Just returned from a 3-day golf trip to the Delmarva that almost didn’t happen because of Hurricane Sandy.  The aftermath of the storm left the Delaware and Maryland coastal areas with windy and cold conditions that were less than optimal for golf.  I pushed through three blustery rounds that left me battered, exhausted, and glad to be home.  Full course reviews for Queenstown Harbor (River) and Heritage Shores are coming.

Freezing my butt off at Queenstown Harbor.

If you’ve ever played golf in heavy wind, you know there’s a premium on good ball striking.  Without it, you have no chance.  Oddly enough, I was getting it off the tee but couldn’t hit an approach shot to save my arse.  Only 15 GIRs over three rounds left me with handicap busting rounds of 85-90-84 and some serious second guessing about my motivation to take this on.  It had  been seven weeks since I last touched a club and the game rust exacerbated the difficult conditions.

Several truths came out as well.

Truth 1:  You MUST strike the ball solidly in the wind.

Truth 2:  If something is not working, change it.  We are creatures of habit and when you are on the bogey train or worse, and missing shots consistently, it’s probably a mechanical flaw.  I know it goes against conventional wisdom to try and fix your swing on the course but missing shots the same way every time (e.g. big push slice) can be addressed with little tweaks until you find a wood band-aid.  I found my fix on the range yesterday morning and finally put some good swings together after 50 holes.  Admittedly, it was a little late, but I enjoyed my last four holes and actually birdied #9 at Heritage Shores to end the trip.  While I will be “coming back”, I left the course with my game feeling like that crane in New York.

My golf game yesterday.
Picture from the New York Daily News

Truth 3:  No feel on the putting green?  It’s because your brain is flying on auto pilot and heading towards that big mountain.  You need to radically alter your setup and/or stroke to get your head in the game.  In round one, I was 10-over after nine holes and had taken 20 putts.  I abandoned my square stance, quiet hands, and shoulder propelled stroke, and went with a wide open stance with my heels together and implemented a very wristy stroke with a little “pop” at the bottom, and BINGO!  All feel returned and I rallied for a 3-over 39 on the inward half and took only 14 putts.  I have done this before, especially when playing in very hot weather where your concentration tends to wonder.  Something as simple as removing your hat, or putting with your glove on/off works.  Anything to break your routine can shake you into a course correction.

Truth 4:  Roll is easier to judge than flight.  I’ve been struggling with my green-side pitching.  Yesterday, in the wind, after another bladed wedge, I switched to low running bump and run game for all shots without forced carries and regained a measure of control and confidence.  Actually chipped in with an 8-iron where I normally would have tried to pinch a sand wedge.  The pros hit this shot with great effectiveness, but unless you have a ton of practice time, take the easier route and stay low.

Looking forward to expanding on these truths and playing some good weather golf this fall.  Any tips you’d like to convey for playing in the wind, please send them along!

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