As I was driving home from the Airport Lakes Thursday doubles, I was mulling over the next day’s schedule. I had a 10:30 appointment followed by…OH CRAP! I have to bail for Sarasota for the Sarasota Sky Pilot Pro Open tourney. I had switched putters earlier in the week because I wanted to tune in to a newer disc going into the summer. I hadn’t been practicing much and my focus had not been on playing in an event.
After a hasty pack-job, I dropped out of consciousness and finished loading the big stuff in the AM.
After the appointment, I hit I-4 west.
I got in around 1:30 and played a half round at North Water Tower pk and was amazed that no one else was around on the day before a tourney. Only when someone else showed and asked if I was going to Bobby Jones golf course did I realize that that was where doubles was being held.
With no intent on playing doubles, I went out to familiarize myself with the 2011 layout. Someone had complained to the TD last year that it could have been longer. “OK” he said, and pretty much maxed it out. It’s definitely going to be an ape arm kinda weekend.
While he deserves some kudos for trying to give players what they ask for, the course was pretty much custom made for John E. McCray (9 time FFT overall winner) who blistered the back 9 with 6 birdies on the 2nd round.
After 2 rounds on the ape-arm course, Billy Seaman lead Masters. Local Brett Wasser and I were tied, 4 back. For both rounds totaled, I scored 5 birdies, 2 bogeys and a double (missed a mando), the rest were 3s. (28 out of 36)
I had to take a sleeping pill Saturday night because I had laid awake for most of the two previous nights and I HAD to get some restorative sleep.
We were back at Water Tower park on Sunday morning. The sleep gave me much of the rest I so greatly needed and it felt good to be back playing on a regular sized course again. My driving confidence was buoyed and I shot a –7, as did John E. Moving into the tight woods after a day of booming drives on the golf course definitely changed the manner in which people attacked the hole.
Billy lost a well-tuned Roc and I think that got into his head. His game was off and he shot a very uncharacteristic +5, which swung me into an 8-stroke lead going into the final round.
My standard putt had been shaky all week due to changing putters, but it failed me completely in the final round. I switched to straddle and even that went south…missing a 15-footer by around 3 feet. Eventually I was reduced to turbo or horseshoe putting. Those worked well enough to keep me around par. When the putt isn’t working, there is more pressure on the drive to get it close, which makes it harder to relax on the tee. Fortunately, the big spread gave me some breathing room and I won by 7.
I made it an early night, pulling the covers over my head at around 10:30.
I had intended to go to St. Pete to do some light work on the course, but opted to stick around Sota for another day to have my bro work on my van (recharged the AC….aaaaaaahhhhh) and checked the engine’s cooling system. I dropped the Anti-Chrysler off to have the tires rotated, balanced and the front end aligned while I ate lunch at bro’s shop. Then I went out to Bobby Jones to help the TD (DG Hall of Fame nominee, Tim Willis) shorten the course for the SSP Am tourney this coming weekend. Another early night…but probably didn’t actually get to sleep until after 4:30am, because, yup…you guessed it, I ran outta sleeping pills.
Drove across the new Sunshine Skyway bridge into St. Pete. Upon pulling into the park, I noticed that the #7 tee sign was missing…then I saw that they were ALL missing! My heart sunk!
Upon walking into the office, the pk manager said he was planning on calling me today! They had pulled the signs off to do some repairs. Whew!
Cory & Jessica and I went out to play a few holes before I went to work.
I put some metal numbers on each tee post to make the transitions easier and rotated the posts so that they were pointed straight down each fairway.
Then I shot across the notoriously slow Howard Frankland bridge across Tampa Bay to meet John E. McRae at a new course he’s building near Plant City. It is his 2nd course, and a fairly ambitious one. It is still very new with some rough fairways, but it has the potential to become one of the State’s best.
A good variety of open & wooded holes with some very interesting topography on the back 9.
There were a few areas where I felt safety might be a concern, but I am more sensitive to such things than most. He ran the design in a couple different directions before settling on this layout and, despite my concerns over a few minor issues, has done a pretty good job. There are still quite a few holes that are too tight for my tastes, but we both understand that, once cut, you can’t put a tree or branch back.
I tried to only speak up with alternate ideas when it came to a red flag I felt strongly about, which, fortunately only came up a couple of times. I look forward to this course in a year or so, when it is worn-in.
Tomorrow: Two days to catch up before bailing again for The Jammers tourney in Jax.