Friday, August 22, 2008

The Golf Channel Amateur Tour - My Experiences as a First Time Competitor

The Golf Channel has hosted it's annual Golf Channel Amateur Tour throughout the spring and summer at various sites across the US. I first heard of this last winter, and after breaking 80 for the first time, I decided that I was going to compete in a "real" golf tournament (not a scramble or best ball outing) for the first time. It has been a great experience for me, and I have had a lot of fun doing it. In the process, I have become quite addicted to the real competitive nature of tournaments, and my golf game has improved. I am playing in the "Hogan" flight in the tournaments ( 8-12 Handicap).

Below is a chronological summary of me experiences this year:

- Tournament #1 (March): Played at a course called Timberline on a nice spring day. I started off with a par on the first hold, but ultimately struggled mightily (triple bogey on #16 par 3), and posted a 93 - a bad score for me. Had fun, frustrated by the bad score, but was not discouraged:
- Tournament #2 (March): Played at Twin Lakes (?) - Windy day, just after a storm, kind of a ratty course. Started with a par (again), but ultimately did not putt well and finished with a 91. Some progress, but this "real golf" was harder that I thought.
- Tournament #3 (May): A beautiful day at Ballantrae. When I got to the course, something just felt different - I seemed relaxed, and was hitting everything well on the practice range. To make matters interesting, I was paired with two guys who had won the previous two of whom I thought was a huge sandbagger I started off with 3 straight pars, and they day went well from there. Going into the final hole, a 430+ yard Par 4, I was 6 over par, and one stroke behind the leader of my flight (who was also in my foursome). He triple bogeyed the final hole, but I missed two putts to win, and we tied for 2nd place. NOW I was having some fun ! For the very first time, I played under some pressure, and returned a good score (an 80).
- Tournament #4 (May) - Played in Nashville (TGC lets you play in tournaments in various cities if you like) in a MONSOON - It was a complete joke, and I scored horribly.
- Tournament #7 (I am skipping a few): Played at a Robert Trent Jones Course in Gadsden,AL called Silver Lakes (June) - Beautiful day, had a great time, shot a respectable 85 on a very tough course, and finished 3rd in my flight. Leaving this event, my confidence was really high and I was excited about the final few events of the season.
- Tournament #8 (August) - Played at Horse Creek just outside of Birmingham on a beautiful day. I had never played the course, but had a good feeling again. I started with a bogey, but birdied #2 and felt like this would be my day. I played well all day, birdied another par 5, and had no 3 putts. At the end of the day, I posted an 83, which won my flight (YESSSS!!!!), and was behind only to two guys in the Championship flight (scratch golfers). It was the first time I had won an individual event since I was 9 years old (I played only team sports growing up), and was an INCREDIBLE feeling.

We have two tournaments left before the National Finals in Orlando, FL. Currently, I need to move up the list by two places to qualify for the Nationals (which is a four day tournament just like the "big boys"), and I am very optimistic about my chances of making it. I will post updates after each of the next two events, the first of which is week after next at Cambrian Ridge.

Based on my experiences thus far, here are some observations:
(1) Competing is REALLY fun and will help you improve
(2) People who do not keep a GHIN handicap will sandbag their a$$ off in a competitive event (as will some people who DO keep a GHIN handicap)
(3) Playing "rules of golf" (no gimmes, everything down,no mulligans,etc) is REALLY fun once you get over the "shock", and will really help you improve your game. It is, however, frustrating when you play with someone who does not observe these and is reporting a score which you know is wrong - and then wants to talk smack to you about beating you.
(4) I encourage anyone who has the time to join the Golf Channel Amateur Tour - they play in all major cities, so check out their website for more info.


Patricia said...

I'm always amazed at how many people don't play rules of golf...but sincerely think they are playing rules of golf.

That's why so many people give their average score as high 80's/low 90's but in reality rarely ever break 100.

Andrea said...

I am so happy to hear that you love the GCAT as much as I do. You are much better than I am so I don't think we will end up playing together, but hopefully we can meet up at one of the dinners. I am sure you will find me a lot easier than I will find you. I will be one of the only women in the room. :) Love the blog!