Challenging My Limits – The Continued Quest for 66

The quest for 66 is stalling faster than the Rubio run for the presidency. Where to begin…or maybe the question is how to end the pain. All in jest, commitment is there, but the results are falling incredibly short. Have yet to break out of the slumber this last month or so, though did manage to win a tournament, so it all hasn’t been a total loss. Nothing in the low 70’s as far as my scoring and somehow managing to shoot some spectacular rounds in the mid 80’s. Sometimes with change, comes pain and you have to be willing to endure a little pain in order to grow. Working on a plan to shake the malaise and generally positive that we will be turning the corner in short order. Let’s examine some of the highs and lows and exactly what I have incorporated in my process.

Win, Lose, how about a Baby Draw?

I took some expert advice concerning my real swing versus my imagined swing. For years, my ball flight of choice, “power fade”, has been as consistent as the United States deficit. Under closer examination it was far less a thing of beauty and more a measured implement of masochism. My swing was badly flawed, robbing me of distance on tee shots as well as my long approaches. Incapable of easily working the ball from right to left, playing the game with one leg essentially. Upping the ante, my decision was to change for the better and deal with some possible ugliness in the process. Oh, if only the United States Congress could follow my lead.

Altering my swing path wasn’t as difficult a change as anticipated. Bringing the club into the ball more from the inside feels natural and the results are addictive. Pounding the golf ball with little real effort is nice and I don’t care if I have a problem. I’ll go down with the ship, mark my words, you can keep your 12 steps to sanity. If you ever played baseball, you know the feeling. Like dropping the bat head into the zone and letting nature take it’s course. Blissfully unaware of anything but the ball leaving the club head. In practice, my ball flight has significantly improved and for a growing number of shots on the course the same is true.

Not Quite Palmolive – Soft Hands

The more difficult adjustment has been softening of the hands on the grip. While it seems simple enough, I’ve found it problematic at times. Grooving my swing on the range the feeling is perfect as I have an established rhythm. Also known as the Ranger Rick syndrome, perfect practice sessions don’t always yield great results when the strokes count. Probably hit 400 balls on the range, going through the bag several times. Did the 9s drill working on my shot shapes, everything felt so solid. The tee ball with driver had some gumption, able to work it both ways pretty well. Easily one of the better range sessions I’ve had in years, every shot had a purpose.

Well we had another tournament this past weekend and I had a new partner for this member/member event. Warmup on the range was stellar, same feelings, the ball was coming off so clean even though the ground was soft from an overnight rain. If only, I would have stayed there this story would have a happy ending. I can’t say I hit the ball all together poorly, that simply wouldn’t be the truth. Hit a ton of great shots which is where I draw my inspiration for staying the course. What was terrifying were the horrific misses. Not your average push or hook, these shots had more character. The only way I could wipe a ball more right of the fairway would be to tee off sideways. I’m talking 50 yards right of my target. That ain’t good. The hooks were a little less hair raising. More of the Cheese Whiz variety kind of squirting left. Alas, the dreaded two way miss. The only good news…it mostly happened with the driver. I did have a couple of pulls with my pitching wedge, but that was more of a flip action from being too free with my grip. Easy fix, it’s a feel thing. With the driver, it was almost as if I couldn’t feel where the head of the club was on the way down and I would subconsciously panic and throw my hands. Dummy.

So here’s were it got beyond weird. If you hit it all over the yard, it’s still possible to score if you are a good putter. I consider myself to be a pretty decent putter most days except for this particular day. My hands on the green felt like giant toasters, not the silky petals of a 50’s Palmolive house wife. Probably had 5 birdie opportunities inside 10 feet. One of which was inside 4 feet. Even when I attempted to touch the ball, it would shoot off the putter face like I hit it with a 20oz framing hammer. Who 3 putts from 8 feet? How about 6 feet? Still not entirely sure why this was happening, but I finally got a handle on it on the back 9. The problem there, this was a 27 hole event….had already destroyed any chance of contending with the first 18 holes we played. Soft hands is the answer to many of golf’s great mysteries.

Solid State

The plan is to work out the kinks to this new era of my swing. It’s weird, even with all the setbacks, still feeling keen on my goal for the year. I saw a quote today that gave me some inspiration. Don’t limit your Challenges – challenge your limits– well said, wish I could find the source of such a poignant philosophy. Incorporating the hands is so important. Great players always seem to have soft, yet strong hands. That magical grip pressure that allows for maximum power in tandem with absolute control. Will take some work, but the fruit will be worth the effort.

Thanks for reading and I wish you good luck on your next round. If you have any comments or advice, please share below.

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