American courses hard to read

17:00, Aug 11 2014

This is my final column from the USA, where I have had a busy last couple of weeks.

My last tournament was the Canadian Amateur.

The format was 240 players playing four rounds of strokeplay over two courses with a half way cut to 70 players after round two. I felt the courses suited my game and eye pretty well.

One course was an American links style course with soft elevation changes, firm and fast fairways but soft greens. The main course was a parklands course, with some cute dogleg holes and short sharp greens making placement around the course crucial.

I walked away after shooting 78, 79 and missed the cut by a lot. This was a tough pill to swallow as I did not feel I played to those scores, far from it in fact. In round one I started with a birdie and was ticking along fine until striking a bad stretch of holes where I dropped five shots over three holes. Throughout round two I just didn't hit it close enough to make birdies and get myself back in the tournament. I finished with a couple of three putts then lost two balls and finished with a nine on my last hole hurt my scores.

I stayed with an American while in Canada and went to caddie for him as he was tied for the lead.


I picked up a few things off him as he did from me.

We saw the golf course and shots quite differently (which is fine). But he was amazed at my ability to read greens. (In the last two years I have learned to use a new way of reading greens through my feet called Aimpoint Express). By the end of my first round caddying for him he was asking me to read the putt and he'd stroke it.

Through watching his play I learned just how mentally precise you have to be. I realised when asking him where he wanted to finish his shot.

If he ever said "aww probably 10 feet short right of the hole or left side" he would hit a mediocre shot. Nothing too bad by any means but when I forced him to really define a target line (I want you to have that ball falling down over the left half of that tree trunk in the background) and his dispersion became a lot tighter.

As collective golfers we should only allow one objective in mind and as soon as that objective gets tarnished then that is when we hit mediocre shots. I'm glad to have seen this through someone else and to help sharpen my own skills over the next three weeks at home.

On a side note, I got to celebrate my 23rd birthday in Canada with the two American players I stayed with.

After the days golf I took them out to some massive sand dunes and we smashed out dune sprints for 30min up a 10-12m high sand wall.

Over the next three weeks I will be preparing to head away to Japan for my next venture - playing in the Eisenhower Trophy (the World Amateur Champs). So I look forward to getting out to Oreti beach for a few dune runs while I'm home. If anyone wants to join me just name a time.

Gore's Vaughan McCall is one of New Zealand's leading amateur golfers. He will play for the Southland golf team this weekend in a showdown against Central Otago.

The Southland Times