It sounds obvious...hit the ball down the middle and keep it in play and you will score better. Well, today, I decided to put this challenge to the test. And I found the results to be very interesting and quite telling...I learned a lot and had a ton of fun pulling it off. Now, for those of you who play golf in the U.S. (or virtually anywhere else in the world, for that matter) - "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" - I was literally the only golfer on the course all day long and played two-balls per hole at one time. My fellow Boulderians...please don't tell the management that I did this on the day before the Audi tournament...and please note that I fixed each and every divot and ball-mark!
Here is the hole-by-hole account of the round(s) - I played one game "regular" - using all the clubs I would regularly hit - and the second game I never used anything over a 7-iron:
Hole #1 376-yards - Par 4
Regular game: Hit a perfect 3-wood right down the middle, left myself 160-yards up-hill to a middle flag. Hit a duff rescue-club about 70-yards, hit a PW deep over the flag, two-putts. Typical opening hole for me. Score - 5
7-iron game: Hit 150 down the right side, hit a second 7-iron perfectly, hit a wedge to the right edge of the green, putt from off the green close...one-putt. Score - 5
Hole #2 400-yards - Par 4 (#1 handicap monster with a lake)
Regular game: Did what I always seem to do...put one into the lake on the right on the fly. Took a drop, hit a 6-iron to the flat area before the green, chipped on, two-putt. Score - 6 One lost ball
7-iron game: 150 yards straight. another 7-iron 150 yards straight, PW to the green, two putts. Score - 5
Hole #3 127-yards - downhill Par 3
Regular game: No difference here between the two games. Hit PW a little long. Two-putts for par. Score - 3
7-iron game: PW to the right side of the green - white flag. Two putts for par. Score - 3
Hole #4 395-yards - Par 4
Regular game: Kept the driver in the bag, (playing it "safe") hit a slicing 3-wood onto the rocky hillside, took an unplayable drop Hit a 5-iron into the gaping green side bunker on the right, came out nicely, two putts for double-bogey. Score - 6
7-iron game: Perfect 7-iron off the tee - second shot a safe 8-iron short of the green. Sand-wedge to within 10-feet. Drained the putt for PAR! Score - 4
Hole #5 518-yards - Par 5
Regular game: Like to hit driver here to gain distance...didn't work. Hit a line drive towards the rock on the left...had to punch out (hit a good shot!) - hit an 8-iron down the right side to the garden-spot in front of the tree with room to the left - PW went a little long - chipped on and two putts for a double-bogey. Score - 7
7-iron game: Perfect 7-iron from the tee...another put me down by the lake in two...pinched a little by the lake on the left and the rocks on the right...hit an 8-iron down the right to a garden-spot to the right of the tree...SW on the green short of the flag - two putts and made bogey. Score - 6
NOW - IN CASE YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED - - AT THIS POINT, MY 7-IRON GAME WOULD BE THREE-UP IN MATCH-PLAY VS. MY "REGULAR" GAME!!
Hole #6 369-yards - Par 4 (The Temple Hole) Not much difference here...I usually play it safe to end up short of the creek...the only difference was I usually hit 6-iron off the tee and play it like a Par 5.
Regular game: Hit a great 6-iron short of the creek, hit a 5-iron just short-right before the bunker, chip was deep onto the green. Nice putt - tap-in for bogey. Score - 5
7-iron game: I may hit 7-iron off the tee from now on...actually ended up in a better place than I did with the 6-iron. Nice flat lie short of the creek, hit a smooth 8-iron into the middle of the fairway, left 100-yards even. SW to the right of the flag - two putts for a nice bogey. Score - 5
Hole #7 495-yards uphill - Par 5
Regular game: Hit a great 3-wood down the left side, hit another great 3-wood to the 100-yard marker on the right, stuck a PW hole-high, two putts for par. Score - 5
7-iron game: Perfect 160-yard 7-iron, then another, then another...three very good shots!! Left an easy SW to the green...left about a 10' putt - which I drained for par!! Score - 5
THE 7-IRON GAME IS STILL THREE-UP IN MATCH-PLAY!!!
Hole #8 173-yards downhill - Par 3
Regular game: I like to hit 5-iron to a back-flag and a 6-iron to the middle. Chose 6-iron and hit it too well....back left - just off the green. Putted it very close. Made the putt for par! Score - 3
7-iron game: Problematic. No place to lay-up really because of the lake short-left. I don't think 7-iron is enough club. Over-swung and put it over into the rocks on the right. Hit a second ball on, but short-right. Two-putts for double bogey. First lost-ball with the 7-iron game. Score - 5
Hole #9 382-yards - Par 4 (second shot over water)
Regular game: Need driver here....hit it perfect...right down the middle but too short to go for the green in two. Hit a 9-iron to about 65-yards short. Hit a SW really deep. Lucky I didn't 3-putt. Great putt...tap-in for a nice bogey. Score - 5
7-iron game: Not sure 7-iron is the right club...could go into the creek. Hit an 8-iron perfectly. Nice-lie - short of the creek - took out the trusty 7-iron and bladed it directly into the creek!!! Took a drop, hit an 8-iron onto a small hill on the left, hit a great PW out of the rough - two-putts for a TRIPLE bogey 7.
FRONT NINE-HOLE SCORES:
Regular game: 45 (on handicap)
7-iron game: 45 (on handicap)
7-iron game is 1-up after nine in match-play
Hole #10 378-yards - Par 4
Regular game: I have not been hitting driver here lately. There is a stand of trees down the right and there is a rocky wasteland to the left. I took the 3-wood out of the bag to "play it safe" and hit a line-drive into a patch of rough and a bush and a rock. Unplayable. Took a drop and hit an 8-iron just short of the green. Hit a SW spot-on and luckily I made the putt for a scrambling bogey. Score - 5
7-iron game: Put a nice 7-iron down the right side and safe...hit another nice 7-iron short of the green to the right. Hit a nice wedge from almost the identical spot my "regular" ball was, but not as close. Two-putted for bogey. Score - 5
Hole #11 183-yards - Par 3 (downhill)
Regular game: I know the perfect club for this shot. The Gold tees were playing at the Blue Tee markers...and I almost had a hole-in-one from this spot last June. It's a smooth 6-iron. I hit it a little too-well and was long and left of the flag with about a 30' downhill putt. Put it about 5' away - missed it and three-putted for a bogey. Score - 4
7-iron game: Hit the 7-iron high...too high. Fell short of the green. Chipped straight over the hole long. Two-putted coming back down the hill...it could have been worse. Score - 4
Hole #12 396-yards - Par 4 (#2 handicap hole on the course.)
Regular game: Took out the 3-wood and pulled one dead-left and O.B. into the brush. Re-teed and pulled another one dead-left and O.B. into the brush. I decided not to lose a third brand new ball and picked up and just played the 7-iron shots. Score - 7x
7-iron game: 7-iron right of center. Another 7-iron to the perfect spot - 110-yards from the pin. Hit a PW that I wanted to bounce onto the narrow green and it got caught-up in the long Bermuda grass that fronts the putting surface. Putted through the long grass (afraid of the dreaded "flyer") - and it worked. One-putt for a nice bogey. Score - 5
NOTE: "7-IRON GAME" IS NOW TWO-UP IN MATCH PLAY!
Hole #13 324-yards - Par 4 dogleg left - tricky hole
Regular game: Hit one of the best 3-woods I ever hit on this hole...gave myself a good look at the green...but couldn't really see the flag. 110-yards out...chose a 9-iron and pulled it badly - up into the rocky hillside to the left of the green...bounced out and onto the left fringe. Putted off the fringe and left a tap-in for a nice par. Score - 4
7-iron game: Not so good this time. Hit a good 7-iron off the tee...put a nice soft wedge over to the garden-spot at about 75-yards. Sliced a PW into the brush. Lost ball. Went back and hit a better wedge...two putts for a triple-bogey. Score - 7
Hole #14 539-yards - Par 5
Regular game: Need the driver here. Hit it pretty good but I was too far right and ended up behind a tree, Misjudged the club and hit a 7-iron trying to clear the tree...caught a big branch and it bounced straight down into the leaves and rough. Punched out by the big tree in the center of the fairway - hitting four with a long way to get home. Hit a good 3-wood to about 70 yards. One in five and two-putted. Lousy double-bogey. Score - 7
7-iron game: Here the "7-iron game" gets interesting. I know for a fact that there is no way to cross the creek with a seven - even a well-struck one. I chose a nine-iron to push the limits of the grass on the near side of the creek...and - that is not an easy shot. I hit it perfectly. Then I hit a 7-iron and another 7-iron and was in the middle of the fairway in three. I hit another 9-iron just short...chipped on and made two putts for a double. That's a long hole with nothing to hit over a 7-iron!! Score - 7
Hole #15 434-yards Par 4
Regular game: Chose the 5-wood to get out and into the middle. Hit it a mile-high and only about 140 yards long. Needed to lay up to the lay-up place, hit a third shot on the blade and barely across the creek - chipped on and made a two-putt double. Score - 6
7-iron game: Hit the 7-iron off the tee further than the 5-wood. Still not enough to challenge the creek...laid up. Hit the CPR rescue-club perfectly - jut off the green to the right, hole-high in three. Putted on and made the 2-footer for a winning bogey. Score - 5
SEVEN IRON GAME IS BACK TO 2-UP!!
Hole #16 197-yards Par 3
Regular game: Distinct advantage for the regular game here. Hit the CPR just short of the front edge of the green. LONG uphill putt - left it about 4' short. Rimmed the putt...went in and came out. Took a bogey I didn't deserve! Score - 4
7-iron game: Hit a nice high draw - landed 5' from the cart path on the left. Hit a beautiful PW on to the middle and two-putted for a tie. Score - 4
Match is DORMIE!!! Regular Game is 2-down with 2-to-play!!
Hole #17 387-yards Par 4
Regular game: Hit driver...and hit a good one. 155-yards left from the left side of the fairway. Wind was blowing so I chose a 3/4 5-iron. Big mistake. Hooked it into the left trap! Duffed one in the trap for three...skulled one over the green in four, chipped-on and two-putted for a match-losing triple-bogey. Nice. Score - 7
7-iron game: 7-iron, 7-iron, PW, two putts for a bogey. This 7-iron game was working!! Score - 5
SEVEN-IRON GAME WINS 3-1
Hole #18 622-yards Par 5 into the wind.
Regular game: Actually played this hole pretty well. Hit a great drive...a perfect 3-wood and left me 225 to the green over water. Not a chance with the wind. Lay-up shot to 110 yards. Stiffed a nice 9-iron to within 8-feet when the wind held it up. Made two-putts for a 6 and that is a good score on this hole!! Score - 6
7-iron game: Hit a PW to a side-hill lie next to the ladies tee. Hit three more great 7-irons (laying 4) to almost the exact same place the "regular ball" was in three. Hit the same 9-iron a little right of the white flag and made two-putts for a respectable 7. Score - 7
BACK NINE-HOLE SCORES:
Regular game: 50 (terrible)
7-iron game: 49 (just slightly less terrible)
SEVEN IRON GAME WINS MATCH 3-1
Regular game: 45 - 50 = 95
7-iron game: 45 - 49 = 94
So, boys and girls...what did we learn?? First off...I suck at this game...even though I love it so much!! Secondly...something I knew all along but refused to believe...straight and in-play is much better than O.B. and in the weeds!!