So where do I start? If you have not heard already my quest for Open glory fell at the first hurdle with a hugely disappointing score of 20 over par, just the small matter of 21 shots away from what I needed to make the next stage. So what happened? Well if you want to hear the full journey and my thought processes throughout then read on below.
So on the Sunday I arrived for my practice round, weather conditions as close to ideal as you could get and I paired up with 3 fellow competitors for the round. First hole is a 384 yard par 4 with trees down the left and rough on the right hand side. One lad I knew from the Island the other two guys I didnt know and they all went with long irons or driving irons off the tee and were all placed nicely in the fairway. One of my strengths in my game I always believed was my accuracy off the tee so I went with a 3 wood off the tee. I can get realistically 230/240 yards with a decent 3 wood so went with this so that I left a reasonable length shot into the green giving me a chance for birdie. The other thing which became apparent very quickly is that I was giving away a few yards to these guys so needed more club to cover the same yardage. This 3 wood I hit ended up going left into the trees, I bit off more than I could chew with the next one, hit the next one through the back, got caught out with the speed of the green on the chip, then 3 putted, triple bogey!
So after the first hole of my practice round I will go as far as to admit I felt slightly out of my depth and confidence had taken a big knock, which even thinking like that is not going to help your golf. The practice round continued in a similar way, I struggled off the tee and combined with getting used to the pace of the greens and figuring out the layout of the course I scored very poorly but learnt a lot about the course for the next day, but also knew in the back of my mind I had a lot to do to improve and be in with a shout.
So the day of the competition arrived, I got to the course 2 and a half hours before my tee off time to find a swing that was going to get me round the golf course. I went on to the practice area with a simple swing thought of trying to hit a slight fade and using the yardage boards as a target was hitting some really accurate shots with a wide selection of clubs and was very pleased.
So then I visualised a fairway down the left hand side of the practice area and tried to pick an exact point of where I wanted my ball to end up and visualise the shot, and this is where I started to have issues. I started to find the shots were nowhere near as accurate as when my focus was on the smaller targets of the yardage boards and as much as I tried to focus in, my confidence took a slight knock again however I brushed this off and went to the putting green then on to the first tee. With all my lessons I really try to labour the point that picking a target and then reacting to it will help you hit better shots, like when you are driving a car you just take the wheel and drive, its only when you first learn to drive that you think about what your feet are doing on the pedals and that’s when you tend to stall it! Now you drive down the road instinctively and don’t think about it all.
So I step on to the 1st tee, not particularly nervous but keen to get on with it and the guy in front of me hits a peach right down the centre of the fairway. This gives me a great marker for where I want my ball to go and I go through my usual routine and with my 18 degree hybrid knock the ball straight as an arrow and it ends up about 5 yards past my player partners in position A, put it in the centre of the green from there, 2 putts regulation Par, more of the same to come please. 2nd hole 534 yard Par 5, carve the drive out to the right, hack it out the rough but advance it well up the fairway, knock a Wedge onto the green about 12 feet away, 2 putts for a par. This carved drive out to the right however became a continuing theme throughout the round and I found myself finding the rough or fairway bunkers on 12 out of 15 fairways for the round. I felt the length of the course at over 7000 yards dictated that I had to stick with the driver on a lot of holes to give me a reasonable chance to hit the green and try to give myself a birdie putt, but I kept finding the rough with it which meant I was hacking out then trying to get up and down from well outside of 100 yards on a fair few occasions which was not realistically going to be achieved. I tried the 3 wood or hybrid on occasions where the hole length would have allowed me to still reach the green in two but even these became unreliable when called upon under tournament conditions and put me in trouble also.
So the bogeys and double bogeys kept flowing, and even a triple crept in when the ball went so far right off the tee I couldnt find it and I just couldn’t keep the ball on the fairway which made it incredibly difficult.
So why suddenly did this happen? Poor technique? Could be down to that but as I’ve heard a million times before from other people ‘I hit the ball lovely on the driving range’ which I did that day so I don’t believe that to be the case.
I believe it was down to a combination of the following things
Self-belief - If you are playing a practice round and thinking to yourself that you are inferior to the players around you that you will compete against, it is probably going to manifest itself in to your performance at some stage.
Trust - You train your swing so that you can trust it works when you are out on the course, I trusted it on the range but there were no consequences on the range, I could hit a bad one and it didn’t matter which helped me hit less bad ones! On the course over quite a few drives rather than focusing on the target I had doubts creep in during my downswing and this caused tension and for my shots to go offline
Confidence - Although I know I can play this game to what I would class as a decent level it’s easy for doubts to creep into your game. Confidence comes from winning or playing well, but confidence is needed to play well and win, it can be a double edged sword!
So after it’s all done what have I taken from it? Well it is all about preparation and as much as I had planned to do a lot of it before hand life gets in the way. I have a full time job, I have a 3 year old son and I got married in May, other things cropped up as well as they do but as much as I told myself that the outcome is not that important, I couldn’t (on this occasion) let go of worrying or caring too much about the result and playing with full freedom because of that.
BUT as Michael Jordan said
”I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
So we go again