Bunker ambassador Gary Boyd on playing his first event for six months
My last competitive round was in October on the 1836 Tour and my last two-day event was probably two years ago, due to injuries, so it was great to be back playing again on the Clutch Pro Tour at The Belfry. You prepare as well as you can and, going into these events, you're obviously trying to win but you also want to see what you need to work on for the next few weeks. The Clutch Pro is a great way to get your game into shape and it gave me some good insight into the areas that I’ve found that I’ve improved on and others where I need to work on.
You want some kind of nerves as it means something to you and there is a level of anxiety about how you’re going to perform. You can practise as much as you want but, until you do it under the gun, then that's when it really shows where your swing and game is at and how much you can trust it. I've worked hard through the winter and I had a good session with my coach Liam James the week before The Belfry and understanding my swing in a tournament was a big one for me.
At the 1st I hit it down the middle and made birdie from six feet so that settled me and, from the 5th, I started hitting it close and I chipped in at 8th so there were a lot of positives. My wedge game and distance control were really good and I drove the ball really well so I gave myself a lot of chances, the first round was a bit disappointing as I had it going at five under after 10 holes but I then hit a couple of poor tee shots and got myself out to position and also threw in a couple of three putts. My go-to shot is a five-yard cut to get the ball in play and I didn’t quite have that in the first round but, after working on it, that came back in the second round which was satisfying.
In the end I shot 69-67 to tie for 8th and I was maybe a bit disappointed as I gave myself a massive chance to win but I didn’t take the chances coming in but, all in all, it was a good start to the year.
It was also my first event playing with some new clubs. I've now gone back to Ping, I had a fitting a few weeks ago and I've changed everything in terms of all my shafts. Irons wise I've got the i210s and I've got the new G425 driver, I was with Ping in my last amateur year and then up to 2012 so I was with them for five years. I've actually got a gold putter in their chamber after my win in Kenya so there are a lot of happy memories there.
Now we're back playing you want to make your practice as realistic as possible. I'll do a lot of pressure putting as I missed a few that were holeable but, with all the rust, that was to be expected and you don't want to be too hard on yourself. And I'll go through my pre-shot routine on every shot on the range to try and make it as close to proper golf as possible.
Away from the playing it was just great to see mates again and interact with people who you've not seen for a long time. I'm good friends with Dan Gaunt and I played with him on the first day and everyone was happy and had smiles on their faces, we've all missed just playing golf let alone tournament golf and it was great to finally do what we've done for years.
Image courtesy of Andy Crook