When did par 5s quit being my friend?

If there is a strength to my game, it is that I generally have very good control of my golf ball. I usually know the direction it is going to go and have a very good idea of how far it is going to go.

That control has helped me, as someone who doesn’t hit the living snot out of the ball, shoot decent scores. One area in which I’ve had success has been on par 5s. I get the ball in play off of the tee and then work backwards from the green. What shot do I want to hit into the green? Once I determine where I want to play my third shot from, I figure out what it takes to get there.

That generally means hitting a layup of some sort to about the 100 yard marker. My philosophy is that if I can get to the green — or close enough so that I’m basically chipping — I would rather have a full club. I’d rather have 115 yards left than, say, 70. The first is probably (depending on wind) a 9 iron while the latter is some sort of half to three-quarter wedge. I’m simply way more comfortable with a full shot.

I haven’t really tracked my scoring on par 5s, but I pretty much step up on a long hole like that and expect to make par at worst.

Lately, however, I’ve been finding myself getting into a little bit of trouble. And I need to figure out why. When I shot 74 at Blackberry Ridge on July 5, I bogeyed both par 5s on the front 9. On the first, I hit an awful hybrid second shot that ended up on the edge of the hazard line. That meant a missed green and I wasn’t able to get it up-and-down. On the second, I was in decent position after two shots and I had the combination of bad club selection and a bad swing. Again a missed green and a bogey.

On Saturday, I had poor execution on the par 5s while playing at my former course. On the fifth hole, an average at best second shot left me in a spot where the ball was quite a bit below my feet. I didn’t play for it to go as right as it did and my wedge ended up in a bunker and I made another bogey. On both back nine par 5s, I had poor tee shots that led to bogeys.

On Sunday, I made two costly mistakes on my home course. On No. 2 – the easiest and weakest hole on the course – I totally blocked my 3-wood off of the tee into the hazard. I was fine from there, but ended up with a bogey. On 16, I hit a good drive, but probably hit the wrong club on my second shot. I smoked a 3-wood down wind, but left myself with an awkward distance over a bunker to a front pin. The result was a half wedge that I hit super fat and another bogey.

That got me thinking. Because while the mistakes at Blackberry and Mendakota kept good rounds from being even better, Sunday’s mistakes were more costly. I wasn’t bad on Sunday, but wasn’t as good as I’ve been and shot 80.

I’m certainly not going to birdie all of the par 5s, but I need to do a better job paying attention to what has allowed my to have success on those holes. I need to be even par on the long holes with the hopes of sticking a wedge close and making a birdie. I can’t go backwards on those holes. The trend can’t continue.

Now it is a matter of getting back to executing things.

Finding my mojo

As we all know, Dr. Evil stole Austin Powers’ mojo in one of the trio of fine Mike Meyers films. Eventually our British hero thaws out, finds his mojo and again starts shagging.

I haven’t been frozen, but for quite a while I haven’t really had my mojo. Over the past two years, my scores haven’t been quite as low and my handicap has started creeping higher. Getting a score in the neighborhood of par became more and more difficult and simply breaking 80 became the goal.

I think (knock wood) that is starting to change.

This golf season has seen something of a change. I’ve played more golf (hence the lack of posts), I’ve made a few tweaks to my bag, I’m happier when I go to the course. As someone who needs to play to feel comfortable with my game, this has been a good combination.

And of late, I’ve started to sense a changing of my expectations. I don’t worry so much about making an early bogey or two, I don’t get as uncomfortable when I string six or seven pars in a row, and my goals are to go lower than before.

At a recent round in Michigan, I was only a couple over par before making a late bogey and two doubles to finish for 79. On July 5, I played with my friend Tom at Blackberry Ridge in Sartell. After something of a rough start (+3 after five holes), I played 1-under the rest of the way for a 74 that was very calm. I simply hit fairways and greens and made a lot of pars.

While I’ve had some good rounds over the past month, that round was something new. There was a small bit of cash on the line, I was playing with a bunch of guys, it was a course that I have played a few times, but don’t know completely. In other words, it wasn’t a totally relaxed situation

I followed that up with two very solid rounds at my home course. Lots of pars, a few birdies, no major mistakes. I have reached the point where I feel like every putt I take from inside 15 or so is going in. I’m just really confident.

I know this can go away in a huge hurry. I’m playing my former course today that is more difficult so I might come back to earth. In addition, the driver has gotten a little loose over the last few days. But for the first time in a while, I feel good about my game. And that’s a pretty good start toward getting my mojo back.