Its been well over a month since I last blogged! There has been some up and downs during this time, so what better way to start the blog off with a low haha.
So way back on the 8th of June I played an 1836 tour event at West Lancs golf club over at Southport. I thought I was playing ok and was just getting settled back home after 7 weeks on the road from my previous expeditions. I like West Lancs, its probably one of the toughest golf courses I’ve ever played as its so exposed to the atlantic links wind. Many moons ago, I remember I played in a 36 hole Uni Championship there, I’d played the course many times to no success. Anyway after the first round I think I shot something close to 80. After the first round I rang my dad straight away, something I never do, and told him “Dad, I just can’t play this golf course, its too hard!!” he told me “Stick in and go do what you do best” (Proper dad advice). I went out again and shot a -3 69. I didn’t pick up any prizes but that memory has stuck with me for a long time.
Anyway, back to the 1836. I was -1 through 6 holes playing great and in complete control. Suddenly, in true links style the wind picked up made it super difficult to flight the ball. I began dropping shot after shot, but I still hitting it well. All aboard the bogey train, I must have dropped 8 shots in a row and by the 15th hole my head was gone. I kept telling my self its good practice for the Open Qualifying coming up in a few weeks but it was already too late. My temper on the outside was calm but inside was a washing machine of frustration. On the 16th hole I had a putt for birdie and I apologised to my playing partners and picked my ball up. I No Returned for the first time in probably 8 years. I wasn’t bothered about my score, I had to stop the rot, so I called it. Dissapointed wasn’t the word, it felt like a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. The accumulation and build up of so so golf the previous 7 weeks had caught up with me and I knew then and there that I needed a break. Its so hard to catch yourself in this state, its very easy to try keep playing and working on your game if its not where you want it to be, but sometimes with everything in life, I realised I needed a break.
I didn’t fall out with the game, I didn’t touch a golf club for 2 weeks. I didn’t watch any golf on TV and tried not to talk about anything golf related. I went to work with a friend doing a bit of labouring in roofing! Being so psychically demanding for not that much money It made me realise how lucky I was to play golf, and how much I missed it. After 2 weeks of no golf and with a slight hangover, I played on a Sunday morning with my old man and brothers. I had hit the ball great and putted so well, I shockingly played way better than i did the 2 weeks prior. My head was clear and I swung freely with no expectations. I learnt there and then, what works for me best. How after 3 months of not playing form injury did I play my best golf last year? Looking back to China and the MENA Tour, at the time I was seeing no success, I was blind to the learning curve I was going through and I’m in a much better place now for realising it.
Ok, deep talk over. Lets get back onto what I’ve been up to more recently.
So a few weeks ago I felt my short game wasn’t in a strong place, if I want to get better and more consistent around the greens, I don’t need bits of advice here and there, I needed to see a specialist. I got in touch with a coach by the name of Graham Walker (he used to take Yorkshire coaching back when I was in the squad). Referred by my mate Ben Stow, a short game wizard who is European tour standard. I also got the tip off he’s been working with my lookalike, Tommy Fleetwood, a man in the form of his life. Not that my technique was bad, Graham stripped me back to a technique that I could use as a base ground to work my feel around. Annoyingly it was super simple stuff but I was astounded by how much better I instantly became not long after.
On the 4th July I travelled up to Glasgow to play in the Final Qualifying for the Open at Gailes Links. I was so exited at the fact I was only 36 holes away from competing in The Open. For the first time, I had my older brother caddying and my dad and godfather there for support. It was such a cool experience. In the morning before my 1st tee time I had Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson behind and in front of me on the range as we warmed up. The atmosphere the whole day was buzzing, aside the constant rain I was surprised as to how many people came out to spectate. It felt like I was playing in a proper tour event and I loved it. My dad and godfather in old men fashion avoided the rain and sat in the bar the whole 2 rounds haha. The pins were tucked, the rough was up and the elements were all against us. I battled away in the morning round and a shock triple bogey on 16 knocked me back for six, all our hard work in the freezing rain was undone with one shot. I took it on the chin and cracked on. The 2nd round, I didn’t hold back, I went for everything as I need a low one to pinch 1 of the 3 spots up for grabs. The first tee requires a carefully placed irons shot and I noticed everybody but Scott Jamieson hit irons off the tee. I pegged Driver up and clouted it just short of the green, starting with a birdie. I followed with another 4 birdies but ultimately too many bogeys as the course caught me out and I finished +7 for the tournament. I wasn’t disappointed, I was more proud in the way I handled myself and grateful for the experience as it was all new to me. I don’t really get nervous but, that morning on the range I felt my heart beat up a pace! The highlight of the day was when I holed a blind lob shot from a dead spot in front of a crowd on the 13th par 3. It was the lob shot Graham had taught me the week before. That felt good. It was also great to share the experience with my family, something that I never really get chance to do. Theres a bunch of lads that play in the events I play in that qualified and it only motivates me to get better! Now I’ve had a taste for it, I’ll be back next year to complete the job!
2 Days since Open qualifying I entered The Yorkshire Open last minute, one of the biggest tournaments on the Yorkshire PGA schedule. Seeing as it was played at Howley Hall Golf Club, just 10 minutes from my house, I thought “why not!”. After playing in the cold, windy rain of Glasgow, the sun shine in Leeds was a god send. The YPGA tricked the course up and stuck the pins in smelly positions. The greens were very firm and even holding the sloping fairways to find good lies proved tricky. After 9 holes I was +4 and not in a happy mood because I had played great, nobody likes a 3 putt, especially 4 of them!! I knew I was playing well so just kept going and the putter slowly warmed up. I ended up shooting +3 for 36 holes, which in tale seems like a high score but playing a firm and fast parkland course proved otherwise. Level par won and I finished 3rd. Maybe a tournament I should have won but I wasn’t disappointed with the lack of preparation for it. Another highlight from the tournament, I holed a bunker shot on the 18th par 3 in front of another gallery which put a smile on my face for once haha. Thanks to Reece Simmons a young hotshot from my home club who got me through the day, I wish him all the best as he’s just travelled to the states in search of a scholarship to a Golf College.
At least they spelt my name right!
So whats next?
There isn’t much on now until September back on for the MENA Tour. Im undecided whether to go back to China early August to Monday Qualify for a single event out there. There are also a couple of Europro events I may sneak some invites into late August, so fingers crossed.
The last of the schedule is out for the MENA tour now, with 6 events in September and October. A new destination to Jordan sounds exited and can’t wait to get back out there! European Qualifying School will be falling sometime in October and a run of events in China from November to December means its gonna be a busy few months towards the end of 2017! Bring it on!
I hope you all enjoy the rest of the Summer and look forward to catching up with everyone soon!
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Joe made 7 birdies in The Open Qualifying and made 4 Birdies in The Yorkshire Open
Total: 11 Birdies
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