I’ll start with the highlights — there weren’t many from my round on Monday at Congressional Country Club. I ended with the best drive I’d hit all day and almost knocked it into the walkway on the 18th (a la Robert Garrigus). I was standing close to the 150-yard marker and hit a 7-iron with my typical draw to the front of the green. “Roll!” I yelled. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.
I three-putted for a bogey. Ew. I left my first putt like 15 feet short.
No, I didn’t play from the back tees. I basically played from 6,200, where the USGA had put tees for the outing. Oh, how did I get the opportunity tee it up the day after the US Open? Every year there’s a media sign-up sheet and some sort of selection process for a limited number of tee times set aside for us.
First, I was confused playing from the forward tees since I’d walked the course so many times from the tips! It sure felt more like 7,000 yards since the course was pretty soaked from the heavy rain the night before and in the morning (I teed off at noon). And the greens were sloooow. I think they were rolling at 9-10 on the stimpmetre (I’m being generous). But it was super cool to play the course with the same pins as the final round of the US Open.
I spent most of the day reliving memorable shots and putts from Rory McIlroy’s round. “OH, THIS IS WHERE RORY SAVED PAR,” “THIS IS WHERE RORY HIT IT TO ON NO. 10,” “THIS IS WHERE RORY HIT A DART ON NO. 13,” “THIS IS WHERE RORY THREE-PUTTED FOR THE FIRST TIME,” ETC.
If I had been driving it like I usually do, the course would have set up perfectly for my draw off the tee, which I knew was the case (most of my picks for the US Open hit draws). I think there was only one fade hole, the fifth. I took an extra club on No. 2 because I’d seen a lot of pros during the week come up short (it’s more uphill than it looks and the wind swirls more by the green than it appears). I hit it pin high — just on the wrong side of the green.
To be honest, I could have done without the front nine. It wasn’t very memorable. I felt like I played the same hole five times. Wait, another dogleg left?!
The ninth is a cool hole. I hit a great drive and practically shanked a 3-wood into the Port-O-Pottys below.
On No. 10 I landed it almost exactly where Rory did off the back slope, except my shot didn’t spin back!
I could see where if you were just hitting it a little off target from the tee and into the greens, you could make some big numbers. It wasn’t fun playing from the rough. Even when it looked like you had a decent lie, you usually had to settle with a punch-out (I’m also really, really weak right now, so I can’t hack it out of there too well).
I had one of those up-and-down days. I have no idea what I shot. It was only my third round this year and you can imagine the zero amount of practice I’ve gotten in. I wish my game could have been in better shape to test it against a US Open setup. But considering how poorly I was striking it, I think I expected the course to have a little more teeth.
By the way, I changed my pre-shot routine on the greens to mimic Rory’s. I liked the no-practice-strokes and stare down the hole while keeping the back of my left hand moving toward the target. I used to take three practice strokes, which doesn’t make much sense. Thanks for the tip, Dave Stockton!
We had some fun by the scoreboard on No. 10. Here’s Ann Ligouri peeping from Jason Day’s second round score:
Thanks to the USGA and Congressional for the unique experience.