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Lessons Learned @ Los Lagos

Yesterday I went to play Los Lagos Golf Course in Costa Mesa. This is a course I played a lot from 1976 when I played in the Costa Mesa Amateur event through the 1990’s. I enjoyed this course a lot as it is challenging, much more than WillowWick Municipal where I have curled up with over the years because it is a wide open course and easy to score on. My friend Louie, whom I credit for getting “the playing of golf” back into my life has been with me now for over a year. I could barely walk due to arthritis and a left heel ailment which is still not healed but I can play again and although I did not want to play any other course since I’ve played 18 holes just once in 2 years and I just didn’t want to have to struggle.

The greens are 50% faster than Riverview’s putting course and 70% faster than the Wick. The first 9 was like putting on glass along with waits on each hole and golfers in front playing poorly and golfers in back wanting to play faster. I came unglued at this along with the course. It didn’t take long for me to remember the Saint Augustine grass fairways and rough, there is no rough at the Wick. At LLGC the ball just drops to the bottom and you can’t get a blade on the ball, this was not the frustrating part.

I did not do exactly what I have been telling JNGS followers to do. Play within your means and put the driver away. After several 3 putts and bogeys, my swing began to unravel. I kept trying to make the shots and not focusing on the swing. The ball started going to the right and even though I had my swing trainer with me and would swing perfect, just the fact I was frustrated sent the ball off the tee in the wrong direction and I was watching 40 handicappers waiting to hit their approach shots and looking for lost balls when they should have all been hitting up since they could not reach the green anyway.

I lost it and after 9  was fed up. I told Louie I was done and said I’ll pay the green fee bet and that I was going home. He could not believe it and it was such a beautiful day. I was caught up in my own frustration of not making the shot that I forgot to play the swing. He goes into 10 with a 3 stroke lead and I had calmed myself that I just was not going to play well so “live with it” and just try to have fun.

Once I started to focus on feeling the swing and letting the swing feel the ball and letting the ball go where it will, my entire round changed. We pulled even by 13 and I was one up on 14 and the next 4 holes were so much fun. I was just swinging the club, admittedly on two of the par 3’s I should have aimed to the middle of the green but that’s just another thing I forgot. I was hitting the ball good off the tee and hitting awesome approach shots. On 16 I slammed a 200 yard 3 wood 15 feet from the hole and Louie told me to be careful of the downhill put, of course I was not listening and another bogey came into play, 17 and 18 were played well and I closed out our match. The fun was playing in and closing out with a one stroke margin.

As we walked to our cars I told my friend, let’s start playing LLGC from now on. He was surprised. I know I have to calm my inner self, play 3 wood off the tee on the shorter holes, and hit to the left of the pin when the pin is tucked right, I scored in the mid 80’s and had I just followed my own advice I would have been 10 strokes lower.

I’m not sure if I’ll get to play another round this year. My feet were burning because I had to wear “combat boots” very tight so I could walk and I am so out of shape even though I am exercising. My wife asked about my feet and I told her they are no worse than when I teed off. Tonight we go work out in the Aquatic center.

I take this game too seriously because I love it so much. I let the players and the course get to me this time. Next time it may again but I’ll be ready or at least better ready for the environment. I know I should be happy that I am just able to play but that is not enough. We got teamed up with a nice fellow who averages 130-140. I gave him my card and said check out the Joe Norwood Golf Swing.

There is always one shot during the round that brings you back even when you’re coming back anyway. Yesterday had two.

The first was a controlled driver slice that swpete helped me with when I was talking to him about having trouble working the ball and swpete, what a banana slice I hit, I hit is so well that I was fortunate it hit another tree by the green. This swing leaks to the right, there’s no question about it and I learned to hit a 150 yards worm burner grounder driver but I could never work the slice like yesterday. I only needed it once and was in awe of the movement. I hit the ball too good but had I realized the power then I, literally, could have lined up at a 90 degree angle away from the green and the ball would have sliced 90 degrees and run on the green. I didn’t even check the yardage. I was 110 yards and I used the 12 degree driver so it caught some loft, I left the 7 degree at home.

The second was standing in the middle of the fairway on 16, 200 yards away, late evening and hitting that 3 wood. The ball hit 3 feet from the pin and rolled another 15 feet. It will take several more rounds to read the greens. I misread about half of them.

Hopefully, next year or later this year I be able to play again. Southern California has sun 12 months out of the year. I’ll make sure to read this post before I go play again.

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