But then, a few small changes happened.
1. First & foremost - I continued to work on the things that were my biggest areas for improvement based on my strokes gained records that I keep religiously (every non-scramble shot on course since the end of 2015). I know what I need to work on and what I can simply skip because I'm only going to face that shot maybe once every 5 rounds (which for me could be 3 months away).
2. DECADE - Plain & simple the single best strategy/mental game thing ever created. Do yourself a favor and at least watch all of Scott Fawcett's free content. It will change your game, if you let it.
3. Getting professionally fit (not self fit!) for Callaway clubs - This, plus the DECADE has allowed me to have the best 4 months of driving the golf ball that I've ever had, and I haven't improved my swing during this time.
4. Practicing my 3' putts. Seriously.
All of this added up to some exciting things for me in the last half of the year. We started our local PGA match play event and I immediately wanted a piece of the Pro who knocked me out last year at the same course. Instead of avenging my 1 down loss, I made a mess of everything and lost 5&4! But then, a slight sloppy win over a guy not playing his best. Then a straight-out-of-the-office to the 1st tee after putting on a tournament at my own course 75 that got me a 2&1 win. Then the last guy who could keep me out of the knockouts withdrew and I was in the knockouts for the 2nd year in a row as a #2 seed and I would face off against the #1 seed from Pod D. The new Callaway clubs came in and were played with a few times right in this time frame and they would be put to the test. I would win a match where we went to 3 different courses (my opponents choices) before we finally tee'd off, but we ended up playing on my childhood municipal course, after my opponent drove back to one of the previous courses to retrieve his clubs he had left at their bag drop! Anyway, a good 74 and I was on to the semifinals with a 2 up win!
And then "IT" happened on October 29th. The match play semifinals pitted last year's winner against the best player in the area (who has won this event before as well) and I was to face the guy (also a previous winner of this event) who knocked me out last year, again, on the same course, again, where I was 0-2 against him after my 5&4 loss to start the matches. And he proceeds to roll in a birdie on the first to go 1 up. Here we go again.
But it didn't happen that way. I made a 15'er for par on #2. Then a miss/make in my favor from 5'. Then a 25'er for birdie rolled in. Then I stoned a 7i out of the trees to 3' for eagle on a par 5 (lol, shot of the day to say the least!). A three putt on #11 didn't slow me down and after a couple of sold up and downs, I faced a dreaded shot for me: a blind 40 yard pitch shot over a bunker to a sliver of green off a soggy fairway lie. And I knew I was leading the match, but had no idea if I was 2up or what. ......But I had put in the time to go see a good friend and great teacher up the road and we worked on this exact shot for a solid 1.5 hours about two weeks before the match. Why had I done that? Well, because I knew where we were playing, how many drivers I was going to hit, what holes I would hit them on, what yardage that would leave me, and that I would need to birdie these holes to win them, most likely. The result? It caught a piece of the hole and finished 3" away.
To my surprise, my opponent after missing his birdie putt took his hat off and offered his hand in congratulations. I had won 5&4 on the same hole I had lost 5&4 on 3+ months earlier. I also knew I had a special round going, so I asked if I could keep playing along while the other match went on. A birdie on #17 from 12' and a missed 6'er for birdie on #18 (hurrying to get out of the way of the other match that was all square at this point) left me with the opportunity to add them up:
Not only had I shot my personal best, I had also broken even par AND 70 on a "regular yardage" course for the first time in my life all during the same round. For those of you who this will surprise (PGA pro never broken par?!?!?!), my golf story doesn't include college, barely includes high school, and also has a 20 year restaurant career smack in the middle of it. I'm 40 and my best golf is very much in front of me for the next 20+ years. I'm more of a WRX'er than a PGA'er in that regard. Very much an "every-man" golfer. And I had just smashed my PB by 4 shots and broken 70 in a tournament. I was elated. I also had beaten 3 fine players that day by at least 6 shots each. It can be done, it can be done.
The story doesn't end with a triumphant trophy presentation. I would lose 4&3 in the finals after a VERY mediocre day, but would birdie 2 of the last 3 to post reeaaaally similar stroke play numbers to a wonderful player and gentlemen who has now won the event 2 years in a row. But, I've shot 69 twice since then (as well as an 83 lol!) and I feel something on the course that I never have before. I can go 18 holes without a short circuit. I can make more than one birdie and I can make fewer than 4 bogies. In essence I was finally able to put away the residual self image that I had of myself as a guy whose "really good" round was a 74. I looked back at the three putt and missed 6'er and realized that my "really good" round is more like a 66. Eyes wide open now.
To be continued again, lol..............
Edited by Dan Drake, 11 January 2019 - 02:07 PM.