least one closest to the pin in every tournament, wins an occasional long drive and places in the top three in most stroke play events. His attitude appears to me to indicate that he is among the dissenters in the club when it comes to women joining, but I don't know that for sure. He's going to be a tough customer and I better bring that "A" game I mentioned earlier. I'm pretty nervous about it, but it would be quite satisfying if I can take him down. Greg also won his first match, and if we both win two more, we will be facing each other for the A-flight championship. Wouldn't that be interesting? This month is our away tournament, a fun weekend event at Primm (Nevada-California Stateline) so our next match play tournament isn't until July. Time to practice!

New putter, same golfer, new drive

I'm still not happy with my game overall. I don't feel as confident and solid as I think I should and know I can be. I believe I mentioned something about a "not unplayable slice" I have developed with my driver in my last post. That slice has grown and in a round I played yesterday, it was decidedly unplayable. So frustrating! My drive used to be the most reliable shot of the hole for me. This is the area I will really be working on in the coming weeks.

Out of desperation over my lack of putting skills, I got a new putter. It's a Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Newport 2.5. I like the red grip and the festive colored dots, but I can't stand the silly Cameron lettering on the grip. I'll admit I was looking for a panacea out of this new putter, even though I know it's still me doing the putting. I've only used it a few times, so I'm still getting used to it, but I will say I really like the feel of it. Results have been similar to how I putted with my TaylorMade Monza - some rounds better than others - what a shock! Psychologically, I think the new twist has helped and over time I'll get better with it than I was with my old one. Truthfully, I've been so wrapped up in my terrible drives that my focus has shifted. New toys are fun, though! Since I started golfing, this is the first club I have replaced. I can see how people get a renewed excitement when they get a new driver or some other club. Sure, it's still ultimately the same golfer with the same swing, but any change you make in golf brings that spark of opportunity to better your game. I've never enjoyed the process of shopping, but I do enjoy getting new things! Combining that with my golf addiction could be dangerous - like that first taste of crack.

Next post.


GolfNomad said...

Great choice of a putter..I have 2 Scotty's, a Newport SS and Red X, and they are truly good feeling putters. The Red X is my gamer. They are truly well made and beautiful. I don't think I'll be looking any further if I do decide to replace/trade putters.

mediaguru said...

Congrats on winning your match. You can't win them all if you don't win the first one..

Oh boy. You are officially a "club ho" now. It's really fun to get new toys. But most people would be better off spending $400 in lessons than on a new driver.

Kiwi said...

congrat's on the win Kirsten. I'm sure you'll be fine in the 2nd round. After all as Tony say's your now an offical club ho and a blogger to boot!!!