So, for the first time this year we played at Palm Garden Golf at Putrajaya. It’s actually a reasonably easy course but for some strange reason, scores are never good over here.
But today, I had another mission: solve my chipping problems. It needs to be resolved. I’ve developed a really stupid, but maybe effective method. I address the ball in a narrow stance, with the ball in the centre. Then I shift my feet to 45 degrees of the ball, as in, in a really open position as if I am hitting the ball 45 degrees to the left of its intended target. Then I move my hands back to address the ball.
What this does is that I am chipping with an extremely exaggerated open stance. I’ve tried many times in my garden back home and I am hitting them perfectly. So it’s time to take Ranger Rick to the course.
Hole 10: We started at the Bismark course and immediately at the tough par 5. I haven’t resolved my drives yet, but again, my priority was to figure out my chipping so I didn’t really care much. I was still pulling my drive. My second shot was a good 5 wood, leaving me around 90 meters to the green. I hit my 3rd shot sandwedge fat and immediately now was left with a tricky chip over the rough onto the green. I took my sandwedge out, did all my standard setup and…..skull. I don’t get it. I can hit it perfectly from anywhere at home and when it comes to the course, it’s…completely fishes up. The skull left me with a long putt for par which I missed, settled for bogey (+1). DANG!
Hole 11: Tough par 4, but I didn’t hit it badly. I just pushed my drive straight right but for some weird reason, couldn’t find my ball. I am unlucky in many ways and usually if there is a ball missing, then it’s mine. I took a drop near the trees and stuffed a gap wedge to around 8 feet, and sank the bogey putt (+2).
Hole 12: Easy par 3. Aimed right with my gap wedge to around 110 meters and stuffed it to around 6 feet! I missed the easy birdie badly but hit the comeback for par. (+2)
Hole 13: This is the massive par 5 which as long as you don’t go right you are fine. I went left. WAAAY left. Surrounded by trees I actually hit a very lucky shot that skim every branches along the way and landed around 100 meters in the rough on the left. Now, it was an easy sandwedge to the green, with only one skinny palm tree in front of me. And amazingly, I hit the the palm tree smack in the middle of its trunk, rebounded into oblivion behind me to OB. Amazing luck. I could try to hit that tree a 1,000 times and never get it. Dropped for 5th, duffed the shot near the green. Chipping time! I used a gap wedge and I chipped it too hard over the green. Seven on and one putted for a very unfortunate triple. (+5) However, the plus is that I actually contacted my chip.
Hole 14: It goes downhill fast. Tough par 3,with OB on the left, which I promptly hooked into. My second hung onto the green, but I three-putted stupidly for another triple. Two in a row and it looks like this game is shot to hell. (+8)
Hole 15: A very broad par 5. This is a welcome sight because the fairway is so accomodating. Yet another hook, another missed fairway but no harm. I hit my 5 wood left, which left me dead inside the trees and which I had to punch out to around 100 meters. Should be my bread and butter, but I hit it fat. Chipping time! This time with a sandwedge, but it was poorly hit and my next shot crept into the green, then two putted for double (+10). The chipping at least wasn’t bad.
Hole 16: This is one of our favourite holes because you can power this one onto the green if you hit a great shot. I hit a poor drive and hooked it left, but it still left me around 70 meters to the green. I didn’t hit a good shot which left me on the rough near the green. Ah, chipping! I used my gap to chip and duff it slightly, so it went too short. Two putted for a bogey. (+11)
Hole 17: Nice par 3, but I played too short with my pitching wedge and landed into the bunker. One out, missed par for bogey. (+12)
Hole 18: Very bad drive. It was just straight top, veer left and somehow survive. Left me around 150 to the green, my 8-iron was topped and into the water. Dropped and hit on the green for my 4th, two putted for six. (+14)
So, made the turn at a very poor number. But strangely, I was enjoying my golf more because at least my chipping was improving. Honest!
Hole 1: This is relatively easy hole, but I again skull-topped-hooked my drive and had around 140 to the green. My 9 iron found the bunker, hit my third out, missed par, and went in for bogey (+15)
Hole 2: 9-iron went into the bunker, out in my second, missed par and settled for bogey (+16)
Hole 3: Long, long par 4. I hit a reasonably hooked shot, which left me around 160 away, but my 7 iron was hooked terribly, leaving me with a very very long putt. 3 putted easily, and expectedly for bogey. (+17)
Hole 4: This is a funny par 5 with island green approach. I hit the same skull hooked shot but somehow found my ball. A punch out, and another sandwedge left me around 100 meters to a downhill green. Another committed SW took me to around 10 feet from the hole, but couldn’t save par and settled for bogey. (+18)
Hole 5: Another par 5. This time. This time, I hit the best drive ever. Ever. It flew for miles and the release was perfect. My second shot, I stubbed my 5 wood and hooked it to the left but no harm done. I was only around 60 meters. My 60 degree was very poor and I only managed to get onto the front. But finally, a two putt – par to take home. (+18)
Hole 6: Tough hole. Hit a hook to the left but still in a good spot. Hooked my 6 iron and it hit literally the only small tree in the vicinity of around 30 meters from the green. CHIP/PITCH! I took my sandwedge, implemented my extreme open stance and yes, hit a brilliant pitch to around 6 feet of the hole. I felt like doing a rain dance then and there. I celebrated too much I think as I powered my par putt like 4 feet past, and couldn’t hit the return! Double bogey – but very happy with my pitch (+20)
Hole 7: VERY tough par 3. Long and again, hooked my 7 wood into the adjacent fairway. Wow. I was faced with a very tough shot over trees onto an extremely sloping green. 60 degree wedge, implemented my open stance again and executed a very good flop over trees and softly to the edge of the green. Extremely quick putt was done nicely to around 2 feet and putted in for a very unlikely bogey. (+21)
Hole 8: This is a fine hole and I hit a very good drive. I was on the right rough and I must have misjudged my sandwedge so poorly that I duffed it. Now, I am about 40 meters with a daunting pitch. I hit a ‘meh’ pitch to the front of the green, but considering here I was weeks ago, this was a success. It actually flew over the bunker and got caught onto the fringe. I putted for par to around 2 feet and unfortunately, missed the bogey putt when my ball rattled around the hole. Bad double, but hey, chipping/pitching is fun again. (+23)
Hole 9: Hit a good drive that completely flew the bunkers on the left. Left with around 70 meters and hit my 60 degree pitch shot again with my open stance. Getting really used to it now. It crept to the front of the green, and two putted for a routine par to end the round (+23)
Conclusion: You would think when someone scores 95 it would be an unmitigated disaster, but I really enjoyed the game. This is because I am beginning to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel to my chipping woes. Sure, my irons and drivers still suck, but generally I am fine with those because I can compensate by aiming right to accommodate my hooks. I am not concerned. The chips however…you can’t escape this. There is no bail out, there are no compensating factor here.
Open stance, good tempo, and my chips will be fine. I just need to clock in a few more rounds to get this down to habit and I am ready for fine golfing again.