Player Diary: California's Max Homa (Part 6)
Hey golf fans. . . I’m back!
Unfortunately, I have been a bit under the weather this past week. Also, this may come as a shock to some of you, but I do have more responsibilities than simply golfing every day. There is this minor issue of making up school work that the team has been with ever since we returned from Tucson, Ariz., where we competed in the Arizona Intercollegiate.
This tournament has been a staple for our program for a long time, so going back to the desert felt familiar. However, this year the site of the play was moved from Arizona National to Vistoso GC. As is common with desert golf courses, Vistoso was fairly favorable off of the tee, with major penalties for shots off line. Much of the desert was thick brush that usually required a pitch-out or an unplayable penalty in order to have a shot down the fairway. Honestly, knowing the rule book inside and out is important when playing in the desert because of all the options involved in taking penalty drops.
In our practice round, the wind was benign and the course yielded tons of birdie opportunities. Looking at the forecast for the next two days showed that this would not be the case for the tournament rounds. Wind ended up playing a huge role and changed the course tremendously. Our team did a good job preparing for this in the practice round like finding the direction the wind would blow. After we learned the direction, we could imagine and plot out how we would need to play certain shots. This was important because it didn’t seem like a foreign golf course the next day when it was gusty for the 36 holes. The high winds made birdies scarce and the desert played a major role. There was potential for a big number on any hole. To cope with this, I made sure to play very conservatively off the tee. Each round I only hit a couple of drivers because placement was more valuable than distance.
After the first day, we were a few strokes behind the leaders and everyone seemed frustrated with how they played. Coach reiterated that this game will do that to you, but we have to overcome the bad breaks and missed putts to remain in contention.
The next day saw more of the same from the team. We seemed to miss too many putts while a tremendous New Mexico team capitalized on more opportunities. It was disappointing to get third since we had won every other tournament, however, we probably learned a lot more than when we won the other five. Patience will be a major attribute we will need to inhibit once the postseason begins, and fortunately we got a lot of practice in the desert.
Despite coming up short as a team, we did have a huge, exciting accomplishment when Michael Kim and Joel Stalter tied for medalist honors. It was awesome seeing Joel get his first collegiate victory and Michael continue his stellar play. Congratulations to them!
Next up for the bears is the John Burns Intercollegiate in Hawaii. As much as it pains me to miss school to go to the tropics, I will find a way to stay in good spirits, so please don’t worry about me. Hard work will be taken care of in the classrooms and on the golf course to prepare for the tournament. We are looking forward to getting back on the course and testing ourselves against some great teams. Of course, we’re also looking forward to the challenge of getting rid of some very apparent golf tans. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.