A fair amount of progress and regress, such is the life of a golfer. My quest to get into the 60’s (specifically 66) has gotten off to somewhat of a tumultuous start. On a glorious late winter/ early spring Saturday 36 holes was in the cards. The schedule set up perfect for the epic day. Feeling good, body, mind and spirit. This could be the day, felt anxious to get out to the course and see what shakes out. Why so confident? Well lets take a brief examination of the reasons for my confident feelings.
My gym work has been pretty consistent and I am feeling stronger every day. As much as I hate Tony Horton, I love him. P90x is kind of my go to system for a total body workout. I call it, functional strength. At the range, the ball is coming off the club with muster and I don’t tire as easily when working on my mechanics. Ball striking and swing in general feels like it’s in a very good place. Too often we search for extra yardage and more consistent ball flight in the oceans of new equipment. Fishing for new sticks is fun, but in many cases ultimately unsatisfying and expensive. In reality, putting down the potato chips and getting off the couch can produce those sought after gains. Just to be clear, not going from the couch to the fridge…it’s to the gym my friends.
Trying to get back to a “go to” shot shape. Somehow, I randomly forgot the importance of not trying so intently to hit the ball straight. Yes, being able to hit the ball straight is good. What’s bad is when you plan for it to go straight on the golf course and it does something entirely different. I’m a fader, sometimes more than I like. Would like to consider myself a “power fader”….true most of the times with the exception of when it doesn’t, well, power fade. Why not hit it straight if I can? Hitting the ball straight is extremely difficult, especially under pressure. Having a shot shape you can hit consistently will help you score. Jack Nicklaus may be the father of this philosophy and in general I play my best golf when I remember it. The thought is you greatly expand the width of the fairway when you employ a shape to your shot. To keep it simple, if I can hit a controlled fade I can now take aim at the left side of the fairway (right handed golfer) and fade the ball to the middle. If I hit it dead straight, I’m still in the fairway, just on the left side….good to go. Provided I fade it correctly, I’m in the middle of the fairway which is never bad even if you’re laying 8. Dare say I overcook my fade, AKA a slice, I’m still in play on the right side of the fairway or in the right rough…”hang on ball, hang on”. The system works if you draw the ball as well, just reverse everything I said or look at it in a mirror. It’s not a perfect methodology, but it works if you can pull the shot off. If you snap hook your drive or completely wipe it….well, then, that’s a bad shot and I don’t care where you are aiming….it’s off the planet. You can learn more as to why in Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus.
I know, I know, it’s probably the most important part of the game. If you two putt every hole, that’s 36 shots. Halfway to par, my math is stellar in this regard and beyond reproach. You par 70 peeps, stand down, I understand your qualms with my perception of perfection. Anyway, though I putt like everyday, mostly on my Birdieball home green, I haven’t given time to actual putting practice. Say what? You know, drills, benchmarks, actual pressure putting in my practice. My lack of focus has turned me into a putting nave drunkenly putting balls across the green recklessly. Yes, in the literary world you should pick up on this fact as the use of foreshadowing. Distinctly, a restless foreboding heavy with lament and dissatisfaction. Words are so cool. Anyhow, take heed my friends…be very careful.
Epic Day- Semi Successful
The first round commenced at 8:00 am with my regular group. Skins game etc. Playing the straight ball, I hit what amounts to low left QuailDuck, a whole new breed of ugly, nestles in the fairway bunker. 170 to the hole, I hit an awesome 6 iron that’s about 2 feet short of perfection and rolls mercilessly back into a bunker fronting the the green. Hit a nice sand shot out to about 6 feet, uphill very manageable par putt. Important that we remember the foreshadowing I mentioned previously. Good putt, but I just miss, ball dives low right at the hole. From there I proceed to make 5 bogies in a row. For those following along at home, playing in a skins game and making bogies isn’t ideal. I manage to finally make a putt on the 6th hole….from a foot after an excellent chip for my first par of the day. Finished the front with 41.
The back 9 started okay, nice drive, on in two, defensive two putt, par. Birdied the 2nd whole with a 10 footer. Bogey the 3rd with a duffed chip (note to self….um don’t do that). Deftly par the 4th. Eagled the 5th from 150 out with an 8 iron…yes, a skin, thankfully. A natural 2 normally holds up, but this particular hole a lot of guys stroke on….I’m not one of them, so to be honest I was a little wary. The USGA Handicap system can give and so taketh away. From that point, smooth sailing in except for the double on 8. Hit a putrid 7 iron wipe from 160 out after a perfect drive. Short game and putting killed the mojo there. 78 final tally, actually won a couple of skins. Where do you think I might be able to make up 12 shots?
The back 18 was better in terms of my overall play. Still didn’t make many putts, but my iron game was much better so I didn’t leave many chances for untimely 3 putts. Short game was spotty which accounted for a couple of blow up holes. Namely hole number 1 which set me up with a triple to begin things. Ended up shooting 77. Now we just need to make up 11 strokes. Needless to say, a neglected short game will hurt you when you need it. Meaningful targeted practice is the key. Anyone hear an echo? Oh wait, might be the hollow in my interior of my skull.
That’s the latest update….well, to date I guess. Will shift my focus a bit to how I practice and the tools I will implement to track my course play. If you’ve ever done a P90X workout, you know Tony has this saying that gets drilled into your head. “Write it down, if you don’t know what you did, you won’t know what you have to do”. A truism in it’s finest form. If your plan is to improve, you have to keep a tally of what you did in order to know what you need to do to get better. So, we will do so and I plan to share with you some of the drills and tracking materials I use. For now, cheers and hit them straight! Wait, no, don’t do that. Hit’em with a shot shape you can repeat. Wow, that really doesn’t roll off the tongue like hit’em straight.