This past week, I played White Clay Creek and experienced the greatest up and down of my golf game in a long time.  Unfortunately, the down was a big down on the back 9.  I shot a 101 which was the worst round in a long time and what made it more painful was my front 9 was a 44 including coming back from an 8 on the par 4 first hole. So what happened to cause a massive self destruction on the back 9 and why did I need heed my own advice I posted on this blog? (besides being an idiot?)

5th hole tee
Tee box view from 5th hole.

To understand the environmental factors of the course, please read my review of White Clay Creek.  One of the reasons I enjoy playing this course multiple times each summer is the challenge the course offers.  The course does not forgive errant shots and the elevated greens mean approach shots must be on target.  With all these factors, my front 9 play was brilliant and even more so considering that  I recovered from a snowman on the first hole.  The first hole would be a prediction of the back 9.

Great from 9 performance.
My front 9 performance even after an 8 on first hole.

This round was the second time I used the Grint app on my iPhone to track the round and further calculate my handicap.  (after two more tracking rounds, I will do a review the Grint)  The Grint allows you track track your score beyond stroke to look at drive accuracy, number of putts, sand shots, drops, out of bounds, and water hazard.  So let’s see what happened on the back 9.

Back 9 Errors

Here are my stats from the back 9:

  • Green side bunker shots: 3
  • Out of Bounds: 6
  • Drop Shots: 1
  • Short Drives: 2
Painful Back 9
Back 9 performance at White Clay Creek.

We can ignore green side bunkers since I only screwed one up.

Out of Bounds

The 7 strokes added for out of bounds and drop shots is where my score tanked.  Several of my out of bounds shots found their way into the rough on the right which swallowed up balls like a kid eating cotton candy at the fair.  Others can be credited to over shooting the green.  My shot power calibration was off.

Short Drives

The first hole hinted at what I let come back in the back 9: getting cute on the tee box.  White Clay Creek is not always a “grip it and rip it” course and requires some strategy off the tee box.  I, however, overthought several holes and I played my 4 hybrid instead of my driver to stay short of hazards but in turn I did not use 100% power and robbed myself of precious distance.  My swing also resulted in a divot well behind the ball instead of starting at the ball.

Mental Breakdown

White Clay Creek does not offer many spots for golfers to make runs to recapture ground lost to bogeys or greater.  I fell into the mental traps of looking at the scorecard and saying:

If I can get a birdie, it will erase the double bogey I just got.

This is classic mental mistake of focusing on score instead of swing quality.  What I should have said was:

There is only the Now and only the swing in front of me.  Play your game and let’s get the bogey train rolling again.

I caught myself on the front 9 thinking about parring the hole I was on and the next hole after hitting my tee shot.  That is positive thinking but it removes the focus beyond the ball at your feet.

Lesson Learned

I hold no ill will toward White Clay Creek and am not even mad at myself.  Golf is humbling and bad rounds will come and go.  So will good rounds.  I couldn’t right the ship in the stormy seas of the back 9.  That is something to work on mentally.  Like a gambler who doesn’t realize he should walk away, I ignored Kenny Rogers’ advice and kept on playing.  I need to develop the mental checklist to recognize bad play and recover after a bad hole so that I don’t get two bad holes in a row.  (Future post….)

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