July 31, 2012
I haven’t been posting much lately, mainly because I haven’t been playing great golf and I don’t have much positive to report. I do have a fairly consistent group of friends I play with and out of this group of mediocre golfers have come some of the funnier golf freak outs I have seen in a while. A few of them I felt necessary to share. I also feel it necessary to say that these three incidents aren’t the norm for our group and we respect every course we play, but like any golfer knows, sometimes the game just gets the best of you and you have had enough.
1) The Phone Call
The first incident might be my favorite of all time. My friend, let’s call him Tim, hit his tee shot after a day of frustration on the tee and duck hooks it left. The rest of our group finds this amusing. Tim proceeds to throw his driver to the ground, kick his driver, throw his visor on the ground, kick his visor, pick them all up and storm off to the cart. The rest of our group was a bit in shock at the outburst. Tim can get hot-headed, but this was the worst we have ever seen.
With Tim safely back in the cart I went to tee my ball up. By the time I was approaching my ball I could hear a phone ringing. Tim was making a phone call. When the person on the other line answers we hear, “Ya, hi this is Tim, when is the next available lesson with Mark? Tomorrow at 11am? Ok, I will take it.” Tim had scheduled his next golf lesson before anyone else in our group had hit their tee shots. He continued to pout in the cart as we continued to find the scene utterly hysterical.
2) The Water Toss
The second incident involves my other buddy, lets call him Andy. Andy was having a tough day with his short game shots. He was consistently leaving his 100 yard and in shots short. His second shot on a Par 5 finds the water and he takes his drop where it crossed into the hazard last which put him right up next to the ledge of the water. His next shot required him to carry the ball about 80 yards to the green over the remainder of the water. Right on cue he puts his next shot short and back into the hazard. Shortly following his ball into the water was his wedge. Not a word was said as the club sunk to its new home. Andy came back to the cart took his drop and finished the hole. It wasn’t until after the round that any of us had the guts to ask him about the toss. His response, “It was time for that club to go.”
3) The Back to the Range
This is one of the more recent events of the three. It involves my buddy Tim from “The Phone Call”. Tim was having a very bad front 9 after taking 2 weeks off from playing golf due to vacations and work. He was playing so poorly that on about the 7th hole he made a comment that he just wanted to go back to the range and work on his game. We laughed it off as Tim just being Tim, but at the turn he got out to get some food. Came back, unhooked his bag from the cart and walked off to the range. He wanted no part in the back 9 and we obliged by leaving him to work out his demons by pounding a few buckets while we finished our round.
Anyone else have any good blow ups to share?
July 11, 2012
I got up this morning and got in 9 holes at a local public course and still made it to my desk by 9am. I used to do this all the time when I lived up closer to the course, but I haven’t since I moved closer to downtown. This morning made me realize just how much I miss it and just how realistic it is to get some golf in during the week even with a full work schedule.
The golf wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t bad either. I had one scramble Par, which I now treat like birdies, and another great up and down for bogey from a shot that normally would have terrified me and led to a double or triple. It is still crystal clear that I absolutely must clean up my short game if I want to break 80 this summer. I am on a mission to find a way to get some indoor practice both at my apartment and at my gym at work. I have a few ideas that I think just might work.
Besides the short game, my full swing actually felt really good and I attribute that to my decision to go back to two swing thoughts I used to have some success with. The first was to swing 80% and think about having an oily swing. Too often in my past rounds I have tried to muscle the ball and really hit it with speed only to spray it all over the course. Last summer when I was playing well my swing felt effortless and I got a bit of that back today.
The second key was to be relaxed and natural in my back swing. Recently I have been trying to produce a swing that looks “correct” according to the pros on TV and magazines. The reality, for me, is that I am not flexible enough to have a completely straight left arm on the back swing. It creates tension for me and gets me into all sorts of bad positions simply because my body doesn’t move that way. This morning I allowed myself a slight bend in my left arm at the top of the back swing and it very quickly helped me hit the ball more consistently. I wasn’t fighting my body during the swing and it felt natural.
The last good piece about having this relaxed and natural feel to my swing was that I was actually RELAXED while playing. I wasn’t worried about my score or the shot at hand. I was able to stay in the moment and hit some good shots when I needed to. All in all, I was very pleased with this mornings progress and will need to make my way out there again very soon.
July 2, 2012
I haven’t been playing all that great recently and I attribute most of that to some trouble off the tee and way too much tinkering with my swing. I keep trying new things and messing up all of the fundamentals I worked so hard all winter to solidify.
The one highlight of my play though has been an improvement in my chipping. Last round I had to pull out a few different short game shots that normally would have me terrified. Normally, I will default to a sand wedge or a 60 degree wedge around the greens and pretty much without fail fluff the ball and come up way short. I decelerate through the ball and thin it out of tight lies and fluff it out of the rough. This past round I went back to my old tricks and found some quick success.
The first short game tester was about a 30 foot chip shot right in front of the green from far enough off the fringe that I didn’t feel comfortable putting. This is a great example of how I used to take my 60 degree wedge and try to fly it all the way to the hole only to come up way short and be so angry that I probably ended up three putting. Instead, I took my 8 iron and just hit a nice easy putting stroke and watched it roll all the way up to the hole for a two foot par saving putt. My takeaway from this was that it is much easier to get the ball rolling with a higher lofted club when you have enough green in front of you to do it. I have had success with this in the past, but some macho gene in me is gun-shy about using it and I’m not sure why.
The second shot that always gives me trouble is the short pitch shot out of the green side rough. This is a shot I will normally take my sand wedge and try to move my hands through and ahead of the ball to hit a nice chip. The problem is that I almost always decelerate, let the rough grab the club or slide right under it and come up still in the rough or barely on the green. Instead of doing this, I took the same sand wedge and took a more aggressive pop stroke at the ball. My thought process was to just pop the ball up in the air and let it release to the hole. I short sided myself on a par 4 and had a few feet of green to work with and used this shot. I popped the ball up and it rolled three feet past the hole while burning the edge. I made the comeback putt to save par.
Normally both of these shots would lead to bogeys or even double bogeys for me, but I am starting to learn how to manage my short game in these different situations to give myself a chance at par. I can’t tell you how great it feels to scramble for a par. They are almost better than two putt tap in pars…almost! The thing I am taking away from this improvement is that it is a step in the right direction. I know my full swing will come around with a few trips to the range this week, but I have always struggled with my short game. Improvements in that area are huge for me and I am going to continue to ride the momentum and keep up with the practice.