Monday, 21 September 2009

Send It

"A golfer has to train his swing on the practice tee, then trust it on the course." - Dr Bob Rotella

It's not that I've had nothing to write about on here ; more that there's so much that I don't know where to start ! One thing that's hugely important when you're working on your swing is to differentiate between practice and "real play". On the range, or if you're just knocking a few balls around the course, it's fine to think about your swing mechanics, what you're supposed to be doing, and what you're doing wrong. Any time you're trying to record a good score though, you have to forget about it !

It seems paradoxical, but when you're trying to put a score together you really have to forget about improving your swing during this round. Dance with the swing you bring. Trusting the swing you have will work much better on the day than trying to change stuff as soon as you hit one bad shot. When I saw a book called Zen Golf in the bookshop, of course I couldn't resist buying it. It's very good. It talks about using a "key phrase" just before you swing, mentally telling yourself "let it fly" or "it's all yours" to turn off the thinking mind and just let the shot go. I'm trying to use "send it" because it amuses me to say that to myself in the style of a poker player (Action Dave was a great one for "send it"). It's also good because the book talks about sending the ball to the target rather than hitting it, or at least that's how you should think about it. Obviously in reality you do still actually hit it. I played a social round today which was good fun, although a little trying towards the end when the group in front were holding us up. After a break for a sandwich I had two more hours trying to sort my drives out. I just managed to work the change I need before collapsing with exhaustion so we'll work that out some more on the range and have another bash soon.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Difference Between 91 and 111

20, duh. In golf terms, 20 shots, double duh. But how exactly do I add 20 shots to my score in the space of 9 days ?

First of all the 91. This came as quite a shock after fighting against something of a mental block about breaking 100. I had shot 99 a month previously, after doing my level best to choke by playing the last 3 holes in +8, but since then had been finding creative new ways not to break 100 again twice a week. Looking back to the 91, I don't remember playing many particularly good shots - I just played a lot fewer bad ones. I missed a couple of putts and put a tee shot out of bounds on the 16th [1] which I pretty much always do anyway. That was about it. After going out in 44 (+7 for 9 holes) I was well on course to break 90, but tightened up a little bit in the stretch and ended up with the 91. Still pretty damn good and it's not every day you take 8 shots off your best score.

After trumpeting that on Facebook, Pete B warned me about hubris, and correctly so, but I thought the 103 in the next round wasn't too much of a problem. The interesting thing about the 91 was I left the driver at home and played all the par 4/5 tee shots with a 3-wood. Not surprisingly, this resulted in fewer tee shots out of bounds. In the meantime though I was practising with the driver and thought I was playing it well enough to give it a spin today. That resulted in four tee shots OOB for an immediate +8, and another three sufficiently errant to require a sideways second shot, although I scrambled a shot back on two of those around the green. Chuck in six 3-putts and a 4-putt (I know) and that's 19 shots. And 111 minus 19 would be 92.

When you think about playing golf well you have a mental picture of sending drives 250 yards and crisp fairway irons arcing towards the flag. But that kind of thing is much less important when it comes to scoring than just hitting the fairway and 2-putting the greens. I liken it to poker tournaments (expect much more of that in this blog) ; everyone thinks it's the big bluff and setting up the guy to call when you have the nuts when in fact it's mostly about good fundamentals and knowing how to play a short stack. Here's a quote I found that didn't help me with a blog title but it nails what we're talking about here :

"I just try to put it on the fairway, then the green and not three putt. - Peter Thompson"

And that's to shoot par ! All I have to do to shoot 90 is put it on the fairway, around the green, chip it on and not three putt. Sounds a lot easier than it is. It will, however, be easier if I can manage to leave the driver in the bag when there's any danger (whether due to the layout of the hole or the way I'm playing) of going out of bounds. It's worth giving up 30 yards just to play the second shot off the fairway. Then when I get around 90 every week, instead of once in a blue moon, I can think about hitting it further.

[1] Yes, it looks simple enough, but what that picture leaves out is that the tee is at about half past four looking at a clock face.

A Corrective Against Sinful Pride

I know what my problem is - I just don't have enough blogs. Well, I do, but I'm kind of bored with football so this one is probably going to die a slow death. What I need instead is a golf blog. And this is it. Unfortunately I was unable to find any golf quotes from Kevin Keegan for a title so I decided on this one, from a PG Wodehouse quote :

"Golf acts as a corrective against sinful pride. I attribute the insane arrogance of the later Roman Emperors almost entirely to the fact that, never having played golf, they never knew that strange chastening humility which is engendered by a topped chip shot. If Cleopatra had been ousted in the first round of the Ladies' Singles, we should have heard a lot less of her proud imperiousness."

Damn straight. Straighter than my drives, that's for sure. So, without further ado, let's "tee off" ! My what fun this is going to be.