Western Intercollegiate

April 20, 2011 · James Blog
16 pasatiemp

Western Intercollegiate, Pasatiempo GC – 73, 72, 75 (+10), T33

Following a T9 finish at the ASU Thunderbird, I felt my game was improving nicely and was confident going into the Western Intercollegiate, hosted by San Jose State at the famed Alister Mackenzie designed, Pasatiempo Golf Club. The field was strong, with several top 10 teams including national champs Augusta State. The course was set up in true Mackenzie style, with fast sloping greens acting by far as the course’s greatest form of defense. The format was pretty strange, as 2 players from each team were paired together and paired with another 2 from another team. We were drawn with 5th ranked San Diego State, and I played with teammate Oscar Zetterwall, Englishman Tom Berry and Alex Kang.

In the practice round I did much chipping and putting around the greens, as it was evident managing the greens well would be the key to success. Unfortunately, one practice round was not enough and despite my attempts to get to grips with the place in the practice round I simply was not prepared for the greens and the pins. I stuttered through round 1, falling to +5 after 12 holes. I did recover somewhat with a couple of birdies and posted 73 to at least remain in the tournament. I had actually played decent golf, but the pin positions had caught me out and I finished the round frustrated at getting so little out of a pretty solid performance. One of MacKenzie’s favourite all-time holes is the 16th hole (pictured) which has unquestionably the most severely sloped green in competitive golf worldwide. The 16th at North Berwick has a half-pipe in the middle of it, but even that doesn’t compare to this monstrosity of a green. Somehow I played the hole in even par for the week, but without a couple of 15-foot putts and a nice lag from 50 feet, that could have been a couple more.

Round 2 saw more severe pins, and bumpier greens. The poa annua grass on the greens ran smoothly in the morning, but with so many players trundling their spikes over them during the course of the day, spike marks were popping up all over the place as the shadows lengthened. My putting for the most part was solid, but I was leaving the ball in the wrong positions, often after good shots, and leaving myself very little chance of 2 putting. I played steady golf all afternoon in the 2nd round and made only 1 real error, but it came on my 15th hole, the 11th, the hardest on the course with an average of 4.74, and it cost me a triple-bogey. Before then, I had played solid par golf and only dropped 1 shot courtesy of an inexcusable pin location on hole 8, a par three only requiring a 7 iron but with a green so severe the best the entire field could do on average was a miserable 3.49. A 2 hour fog delay in the morning meant the 2nd round was never likely to be completed and sure enough, 1 hole after my crippling mistake, we called it a day. I had only hit a couple of poor tee shots all day, and my iron play had been steady, but my lack of course knowledge gave me very little chance of creating meaningful birdie opportunities. Rather, every time I thought I hit a good shot, I was left with 15 feet for birdie with 10 feet of break. Never mind birdies, the only thing on my mind was to somehow escape with par.

I started the final round strongly, beginning with a par at 15 and somehow making birdie at 16. I consolidated it with a few pars to start the front nine, but soon began to drop shots and couldn’t stop the leaking. With the pins even worse than the previous 2 days, often in simply unreachable locations, I found myself in the wrong position time and time again, and was unable to build any kind of momentum. The course, in essence, ate me up, not as a result of poor play but as a result of poor positioning. It gave me a feel of what it must be like to play Augusta, the most famous of Mackenzie’s courses, which was designed with Pasatiempo in mind. I finished the round with another bogey to shoot a miserable 75, and I finished in the middle of the pack in 33rd.

PAC-10s is coming up in roughly a week, hosted by Stanford at their difficult University course. The same 6 players will travel and hopefully we can lift the spirits and put in the kind of performance we are capable of. If everyone is well prepared and on top of their game, there is no reason Jesper and I cannot be part of another conference winning team.

Thanks for reading. Go Devils!