Haven’t posted in a week because the weather has not been good for golf on the Eastern Shore. Continued rain and cold have limited preparation for my first big tournament of the year – The Men’s Invitational at Fiddlesticks in Fort Myers, FL. However, I did get in two (2) rounds this past week.
The Invitational is the men’s Member Guest Tournament at Fiddlesticks Golf and Country Club. A long time friend, John Pearson, is a member of Fiddlesticks and invited me to play as his guest this year. John used to be a member at my club – Cripple Creek – and is a fine player, winning our Senior Club Championship in 2017. John and I have had some great matches over the years including a semi-final match in the club championship in 2017 that went back and forth for 23 holes before he let me win by making a bad bogey on one of our hardest par 5’s.
In order to prepare for Fiddlesticks, I played our course from the back tees twice this week. We normally don’t play “back” during the winter, but the Long Mean (one of the two courses at Fiddlesticks) is almost 7100 yards and Cripple Creek is a relatively short 6100 from the regular tees. It does stretch out to around 6600 from the back tees and in this cold weather, requires something more than a wedge approach shot on most of the par 4’s. Two of the par 3’s are over 200 yards and our hardest par 5 is 602 yards from the tips.
This past Tuesday, I played with Mike, Pip, Hagen and Dave Horton. My playing partners played Wolf, while I took on Mike and Pip in separate challenge matches. They played from the regular tees and I moved back. It is easy to forget how different several of our holes are when you move back. #7 is a par 3 that stretches to 219 for example. I hit my 3 hybrid short and made 4 after a bad chip to 20 feet. The very next hole is a par 4 where the back tee stretches back an additional 70 yard and the drive must navigate a narrow passageway between tall pine trees before reaching the fairway. I caught one of those trees and had 215 into the wind to the green. Luckily, I hit a 3 wood onto the green, it it ran through into the back rough. Another poor chip and 3 putts and I’d made double. Two holes and I turned a one under front nine into a 2 over 37.
It was a similar story on the back, 1 over par until the last 3 holes, which I bogeyed in succession ending the day 6 over and splitting the matches with Mike and Pip, who both played well.
Sunday, we had six players and split into two threesomes in order to play fast and beat the impending rain. While successful in completing the round in about 2 1/2 hours, my team (Dewey, Glen & I) lost to Cummings, Steve and Brent by one shot. We teed-off around 11 and walked off the 18th green at 1:30, just as the rain started.
In general, I’m very happy with my ball striking, hitting fairways and having good distance control. I need work on more accuracy with shorter irons and better decision making. For me, that generally means more patience and not going after every flag. Also, my putting has been coming around the last few rounds which is good, except that I’ll be putting on fast Bermuda greens this coming week at Fiddlesticks!
That said, I’m really looking forward to this trip to Florida and the Member Guest. We have a practice round Wednesday and matches on Thursday and Friday. The final match is Saturday morning, followed by the shootout in the afternoon. John and I won our flight a couple of years ago, but were eliminated after the first hole in the shootout. We hope to do better this year of course.
There should be plenty of golf and sun this week, but I’ll be ready to fly back home on Sunday. It’ll be a quick trip down south, but will also be a lot of fun. I’ll be blogging about the tournament, the club and each match this week so stay tuned.