Meditation: Normal

Normal is a word, we have been hearing a lot of lately.  Can’t wait until things get back to normal.  What will the new normal look like?  Will we ever get back to normal?  Normal is defined as, conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Most reporting in the media is optimistic, that we will return to some kind of normalcy.  The way things have gone lately, that seems hard to believe.  We seem to be in a never ending spiral of flattening the curve, with little reduction in the number of cases, on a day to day basis.  In fact, it is rather freaky, how each day, seems to be about the same, in each state, on the number of cases per day. In the 22 days of May, there have been 17 days, where the new cases have totaled between 20 and 26 thousand per day, in the United States.   Three days, there were over 26,000 cases, but two of those were the first two days of May.  There have been 2 days under 20,000 cases with last one being May 17th.  For 17 out of 20 days, the new cases have not varied by more than  2 to 3 thousand per day in the entire country. There are 18 states where the number of cases are decreasing but 4 of those states were some of the hardest hit, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.   There are 8 states that the cases are increasing.  People keep talking about a vaccine, but even the most optimistic estimates are at the first of the year, and that’s with no set backs.  How likely do you think that is, when trying to make a vaccine for a disease, that we don’t totally understand, yet. So what are the chances of seeing a normal life in 2020?

I would say slim and none.  That does not mean, that we will not be doing a little more than we are doing now, but for this year, this is what I think will not return. Fans in the stands.  Team sports, if they are played at all this year, will be in empty stadiums.  Restaurants will not even be close to normal, if they even  open at all.   Waiters with masks on, my appetite is disappearing as I type.   Youth sports  are done for this year.  Mall shopping will be at 20% volume.  Air travel will be lucky to be at 30% capacity, especially since they showed how irresponsible they have been, by packing planes and risking people’s lives.  Hotels and motels with be no better.  Travel in general, will be way down, for the entire year.  Jobs will be non existent, in the above areas.   Staying at home, and having a good time with known friends and family, will be the new normal.  Hopefully, there will be some live sports to watch on television.  In nice weather, there will be some outside dining to be enjoyed. But life as we have known it, is officially gone. Get use to it.  Make the best of it.  Wear a mask if you go into a place of business.  Maybe summer will help in defeating the virus. I think there is more of a chance of a treatment than a vaccine that may help get us back to our previous life.  There is only one thing certain at this point and that is the virus is ruling the country for the next 7 months.

For now, meditate and be appreciative for what you have.  Good health, and well being, and hope that the people closest to you, stay healthy.  Even with this new normal, life can be good.  There is joy, in just being outside, and breathing some clean air, and the air is a lot cleaner, since everybody has had to stay home. People will have to adapt, and find a new way to make a living, in many cases.  This pandemic has and will make life difficult for the next  12 to 24 months guaranteed. The great depression lasted 11 years and we have people now, that can not or will not shelter in place for 3 months, for the health and safety of the nation.  Normal now, will be sacrifice and suffering both economically and medically and there is nothing that can be done about it.  It’s time to buckle in and hang on, and hope that things don’t  get worse.  For now, the virus is the new normal but hopefully not super long.  Take a deep breath.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The blog is back after about 3 weeks and today we are going to take the wrists from the top of the swing to impact. I did not try to get into gray areas when it came to the position at the top. I judged the player to be open, square or closed. I would not argue that some players that I called open or closed, somebody else may say they were square. The two extreme positions of open and closed at the top are club face pointing to the sky when closed and the toe pointing to ground when extremely opened.  The model golfer swing is square throughout and that is what I used for a comparison.

Of the 61 swings I looked at, there were 31 that were square, 15 that were open, and 15 that were closed at the top of the swing. If the players maintained that position all the way through impact then the players that were open and closed would wind up hitting big right to right slices or big pull hooks. Obviously this is not what pros do. There is manipulation of the club head to produce a good shot. The players that are closed at the top have to rotate the toe of the club in a clockwise direction to begin to square the club head. The opposite is true of the open at top. They need to rotate the club head in a counter clockwise direction in order to square the club head. You can open the club more  than you can close the club at the top of the swing, so there can be even more manipulation club head from the open position. These are the elements of what the wrists are doing during the golf swings of professional golfers. I will go into specific examples in future blogs. I haven’t drawn any conclusions because I haven’t been able to take much of this to the golf course, because of the holidays and I have been felled by a mild cold. Even though the weather has not been too bad, when you get to my age you don’t take any chances with the weather, when you are feeling a little under the weather.

Speaking of the holidays, which were great, I must relate two stories. First I was in San Diego for one week, from Dec. 22 to the 29. With the exception of one day, it was warmer in Pittsburgh, than in San Diego.  That may never happen again.  My grand kids got the X box for Christmas. One of games they got was the PGA tour one with Rory on the front. That’s the answer to golf, just put the game on the easy mode and you will be shooting in the 50’s for 18 holes  every time. My 6 year old grand son hit ball extremely well. The game can be set up for a Tour event. Here is what he liked to do. Even though he could hit the ball well, his favorite thing to do was to hit the ball on purpose into the crowd. On the game this would send people ducking and the ball would hit people in various places. He would get the biggest kick out of this and just laugh and laugh. A new perspective in golf. In future blogs I will be looking at some individuals players and try to make sense out of those very interesting wrists.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Just got back from watching the Steelers thrash the Jets 27 to 10 and since I am on this high, thought I would get the blog done tonight rather than wait until tomorrow. Played course number 85 this week, Stoughton Acres in Butler Pa. which is a 65 minute drive. This course is one of the best bargains of all the courses we play. We only had a threesome when we played and even though they do not charge half cart fees, we played 18 holes and had lunch for 23.50 apiece. We could have had a bowl of soup, hot dog , chips, and a can of pop. We did not have the soup but the hot dog was very good and you could not beat the price. This was the course we tried to play a few weeks ago but the greens were top dressed but they healed up real well were running a 6 on the stimp and were in great shape. The course was 62oo yards and played to a par of 72. The clubhouse is more like an antique store than a pro shop but does have some cool golf stuff. The course is  hilly but very playable and was in good condition with the fairways full and the rough was grown in nicely. This course we tandomed up with Lake Arthur for a very nice day. The course is worth the trip for a 36 hole day. The group played ok as I had a 79, Pete had 84 and David 89.  I had a real good round out of the blue on Thursday at Indian Run, shooting a one over 72. I shot 77 at Lake Arthur and today at Scenic Valley a very non-describt 79. I have been doing this swing thing now for almost a year and overall my game has come back from the ashes. Since I started this my index has gone down from 5.7 to its current 3.0. At one time this year I was down to 2.1. The last month or so has been a little frustrating. I seemed to have lost something with the swing the last 6 weeks or so. Its been a bit of a mystery. Every time I think I am back in the groove I have a setback. The good news is this is the longest I have ever swung the club basically the same way. When I made the slight change in the swing the middle of this summer and then went back to the way I was doing it before, I just can’t seem to keep contol of the swing like I did before. We will see what the next 2 months bring. That is just about what is left of this golf season. The search will contiue as I have fifteen courses to go.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Played course number 84 today as we went to the Phoenix at Buffalo Valley. I had thought that I had never played this course before but when we pulled into the parking lot, I was beginning to recognize some things  and sure enough I had played it once before about 5 or 6 years ago. Another senior moment had occured. I did remember the holes as we played them, but I still don’t remember driving there.  This course is located in Freeport, Pa., about a 60 minute drive. The course played about 6400 yards from the tees we played from and can be stretched to amost 6800 yards and plays to a par of 71. This course is pretty narrow and has a good variey of holes with water and lots of trees. The course is very hilly with some blind tee shots. Unfortunately the course was in just fair shape to say the least. The fairways were really bad and the rough was ok but had many bare spots and weird grass growing in some spots. The greens were slow barely make a 4.75 on the stimp. They putted smooth enough but at times they seemed that they needed rolled because a lot of putts really seemed to wiggle back and forth. The hot dog at the turn was pretty good but overpriced. This course was the 84th course we played and that is pretty close to where it will be ranked at the end of the trek in the bottom 20. Obviously this course is not worth the trip. The group had a so so day as Tony and I shot 79,  and Pete and David had 87 and 88 respectively. On Monday and Wednesday I shot 79 and 81 and did not have a lot of confidence going into the South Park Senior Championship. But some conservative thinking and a white hot putter (25 putts ) helped me stagger in with a one over 73 and a top 6 finish. This is why I call this game goofy. Needless to say I have not fixed what is ailing my game lately. Other than the tournament I have not broken 79 for about 6 or 7 straight rounds. I will be adding some more courses this week and hopefully can start to play better. Eighty four courses down and sixteen to go.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

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.

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