May 19, 2011
I am working out in the suburbs this week at a client and I quickly realized that there is a grass driving range just down the street from the office. I brought a few clubs with me yesterday and utilized my lunch break to get a little practice in. I thought I would have the range to myself since the weather wasn’t great and it was right around noon. Boy was I mistaken. Just like me, there were TONS of people out hitting balls on their lunch break. The range is just across the street from a business park and the stalls were filled with guys wearing ties and dress shoes.
It was cool to see so many people out actively working on their game in bad weather and in the middle of the day, but it got me thinking about the nature of golf practice. Is there any other sport where numerous people will go out on their lunch break and take part in an utterly frustrating and sometimes demoralizing game? I’m sure there are a few people out there who go shoot free throws, bowl a few frames or throw the baseball around but not nearly in the numbers that people go out and practice golf.
In all the years I have played sports I have never experienced the amount of frustration while practicing as I have with golf. I have played competitive sports my whole life and have put in countless hours of practice that has been rewarding and made a tangible difference to my playing ability. Golf is not the same. I have often left the course or range feeling like I have taken steps backwards and lost all confidence in what I had been previously working on. I really believe this is unique to Golf. I am not saying that players don’t experience setbacks in other sports, but how many times have you seen people at the range slamming clubs on the ground or expressing their frustration in a very visible manner? I can’t remember a time when I have been at a crowded range and not seen someone have a minor melt down due to frustration.
Regardless of that frustration factor we all still come back for more! It blows me away how much we are willing to put up with in terms of frustration to try and get better at this game. What blows me away further is that people think they can get better simply by going to the range and hitting balls with no foresight, keys to work on or outside help to assist them with their swing. It is never going to happen. Never ever. Just hitting balls to hit balls is more detrimental and increases the amount of frustration we normally experience. I can’t stress enough the importance of utilizing your practice time with a focused approach that is aimed to helping your game.
Pounding balls at the range to pound balls never got anyone on the Tour. Try and focus your practice where your game needs it the most and by all means take a lesson to identify glaring bad habits that you are most likely engraving into your muscle memory at the range. When you go out and practice with an attainable goal in mind you will leave feeling much happier and optimistic about your game. Trust me, it makes a difference and you will feel much better walking off the range and enjoying a small laugh to yourself at all the players slamming their clubs in frustration.
April 18, 2011
Normally, I love all things golf. I like reading about golf, I like watching golf and I like playing golf. Recently, I no longer enjoy reading about golf. I feel like every time I start reading a golf story the only thing that people want to talk about is how poorly Tiger is doing. Has the golf media always been this cynical or do we as the public just love to see golfers do poorly? I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure there were a few golf tournaments played this weekend and some players who played well and actually won. Maybe that is worth talking about, especially since one of those winners was 17 years old. It seems like the golf media only wants to embrace Tiger (good or bad) and not the plethora of young talent budding before our eyes these days.
Maybe I am just making a sweeping generalization here, but the lead story (main photo) on golf.com today is STILL about Kevin Na’s 16 and not about Matteo Manassero winning his second European Tour event or Brendan Steele winning his first PGA Tour event. How are those stories not more important than Kevin Na’s 16? I get the fact that we don’t normally see that high of a score from a professional, but it isn’t front-page news to me. The New York Times would disagree with me on this point.
It just seems wrong to me that the Golf world would rather talk about a high score or Tiger’s struggles than young new talent excelling and coming into their own. A few people say we will never see another player like Tiger Woods, but guess what? Manassero might just be that player and no one seems to care. Shouldn’t the golf community be more excited about great young players taking the game over instead of Tiger’s return to dominance?
Ok, I agree that watching Tiger play and win is exciting and great for the game of golf, but it isn’t the only reason I like golf. Golf was a popular sport before Tiger came along and it will stick around long after he is gone. It is inevitable that new stars will come up in the ranks in every sport. I don’t understand why more people don’t see this as exciting and good for the game. We should be embracing this change and not desperately hanging on to the past where Tiger won every tournament he entered.
I know the discussion about Tiger’s comeback won’t go away, but to be blunt I don’t care if he comes back or not. I think golf is full of young stars right now and I love the game for what it is not for who is playing it. Watching Tiger make a charge at the Masters was fun, but Charl Schwartzel’s closing birdie run was down right amazing. Guess what people talked about more? You got it, Tiger. That, to me, is wrong. I don’t care who wins each golf tournament as long as they earned it with their play. I for one am excited for the future of the game in the post Tiger era. Even if this isn’t the end of the Tiger Era just yet, it will come one day and people will have to accept that. Eventually, there will be new stars for the media to latch on to and obsess over when they play poorly. I’m sure they can’t wait!
March 24, 2011
There are a few things I can’t stand when I go out and play. Let me set the scene a little bit better. I live in Chicago and play with two buddies regularly with a few other guys thrown in every now and then. Our golf season is limited so we take full advantage of the summer playing a few times a week (before work if necessary). When I go out and play I want to enjoy myself as much as possible. Here is my list of the top 5 things that make my round less enjoyable.
Gimmes – If you think gimmes are either ok or part of the game of golf (besides in match play) then you are crazy and I wouldn’t want to play with you. One guy I play with thinks that anything inside of 3 feet is a gimme for him. Guess what? It is NOT a gimme. There is a reason they call those putts knee knockers. They are the scariest putts in golf in my mind and if you want to count your score as legitimate then you have to knock those puppies in. If you take gimme putts then your scorecard should have a big fat asterisk on it. Step up and make your putts.
Slow Play – The guys I play with are not nearly good enough to take ten practice swings, step away from the ball, check the wind direction and pretend they are going to land the ball on the right part of the green. Anywhere on the green is a win for us so why pretend otherwise? I understand the flip side to the argument that in order to get better you need to take it seriously and “act as if”. Believe me, I take my golf game seriously, but I don’t take five minutes to hit each shot. Plus, haven’t the best players in the world said that it is crucial to get a pre-shot routine and stick to it? No one needs ten practice swings each time. It is over kill and makes the round not as enjoyable. Pick it up guys.
Anger – I am all for caring about your score and your game, but if you are smashing clubs and dropping F bombs on the course, knock it off. Chances are you aren’t breaking the course record so chill out. I don’t even like it when Tiger pouts and freaks out and he is often trying to break the course record. If it isn’t ok for Tour Pros to do it then why should the weekend warrior be allowed to. It is embarrassing, classless and not a good representation of the game. Take a deep breath and hit a good next shot, because in reality that is your only real option.
Blaming Equipment This might be one of my favorite things to hate in golf. As much as it is annoying it is also humorous. Everyone knows the guy I am talking about. It is your friend who hits a bad shot off the tee and says, “My driver is too long/short/stiff.” The next round they show up with a brand new driver and hit the same duck hook or slice. There is no doubt getting fit for the right gear can help your game, but it will not fix your terrible swing. Save your money and go get some lessons. It will help you in the long run. On a side note the only club I support switching up if you are not confident with it is your putter. If you stand over your putter and don’t feel confident you can hit a good putt you never will. Go ahead and swap it out for a putter you feel comfortable with. It is worth it.
Bad Sand – I mentioned earlier that I live in Chicago and the local course by my house is owned by the city so they do not care about the condition of the bunkers as much as a Cog Hill does. At this time of year they don’t even have rakes out. Your chances of getting a good lie are zero. Hitting a bunker is almost certainly a stroke penalty. To me that isn’t what golf is about. At any other course hitting a bunker is not a great thing, but you normally have a decent chance to get it out and make a mid range putt. I can’t stand hitting into poorly maintained bunkers. I am so used to them that I have a mental block in my head that tells me “well there goes your chance at par”. Probably not the best mentality, but I am being very realistic. Don’t believe me? I will post a picture the next time I go out. Hopefully tomorrow.
What do you hate about golf?