We started yesterday’s round just after 12-noon basking in glorious sunshine and 70 degree temperatures. We finished in near darkness with sleet coming down sideways. The golf god’s message was clear; it was time to put a wrap on 2016.
The golf season never really ends in the DMV but is just suspended by periods of cold and wet. Last year I finished in December and resumed in February and in some years, we play right through the winter. This year, transitioning to a new job and handling life’s interruptions didn’t help to stabilize a season that was characterized by ho hum performance. From a metrics standpoint, my handicap remained at 5. My GIR average was still stuck between 8 and 9, and putts per round trended poorly, increasing by a stroke and a half per round. Also, my 29 rounds played were the fewest since 2010.
Despite the mediocrity, I gained three excellent lessons learned:
One: Mechanics matter. When you struggle with your swing to a point of despondency, stop trying to self-medicate and go seek professional help. I’m a big believer in filming my own swing, but when my ball striking fell in the crapper and I couldn’t fix myself, I benefited greatly from a full swing lesson with a PGA professional. His trained eye helped me and led to an increased sense of satisfaction and belief in self. I learned that I had the physical ability to hit a golf ball consistently straight, and that age was merely a number and was playing much less of a negative impact on performance.
Two: Repetition matters. It should go without saying, but no practice and infrequent play make Johnny a lousy golfer. Life’s limitations forced this on me for stretches in 2016 and I paid for it. You can have all the correct mechanics, solid mental preparation, and game simulation you want, but without frequent play and concentrated practice, your will lose your edge. I took comfort from the repeated reps I enjoyed during my late season golf trip. I found a renewed confidence that given the time and enough dedication, I could stabilize and improve all aspects of my game. I can’t wait to have that opportunity, although I’m not sure when it will come.
Three: Yips are part mental and physical. You are never fully fixed, just in some state of recovery. Thank God, I’ve never had putting yips, but have struggled with chipping for years. Enough early season work around the green provided a mechanical solution, and then a small change to my pre-shot routine helped the mental side. My only advice for any yippers out there, if you commit to a routine on or around the green of “rehearse – play without delay – accept the result,” you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.
So there you have it for 2016. Keep your glutes firing and play well!