I played my first tournament today. It was an individual event out at Pumpkin Ridge, where they play the Safeway Classic LPGA event in the late summer. Pumpkin is a solid course and a tough track, especially with the thick rough and wet conditions. We were playing “lift, clean and place” when the ball got plugged, which happened very often as it was kind of a bog out there even though the weather hit 75 today and was sunny.
I did my best to not get nervous even though there were two camera guys and an AP writer following along. In all honesty, I just felt bad for the three guys I was playing with as they had never played with a “gallery” of sorts.
It was a shotgun start and I began on the 12th hole. Here is how the day went:
12. 370 yard par 4 with a dogleg right. Made a 4. I teed it up last and wanted to hit a 5-wood 205 to the opening to have a shot at the green, but hit it fat and ended up stymied behind a large tree 150 yards out. Hit a 7-iron over the tree that landed just short of the green. Flopped it on and then made the 10 foot putt for par. Exactly what I wanted to shoot on the first hole, start solid.
13. 330 yard par 4 up a large hill. Made a 3. Hit a solid drive down the middle of the fairway with 105 remaining. 105 is my magic number and I hit a 52 degree to 6 feet from the hole. Knocked the putt in for my first birdie in tournament play.
14. 201 yard par 3 down hill and with a huge green. Made a 4. I pulled out the 5-wood again and hooked it way right into the rough. Had a decent lie and pitched it on from 50 yards, but hit it a bit long. Two-putted for bogey from about 35 feet.
15. 500 yard par 5 up a hill with a dogleg left. Made a 5. My drive landed in the fairway but was too far out to go for it so hit a 7-iron layup. Had 110 remaining and went for it, but hit the soggy ground which sent it just left of the green. Chipped on and made the putt from about 5 feet for par.
16. short 110 yard par 3. Made a 3. Hit the green with the 52 degree and had 25 feet of putting between me and the hole. Just missed the birdie putt but tapped in for par.
17. 270 yard par 4 well protected by a creek down the middle and a small green. Made a 3. I hit a driver even though the smart shot was to layup with a 5-wood, but seeing as I was 0-2 with that stick I went for it. I hit a solid drive that landed just 15-20 yards short of the green then chipped on to 3 feet and made the birdie putt. Was now 1 under for the first 6 holes, better than I could have imagined coming in to the tournament.
18. 400 yard par with with water on the approach down the right side. Made a 5. Hit a great drive down the middle to 140 yards from the stick. With an 8-iron in hand and water all along the right side, I pushed it a bit (I’m a lefty, so that’s left side) and left it just short of the green. Flopped it on a bit long and just missed the par putt from about 15 feet, tapped in for bogey.
1. 375 yard par 4 that’s pretty much straight away. Made a 6. Pulled my drive into the rough and it took ages to find. From an angled lie, I hit it 20 yards short of the green then proceeded to slide the 56 degree under the ball for basically no movement. Made the second chip shot on the green and two-putted from 30 feet for a double bogey.
2. 370 yard par 4 up a hill with a slight dogleg left. Made a 4. This was a miracle hole. I pushed the drive really far into the thick rough to the left with 150 yard and some huge trees between me and the green. I thought about punching it out to the fairway (probably the safe bet) but my 7-iron is a good friend, so I decided to try and go over the trees and fade it onto the green. Hit a blind shot that I thought went too far right, but when I got up to the green it was actually on it. I had a 20 footer almost go in for birdie, but tapped in for par.
3. 120 yard par 3 down a hill with a double tiered green. Made a 4. My tee shot went pin high, but I pulled it to the worst possible spot in perhaps the entire hole. The shot landed plugged in the back lip of the bunker where, as a lefty, I had no footing and could barely get a club to it. I hit the shot of my life just to get it out and on the green, but it landed 40 feet away on the top shelf of the green. There was about 5 feet of down slope between me and the hole and my putt went 8 feet long, but I made the return putt to save bogey. I’m proud of this hole. In fact, the last two holes were an accomplishment that I’ll remember.
4. 500 yard par 5 up a hill with a dogleg right and well protected green. Made a 5. Hit a solid tee shot to the middle of the fairway but it was up a big hill and it plugged with 260 remaining. In a practice round I would have tried to go for it, but my 3-wood just isn’t going quite that far these days so I laid up with the 7-iron. Had 110 remaining and got out the trusty 52 degree. Hit it a bit fat but the ball got on the green with 30 feet of putting to go. Two putted for my par.
5. 190 yard par 3 down a large hill. Made a 4. Pulled out a 3-hybrid and wanted to hit a soft cut to the green. Hit it thin and the ball landed 40 yards short, but on the short grass. Pitched up to 20 feet and just missed the par putt, tapped in for bogey. At this point, I was 4 over for the first 12 holes. Solid first 12.
6. 341 yard par 4 with bunker all down the left side and a very small green. Made a 7. Hit the 3-hybrid again to play it safe because the further you hit up on this hole the smaller the fairway gets and my coach and I had talked about laying up here. I hit it decent, but had a bit too much cut spin on it and ended up just past a fairway bunker on the upward slope. I didn’t really have a good place to put my feet and had 150 in. Tried to hit a 7 out of the rough, but the club got caught on the slope. The ball ended up in a large green-side bunker with a 40 yard carry to the green. I made a mental mistake and tried to hit out with a 56 degree when I should have used the 52 for that distance. So, ended up flopping from the back of the bunker to the front. Didn’t take enough time on the next shot and barely got out of the bunker into the long fringe. Chipped on from there and two putted from 25 feet for a triple bogey. Not my best hole, but was still positive on the round.
7. 385 yard par 4 up a hill then with a 90 degree left turn to the green. Made a 5. I hit a cut drive that I thought would be in the fairway and saw it bounce when it hit so was ready for an easy approach. When I got to the top of the hill I saw it had actually bounced backwards into the bunker. I had 150 yards out and a tree between me and the green so hit a 7-iron that cut around the tree and landed in the middle of the green. It was another shot where I actually kind of surprised myself that I pulled it off. I had a 30 footer up a little hill to the hole but right when it came off the club I knew it was going to be short. Later in the day someone told me that the greens actually slow down in the afternoon due to the grass standing up and I think that was the case as all of the greens for the rest of the day were putting slower. I missed the 7 footer and tapped in for bogey.
8. 470 yard par 4 that is normally a par 5 but they changed it for today. It is up a hill then has a dogleg right to the smallest green on the course. Made a 7. I pulled my drive slightly into the rough and then hit a 3-wood through some trees to 20 yards short of the green. My pitched landed and rolled long to the back edge nestled against the long grass so it was tough to putt a putter on the ball. I hit this one well short, perhaps 10 feet and then just barely missed that putt, literally one inch from the cup. This is where I learned the hardest lesson of the day. Never take anything for granted during tournament play. I went up and swiped the back of the club at the ball to knock it in from one inch, but missed the ball completely. Since I had intent to hit it cost me a stroke and I made a triple bogey on the hole. Never again will I do this and I’m actually glad for the extra stroke to teach me that lesson.
9. 420 yard par 4 with water all along the left side during the approach. Made a 5. This might be the toughest hole on the course, at least when 8 if not playing as a par 4. Hit a solid drive the the right side of the fairway, but it sloped down so I had a tough stance in the rough. I had 175 to the stick and left is completely dead, so I hit a 5-iron layup to the right rough with gripping the stick up 2 inches. From here I pitched it on from a downslope in the rough and then two-putted from about 25 feet.
10. 453 yard par 4 that usually plays as a par 5 with a creek running down the middle. Made an 8. The only place you cannot go on this drive is left, exactly where I hit it. My ball was in the rough on a steep side angle and again with no decent place for the feet. I tried to punch out to the fairway but it landed just short in the rough. With 120 left, I went to hit a PW but caught a bunch of wet grass and the ball went short landing in a small rock filled hazard. The ball bounced really high and I thought it was going to be safe, but rolled back into the hazard so I had to drop 4 and hit five from the rough. The next shot was on a steep downhill lie in the rough and I had an elevated green 50 yards away. Again, the club got caught in the rough and I just got it over the hazard. I pitched on from 40 yards and then two-putted for my quad bogey from about 20 feet. Wish I had this one back, but that’s golf for you. I made the same amount of strokes over par on this one hole as on the first 12 holes.
11. 135 yard par 3 with a creek on the right side. Made a 4. Final hole, the damage was done. The round turned so quickly on me, but I was still stoked about my overall play for the first tournament. I hit a 9-iron and pulled it a bit to the edge of the green in the first few inches of the long grass. Chipped on kind of weekly and then two putted from 15 feet to bogey the final hole.
Total score: 86.
That’s it. That’s my first tournament. All in all, it went really well, but if I could have those three holes back I would be ecstatic. I am proud of my 86 and know that I made a lot of good golf shots. I didn’t put an entire round together, but learned so much from my first tournament. It was a brilliant experience and next time I will have even less nerves to deal with. Always onwards and upwards; having a baseline to work with gives me something to break in upcoming events. Speaking of that, I have signed up for a two day two-man best ball tournament next week at Rose City. My goal? Avoid the blowup holes.