Last July 4th weekend, under weather too good to be true, I had what was easily the worst round I’ve had in more than 15 years; a complete meltdown in every facet of my game that led to the first triple-digit score since playing in the Myrtle Beach World Amateur back in 2001.

Yesterday, with summertime humidity making an all-too-early return to the area I went off at daybreak at Redgate, determined to not have another meltdown.  As much as it pains me, the complete meltdown in my swing that day got into my head and if nothing else, showed me what touring pros and elite golfers talk about when they simply lose their swing.  I had zero confidence that I could consistently put the ball in the fairway and on the green, and with a putter in my hand I had even less confidence.

Last week’s round at Hampshire Greens gave me hope and optimism (at least tee to green) that the slump that I had been in since that fateful July morning was a thing of the past.

The course was in decent shape; the greens were in good shape (they’ve almost always been in great shape over the last five or six years) and the fairways were in good shape.  The 11th green was in improved shape (not sure how much they can realistically do).  The tee boxes were a mixed bag; if you play at Redgate I’d suggest bringing a hammer to put a tee in the ground (I’m not kidding) for #12. The second hole isn’t much better.  While the trees that surround both holes offer plenty of cool shade on hot days, the issue is that there’s no grass to speak of (it’s not for lack of effort from the superintendent and their team).

While they did manage to put sod down on the 16th tee, the ground below it is still very firm and the sod is not exactly fairway cut so while I appreciate the improvement, it’s still a work in progress.  They did, however, build a stone retaining wall and steps for the 15th hole (the short par 3).  My only concern is that in wet conditions the stone might be a bit slick, but on a dry (albeit humid) morning everything was fine.  The hole still needs a windmill, a clown’s mouth and possibly dynamite, but one small step is a good step nonetheless.

New sod on 16th tee at Redgate. Hammer optional.

New sod on 16th tee at Redgate. Hammer optional.

If you’re unfamiliar with Redgate, you know the first three holes are fairly pedestrian (not that you can’t get into trouble).  The 4th hole is one of their “blow up” holes (as in after it blows up your scorecard you’ll want to blow it up with explosives), and I did just that with a nice cool 7.

Somehow I managed to get things turned around, and was able to save my butt on several holes by getting up and down to save par.   Other than #12 and #14 I kept the back nine fairly clean, and was able to finish with a 12-foot par saving putt on the last to come in with a nice even 80.  Scores on the doors:

The damage from my May 16th round. No complaints here.

The damage from my May 16th round. No complaints here.

So that’s a 20 shot improvement over last July’s utter debacle if you’re scoring at home (or even if you’re alone).  Driving home, I felt like I had buried some of the mental demons that were unleashed last July.

Redgate is still a work in progress, but it’s a reasonably affordable option for golf in the area and the course is, in the main, in good shape.  It’s cheaper than Falls Road (I paid $59 for an early morning weekend with no discounts) and has a better short game area than it’s Potomac neighbour.

Lastly, while the Toronto Maple Leafs are still horribly, my sympathies go out to the Caps fans.  I was pulling for them and would have loved to see them advance.  But more importantly, I take solace that the Montreal Canadiens are out as well.   Fellow Leafs fans Bloge Salming and Down Goes Brown (you can read DGB’s work on Grantland under his real name Sean McIdoe and it’s outstanding).   Their video ode to the Habs remains a staple that I break out once they’re eliminated from the playoffs.  If you’re reading this and you’re a Habs fan…yes, I get the joke (Leafs fan writing about golf) and your other collection of jokes that are older than dirt.  Go tell someone who cares.

Bloge/DGB, you guys are awesome.  Cheers.