The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the AnswerI

Another Monday blog due to another busy week, and that darn NCAA basketball tournament. The golf week was a carbon copy of the week before with some solid play on Tuesday and Wednesday and then a big fat number on Sunday. The bad round Sunday was mostly brought about by the simple fact, that I broke a cardinal rule and did not dress warm enough. I know, I broke the number one mother rule,” you can always take it off but if you don’t have it with you, you can’t put it on”. Once I got cold I could not really swing that well and this led to an 83. There were some other problems but being cold was not good. The Tuesday and Wednesday rounds were solid with scores of 78 and 76. The Wednesday round finished strong, playing one under par for the last 7 holes. This was also the warmest stretch of play for the season, with temperatures in the mid 60’s  The month of March has been good as I have played 7 rounds so far, and there seems to be about a 50-50 chance of playing tomorrow. I feel I am making progress in all three phases of the game in executing the answer. Lets look at each one up to this point.

Ball Striking: This is still the best phase of the game so far. The thing that has happened since the start of the new season, is that I have a harder time not trying to grab onto an anchor or swing thought. This I am sure was brought about by the long lay off and just very rusty golf thinking in general. It’s particularly hard after a few errant shots. I have also hit some really horrible shots in the middle of some pretty good play.  I feel a lot of this will work out as season continues, and I play more. Sometimes I get into working the ball more than I should. Again this is an example of trying to force an issue. You have to let your that day ball striking determine how you are going to play a certain hole. If the draw or the fade is not in your repertoire that day, then don’t try to do it even if that is what is call for. Take a more conservative approach and just make a par.

Short Game: For chipping and short pitching, two things have really helped me. Visualizing the shot seems to be very important for the short shots, even more so than the long game and putting. Getting the ball on the ground faster seems to be the other key for success. Using different grips on different days is still something that I think helps in executing the stroke. I have used various grips, ranging from the normal grip to my putting grip to chip and pitch.

Putting: This phase of the game is the most difficult not to go back to the previous days  thought or technique. But success in putting is as fleeting as the long game.  I still think the grip is the real key here but time will tell. A lot of the issues in all three phases comes from just a lack of concentration. This really shows up in putting.

So there you have it, this week’s update on trying to execute the answer. The week coming up looks like there will be more golf to be  played. Let’s hope the progress will continue.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

The blog is a day late, because of good old March Madness, and a busy golf week, where I played 3 1/2 rounds. It was a very productive and learning week, for one so early in the season, so lets get to it

On Tuesday, I walked 9 holes at the Mt. Lebanon , under some harsh conditions, with temperatures in the low 40’s, and some strong winds. The very first tee, gave the example of thinking just a little too much, and not following the open mind plan. The first hole is a 160 yard slightly downhill par 3, that on this day was playing into a stiff wind. The first part of my thought process was very good. With the cold temps, and the strong against wind I took out my 7 wood on a hole I can hit with an 8 iron on a nice warm summer evening. But then I thought just a little too much. Instead of aiming dead at the pin, I thought with the first swing of the day, that I would be a little stiff, which would make me hit a little more of a fade than I usually do. I aimed about 5 yards left of the green, swung and hit it dead straight, 5 yards left of the green. The rest of day was not bad, but due to the conditions and a bulky putter the day was a ho-hum 5  pars and 4 bogeys.

On Wednesday, I went to Scenic Valley, and even though the temps were only in the mid 40’s,  plenty of sunshine made this day almost pleasant to play. My ball striking that day just evolved into playing a little draw, especially with the irons. My shots were going just slightly right to left. Since this was not a major misdirection, I decided to play the draw, instead of what I would usually do for shots that go way left. In a previous blog, I wrote that I would aim left and my swing would make an automatic correction. Since this slight draw was acceptable I played for it and this worked quite nicely.  I made 3 birdies but followed each birdie up with a bogey on the next hole. The one thing that cost me this day was that the wind was in a unique direction for this course and I failed to allow for it.The perfect example of being asleep at the wheel. My short game and putting were ok and managed to shoot a 77

On Saturday I went to Village Green and with temps in the 50’s under overcast skies and gusty winds I managed to play a very good round. My ball striking was spot on and I sunk a long putt on the very first hole for a birdie and I made a lot of 3 to 6 foot putts and shot a very nice 3 over 74. I made some poor decisions down the stretch due to wind and maybe just a little fatigue. I hit some great approach shots and if I had been putting a little better I might have shot even or better.

Yesterday it was back to Scenic Valley, with temps barely in the 40’s but with plenty of sunshine and not all that bad wind wise. However I was out of sync all day, and with the combination of some bad breaks, bad thinking, mediocre putting, and losing the concept of executing the answer I shot a lackluster 82. What do I mean by losing the concept. For the first time since finding the answer, I got back into the problem of trying to make my body do something, instead of allowing it to do what was necessary to hit the shot.  For about 11 and a half holes I was striking the ball pretty well. Then I got into some very poor ball striking for 2 and a half of the next 4 holes. Most of this was due to playing the wrong type of shot and then making my body move to what I thought I had to do in order to execute the shot. I should have kept more target oriented and paid attention to what my body did to play the shot.

After this week, this is what I have discovered. The short game and putting are going to require more than just the grip to get some real improvement. The grip is still a flexible and important part of finding your best short game and putting method but there is going to be a little more than that involved for sure. The early season shows how rusty your golf thinking can really be. I will have to do better in avoiding the trap of trying to fall back on what I was doing the day before. That was another reason for the poor score  on Sunday. Even though I already knew this, it is really hard not to do, especially early in the season. I have a new way of handling uneven lies, which there are plenty in western Pa. If this continues to work well, I will reveal it in a future blog. Despite the Sunday glitch the season has gotten off to a very nice start. My Saturday round was highlighted by an eagle chip in on the par 5 13th hole. This week looks good for some more golf on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather get’s a little iffy toward the end of the week but we will wait and see. Progress is being made, I think, I hope , I pray, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! See you next week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

Well, it is March 15th and the golf season has begun, with 18 holes of golf under some pretty brutal conditions, with temperatures in the upper 30’s, and just enough wind to make it just a bit colder. But you can tell spring fever is in full bloom, because when I left the course around 1 pm there were some 30 cars in the parking lot. It’s a good feeling when you  your not the only crazy dumb ass playing out there. Despite the conditions it was like I had never left the golf course. I drove the ball really well and the rest of the game stayed together enough to grind out a 78. I can’t say that I learned much on trying to execute the answer, but it was just real good to get out, and play some golf, after a two and half month lay off. I went into the round with my new open mind, but I must admit I went back to this little cold weather flat swing I developed late last year, playing under similar conditions, and it worked really well. It’s not to say that some old swing methods won’t work but again you don’t want to force the issue.  The weather is looking better in the beginning of the week so I am hoping to walk 9 holes tomorrow, play 18 Tuesday afternoon. The rest of the week is looking iffy but I might get another round in over the weekend. I am hoping to get the 8 courses in this year to get the number of courses I have played within 90 minutes of my house to the even number of a hundred. The round itself was boring with 12 pars and 6 bogies. Came close a couple of times getting the first birdie of the year but it was not to be. See you next week when hopefully I will have more to report on executing the answer.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

Well, it looks like the start of the  golf season may arrive this week.  The temperatures are headed for the 50’s and with some rain on Tuesday, the snow will hopefully wash away. This will be a golf season at the crossroads. I will prove the answer this year, or golf will take a much lower priority in the scheme of things in the coming years. In August the blog will mark its fifth anniversary. In July I will  mark my 40th anniversary of practicing veterinary medicine. In April I will “celebrate” my 65th birthday. With the exception of two years off this will mark my 58th season playing this goofy but wonderful game. I don’t do much but when I do  something I do it for a long time.

How long am I going to give trying to execute the answer. I figure by July I should have a pretty good idea, if this is really the answer to playing the best golf you can play, on the day that you play. I think the putting and short game are going to determine how much success I have. Speaking of putting and the short game, there is talk going around right now, that this may not be as important to scoring, as it once thought it was. This is being all brought about by a book called, Every shot counts or something like that. I am in the process of reading it right now. It is golf’s version of the book Moneyball. This is why you are seeing this new term “strokes gained” in various parts of the game. It’s a fairly complicated method of determining who is really  the best in each part of the game. I am in the middle of reading the book right now and even though telecasts are already using some of the terminology, I’m not too sure I buy into it at the moment. This could be just some way to tap into the success of the new way to evaluate baseball stats. When I finish the book I will give a much more in depth review with the exact title too. We will see how this golf season plays out very very shortly. See you next week.