On June 16th, the 2023 Dakotas Tour season officially kicked off at Bakker Crossing Championship Golf Course in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coming up from the KF Monday Q in Kansas, Morgan and I arrived in South Dakota on Wednesday the 14th and set up our camper at the Countryside RV Park a few miles south of the golf course. It felt like a tight schedule of travel and practice during the 3 days between Monday and Friday, but I was ready to be back inside the ropes of competition after moving on with some positive thoughts from the Monday qualifier.
I played in this same event last year, so I already had course knowledge and experience to help in my preparation. The course is a par 71 reaching about 7000 yards from the tournament tees. Last year the conditions were hot, windy, and dry. The course was very firm and the greens were slick but this year the course was much softer and played longer. The greens were smooth (rolling about an 11) and fairly receptive to spin which would promote plenty of good birdie opportunities for greens in regulation.
My mindset going into this event was very similar to the mindset I had in the previous qualifier. I wanted to play with peace and confidence. Commitment and freedom in every shot and trust on the putting greens. In my previous blog, I wrote about the current state of my putting which was also something I wanted to make some more progress with this week. As my first round 2:30 tee time approached on Friday afternoon, I was feeling excited and ready to play.
I got off to a typical steady start, but on my third hole (a par 5), I hit a wedge over the green with a lot of work left to save a par. This was my first chance to face adversity during the round and I played a little tense. After chipping up to about 8 ft, I three putted to card a double bogey on a reachable par 5… ouch. I knew there was a lot of golf to play and I did well to refocus for my next shot. I began to build a little momentum as the round went on making birdie at the 7th, but my momentum peaked on the par 5 11th hole. For my second shot, I had 246 yds to the pin positioned middle right in the green. I used my 19* hybrid to hit a high fade off the left edge of the green. The ball landed a few paces on and rolled up to the pin stopping 3 inches away from the hole. Tap in eagle. In the remaining 7 holes of round 1, I made 4 pars and 3 bogeys (two of which came from 2 balls in the water) to shoot 2 over par 73. I knew this would not put me in good position on the leaderboard, but I didn’t feel like I shot myself out of it yet. I just needed to get back to my game-plan and take one shot at a time.
Round 2 started off with birdies on 1 and 2. I continued to give myself great chances, but I didn’t make another putt until hole 9 reaching the turn at 3 under par. I made bogey on 10 after a bad break up against the railroad tie in the bunker and as I reflect on my performance, I believe this is where my mindset changed for a few holes. I wasn’t as free from hole 10 to hole 15. I made 3 bogeys in this stretch never being far out of position. They were soft bogeys.. the kind I make when I get too concerned about my score and what I may be shooting at the end of the day. I refocused for a great birdie (almost eagle) on the par 5 16th and even hit it close on #17 a 238 yd par 3. But I made par on 17 and bogey 18 because I tried too hard. I didn’t let the performance flow like I did on the front 9. I didn’t trust the work I had done in preparation to take over and allow my best golf to come through. I tried to force it. I shot even par 71 for round 2 and missed the cut.
It’s disappointing to miss the cut. It also gets expensive. On one hand I am frustrated about my performance because I let shots slip away even though I was capable of taking advantage. On the other hand, this game is a marathon and I believe this year I have seen progress in my game that I have not seen before. I know I am becoming a better player and building confidence. I will continue working on the things I control and I will continue making progress toward my goals for the season and toward the long term goals of my career. Missing qualifiers or cuts may be tough experiences but I know they will pay off down the road. Always learning and walking away with something positive into the next one. Onward and upward!
The next event I am playing will start later this week on Friday (June 23rd) hosted at Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, South Dakota. This is another tournament and golf course I have played before, so I am excited to revisit the course as I prepare for the competition! Follow my Instagram to see some day to day content and stay tuned for the next update on this blog! Getting back to work!