2017 was an awesome year of resurrection for my golf game. Going into the season, my index had crept up over 6.0, my ball striking was in the crapper, and I had turned 56. I was beginning to ask questions like, “Will I ever play good again?” It hadn’t escaped me that on the senior tour, guys traditionally hit the wall at 56 and fail to seriously compete because of their advancing age. Was this happening to me?
To find out, I bit the bullet and signed up for a series of golf lessons with an instructor who had given me some hope with a single lesson in the summer of 2016. I liked his teaching style, he got results, and I had tried to DIY for the last few years without success. The one metric I focused on was improving greens in regulation from eight to 10 per round. I found that a single goal helped improve my focus and dedication. After all, I was trying to break 40 years of bad habits, build some good habits, and enjoy myself during the process. Trying to focus on too many things would confuse my pea brain.
I started lessons in April and found the first couple difficult. Breaking the bad habits was very hard. Playing right after lessons is even more difficult but I had committed to playing more “golf swing” than “golf” for the entire season, which helped me be patient. In mid-series, I took my annual golf trip to Myrtle Beach. We typically play long difficult courses and you’d better strike it well to have a chance. With my mind still in mechanical mode, I managed to average 8.3 GIR on the trip and only had four rough rounds out of 10. I noticed I was enjoying a significant distance add with my driver, but was still experiencing too many big misses (pull hook) with mid and long irons. My last round was an 88 at TPC of Myrtle Beach. TPC is a course where big misses punish you. The course was also in my head and I never have played well there. A funny thing happened though. After the round, we had a quick bite and went out for a replay. We got in nine holes before lightning terminated the round, but I started to play better and left the course filled with hope.
After the trip, the lessons started to take hold and I experienced a great stretch from July 9 through mid-October where I averaged 10.75 GIR and played better than I have in years. On November 3, after a great 1-over round on a tough golf course (Hog Neck), my index dropped to 3.9 which was all the validation I needed that my approach had been correct. I finished the season with a 4.0 index and while not having hit my goal of 10 GIR (actual was 9.03), couldn’t have been more satisfied.
The big takeaway: I am not finished because of age 🙂 The guys on the senior tour slip at 56 because they’ve been playing close to the top of their ability when age hits. In my case, I had (and still have) loads of room for improvement, and even as I age, should be able to better my technique.
We never put our clubs away here for winter in the DMV and last year we had no snow and played right through to spring, but I’m considering this season a wrap. The year was mentally exhausting and I need a break. In 2018, I’m signing up for another series of lessons and hope to continue the journey wherever it takes me.
Hope you had a good season too. Play well.