January 30, 2013
This winter I have dedicated myself to fine tuning my short game and putting any way I can. I figured I would give a brief update on how I have been doing this. Every morning when I get up I do some putting on my carpet. I know this isn’t ideal, but it is better than nothing. Each morning I pick a different distance and hit about 30 putts. The longer putts are all about finding the right speed and the shorter ones are all about aim. This has been fun because it has been a good change of pace and it doesn’t feel very repetitive. It has also greatly boosted my confidence with the putter. There aren’t many better feelings in golf than sinking 30 five footers in a row into a coffee cup. Trust me, it is addicting.
The other piece to my short game tune up is my chipping. Last season I struggled with my chipping the most and finally took the approach of getting the ball on the green as quickly as possible. I hit a lot of 8 iron runners and it definitely helped. I realize that this isn’t the best approach, but last season I was desperate and needed a quick fix. After I hit my putts I move on to some ship shots. Every morning I pick a new club and a new landing spot. I don’t focus on where the ball ends up, just where it lands. Often times I will put a pillow down where I think the landing spot will be and I will hit chips onto the pillow. I will do this with my 7, 8, 9, pw, 50, 54 & 58 clubs. The biggest thing I have taken away from this is how the ball comes off each club and how much takeaway I need to get the ball to land on the pillow. I know that when I finally get outside and onto a green I will need to calibrate a little for the rollout of the longer clubs, but right now I am getting very confident in getting each club to come off higher or lower and land where I want it to.
It will be a few more months before I know if this new practice routine will pay off, but right now I have never felt more comfortable or confident with my putter or wedges in my hands. It has been fun changing it up each morning and I love the lack of doubt I now have especially with my chip shots. Last year I was just looking to get the ball on the green, now I feel like I can take advantage of my short game to help me really drop my scores down. The winter won’t keep me down this year.
January 21, 2013
Last week I got a chance to get some winter work on my game in. There is a facility here in Chicago called Play 18 that is very cool. They are located right in downtown and they have tons of hitting bays and simulators tucked away in their lofty space. The other cool item that Play 18 has is a Tour Bound Golf Academy Robot. I wasn’t completely sure what I was expecting the first time I walked in, but I was pleasantly surprised. The place is just down right cool.
I made my way to Play 18 to get a tune up from my coach Mike Thornburg. The session was great and I have made a ton of progress since we first started working together. There were a few standout areas that I need to work on that he identified early on in the session. With a few tips and drills I was on my way to straightening those out, but it will no doubt take some time to get the timing and feel down.
The strangest part of the lesson was getting on the Tour Bound machine. It was strange to be guided through what a tour pros swing feels like, but it was also a learning experience. The biggest thing I felt different was the lag. Wow do they create some serious lag in their swings. I couldn’t believe how much lag the machine made me feel. It also made it clear that I don’t create much in my swing at all. I’m not convinced that doing reps on the machine will make your swing perfect, but I am convinced it is a good learning tool to feel the difference between how the pros swing the club and how you swing the club. At the end of the day, I would recommend it as a learning tool for someone looking to get better.
I’m working on some drills that Mike gave me over the next two weeks and then getting back to Play 18 for another session. My golf trip to North Carolina is coming up in March so I don’t have a lot of time to get my swing tuned up. I’ll keep the updates coming and hopefully a video update on the swing soon. Here is to hitting ’em straight!
January 2, 2013
I’m back in Chicago after my trip to San Diego for the holidays. The weather wasn’t ideal while I was there, but it was a vast improvement from the dropping temperature here in Chicago. I was able to play three rounds while in San Diego and for the most part I was happy with the results. I played two of my rounds with a big group of friends in a best ball format and contributed the majority of my shots to the team. We made some birdies, a handful of pars and one too many bogies to win against the other teams. I was happy with the way I played for being off the course for nearly two full months.
It is amazing how quickly your game can go away when you aren’t hitting balls and playing every day. It is also amazing how quickly some of it can come back when you have the chance to hit balls on a consistent basis. As soon as I landed in San Diego I went home to unpack and put my golf shoes on and went to the range. I got three solid range sessions in before my first full round and it helped a bunch. My full swing was in decent shape and my short game was surprisingly sharp. Where I left the most strokes on the course was my putting. I just didn’t have a good feel for my touch on the greens and it cost me about 6 – 7 strokes a round. I’m not overly worried about this because with some steady practice it will turn around.
The one round I did play on my own was a very early morning round with a group of guys who were in town from Northern California and Chicago strangely enough. I could tell the one guy was from Chicago because he was the only person crazy enough to wear shorts to the course at 6:40am. Needless to say, I liked him immediately. My round started off with a couple fairways, GIR and a few three putts. I wasn’t upset and was hitting the ball fairly straight. I made a couple of scramble pars near the turn and was in decent shape. The back nine turned up two balls OB which pretty much sealed the deal for me and stuck me in the high 80s. It was disappointing, but I also realize it could have been much worse.
My takeaway from this trip to San Diego was mainly that my game is not that far off. I need to keep up my chipping and putting and find a way to keep my full swing in shape. I am going to try to work with my guy Mike a bit more each month and suck up the cold weather at the range a few times to stay sharp. I have a 5 day golf trip in March with my brother-in-law that has us playing Pinehurst #2, Tobacco Road and a few courses in Myrtle Beach! I’m excited for the trip, but I have a lot of work to do to get my scores down close to breaking 80 by then. Here is to a lot of hard work in the next few months to drop some strokes in the bitter winter cold!