Last year I had a chance to play in the Ontario Public Player Championships and got my first real taste for competitive play. I wrote about how I’d love to experience that again. This year, having joined Hidden Lake Golf Club in my new hometown I welcomed the chance to participate in the three-day club championships over the August long-weekend. Leading up to the weekend, and for most of the season truthfully, I had not been playing good golf; my index had risen over 2 strokes and I struggled to get the ball in play consistently off the tee.
So with expectations firmly set, I arrived on Saturday to face one of the windiest days of the season. Winds of 40-50 km/h made scoring challenging for all in the Championship flight, my A flight and the Women’s flight. Playing in the A Flight, my 84 was not only below my average for the season, it placed me in 5th place (after adjusting for my index) and in a good position, also giving me some much welcomed confidence heading into the next two days.
Sunday was a much nicer day, calmer conditions prevailed the players moved onto Hidden Lake’s Old Course (a tighter layout but with smaller and easier greens). Another strong round, an 82, placed me a tie for third and only 6 strokes out of the lead. Most notably over these two days was the fact I had one hole each round with a triple or worse. If I could manage the large scores I felt I had a chance to improve.
Monday was another nice weather day and a later tee time meant I had time to ease into my day at home and take my time warming up. I was nervous and excited and welcomed the challenge of the day. Not ever really getting comfortable with my swing was that challenge, and the result was a scrambling effort of 88, including yet another hole where I had a very high score. After 54 holes, I finished T-6 in my flight, and while it was not the result I was looking for, there were many takeaways for me:
- Every shot matters. And while this sounds cliché the process of being present, focused and playing all shots purposefully can make a good round great or a poor round good. I did well here but understand my course management has opportunity for significant improvement.
- Bob Rotella’s point about accept the challenge of the day was spot on. Monday was challenging; I didn’t have my ‘A’ game but for 14 holes had scrambled and scored as well as I could have. Even after a tough hole in the final stretch I battled to close strong.
- Like an examination, competitive play will expose parts of your game and like an exam; practice and preparation will build confidence for the tournament. I am already looking forward to next year and developing a plan in the off season to build on my weaknesses. Improving on my three bad holes over the three days would have had a significant impact on my positioning (but I am sure others could say the same).
- Have fun. My tour earnings or world golf rankings were not impacted by this event. For someone who’s had challenges with anxiety and is prone to take myself too seriously sometimes I loved the chance to meet new people, try my best and savour the experience. Of all the aspects of my game, my attitude was the best (putting a close second) and I am very proud of that.
- I would like to experience more competitive play. Even if just to help manage the nerves, but truthfully it such a fantastic way to embrace the game of golf. Next year I am going to sign up for individual Match Play at the club as well.
- There is some disappointment. I had a very good chance to place well and even win my flight. I have the capacity to play better golf. Part of this post and the reflection from last month’s championships is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of my play so I can build myself into a better competitive player.
Congratulations to the winners in the A Flight, Women’s Flight our Championship Flight. The Championship Flight saw our Junior Champion battle our 7-time Club Champion (who’s also played in the Canadian Open before). Lars Melander won his 8th Club title with a strong closing round 1 under par 70. John Kawiuk and Tommy Williams shared medal honours for the A Flight and Sharon Labbett is the Women’s Club Champion for 2017. Lynn Mercier won the Women’s Net Championship. Congratulations to all winners and participants. Thanks too to the staff that worked hard to serve and support us and had the courses in excellent condition over the three days. As for me, time to get to work in preparation for 2018.