June 11, 2014
I’m officially on my way to San Diego from Chicago and updating from the famous EL Train on my way to Midway airport. Every year I like to head back home to San Diego to get in some consistent practice and play to officially kick start the summer golf season. This year I am lucky to be able to spend 8 full days out there.
I’m going to have a mix of practice sessions and full rounds while I’m out there but it is all in preparation for my return back to the Midwest to continue fighting for a win in my season long golf bet with my normal foursome. Also, I have a big golf trip coming up in July to Kohler Wisconsin to tackle the famous Whistling Straits course. This will be another major championship venue I can check off my list. In the past I have played Torrey Pines South, The Ocean Course and Pinehurst #2.
There is a lot of great golf ahead of me over the remainder of the summer and I’m hoping to use this trip home to really dial in my brand new irons and engrain some of the changes I have made with Geoff Lound over the winter and early season. Geoff has given me a lot of good things to work on and my new irons have given me a new level of confidence that my game has really been missing. I’ll be updating during my trip but can’t wait to get there and get to work.
May 27, 2014
In the past I have shared the golf bet that my friend and I call the “Friendly Major” and I’m a big fan of it. After three years of the same betting scheme, my group decided to mix it up this year and implement a season long bet. It is reminiscent of the Fed Ex cup season long race for points that the PGA Tour implemented a few years ago. It is in no way original, but I have been surprised by how fun it has made even our worst rounds so far this season.
Here is how it works. There are 4 golfers in our group. Every time we go out and play there are points available for the winner and for second place. The winner is awarded 3 points and second place is awarded 1 point. The golfers who come in 3rd and 4th essentially “miss the cut” and are awarded 0 points. At the end of the summer the golfer with the most points wins the pot. Our group put in $50 a golfer so the winner will get $150. Pretty simple right?
Using this system has allowed us to hone in on a new level of competitiveness I didn’t know we had. Each round there are points available and even if you shoot an awful score you can still win points. It has made all of us stay in the match right up until the last putt drops. Before when we were just playing for a score it was easy to have one blow up hole and say ok my round is cooked. Now, each of us has stayed in the match and really learned to grind out every stroke. You would be surprised how often our matches come down to a shot or 2 standing on the 18th tee box.
If you are looking for a new way to get competitive with your normal playing group give this a shot. It has been surprisingly fun and the season has just begun. I’m looking forward to seeing how the point system shakes out as the season goes along.
October 16, 2013
Normally I don’t like to endorse products, but when I come across something I really like I want to share. Since I have started The Birdie Hunt I have talked about Club Champion and the phenomenal club fitting they provide, my online swing lesson with Fix Your Game, my in person lessons at Play 18 Chicago and today I am going to add one more item to my list. Mettle golf gloves.
I came across Mettle Golf on Twitter and randomly checked out their website. After reading a bit about the company and their products I was intrigued. After all, the golf glove is a very ho hum part of the golf outfit that normally doesn’t get much attention. Normally I just buy a glove at the course when my current one has finally broken down and torn apart.
I went ahead and got myself two of their gloves. They only come in two color combinations as of now, but I have been assured that more designs and colors are coming down the road.
When I first took them out of the package I was surprised at the spandex like material on the top of the glove. I put the glove on and my first reaction was that the glove felt almost light on my hand. It didn’t feel like any other glove I had worn before. The leather felt great and was on the level of many of the “tour” quality gloves you can buy. The real difference was the material on the top part of the glove. It was breathable, stretchy and light weight. It felt pretty good, but I wasn’t sure how it would feel swinging a club.
The next day, I went to the range and warmed up with my normal worn down nike glove. After a short warm up with my crusty glove I switched over to the Mettle glove. I have to admit that it still gave me some hesitation because of how light it felt to my other glove. I hit some balls with my wedge, 7 iron and driver and quickly forgot that I was even wearing a glove. It felt great and performed very well. I used the Mettle glove for the rest of my range session with zero complaints. After I was done I took it off and examined the glove. It looked exactly like it did when I took it out of the packaging. There was no visible wear or tear after hitting two large buckets. This is something I could get excited about.
I played 18 holes with the glove over the weekend and again was impressed with the light weight feel of the glove, it’s performance and the fact that it stood up to 18 holes without any wear or tear. It literally looks brand new and I love that. I hate having to put on a crusty used glove and I have yet to experience that with these gloves.
The design caught the attention of some of my playing partners who all wanted to try it on to see what I was talking about. The general consensus was the at the glove felt great and that everyone would like to see it in more colors and designs. I will admit that this is my one hang up with the glove as well. The drastic colors don’t always match with every golf outfit and can look a little uncoordinated if paired with the wrong polo. I for one will be continuing to wear my Mettle golf glove because it is incredibly comfortable and performs surprisingly well on the course. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for new colors and designs as they are released. If you are interested in checking them out for yourself give Mettle Golf a visit and see what you think!
October 2, 2013
There was an interesting article featured on LinkedIn, via the Huffington Post, yesterday by James Clear called “How to Stay Focused When Working on Your Goals Gets Boring.” The article is interesting and incredibly relevant the everyday golfer. We have limited time to practice yet we all strive for exceedingly lofty goals. We all want to shoot lower scores and have lower handicaps. There is a reason that it doesn’t happen for a lot of us. Mainly it is the way we practice.
The author asked a coach he saw in the gym the following question, “What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else? What do the really successful people do that most people don’t?” The coaches response made me really stop and think about how I truly practice my golf game. The coach said, “At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and doing the same lifts over and over and over again.”
After I read this quote I thought about how I go about practicing to improve my game. I thought back to my last session at the range and which clubs I spent a lot of time hitting. I started with some PW’s, 7 irons, a few 5 irons then spent quite a while hitting my 3 wood off the deck and my driver. After all that I chipped and putted for 20 mins and went home.
Next, I went through which clubs I hit the most during my last round. I only hit one 3 wood off the deck, driver on most holes, no 5 irons, and more PWs, SWs and shots around the green than I can count. My practice session did not reflect the weakness in my game at all. If I had been practicing smarter I would have spent the time on my wedge game instead of the macho long game.
The quote from the coach in the article made me think about how much I neglect my short game practice. I have put a lot of work in on it over the past year, but I have been committed to making it something I love to practice. It has to be something I am committed to practicing above every other aspect of my game. Right now, it is just another part of my game. I want it to be the BEST part of my game and think there needs to be a shift in my practice schedule to make that happen.
For the remainder of this season and the winter time I am going to make it a goal of mine to wear my wedges out. I want to go into next season needing to buy brand new wedges since I have absolutely worn them out from practice. This probably sounds excessive and it might be, but it can’t hurt to set a goal and go for it!
July 19, 2013
Well folks, I finally did it. I was finally able to break through the 80 barrier and post my first ever score in the 70’s with a 79. The course I played isn’t the most difficult, but I am still excited about it since I have never been below 80 on any course before in my life.
I started this blog about 2+ years ago and the entire goal was to post about the journey to breaking 80 while living in a city. There are a few unique hurdles that Chicago golfers face and I wanted to prove that you can in fact get better at golf while living in a big city. By no means has it been easy and I have put a lot of work into my game. That is why this first 79 means so much.
The funniest part about the score was how the round itself started. I hit the fairway on the first hole, sailed the green with my approach shot which hit the cart path and bounced OB. After two bad chips and a few putts I carded a quad bogey 8. I said to my playing partners “there goes breaking 80 today” and started to just play. Letting go of the score was the biggest part for me. Starting off so poorly really allowed me to enjoy the round and focus on playing the course one hole at a time. I made a few pars and a few bogeys, but also carded 4 birdies during the round. I birdied 2 of the 3 par 5s and 2 of the shorter par 4s which really helped me recovery from that brutal first hole.
I didn’t even know I had a chance to be in the 70’s until I stood on the 18th tee box. I found the fairway and the green, but the nerves kicked in on the green and I 3 putted for a closing bogey. Once the putt dropped I thought I would feel much more excited and give a fist pump or something more dramatic, but all I felt was relief. It was a moment that I knew would eventually come and when it finally did I was just happy to have the pressure off. I have been chasing the 70s for over 2 years and on a day I wasn’t expecting it to come it decided to show up.
Now that I have broken 80 once I know I can do it again. I’m not expecting to be in the 70s every time now, but the belief that it is possible is there for good now. I know my game and I know my ability level. Finally putting it together was something I will never forget.
Stats from the Round:
Fairways: 8 of 13 hit – 62%
Greens in Regulation: 11 of 18 hit – 61%
Putts Per Hole: 1.83
Total Putts: 33
June 26, 2013
I got a chance to sneak in 18 holes recently after taking a full week off from all things golf. I went to the course with one of my good friends on a very off time and had the place completely to ourselves. We played in 3 hours flat and both shot our best rounds to date. I kept with my theme of keeping my expectations limited and just tried to enjoy the round. I started my round, bogey, par, par, par, birdie and stepped on the fifth tee at even par.
Inevitably, I pulled my club and realized I was even par and had a great chance to break 80 for the first time. I told myself there was still a lot of golf you play and pushed the thought out of my head. The result. A quadruple bogey 7 on a par 3. I don’t think I have ever experienced that level of frustration on a course before. I was livid. To my credit I let it go on the next tee and finished my next three holes, par, par, birdie. I was out in 38 and only +3.
I was feeling good and very confident. I let go of the idea of breaking 80 and just went out and played. I hit some good and some bad shots down the stretch and finished with an 82. It came down to a few missed putts for the chance to break 80. I missed 3 putts on the closing 6 holes from 5 to 8 feet that would have been the difference.
All in all, I was very happy with the way I played and am encouraged with how my game is shaping up this summer. I put in a lot of work this off-season and I am finally seeing some results. I have a lot of room to improve off the tee and with my irons, but my short game is stellar right now. I’m excited to keep working at it and we will see what the summer holds for me. I’m confident I am going to finally break through the 80s barrier and finally start playing some good golf.
May 13, 2013
Thus far, this season has been a strange up and down of scoring. I opened up my official 2013 season with a bunch of scores in the low 90s coming off my winter workouts. Although my scores weren’t thrilling, I was encouraged that I was close to the 80s right out of the gate. Then my scores went north in a hurry. I put up three rounds in a row in the 100s. Even today, I can’t fully explain what went wrong in those rounds. It was as if every aspect of my game was collecting rust every time I stepped out on the course. I was at a point of severe frustration and was almost resigned to say that the work I put in during the off-season was for nothing.
Saturday morning rolled around and I was on the treadmill getting a work out in when my phone rang. It was my good friend Rob asking if I wanted to sneak in 18. I looked outside and it looked cold and doomed to rain. After some thought I said sure why not. I figured with some bad weather and no real preparation I could use this round to make some adjustments to my game.
We got to the course and walked onto the tee box immediately. No chipping, putting or warm up at all. Just two practice swings and let it rip. I found the dead center of the fairway with my first drive and found my way to a double bogey after a shaky short game shot. On the second hole I made another double bogey. Great start!
On the third hole I gave into my frustration and told myself that no matter what happens with my swing I am just going to keep my head down through the swing on all my shots. After telling myself that I went on a string of pars that included a birdie on a par 5 and 4 straight pars to end my front 9. I was out in 40 and felt like I was getting up and down from everywhere on the course.
I hit a few loose shots coming home, but managed a 44 to post an 84 for my round. Although I know the round could have been much lower, I am encouraged again that the work I put in this off-season on my short game was finally paying off. I am excited to play again and I know that I am getting closer to breaking 80. As long as I keep that scoring goal out of my head on the course I think I have a great shot at making it happen this season.
May 7, 2013
I have written about this before, but I have to address it again. I played this past weekend with a good group of buddies and witnessed the most absurd practice swing routine I have ever seen. Let me try to explain.
The practice swing routine was this:
- Walk up to the ball
- Take 3 – 4 full practice swings
- Step off the ball and look at the target
- 1 – 2 more practice swings
- Look at the target 2 more times
I don’t know about you, but this routine is ABSURD. This buddy of mine shot a whopping 99. Breaking that down he took 99 actual strokes. Add on 6 extra practice swings to each of his real strokes and he took 594 strokes during our round. Even if he only took the low end of his routine he took 396 strokes. There is no possible way that taking that many practice strokes can be beneficial on the course. Not to mention it must be exhausting.
When we asked me why he was taking so many practice strokes, his response was that he wasn’t comfortable over the ball. If you ask me, taking less time in between shots and just getting up and hitting the ball would probably help him get more comfortable hitting shots. It sounds like he is thinking way too much over the ball and the results are not in his favor.
Watching my buddy go through his painfully long routine made me think about mine. To be honest, I was happy with where I was with my routine. I have evolved mine to include one practice swing and two looks at the target before pulling the trigger. It takes a ton of the technical thought out of your mind when you know you have to pull the trigger. It also speeds up play and doesn’t allow you the same amount of time to think of all the things that could go wrong.
How many practice swings are you taking and why? Give it a look and consideration.
April 17, 2013
If you are anything like me you desperately want to get better at golf. You think about your swing at night, at work and maybe even while out at dinner. You probably even stroke putts and hit chips somewhere in your home. You watch golf on the weekends and you read about it during the week. You have taken lessons, purchased strange training aids and struggled to get significantly better. I am guilty of all of the above and I am beginning to think it is more of a detriment than anything else. The reason I say this is because the more I think about my swing the worse it gets. I’ll explain.
I recently came back from a six-day golf trip in North Carolina. While I was on the trip I played a lot of golf. I played so much golf, I didn’t have time to think about my swing. I never had a long period of time where I was sitting at my desk wondering what my next round would hold. My next round was always the next day. The next range session was only a few hours away. It was easy to let go of some of my swing thought anxiety because I knew I had a chance to work on it in the very near future.
Now I am back in Chicago and I am thinking about my swing again. I’m thinking about it a lot. Sitting at my desk not knowing when my next round will be is causing me to think about my swing more than I want. Since I have been back, I have played two rounds of golf. They were my two worst scores I have ever shot on this course. Being stuck at a desk and having two terrible rounds of golf to reflect on is causing me to think about the mechanics of my swing way too much.
Last night I went to the range to pound out some of these new demons. I bought a large bucket and went to work. I knew my grip was a bit off, as was my takeaway and my release just wasn’t getting the job done. I was determined to fix all of these things. Want to know the result? The WORST bucket of balls I have ever hit. I was hitting my pitching wedge a good 20 yards left of my target. 20 yards!!! I was furious.
I bought a second bucket. This time I said to myself, “keep your head still and hit down on the ball.” The result? A bucket full of golf shots. I started to hit the ball straighter and further by just trying to smash the ball into the ground. I wasn’t worried about my takeaway or my angle of attack and blah blah blah. I have written this before, but over thinking the swing is an absolute game killer.
A lot of mechanics goes into the golf swing. My experience so far has been that over thinking those mechanics can be a real pitfall. This might be a gross over simplification on my end and I recognize that. My experience has shown me that getting the swing thoughts out of my head is the best way for me to play golf. There are a few more range sessions in my near future as well as a few early morning 9 hole outings before work in order to keep working on my game. If I don’t have something on the horizon I know I will let myself fall back into over thinking and analyzing my swing.
April 2, 2013
I am officially back from my trip down to Pinehurst and back at the desk. It is tough coming back to chilly Chicago after six days on the course in nice weather, but it is inevitable for us cube monkeys who don’t live in the ideal golf climate. The trip down south produced a few things I really liked and a few things I really didn’t like. Let’s start with the good.
1) My swing is MUCH better than it was last season. The work I have done with Mike Thornburg at Play 18 this off-season has helped a ton. During this trip I hit the ball the best I have ever hit it off the tee and produced some of the better iron shots I have ever hit as well. My irons were a bit less consistent, but the results were noticeably different.
2) My ability to go “Play” golf has improved as well. I did a great job of focusing on each shot as they came and left the worry and stress about my score and the technical aspects of the swing on the range. I shortened up my range warm up sessions in an attempt to not over think the game and just go play and it really helped. The main change I made was that if I hit a club well three times in a row during my warm up I was done with it. That was all the confidence I needed to take to the course.
3) I was surprisingly confident with the putter for not having worked on it much. The take away I had from this was that it is very easy to over think putting. I found that when I was more reactive to each putt I felt more natural as opposed to worrying about technique. There is something to be said for letting go of the concept of control on the greens.
Ok, time for the not so good.
1) My scores did not reflect the way I hit the ball tee to green.
2) My short game is still rusty and needs the most improvement. Part of this was that I practiced a lot with my wedges this off-season and got down to Pinehurst where the lies around the greens are much tighter than I expected and require much more bump and run shots or putting off the green. I was not ready for this at all and was a bit lost in the short game area. I eventually adjusted, but was very disappointed with the short game results.
3) I have a lot more work to do, but feel I am trending in the right direction.
4) Looking back on these rounds I didn’t set any real tangible goals to shoot for and I wish I had. I need to take a good long look at this upcoming season and set some real goals and stick to them.
This weekend could mark the beginning of the Chicago golf season for me even if the weather is still in the 50s. I have the itch to play again and I need to do something about it. Stay tuned as the journey continues!