Good Practice Makes Great Play

Great news!  In most years, as soon as the pigskin starts to fly, my interest in golf wanes, but not this season. Maybe it’s because my college and pro football teams are supposed to suck, but I am super psyched for 2017 fall golf.  It probably has nothing to do with football and is mostly due to the success I’m experiencing during practice, and how it’s translating into better play.

Starting in April, I took four lessons with my instructor. We focused entirely on full swing for the first three and a playing lesson on the fourth. My goals were simple, average 10 greens per round for the year, try to lower my handicap which had crept up from a 5 to 6.3 over the last couple of seasons, and just have more fun.

Here are some keys; maybe you can grab a few.   The way I’ve been practicing has made a huge difference. I have re-dedicated myself to a mid-week session, and focus on ball striking and short game every Wednesday after work. Sure it’s inconvenient to get from downtown Washington to my home course in Rockville, MD, but I’ve found the following is true: You get out of this game what you put into it. I’ll do an additional practice on Saturday and play on Sunday. The three days per week provide enough reps that make the game more second nature than when I was only engaging on the weekends. Second, I’ve been able to focus on the same improvements over and over rather than searching for a swing key every time out. When you know your miss tendencies, and you understand why you miss, and you have the tools to make the fix, it’s so much easier to concentrate. Practice does not feel like a chore.  Pounding range balls and changing swing thoughts on every shot is exhausting and is like walking through the desert.

With any quest for improvement, to keep yourself honest, you should measure. The data look pretty good. After a very rough start to the year and many growing pains during the lessons, my GIR average has pulled up to 9. I’ve hit double digit GIR in my last four rounds and have been under par for a good portion of three of those. I’ve also noticed that I’ve picked up considerable distance with the driver and am more accurate with the wedges. In the past, I never put much stock in driving distance simply because I couldn’t hit it that long. But I’m finding the added distance makes a huge difference provided you are accurate with your wedges. For instance, last time out I only hit three fairways and two of them were with irons on layups, yet I still managed 13 GIR and a round of even-par because my drives were long enough to get a wedge in my hands.

Lastly, my index has dropped to 4.1 which is super encouraging, and of course, lots of fun because of the lower scores.  It’s cool to feel like you’re not trying as hard, but are playing closer to your ability.

Hope your game is coming around too.  Play well!

Improving Ability To Concentrate

Recently, a friend forwarded an article at The Atlantic by Jean Twenge.  The title; Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  It’s a long, disturbing eye-opening read that I highly recommend.  The gist is that screen addiction with our youngest generation is worsening their mental health.  I have seen first hand some of these effects with loved ones, and to a certain extent myself.  I suspect heavy users of devices and social media, such as myself, all are affected by the phenomena of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) to some degree.  This is a disorder where you feel the constant need to check your sites, and the distractions associated with the pull of your screens and devices.  Folks handle it differently, and I think I manage it reasonably well but have suspected that it’s hurting my powers of concentration.  This is not just on the golf course, but at work, at home, in the car; essentially everywhere.  I suspect it’s been the case for years and it’s getting worse.  So I’m going to run an experiment.

To reduce the effects of device induced FOMO, I will make three changes:

    1. No more checking work email during non-working hours
    2. No more daily use of social media sites (including this one)
    3. Complete elimination of any contact with Facebook for the month of August

So what am I going to do with all my spare time?  Play and practice more golf, increase my levels of physical activity, read a book.  Doesn’t sound so bad does it?

So if you don’t hear from me in a while, I’m not ignoring you.  Just in the lab experimenting with improved concentration!

Play well.