Two Weeks Off, Practice Session, Better Golf


A feature of several of the par 3s at Rangeline golf is you can see a flag but not the green itself.
RICK PECK/SPECIAL TO MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS A feature of several of the par 3s at Rangeline golf is you can see a flag but not the green itself.

I took about two weeks off from golf and I think it helped. I’m not sure because my outing for this week’s column was more of a practice session than a scoring round.

The outing was at the practice center and par 30, nine-hole course at Rangeline Golf Center in Joplin.

The facility is more for someone to go have fun than it is for a serious golfer. There are baseball and softball hitting cages and two miniature golf courses to go with the driving range and the nine-hole course.

But the relaxed atmosphere with fewer people versus the more staid feel of a real golf course allowed me to concentrate better and, hopefully, get me to playing better. I also thought we would be able to play a couple of balls on each hole to work on some things.

After hitting a few balls from the driving range, I knew the layoff did me some good.

I realized one of my biggest problems — and maybe society in general — was social media and a cell phone.

The problem with these two modern-day necessary evils was not that they were a distraction on the course but, as I was stalking Facebook posts at night, I would come across swing tips. The more I read, like magic, the more that came across my news feed.

It got to the point when standing over the ball, I had so many swing thoughts in my mind that I forgot how to hit the ball.

So I flushed all these “tips” and just decided to use my natural swing to hit the ball. That isn’t the best swing you’ll see on any course at any time, but it is one that works for me.

After hitting some balls on the range, it was time to go to the course.

The first hole is a little uphill with a sharp dogleg to the right. It is one of only three par 4s on the course (the other six holes are all par 3s). There was a long wait on the tee while a threesome that was walking played the hole.

After they were out of the way, we hit our drives and headed down the fairway. About halfway to the hole, we saw two guys off in the trees to the left that were waiting to hit. I thought they were playing an adjacent hole, but when the threesome cleared the green, they lined up like they were going to number one like we were.

I asked them if they were playing one and when they said “yes,” I made my apologies for hitting into them. They said not to worry about it because they knew we couldn’t see them over the rise of the hill and they had been waiting 15 minutes for the threesome to finish the hole.

With another group waiting on the tee, so much for hitting a couple of balls on each hole.


RICK PECK/SPECIAL TO MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Number three at the Rangeline golf course is a 150-yard par 3 over water that extends to the right of the green to gobble up shots drifting that way.

The course isn’t what you would call well maintained, but the grass is mowed and the greens were just fine. It is a great place to work on chipping and pitching the ball because all the greens have elevation changes that require precise chips.

Number three is the toughest hole. It is a 150-yard par 3 over water. It is also at an angle so that the farther right you go, the farther you must carry in order to clear the water.

I hit a solid six-iron and pushed it right with a little fade and it missed clearing the water by a couple of yards. But at least I hit it solid so I wasn’t too upset.

Playing slower probably also helped me. I usually play pretty fast and I think slowing the pace of play also slowed the tempo of my swing and helped me hit more solid shots.

In fact, I had only two mishits on the day. I also finished the day with back-to-back birdies on the final two holes.

The first was on a 130-yard par 3 that I hit to within a couple of feet. On the final hole, just a 250-yard par 4, I was flag high to the right of the green with my drive. I pitched to within about 10 feet and made the putt.

But as good of a day that I had, a group in front of us as we finished had even a better one.

I have no idea what they shot and they probably didn’t either. I have played a lot of golf over the years, but today was the first time I ever saw a 10-some.

It was a real hot day and fluids were a must. From the decibel level of the sounds coming from this group, their fluids must have an alcohol content on the side of the can.

Like I said, Rangeline Golf is a little more laid back than most courses.