How Do You Break A McWT210 Golf Slump?

Readers of this space know I’m always seeking ways to improve my game and am willing to share tips to assist you in your play, but I have a new request.  I need some help breaking out of a slump.  How do I know I’m in a slump and not just experiencing a momentary downturn?  Check out this page from Golf Link detailing why players slump.  I am the poster-child for the top three reasons and feel like I’m tied to the pole, blindfolded, and on my last cigarette.

The evidence:  Carrying a five handicap, my last two rounds have been 88-88.  I haven’t broken 80 in nine rounds and haven’t played a good round since August 2012.  Essentially, I’m averaging about 10 strokes higher than my normal game.

The three main culprits from the GolfLink list:

  1. Injury.  The right elbow tendonitis has prevented me from practicing the way I would like.  Oddly, it doesn’t hurt during play, just practice.  I’ll call this the Mike Weir component.Mike Weir
  2. Swing Changes.  The attempt to get to a more on-plane move over the winter was ill-advised without the opportunity to hit balls and validate results.  Henceforth known as the Tiger 2010 component.Tiger
  3. New Equipment.  The new irons and hybrids are working great but my Cleveland three wedge system has been ghastly.  I’m a mess in greenside bunkers trying to hit the new 58, and miss my old 56 terribly.  Even suffered through a couple lateral hits with the wedges two weekends ago and you know how that messes with your head, but I refuse to give up on the new equipment.  The problem is that I practice well with these clubs so I know it’s the “carpenter, not the tools.”  Of course, this is the McIlroy component.Rory

So we have the birth of the “McWT210” slump.  How to break this thing, any ideas?  I’ve researched and web and scoured the annals of my swing fix library and come up with a possible two-pronged approach.  I know I need to simplify as much as possible and taking on more swing instruction at this time is probably not the right thing to do, especially with my Myrtle Beach trip bearing down in less than a month.  So in the interest of K.I.S.S., I’m going to try just thinking “Target” on all full swings and hitting everything with 3/4 speed in an attempt to get some rhythm and timing.  In my round yesterday, after shooting nine-over on the front, I started my inward half with a triple and a bogey, and with my head so screwed up with swing thoughts, decided to just chuck everything and think “Target” the rest of the way around and managed to play the last seven holes in 3-over, which wasn’t great, but got me to the clubhouse without killing anyone.

If anyone has some surefire slump-busting remedies, please share.  I’m a mess and need to stabilize fast, thanks!

Do Tips in Golf Magazines Work?

Golf Digest CoverEver benefit from a tip in a golf magazine?  Usually you can find so many tips and instructional articles, your brain will explode if you try them all.  Normally I consume for the human interest stories, interviews, and full swing sequence pictures, as well as the “Get Fit”articles 😉 but on a recent flight home I found a tip from Graeme McDowell in this month’s Golf Magazine that really helped.

I’ve been in the worst slump in recent memory and have not played even decent since last September.  No doubt the inactivity associated with my large remodeling project put the kibosh on any regular cadence, and it had the doubling effect of forcing the feeling of relearning the game every time out.  My ball striking had become a spaghetti plate of swing thoughts and the downstream artifacts were ugly.  At that point, you’ll take any help you can get, so magazine tips at 31,000 feet were not out of order.

The fix was quite simple and made a ton of sense after I analyzed, but was probably just stupid luck that I found it.  G-Mac had you keep your left upper arm tight to your chest throughout the back swing and downswing – that’s it.  My off-season back swing drills were attempting to get the club more out in front of me and had clearly disconnected my arms from my torso.  While I thought I looked good in my positions, I had in effect taken the club back with all hands; hence the awful ball striking.  I went out Saturday on my local par-3 course for a quick nine to test this theory and was nutting it all the way around.  Really solid strikes in a stiff breeze with cold temps and I was sky high at the finish.

Been around long enough to understand that momentum in golf is fleeting.  But what’s wrong with thinking, “I finally got it!”  Have you ever “got it” from a golf magazine tip?

Hey, Golf Needs Villains Too

From open.salon.com
From open.salon.com

The Masters is over but the dust has nary settled from “Dropgate,” as the blogosphere continues to explode with arguments for and against the Tiger non-DQ/WD.  I find myself disinterested in taking a position but glad Tiger played the weekend because I love to root against him when he gets in the hunt.

The purists in our game are outraged that the letter of the law wasn’t upheld but golf needs its villains too.  I love the human element in golf and put in a similar situation, would have probably withdrawn and done the right thing.  But Tiger is WAY PAST doing the right thing and actually adds interest to every telecast for fans looking for an antagonist.  This is why we turn on the TV when players or teams we hate are on.  The watch is compelling and pulling for the mighty to fall is American as apple pie.  Who doesn’t enjoy a Yankees drubbing or a Cowboys implosion (outside of the Evil Empire and Big-D respectively.)

Golf and sports are played by humans and should be officiated by humans, not fans calling into TV production rooms or by machines evaluating every camera angle of every play to ensure perfection and complete fairness.  Humans make mistakes and to remove the human element from all sports is ill-advised.  So bring on the villains, blown calls, and controversy.  It makes for excellent TV viewing and better conversation at the water cooler.

The Magical Healing Power of The Masters

The MastersWas wondering last weekend what had motivated me to spread 30 bags of mulch with a bad elbow – yep, Masters Week.  Ever notice when commercials come on for “The Masters” how you get a strange sense of well-being, and then while watching actual tournament play an endorphin rush takes over your body?  It hit me yesterday after enjoying three hours of tournament coverage and I’m super pumped to go work on my game today.  I’ve also experienced the same feeling from attending professional tournaments in person and in both cases I seem to be able to leverage the euphoria into short bursts of excellent play.

Some more good news.  I made great progress with new practice and warm-up routines that I’m going to test today and again tomorrow and will report back on.  Early sneak peak:  I’ve been able to identify a way to prepare myself for play without overtaxing myself physically, and to simulate enough game conditions to get into the flow on the first tee instead of slogging through four holes.

Also finalized the line-up for next month’s Myrtle Beach golfapalooza.  Two new courses are on the docket.  Kings North at Myrtle Beach National and Rivers Edge.  Anyone with playing tips on either of these, please share.  We’re also scheduled for return trips to The Legends (Heathland, Moorland, Parkland) and to one of my all time favorites, True Blue.  Full course reviews are coming on Kings North, Rivers Edge, and True Blue.

Looking forward to a great Masters weekend.  Who are your predictions to win with this star-studded leader board?  The 50+ year old in me is pulling hard for Freddy, but I’m still liking Tiger’s form.