Player diary: Brad Dalke (Part 1)
My 2014 season has started and I'm glad to be back on the blog this year. Most of my schedule is planned and hopefully I can get a few more wins in 2014!
In the last month I have played in three events: the Jones Cup Amateur at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.; the AJGA CB&I Championship (formerly the HP Championship) at Carlton Woods in the Woodlands, Texas; and the Curro South Africa International Junior in Langebaan, South Africa.
I headed into my second Jones Cup Amateur a little rusty. It sure makes a difference not having competed for two months. As a result, I didn't putt well, shooting 74-75-78 and tied for 35th. Ninety of the best amateurs were invited, and I feel very fortunate to have been one of the few juniors who competed.
My second event was close to home in Texas. I was eager to get back to the AJGA CB&I Championship
and defend my title! I played well, but made too many mistakes. I shot 74-71-72 and finished tied for 13th. Missing on the wrong side of greens and starting the first hole of the tournament with a three-putt were a few of those mistakes. Those kind of errors are what is holding me back right now. I am working hard on improving and hopefully I can save a lot of shots at future events.
I am continually working on my mental game and I can really see progress. At the Jones Cup I felt really calm the entire tournament even though I wasn't playing as well. It definitely helped me not give up which is something I never want to do! At the CB&I, I was frustrated at myself because of the mistakes I was making, but I honestly can say I didn't let it affect my game. I feel like I am making huge strides with my mental management.
I have also been putting in extra time on my putting. As I evaluated last year, I believed I hit the ball well, but was inconsistent from 10-20 feet on the green. I have been working on reading my putts with more accuracy and rolling the ball on the line I envision with more consistency. It has been feeling good, so I am very excited. Making those putts can turn a 75 to a 72 and a 68 to a 65. Those shots are crucial.
I want to thank the Perambos for letting me stay at their house for the Jones Cup. They are close friends and always support me everywhere I go. I also want to thank the Jones Cup committee and Ocean Forest for putting on another awesome tournament.
Secondly, I want to thank the Dernicks for opening their home to us when we arrived for Media Day for the CB&I, and then had to stay a few extra days because of bad weather in Oklahoma. I ate a lot of puppy chow and drove a Ferrari, so I can't complain! I also want to thank Denny and Kathy Houston for being our host family during the CB&I event. They came out and supported me every day, which really meant a lot. I want to thank Head Professional Jason Alexander, Carlton Woods, and the AJGA for putting on an outstanding tournament again. It definitely is one of my favorite events on my schedule. I can also proudly say I'm the Peeps Long Drive Champion! I hit that little marshmallow 41 yards!
My third tournament was to South Africa – Yes, you read that right! You may wonder how I got an invite to Curro South Africa International Junior. The World Junior Golf Tournament Series host many great tournaments and the South Africa event is one. The organization is out of Germany and they even have a world ranking system that includes juniors from all around the globe (www.wjgts.org). Currently I am No. 1 in their rankings, and that ranking came with an invite to the Curro event.
It was amazing! I have never been south of the equator! It was a very long trip, but it was worth it. I flew a total of 51 hours in one week, which is really hard to do! My mom went with me, and we flew through Dubai going and coming home. My mom has friends in Dubai, so she planned a 15-hour layover so we could do some sightseeing. Pat Casarez and her husband picked us up and gave us the royal tour! The skyline is massive and we even got to see the tallest building in the world. The World Expo will be held in Dubai in 2020 and the construction going on is non-stop!
It was so much fun being able to see that part of the world. It is just as amazing as you see on TV at the golf tournaments.
The next part of the trip, the nine-hour flight from Dubai to Capetown, South Africa, was a little frightening. Two hours after takeoff, the pilot announced that we were returning to Dubai because of some "issues with the plane." The scariest part on the two-hour flight back to Dubai was the landing gear screeching and the huge amounts of fuel released through the wings because they are not able to land with a large amount of fuel in the tanks. When we landed safely, it was a relief!
A little extra info: the planes we flew on during all parts of our trip, are the same plane that has been missing in Malaysia.
We finally got to Cape Town that night and drove an hour north to Langebaan, where the tournament was held. I shot 71-70-73 and ended up getting third. I played well the first two days, but wasn't making many putts. My speed was just a little off. The last day I didn't start off well. I was 3 over through three holes.
I fought back, but it wasn't quite enough. I want to give a shout out to the winner from South Africa, Jovan Rebula, who played great. He is Ernie Els' nephew and I know I will see him in the future. I enjoyed meeting new people, especially Stefan Bogason from Iceland, who was my roommate. I hope I have the opportunity to go back next year. A big thanks to Langebaan Country Estates for hosting us and letting us use their facilities. Also a big thanks to the sponsor, Curro, along with the tournament committee for extending an invitation to me.
I have experienced true southern hospitality growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, and I have to pass on that South Africa was just like home. The people are amazing! Other than unusual wildlife on the course, the most amazing thing I saw, and would love to see more of in America, was a spotter on one hole who had his grill set up and was cooking steaks! Think we could get tailgating started at golf tournaments?
My next event is the Terra Cotta Amateur in Naples, Fla., in the beginning of April. After that, is the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley April 24-26 in Graniteville, S.C. I better get back to practice!
Until next time, Boomer Sooner!