After a great night’s sleep I am ready to write about the so called “mental game” of golf. Any one, who has played the game for any length of time, knows the drill. Stay in the moment, breathe, take enough club, avoid trouble, stick to your routine and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,blah. All this vast knowledge of the mental game did not help Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and many others. There have been 3 times in the last 15 years that a player only needed to double bogey the last hole and win a golf tournament. One of those was a major championship. All 3 players made triple bogey to go into a playoff and lose. What is even more amazing about this, is 2 players made 7 foot putts to make the triple bogey. Here is another interesting phenomenon. In 2005 Peter Lonard won the 2005 MCI Heritage Classic for his only PGA tournament win. His scores for that week were 62, 74, 66, and 75. How is that for consistancy. His scores varied from 12 to 8 to 9 shots each day, and this on the best week of his PGA career. So why do we get so upset when our scores vary from one time to next when we play. Is there really a mental side to this game. Do mistakes on the physical side lead to brain confusion. Are we making too big a deal of the mental game saying the game is 90% mental and 10% physical. The only golfer that I ever saw that never really gave a tournament away was Jack Nicklaus. I just refreshed my memory by reading the chapter The Mind Game in Nicklaus’s book My Golden Lessons. It is not too enlightening on why this man was so mentally tough. Nicklaus has always been big on visualization. I don’t care how great your visuals are, if your grip sucks you are going hit a bad shot. This is my 55th season of playing this damn game and I have battled yips, choking and hitting bad shots when it mattered the most. Most of these things I have conquered and have played well in the heat as I like to call it. Lets clear up another thing here. Hitting a golf ball 50 yards off line or more, missing 2 foot putts, never getting the ball airborn, 3 putting, losing 4 dollar golf balls in woods and bodies of water and leaving the ball in the sand trap after you taken a mighty cut at it is not FUN. Golf is only enjoyable if you can play the game to the best of your abilities. I do know that for now I don’t have the answer to the so called mental side of this game. I also know that I am not alone.
Did add a new course this week with some odd things happening. We went to Dubbs Dred in Butler, Pa., about a 65 minute drive. The course played about 6800 yards from the tees we played from and I will expain the “about” a little later. The course was in very good shape and the greens were running a solid 6.5 and very smooth. The front nine was fairly straight forward with the holes pretty wide open and right in front of you. Then after the 11th hole on the back the course became much tighter with many blind shots. This affected me into some bad scoring and worst decision making. This course was a good course to play and I would say worth the trip but I have some very specific criticisms. First of all some of the hole yardages were off. One hole was supposed to be a 460 yard par 4 and after our drives we were 180 from the hole and I let you do the math. There were other holes like this as well. The other bigger problem when you played from the blue tees,was there are about 5 tee boxes that come out from a shoot of trees. These trees however are also over hanging the driving area. You have to keep your drive low, not only straight. This place needs to get into some tree trimming. The hot dog at the turn was ok, made better by having some banana pepper rings for condiments. I thought we were going to play another new course near by, Stoughton Acres, but when we got there, we found out they had plugged the front nine greens and so we only played the back nine and those greens were really nice and ran 6.5. I will blog this course at a later time. For the week the scores were pretty good until today. At Dubs Dred I shot a 77 and Pete a 78. It was the back nine that really did me in. I was even after 11 holes and then fell apart. I had 76 on Thursday and 74 yesterday. Today I went to North Park and laid a big 80 egg. Very poor thinking and bad luck on the greens with some average ball striking led to the 80. In the next day or two I am going to do a blog on the mental game but I am mentally and physically exhausted from a very busy playing week. Eighty one down with ninteen to go.
No new courses this week but a very busy week where I was able to play on 5 consecutive days. The scores for the week were 79, 77, 74, and 75. The fifth round was a 2 man scramble where Pete and I did not do all that great with a 0ne over 73 at North Park. Our putting was not that good and with only fair ball striking it added up to the above score. However, I feel like I am back on track, as I had a really good ball striking week especially toward the end of the week where my 75 was more due to some poor putting on the always tough greens of Scenic Valley. The method is doing well and even the less than full swing game seems to be perking up. The trek is exactly 80% of the way through. I have 20 courses to go to find the answer. I feel how I control the golf swing now to be full proof. I got side tracked a little by trying to isolate on too small of a group of muscles. The arms are the enemy of the golf swing. But over these last 10 months I have learned that the legs are also the enemy of the golf swing. I have 20 courses to go and they will be coming fast and furious over the next 6 weeks. It will be over that time frame that I will have to come up with the mental answer to the game. It took over 2 years to come up with the physical side. Hopefully a lobotemy is not the answer. Although I would do it if I thought if would make me scratch. I don’t know for sure if I will be able to get in all 20 courses before the end of the golf season. If I don’t, then I will have all winter to figure it out. If the physical side holds up I will reveal what I now consider a superior way to go about the golf swing. I have even given it a name. Coming soon hopefully “The No Try Golf Swing”.
A very busy week as two new courses were added this week. It was a 36 hole day on Wednesday as we traveled to Spring Valley in Mercer, Pa. an hour and fifteen drive and to Green Meadow in Volant, Pa. which is about 15 minutes closer. Spring Valley is a very unique course to say the least. It plays only to about 5800 yards from the back tees to a par of 72. The course rating is only 66.6 with a slope of 112. I can guarentee you, that if I played this course all the time I would never have a chance of being a scratch golfer. There are a lot of goofy holes, with the best example, the second hole, a 28o yard par 4, that has no fairway. They put a tee box and a green, and the rest is trees everywhere, that you either go over or around but you are not going to avoid them. The greens were smooth but slow running barely a 4.5 on the stimp. The fairways were ok but there were some burned out places and the rough had bare spots. The hot dog at turn was good with some really nice minced onions. The people that ran the place were friendly but this course was not worth the trip. I shot a 79 and Pete had the same. I had lots of strange stuff happen to me all day. The best of the lot was on the 12th hole and downhill short but narrow par 5 of 451 yards. On the tee box there are woods all down the right side and it appears there are trees all down the left side. I hit a big high hook heading into what I thought were trees on the left. I stood there waiting for the sound of my ball hitting trees and then all of a sudden we heard this KABOOM. Here, I hit the roof of a golf cart on the hole coming back with two women in it. They were ok and they graciously pointed out my ball in the middle of their fairway. We happily went down the road to Green Meadow. Green Meadow turned out to be a solid golf course in very good shape. The greens were smooth and ran a nice 6.5 on the stimp. The fairways were lush and the roughs had no barespots. The course played 6500 yards from the blues to a par of 72. There was a great variety of holes and the course was very flat and fair. The hot dog at the turn was good but the minced onions at Spring Valley were better. This course was worth the trip. Even though this was a much more enjoyable course to play, after an opening birdie, I pretty much stunk out the joint and came in with another 79. Pete got better results than I did and came in with a nice smooth 75. My ball striking was pretty much mediocre all day. I had a good practice session on Thursday and was pretty confident on Saturday but could only muster an 80 at South Park from the blues. I did strike the ball much better. Today at Rolling Acre I shot a very nice even par 73. The ball striking was good as I hit the first 13 greens in regulation. I faltered a little bit down the stretch but overall a very good end to the week. The week coming up will be a very busy one with playing golf everyday but Tuesday. No new courses will be added because of events but I feel with all the play, this should be one of those weeks that will really determine if I am on to something. I think I finally untweaked the tweak and I am back where I was about 2 months ago. Eighty down and twenty to go to find the answer.
A rain out today so only played 2 and half rounds this week. Did add a new course this week as we went to Pittsburgh North in Bakerstown Pa. about a 40 minute drive. Pittsburgh North is an older challenging course with lots of interesting holes, trees and water. The tees we played from were about 6700 yards and course played to a par of 72. The course was in excellent shape and the greens were smooth, but a little slow at 4.5 on the stimp. I really liked this course and would have liked it even more with a little quicker greens. There is a great variety of holes and the course has a nice flow to it and is not too hilly. The hot dog at the turn was one of those fatter dogs which is not my favorite but the dog was cooked very well and the condiments were good. The young lady who served it was also very nice, so that didn’t hurt my taste buds either. This course was worth the trip and will probably be in the top 20. This week, I also got some of my mojo back. Thank goodness for notes, especially if your an old person like me. After reviewing my notes from earlier this summer I played 9 holes at Mt Lebanon and I got back into some solid ball striking.The biggest plus was that I got my distance back with all the clubs. We had a three some at Pittsburgh North and we all did pretty good on this tough lay out. I shot 77, Pete had 80 and David 85. Played Scenic Valley on Thursday and managed a 78. The scores were not great but I finally untweaked the tweak and now can get into solving the mental game puzzle. I even think I made some progress on that this past Thursday. I was really looking forward to today but mother nature would not co-operate. This week is looking very good weather wise. With a well rested game and the physical side back in business I am hoping to get in about 5 and half rounds this week. I think the next 4 to 5 weeks will be critical to the possible success in finding the answer to this goofy game. Seventy eight down with twenty two to go.