Tag Archives: golf

Acquiring a Driver

Today I got a driver. You might be wondering, does that mean you hired someone as a chauffeur or that you got a golf club? Hoke Colburn is pretty cool, but I do not do enough traveling to justify hiring a wheelman. Of course I might not do enough golfing to justify getting the club either, but it was rather cheap since it is not a brand new model.

Oversized drivers have always intimidated me. With great power comes great responsibility. A mistake made with a supercharged driver is magnified. Instead of being 20 yards off the fairway you end up wondering where the ball stopped and whether or not it’s still on the golf course property. With the number of erratic drives I hit I was happy to use a less powerful club.

Things changed my last time on the course. I didn’t have any disasters off the tee*. Several balls I hit as hard as I could and was disappointed with the total length. I decided to look for a used driver that would be an upgrade to my current King Cobra Ti (10.5°). Eventually I found a used Taylormade R580 XD Ti (9.5°) that I liked. End of story.

My driver.

*With a driver, that is (I had one atrocious 4 iron tee shot). I attribute the improvement in driving primarily to two pointers I received from someone while we were waiting to tee off for the round. 1) Add a very brief pause at the top of my backswing. 2) Double check to make sure I’m not holding the club face open on address. If that straighter and more consistent driving intends to stay with remains to be seen.


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Keeping a Promise = Golfing

A few weeks ago I promised myself I would play a round of golf before August ended. But then my schedule became rather crazy, and each time I made a tentative tee time with myself it fell through. I began to doubt me.

The weather today was absolutely spectacular. As I sat in the lab looking at fungi and fungal-like organisms under a microscope I began to scheme. My scheming led to a quick bike ride home, a hasty lunch, and a trip to the PSU golf courses.

I chipped and putted for 30 minutes, then drove a few ball balls. I’ve been working on the mechanics of my swing lately (using foam golf balls) and the results are mixed. On the positive side, I now hit approximately 70% of my drives straight. On the negative side, the other 30% is a mix of slices and hooks. My old swing was a slice every time. The other negative is that my straight drives often tend to be struck in a poor direction (often on the line I would want if the ball was going to slice).

My goal in this round was to stay under 100 strokes. That didn’t happen. I knew I was due to revert a bit with my score and today it happened. I shot a 111.

The Good

  • I had my best day putting ever (5 one putts and 13 two putts = 31 total putts).
  • I strung together three consecutive pars on holes 15, 16, and 17 (par 4, 3, 4).

The Bad

  • My score was not <100.
  • I only hit two fairways.
  • I only reached two greens in regulation.

The Ugly

  • I lost three golf balls. Though none of them were hit far from the fairway, they were struck over rises out of sight and I could not find them. Having three wasted strokes for drops was frustrating.
  • I registered an 11 on hole 11. This was not cool. I have a strict zero tolerance policy for double digit scores.
  • I hit a 3 wood solidly against a tree trunk, the ricochet resulted in a net loss of yardage (though it did move toward the fairway).

All in all it was a good day. I was not about to let a few bad drives and iron shots ruin a beautiful afternoon. If I ever reach the point where I can’t maintain a positive attitude on the golf course I’ll give the game up.

I’ve promised myself a September tee time.

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Golf Progress

Yesterday I took care of some extra work, then this morning I got an early start, all with the intent of working in an afternoon tee time.

I went to the PSU Golf Courses in the early afternoon. After a half hour of putting and chipping on the practice greens I wandered into the clubhouse to get a tee time. Originally I wanted to golf a round by myself. But the starter asked me to group with two other players, so I obliged.

My partners for the round were Choi (a visiting South Korean professor at PSU) and Chace (a member of the PSU swim team). Both men were more experienced golfers than me. We played the PSU White Course.

Over the past two weeks I decided the next logical scoring goal for me was a double bogey average, so 108 was my target. Here are the numbers from today:

Front Nine: 55
Back Nine: 52
Total: 107

One Putts: 4
Two Putts: 12
Three Putts: 2
Total: 34

Fairways Hit: 2/18 (ouch)
Greens in Regulation: 1/18 (ouch)

I’m marching toward my goal of a score <100 by the end of next summer. Considering that I conquored the 108 goal, I think 100 is my target from here on out. That and recording at least one birdie, which has eluded me. Of course it would be foolish of me to expect my score to fall every round I play. So far it has been 129 → 114 → 107. I’m due for an increase.

Today my tee shots were erratic. I’d say only five of them were good. I gave myself some terrible lies that forced me to burn a stroke to lay up in the fairway. I had a few awful iron strokes that were nothing short of embarrassing (thankfully my two playing partners also had some terrible shots, so I was not alone in this). I only managed one par, and that was on the only green I reached in regulation (a par 5). My long game needs serious work.

But my putting was very good. I remained calm, acting like I always putt like this. But the truth is I wanted to jump up and down several times. I hit three putts longer than 10 feet (including one that was close to fifteen with a major break left). I stopped a 60 foot putt within a foot of the hole, and I managed to putt 20 feet downhill to within two feet of the hole (when the green continued for another 40 feet downhill). I had several putts that broke right or left that I read correctly and sunk. It was exhilarating. In the threesome I had the best day putting, which allowed me to maintain my dignity when my irons did their best to humiliate me.

One last note, on the 13th hole (par 5) I found myself in a deep bunker beside the green chipping toward a close hole on a green that sloped away from me. I hit the best bunker shot I have ever hit. It cleared the bunker lip by about two feet, with enough backspin to make it slam on the brakes and barely roll. This allowed me to one putt and pick up a sand save. For a moment I felt like a real golfer. And then I remembered it had taken me six shots to reach that bunker.

Like I feared, golf is addicting.

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A Twilight Round on the Penn State Blue Course

On Monday I started my day at 4:45am in preparation for this afternoon. Thanks to the early start on Monday I was able to finish up my work on Tuesday a bit before 3:00pm. And then I biked home at a rapid pace, got changed, grabbed my golf clubs, and met Julian at the PSU clubhouse for a 4:04pm tee time.

This was the second time in my life I played an 18 hole round of golf. I managed to knock 15 strokes off my previous score, so my current best score is 114. On this night my putter was much better than last time. I had 16 two puts, 1 three put, and 1 one put.

On the tee my driver actually worked. I set the ball up on the right side of the tee box, aimed a bit left, and let my natural slice bring the ball toward the middle. It worked out alright most of the time.

My irons were streaky, which was frustrating. I had some errant shots from around 150 yards that went wide right. I had a few chips that came up very short and a few that flew embarrassingly long.

I like my clubs better than the rental set I played with last time, which is a good thing.

As far as goals for the round, here is a report:

Shoot 115. I accomplished this goal by the narrowest of margins (114). I shot a 58 on the front nine and a 56 on the back nine.

Make at least one par. I failed at this.

Avoid two digit scores at any holes. Success, I managed to avoid two digit scores. I had two nines (on the fifth and seventh holes), but everything else was lower.

Have no need to cry “Fore!” This was a failure. For the first time in my life I had to yell the dreaded word. Thankfully I did not knock a golfer out. A heroic tree deflected the ball, causing it to fall harmlessly to the ground.

Lose three balls or less. I hit this number right on. I hit one ball into a serene little pond to the left of the second green. On the sixteenth hole I hit a 5 wood that sliced and struck the paved cart path, the ensuing bounce launched the ball out of bounds into the woods that borders the golf course. On the eighteenth hole I hit a 4 iron directly into the sun, I think the ball might have melted. While it should have been around the fairway it was nowhere to be found, I was blinded by the sun and never saw the flight of the ball. I had to take a drop.

Beat Julian. I used dual scoring (stroke play and match play) to give myself two opportunities. We had a spirited competition that saw numerous ties. The latest match scoring tie was after the fifteenth hole, while the last stroke tie was after the tenth hole. I did my best Lucas Glover impression on the finish.

Have fun. This was a definite win. It was a beautiful afternoon-evening for golf. The sun was shining, a light breeze was blowing, and at random times groundhogs wandered the course. We played the round in just a few minutes more than four hours, so we were not racing the darkness at the end.  Good times.


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A Tussey Par 3 Experiment

Several weeks ago I wondered what would happen if I played multiple rounds of par 3 golf in a short time period. Today was the day I found out.

I went to Tussey Mountain in the late morning. My first task was to purchase a large bucket of balls for the driving range and calibrate my irons and woods. That took about 30 minutes. I decided to move on to the unlimited par 3 golf option at Tussey. They have a nine hole course.

The greens were in very good shape. Unfortunately so were the weeds that serve as hazard areas. I played five rounds in about four hours. I’d probably still be playing, but I had to go to campus to check on my hopefully-dying-firs in the late afternoon.

Here are my scores:

tussey_scoresI was really hoping to get a birdie, and I had three very close misses. One was a seven foot putt that stopped about twelve inches short, one was a sixty yard chip that missed by three inches, and the other was a thirty yard chip that rolled to six inches.

At times it felt and looked like it was going to rain this afternoon, but it did not. It was a beautiful afternoon to play 45 holes of golf.


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