It’s been about six weeks since the last blog and the season is winding down. The year has been disappointing but I hope a very useful learning experience. My handicap rose from 3.6 in the spring to 5.2 with the handicapping season officially over on October 31st. My play was erratic all year and my tournament play with some brief exceptions, horrendous. The blog is back to the title of searching for the answer, instead of trying to execute the answer. Fortunately or unfortunately I did not execute the author either. So, what happened?
This time last year I thought I had found the answer, which was finding your that day golf swing. It was to approach each round with an open mind and try to feel your golf swing, and let your ball flight patterns dictate how you would swing for that day. Another way I put it was to abandoned that swing thought before it abandoned you. In the beginning this seemed to work out well and I thought I was really on to something for the 428th time. But as the year went on things began to go in the wrong direction. The way I was trying to compensate did not work as well on some golf courses and really did not work for tournament pressure. I wrote last spring that I thought the best way to get in the groove on the day that you played was to do opposite of the bad shot, rather than trying to allow for the bad shot. In other words if your first tee shot of the day was a high right shot, rather than aiming more left and trying to play that shot, I felt it would be better to aim right and draw the ball which would correct the problem of the first swing. There is not enough space in this blog to write about why this did not work, but it had to do many times with the way certain courses are designed and really trying to play a shot that was not the right shot for the situation. Needless to say this year went by too fast and did not go the way I envisioned it. I did manage to play 100+ rounds for the fourth consecutive year and I am still counting as there is still a little golf season left in the Burgh.
So the quest will go on, with a little different strategy. Now we all know that great ball striking does not always mean great scoring. Without great ball striking, however, you will not have great scoring. Yes, with a great short game and putting, you can always salvage a round where you are not hitting the ball very well, and maybe even pull out a round close to par. But that is still not great scoring. The way to go about getting consistent ball striking every time you play will be a major goal, in the coming year. It will boil down to finding a way to control your body and using particular muscles to control the way the golf swing is performed. I will discuss this hopefully with some positive answers in future blogs.
Trying to execute the answer has proven to be much more difficult than I anticipated to say the least. The weeks scores continue to be horrible ranging from 76 to a wonderful 89 but I think I may have discovered the folly of my ways.
When I first came up with the answer, which is finding your “that day golf swing” as quickly as possible, it was at the end of the golfing season last year. I came up with a method of accomplishing that goal which I discussed in previous blogs. The main principal of that method was to start each round with an open mind about your swing and feed off the results of the shots and make adjustments. Because it was at the end of the golfing season I played most of my golf at Scenic Valley, but it would not have made any difference what golf course I was playing, it was the fact that I was playing the same golf course. Obviously when you play the same golf course the opening tee shot is exactly the same. Once I started this process of trying to execute the answer my scores were very good and ball striking improved dramatically. One of the few times I did not play well is when I went to Lindenwood and my ball striking was not as good for 8 holes, until I started to draw all my shots and I played the last 10 holes 1 over par. This should have been a tip off right there but I am a slow learner. I did go out to San Diego and shoot a very good round, but its opening tee shot has similar characteristics of the opener at Scenic Valley. Because the opening tee shot was the same all the time, I don’t think I was being as open minded about my golf swing as I thought I was. Now, I don’t think this is even the way to go about finding you “that day golf swing”. The opening tee shot of a round is very important. It’s not to say it is round maker or breaker, but it is important non the less. I have hit great opening tee balls and have had bad rounds, and on the other side of the coin, had a very bad opening drive and shot one of the best rounds of my life. But because of playing the same opening tee shot, I think this led me astray on how to execute the answer. I still feel you should abandon that swing thought before it abandons you, but I think there is a different way to go about doing it.
The way I felt going into this season is, that if I was playing as bad as I am playing right now, I would be getting ready to shut everything down including the blog. I have a little more than half the season to go, and with this new direction to take, I am going to continue to plod along and see what happens. With golf it is easy to see if you are going in the right direction, all you have to do is look at the number.
Back in the Burgh, and three rounds into a stretch of time where I will be playing a lot of golf. I am not going to comment on these first three rounds and the next blog will be 2 weeks from today at the end of the golf fest. During this time I will be playing in three tournaments. If I am ever going to execute the answer this should be the time.
Do you remember that old Memorex cassette tape commercial where they would ask “Is it live or is it Memorex?” and they would show a famous artist singing or playing and you would have to figure out which one it was. This is similar to when you hit a bad shot on the golf course. Was the bad shot caused by a poor swing, or was it from a pre swing problem. Even though I feel that 85 to 90% of all bad shots are caused from pre swing problems, how do you know for sure? Lets define pre swing problems. First there is the fundamental address position. You could be misaligned, too far or too close to the ball, or you could have poor posture. At this stage of the game I doubt it would be a grip issue. Then there are other pre shot factors. The lie of the ball, the lay of the land, your club selection, the conditions of the course, the weather, and how the shot fits your eye. The last one is particular important on the tee ball. Now I realize that any of these things, can lead to a bad swing which will result in a bad shot. If all the pre shot elements are right that still does not guarantee that your swing can not lead to a bad shot. So when the shot doesn’t turn out well which one is it? Is there a way to know? I am not too sure, but I do think this is one of the keys in trying to find your “that day golf swing or game”. Naturally, just playing the odds, when the shot does not come off it is probably something that has happened before you took the club back. I really don’t have the answer to this question quite yet. I think in trying to figure this out will help in managing a round. One final point is that sometimes bad shots should be looked at as just one of those things, that are going to happen and sometimes should just be ignored or forgotten. The next two weeks should be interesting.
This week was blah, in more ways than one. About mid week I came down with a cold and this affected the weekend play. What I am amazed about is the part of your game that is affected the most. I drove the ball well, all weekend but it was poor putting that led to an 82 at South Park on Saturday and an 81 at Scenic Valley on Sunday. My mid week was highlighted by a nice 75 at Scenic Valley in some very high wind conditions. It was probably playing in such wind chill conditions, that led me to getting a cold. Wednesday was a very rainy day so it was only a 3 round week. The weather and my health is improving rapidly so I will be playing tomorrow and Wednesday. Then on Saturday I will be heading for San Diego to celebrate my grand daughters 8th birthday. Golf will be on the back burner for the next couple of weekends. The next two blogs will be coming from San Diego.
So with this little break coming I thought I would reflect on how I think things are going so far this year. I have played 21 rounds of golf this spring. I have played in some nasty conditions at times and other times the weather as been ok. I am driving the ball as well as I ever have. I am in a little slump with my irons, but I think that my good ball striking has gone to my head a little, and I am trying to be way too precise with my distances and this is causing too much tension in the swing. My chipping has been good with hardly a yip this year. My putting has been erratic as ever and trying to find that days putting method has been the biggest challenge so far this year. After this 12 day break from the game, things will begin to escalate on all fronts with the game. I shall know within the next 3 months if I am going to be able to execute the answer at all aspects of the game. Even though I think I am improving at every level of my game, the numbers do not lie, and I have not produced the desired results, quite yet. See you next week, coming from San Diego.
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.
This week I am going to review the last 2 years of my playing this goofy game. Why the last 2 years? There is quite a contrast between the years, which has led to the conclusions of trying to find the mind body connection. 2012 reinforced my belief that the key to the golf swing is, that it must be controled by the turn of the shoulders. That the enemy of the golf swing is the arms and the legs. I am going to discuss this more next week, as I review this concept, with some added information from the original post. This is not a method. This is not a swing change. This is just a different way to execute the swing that you have. By allowing the shoulders to control my swing, I hit the ball and scored the most consistant I ever have in some 50+ years of playing this game. There were two other interesting things that happened that year. I developed the chip yips and I finished the year on a down note by not breaking 80 on 7 out of the last 8 rounds I played. I had various excuses for this poor finish, and none of them were right. This poor finish did not affect my handicap as they were all after October 31, when we stop turning in scores. I considered the year a great succes and my handicap dropped from 5.1 to 3.2.
As I was heading into the 2013 golf season I was ready to tackle the mental side of this game full force, since I felt I had the physical side down. I have already written about some of the mental experiments I tried during the golf season, with some pretty disasterous results. I knew there was going to be some trial and error just like trying to find a key to the golf swing. Naturally my game suffered some, but at times it suffered greatly. Twice during the season, once in a tournament, I did not break 90. If someone would have wanted to bet me that I would do that once let alone twice, I would have lost everything I owned. My handicap went up to a season ending 4.3 but it was even higher, back into the 5’s at times during the year. However, this year I finished stronger by shooting my last 7 out of 8 rounds in the 70’s. Nothing spectacular but the consistancy came back and I started playing much better, in less than ideal conditions. I was able to do this by paying more attention to the physical side of the game. In other words I got closer to getting the mind and the body connected and to the conclusion that even for a good player the game is 50% mental and 50% physical.
As I head into the 2014 golf season that will be the concept that I hope to prove or disprove. Again this will be a trial and error procedure. What is great about golf is that the numbers will tell the story. See you next week.