AmaTour Analytics: Champions Circle

I compete on the Golf Channel Am Tour in the Palmer Flight (4-8 handicap). This series follows the golf and how PocketPAR gives insight on tournament play.

Starting off the 2018 season with a win is always a plus, but I’ve found a disturbing trend in my golf…

The round started on 17 for me in the shotgun start format. Three easy holes to start and I made easy, if not frustrating pars. My short game just hasn’t been sharp. A wedge into 17 didn’t make the green and a two-chip on 18 left a 5 footer I was happy to make for par. You have to at least get a birdie look when you’re greenside in two on a par 5.

You know those holes that just don’t fit your eye? Just can’t get comfortable? #2 at Champions Circle is that for me. A tee shot with a narrow shoot favoring a fade makes me uncomfortable. Even if you smash a drive you have a long iron into a well protected green at best. My tee shot is pulled and runs all the way down into a small creek. Take a drop. Still have to lay up. Happy to leave with just a double.

Holes 2 and 3 at Champions Circle

Number 3 would be a great Par 5. It’s a bad Par 4. Into the wind it’s a 230 carry just to reach the fairway, followed by 200+ yards over a creek to a blind green with death left. It’s a bad hole. I smash a drive and a 4hybrid and am still short of the green (but safe). A bad chip leaves me in a tough spot and a 3 putt yields double.

Now this is where strokes gained analysis comes in handy. I’ve just gone +4 over two holes. Time to panic right? Except I know those are two of the hardest holes on the golf course. The field averaged 5.08 and 5.5 on the two holes. Meaning two doubles didn’t lose 4 strokes, it lost just 1.4 stroke to the field. Still not good, but manageable.

Cruise control. I play the next 7 holes at -1. Right back in the tournament with 6 holes to play. Queue the mental mistakes… I’ll make no excuses, I’ve struggled to close out rounds recently. This was no exception.

11. Took 4 shots to get in the hole from 80 yards.
12. Took 4 shots to get in the hole from 5 yards off the green.
13. Loose shot into a hazard.
15. Three putt from 40’.
16. Missed fairway, missed green, missed 5’er for Par.

Just a collection of lost momentum and poor shots. Whether it be a lack of focus or knowing I’m in the hunt, things got shaky, but what got shaky? What part of my game is struggling when the nerves get amped? PocketPAR has the answers.

Strokes Gained scorecard view. Green indicates areas of the green that were good / great during the round,, white indicates average, and red indicates areas and categories where performance was lower than the rest of the round.

Strokes Gained view of the scorecard gives details on the 6 hole struggle. I drove the ball well enough. My approach game left me in bad spots and my putter went cold as indicated by the red / dark red squares.

This is in-line with how I felt during the round. I hit uncommitted shots into the green on 11, 12, and 13. Didn’t feel comfortable with the wind and made half hearted swings.

By the time I got to 13, I felt as if I had shot myself out of the tournament and lost all focus on the putting green with an inexcusable 3-putt. Limped into the house frustrated with my finish.

But I won! How could that be? The reality is that Champions Circle can be a brutal golf course. And while I did all my damage toward the end, the field was struggling with big numbers lurking.

I shot 81. The field average was almost 89. I had gained 7.4 strokes through 12 holes, even with 2 doubles. During my final 6 hole stumble to the clubhouse, I still gained 0.5 strokes on the field.

So I’m happy that my play early in the round carried me, I know the field gifted me this one and I need to get better.

With PocketPAR I know where. If you need me I’ll be committing to iron shots.

Time to #MakeMoreBirdies

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