Player's diary: Nicole earning back confidence

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

This last week the LPGA Futures Tour was playing their inaugural year in Crown Point, Ind. at White Hawk Golf Club. We had an incredible welcoming by the town! On Tuesday evening for our meet-the-pros party, we rode from the course into downtown Crown Point on fire trucks!! It was fantastic to say the least.

On Wednesday I played in the morning pro-am event and got paired with a 14-year-old blond girl, her dad and a buddy of his. The format was scramble for the amateurs and professionals played out their own ball and it was the best score for the team. We had a blast. It is always nice getting to play with a young golfer that you can help and watch their game improve in front of your eyes. We placed third in the event and I shot 70 so I was stoked since it was my only time I was going to see the course because the tournament started Thursday.

Tournament Day 1, Thursday. I had a morning tee time and was happy to get out before the heat really came in for the day. I walked up onto the tee with a clear head and ready to just be confident in every stroke I took that day and forget it ever happened after that. This was especially true for putting; I was going to hit the putt and before I could watch it roll to the hole I had to decide if it was good enough. This keeps me from getting antsy over my putting and more focused on controlling my "controllables," since sadly I cannot force the ball into the hole, no matter how much I want to. I birdied my first hole, birdied my second hole and popped the cup on my third birdie attempt, and birdied my fourth. I thought, “Hmm… well that was easy!” as I waited on the fifth tee box, then put it out of my mind. With a few troubles on my back nine, I would up shooting 70 and walked off pretty content with my game that day. In my head I got an A- for controlling what I could that day and went to the range to work on what I didn’t do so good at. Yes, range time not putting-green time! That is always a much easier fix for me than putting.

Tournament Day 2, Friday. Well there was no Friday golf! The weather was so bad that day that they scrapped it. I ended up having a two-hour breakfast with some friends waiting to see what was going on. Then moved to Starbucks, still waiting to see what the tour said about golf while ordering some books off line. Finally they said the day was scrapped so I went to see a movie and had dinner. You cannot control the weather but you can sure try and enjoy your day the best you can!

Tournament Day 3, Saturday. Tournament was shortened to a 36-hole event so today is the day to make a move on the field and get that paycheck. But at the same time it is important to keep the same goals on the course.

An interesting fact about this day to note is that I picked up a local to caddy. On Thursday, Phil offered to caddie for free, and I agreed. This is not normal for me at all to just agree to have someone caddie for me, but I did. He and his buddy watched me play for 10 holes that day and he showed up today (Saturday) for my warm-up and ready to hit the course with me. He was great!! He carried the back, chatted with me, and when I asked a question he would give his opinion. But I will never forget standing on the tee box on No. 15 (a par 3, 186 yards, back right pin), looking at the green guarded by bunkers and a stiff wind in my face. I was so indecisive with two clubs in my had, 4-iron safe play leave it middle front of green and have a long putt to the hole, or hit the hybrid slightly chocked down and go at it. Phil walked up to me pointed at a note written in my yardage book that looks like, “hybrid- 184 wind: in face –good.” I looked at him, grinned, handed him the 4-iron, two practice swings and ripped it at the pin. It landed 20 feet from the hole. Bam! “This is why I brought you!” I said with a laugh and smile.

Sometimes I wonder… what if I charged people to caddie for me?! You get the inside experience of caddying for a player! Tuesday-Sunday you are there on the bag, go to dinner one night, and have all questions answered. Also in addition to caddying you get a one-hour lesson on what you want to work on in your game. Hmmm ... this could lead to something. Thoughts?

Nicole's stats of the week:

Shot 70-73 (T-14); Made: $1,125; Ranked No. 21 on money list.

Up next

Made a trip home during this past off week for some rest and relaxation. Back at it when I catch up with you next.

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