Off The DL And Excited To Play Golf Again!

Tomorrow will be the first 18-hole round for me since I sustained the right hip injury on July 7 and I am quite keyed up and a bit nervous.  I have eased back into golf activities during the three-week layoff by not doing anything in the first week, focusing on short game practice the second, and playing two nine hole rounds on my little executive course this week.  The hip feels good but not great and I’m still a little hesitant to fire them at the start of the downswing.  As a result, my timing is off and I’ve been pulling the ball with a slight over-the-top move.  To compensate, I’ve gone with a shorter backswing which has promoted good contact, but not solved for the pull.

At the conclusion of today’s nine, I was tempted to hit a bucket of balls but felt that might be pushing it and opted instead to putt.  Fortunately, the layoff has not affected my short game and it remains sharp with all clubs and shots.  The total reset away from the Stan Utley changes has been a godsend and I am now in love with my Cleveland CG-16 58 degree wedge.  It took about six months to get used to these wedges and it’s clear now that when you are a weekend golfer, you must be patient after an equipment change.  So is Rory McIlroy a weekend golfer since he changed equipment?  He doesn’t play much on the weekends any more. . .but I digress.

So it’s out to Rattlewood tomorrow and it’s a good course for the comeback because the premium is on short game and putting and not great ball striking.  Hoping I’m not rushing things but sitting on the bench in the middle of the season is killing me.  Hope I’m up to the challenge!

What Is Your Wild Kingdom Moment?

Wild KingdomI was thinking back to some memorable run-ins I had with animals on the golf course.  Since we are often one and the same with nature while we golf, we have all probably observed many different forms of wildlife but have you ever interacted with any during your game or had your game affected by the actions of an animal?

Here’s my three most memorable moments:

  1. Attacked by a Canadian gooseGooseThe cart path on the par-3 15th at my local muni runs fairly close to a pond guarding the front of the green.  After hitting my tee shot, I was walking on the path and carrying my bag.  Apparently I got too close to a nest with young goslings and the mother goose took exception.  She came at me fully airborne and I managed to duck down and keep my bag between her and me.  In the process of crouching, I pulled down the front of my bag and mamma goose slammed into the raised back end.  Now golf is known as a leisurely game but I’ve never run as fast on the golf course as I did that day.  Every time I walk by that lake, I pull an iron, just in case.
  2. Reptile run in.  Hit my tee shot into the woods on the par-3 14th at Falls Road in Potomac, MD.   I arrived at my ball and it was surrounded by a six foot snake.  Took an unplayable lie.snake
  3. Ball in motion moved.  Back at Falls Road on the par-4 13th, the greens keeper’s shed is set back several yards behind the green.  I had a 40 foot putt and after striking the ball, the greens keeper’s black Labrador retriever came doghauling down from the shed and snatched my ball mid-putt and ran off.  He returned it a minute later, dropping it back on the green and covered with slobber.  I’m not sure of the ruling on that one and actually forgot how I played it at the time; it was many years ago.

Have you had a Wild Kingdom moment?

Have You Ever Been Injured Golfing?

Red CrossUp until last weekend’s round at Northwest, I had not.  Sure, there have been the inevitable aches and pains after the first round of the year when the golf muscles are waking up, but nothing like the combo lat strain – hip flexor issue that be felled me.  What’s frustrating is that I stretched and warmed up very well before play, the temperature was in the mid-80s and it was humid.  I was very loose and felt great; probably as good as I’ve felt all year before a round.

Northwest is one of the longer courses we play and challenges every aspect of your game.  I was cruising along at even par through four holes but had just driven into the right rough on number five.  I hit a hard knock down four-iron a little right of the green for my approach, and that apparently was the culprit as I felt the twinge in my hip while walking to my ball.  I managed to get up and down for par and then birdied the par-5 6th hole but noticed that I was limping as I made my way to the 7th tee.  Still not sure what was wrong, I continued to play hard and parred 7, 8, and 9 to finish the front at 1-under, but noticed on the 8th that the pull in my back started bothering me.  It was clear I should have retired at the turn, but who retires at 1-under par at Northwest?  I’m usually around seven or eight over on this track with a two-over 74 as my all time best.  I wasn’t going anywhere.

I lasted one more hole, with a par on #10 before things got ugly.  Unable to put any weight on my right leg, I tried to bunt my way around the back nine and the ball striking and score went to straight to hell.  44 strokes later, I had my usual 7-over 79 and managed to ambulate back to the car.

So here I am on the DL writing this post instead of out playing my early morning 9 holes.  I feel a little better because I can take the stairs pain free but still struggle when putting all my weight on my right leg.  It’s so frustrating getting injured right in the middle of the season and right in the middle of my best round.  I’m already getting antsy and was doing some pain free rug putting yesterday, so I’ll probably head out to the course with just a putter to try and stay with it mentally, but not tempt myself by bringing my other clubs and attempting something stupid.

Has anyone sustained a hip injury playing golf?  How long is the recovery period and do you have any recommended exercises for rehab?  Please share, thanks!

2013 British Open Picks


Back up the armored truck, get out your Muirfield money bags; here come your winning 2013 British Open picks!

It’s a good thing the official odds don’t reflect a player’s actual chance of winning and just the public’s appetite for spending, because the public is looking like a drunken sailor bidding up Tiger Woods as the favorite at 8/1.  He’s coming off an injury and his putting stroke has deserted him again.  Those waiting for the next big win to get back on the Jack Nicklaus record chase can keep waiting.Tiger

Did Phil “The Thrill” give us a great ride at the U.S. Open or what?  The difficult aspect of a Mickelson pick is the consistency component.  It’s simply not there, but what you get with Phil is good theater.  I’ve never liked him in the British Open, and except for his final round charge at Royal St. George’s in 2011, he’s been a major underachiever.  This week the roller coaster is heading downhill so keep your billfold in your pocket and Lefty off your board at 25/1.

U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose is suffering from burnout.  Even though I loved the way he finally conquered the unreasonably high expectations he’s dealt with since his miracle British Open finish in 1998, he’s a poor play at 18/1.  At Merion, he didn’t get too excited as he made clutch shot after clutch shot and stuck to his tunnel vision game plan, but the withdraw from the AT&T is a red flag.  I’m hoping he can relax and just play golf but it’s asking too much.

I see much of the same positive mental approach in Mr. Overdue, Jason Day.  The Aussie peaks his game for the majors, a bit like Angel Cabrera, but with more talent and less  results.  One of these days Day is going to break through and I like him here at 33/1.Day

Rory McIlroy can’t handle the pressure of a home game for some reason and lately, he can’t handle any pressure.  He was in poor form at the Irish Open and missed the cut, and his club destroying tantrum in the U.S. Open was an embarrassment.  Let’s face it, the lad doesn’t handle adversity very well.  Got to keep your cool out there and I’m very cool on him this week.

ElsMy favorite play here is a Sunday three-ball bet on Ernie Els, especially if he’s in a group with other big name players.  You will get a good price as people continue to underestimate him because of his age.  He’s in good form after winning the BMW International Open and is simply made for the pressure on the final day of this tournament.  He won it last year, and did as well in 2002 at the same venue, and is a superb pick at 25/1 to win straight up.

Dark horse play:  Padraig Harrington.  40/1 is a good price for Paddy and a top-10 finish is in the offering.  He hasn’t done much as of late, but finished 5th in the 2002 British Open at Muirfield and is a good horses for courses play.

Your 2013 British Open picks:

Champion Golfer of The Year:  Ernie Els in a repeat

Runner UpJason Day starting to look like Mickelson with the runner up finishes.

ThirdAdam Scott gets back on track but not all the way.

It’s Never Too Late To Learn

I went out early on Independence Day for a quick nine holes at my local muni and was joined on the first tee by an elderly gentleman who was walking with a pull cart.  It was clear from the start that this fellow was not in the best of shape but the great thing about golf is that you can play it despite your physical shortcomings,  and play well into your old age.  The thing I enjoy most about playing on this little executive course is the diverse group of players I get paired with.  There are young families, elderly folks, and most are either beginners, novices or retirees and the time spent usually requires a little patience on my part.    I learned that he was 83 and just had some sort of lumbar injection that allowed him to walk more pain free.  He said by walking nine holes he was attempting to strengthen his legs.  I contemplated that for awhile and thought that when I was his age (in 31 more years) I hoped to be able to walk nine holes and have some semblance of a game.   Now he could barely hit the ball 125 yards, but I got a hearty laugh when he boasted how he was “rippin” it past his 90-year old buddies who he plays with in Florida 🙂

So we moved along slowly, and I helped him find his ball and pick up a few errant tee shots when he needed a do-over and we got to discussing the state of the professional game and how players today were so much better physical condition of those from my era (Nicklaus and Watson) and his era (Snead and Nelson) and that now they even work on their mental games.  I mentioned that I studied the mental game and had read most of Dr. Bob Rotella’s books, and had enjoyed Putting Out of Your Mind the most.  I told him that Rotella teaches that you play better when you putt like you don’t care if you make it.  Now he had very little dexterity or fluidity with his short game because of his physical condition but gave it a try with three or four holes left and started rolling the long ones close and short ones in.  He was absolutely thrilled with this tip and I was super pumped that this little mini-lesson helped him enjoy his round that much more.

When we finished, I told him I enjoyed his company and would play with him anytime.  He thanked me again for the tip and it was a good reminder that it’s never too late to learn.