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
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 17, 2012
Before I went to this meeting I made 3,700 turns with a shaft across my chest to work on my back swing hip turn. I didn’t make the full amount of turns that I had initially planned, but I still feel I made effective use of the practice I did do.
After the week of practice, I can feel myself dropping my right pocket back instead of swaying as well as keeping my weight on the inside of my right foot instead of swaying to the outside. It was actually easier to make this change than some of the other changes in the past. It is obviously something I still need to keep in my mind and work on, but it feels much better now.
When I got to the meeting, I hit a few chips just like I have in the past and I am still having a little bit of trouble letting go of my old habit of trying to hit the ball with the club head instead of leading with my hands in front of the club head. It is frustrating because I know what I am doing wrong, but I have so much bad muscle memory stored up it is hard to break the old bad habits. Mike wasn’t concerned. He told me that what I am doing now is already 100% better than what I was doing when I first came to him. He also said it is great that I am starting to understand what I am doing wrong. He really wants me to understand what I am supposed to do so I can make adjustments and work on my own with out him.
After I hit the first batch of chips we started to circle back to working on impact position. Mike gave me a few drills that will help me really feel where I am supposed to be at impact. The first was to set up to the ball and then move into the impact position and hold it. From there all I was supposed to do was bend my right elbow to take the club back and push my hands through the ball leading with the handle. I really liked this drill and it also brought up the point that I was gripping the club too tightly. I made a few attempts at this drill with my right index finger and thumb off the club to really feel a light grip and it was a very different feeling. My grip pressure is something I will be working on a lot more throughout this process.
The next drill was to simply take the club from set up and drag it along the ground (in a straight line) all the way down the line. The point of this is to feel the hands in front of the club head on a straight line. I need to do this drill a lot.
The next drill was to swing a rope. At first I thought Mike was crazy because how can you swing a rope like a golf club? Then he showed me how you can. The point of the drill is to get the rope swinging back and forth then make a back swing and pause until it comes to rest under your left armpit. From there you just make your normal swing and try to get it to gently come to rest under your right armpit. If the rope whips you at either point you know you are doing it wrong. It was hard, but definitely do-able. This also helped me feel loose in my swing instead of griping the club tightly and trying to muscle shots.
The last drill Mike gave me before I left for the night was to work on my impact position with just a grip handle. He said it is much easier to feel where your hands should be when there is no club head attached to the handle. He was right. All I am doing with this drill is making small swings with just the handle to try and finish with the handle in the proper impact position. Hopefully that will translate to a better position when I start swinging the club next week.
My goal is to make 2,000 swings of each drill over the next week. It is a tall order, but that is my goal.
February 20, 2012
I have recently made a few changes to my swing and in particular my fundamentals. These include my hip rotation on my back swing, my grip and my balance over the ball on the back swing. I wouldn’t consider any of these changes drastic, but they have all had a positive impact on my swing thus far. The biggest and best change I have made recently is on my takeaway.
The other day I was hitting balls and I was having a really hard time squaring the club face up at impact. My shots weren’t terribly off line, but they weren’t flush and they weren’t as straight as I had hoped. It was quickly pointed out to me that on my takeaway I was rolling my left forearm over too much. The best way to describe this is if you were to stand up straight and put your left arm straight out in front of you and then rotated to your right as if you were making a back swing your arm would stay straight and the palm of your hand wouldn’t rotate up at all. Mine was. This was causing me to bring the club way too far inside and on the down swing I was really fighting to bring the club back to square.
In order to fix this, I got a great visual tip. The tip I got was to picture that my left palm was going underneath the club on the takeaway. At first I felt kind of weird with this, but it turns out that it really helps me keep my left arm straight on the back swing and not rotating to the inside. When I pair this with taking my back swing to just above my right shoulder and not much further I get the club perfectly on plane and am able to release all the clubs energy down into the ball.
Out of all the small changes I am making this season this has been one of the most eye opening in terms of something glaring I was doing wrong. Can’t wait to go hit balls again tomorrow and keep working on this.