It was 60 degrees in the DMV yesterday. With no snow on the ground I had to peel my rear off the sofa and get the season started. There was one problem. I have been rehabbing elbow tendonitis and a previous trip to the range in early January ended badly and forced me into formal rehab. I’m in the fifth week of a six-week physical therapy stint and it’s going well. I have been constantly dialoging with my physical therapist on how best to accelerate my healing and prepare for the season. The goal is full recovery by March 1st. My daily regimen of exercise the arm, stretch the arm, ice the arm, and remain a couch potato is growing old, but admittedly it’s been working. I’d estimate I’m about 80-85% recovered.
Last week I took a few full swings with the driver in the back yard and experienced some pain so I did not clear myself for full ball striking and worked short game and putting instead. I’m glad I did and my arm is just a little sore today. If you are right handed, left elbow tendonitis can be rough because you brace yourself against a firm left arm during the strike. I need to be really cautious here because a dead left arm could put my season in jeopardy. My guy says to, “let the pain tell you what to do.” If that’s the case, I shouldn’t have played on this for three years and got it treated. Oh well.
Yesterday, I chipped with all my clubs and worked a large variety of shots. With a brace on the elbow, the first five shots elicited some mild pain but it loosened up and felt great for the balance of the session. I was also surprised how sharp I was after expunging whatever left over baggage I had from 2018. I’d love to play next weekend but it’s too soon. It will probably take a couple weeks of range work and maybe some more short game and I should be in action by mid-March.
Have you ever worked through a bout of tendonitis? Got any words of wisdom?
Recently a Golf Digest article came out where Phil Mickelson indicated he might not play in this year’s PLAYERS Championship. Being one of the leaders on the world stage, should he skip a tournament of this stature? It would be disappointing not having him participate but Phil doesn’t feel he’s a “horse on this course” as he sprays the ball a little too much, and even though he’s won here, it doesn’t set up well for him. I say, “skip it.”
Professional golf is unique because players get to choose where and when they compete. You are measured in two categories; total wins and victories in the majors. Phil is 9th all-time with 44 wins and five major titles. The better you are, the more selective you can be. More importantly, he’s in the 20-win club and has earned a lifetime exemption to play whenever he wants.
Other players before him have set the bar on selective participation. Rory McIlroy skipped the Olympics in Rio. Sergio Garcia skipped a recent FedEx playoff event because he was too tired. Several American pros have been known to skip the British Open because of the travel burden. Back in 1987, Greg Norman expressed a vehement displeasure with the 9th green at TPC of Avenel and didn’t play the Kemper Open for several years afterwards.
I will miss Phil’s participation if he elects not to play because I get a perverse pleasure of watching pros struggle with courses they are not suited for. Isn’t it fun watching Rory battle his internal demons at Augusta? Or watching Phil’s never-ending quest for the US Open with his cache of painful second-place finishes? Occasionally, someone breaks through like Sergio at The Masters. He had always underwhelmed at Augusta and had a horrible final round choking reputation. Bam! All gone in a flash. Very cool.
So, if Phil skips The PLAYERS, I’ll be fine. What about you?
Have you putted with the flagstick in yet? Under rule 13.2a(2), you may now putt on the green without having the flagstick attended or removed. Some players on tour such as Adam Scott, are taking every putt with it in. The mad scientist, Bryson DeChambeau, has identified a COR (coefficient of restitution), whatever that is, and declared he’ll putt with it in to take advantage of this calculation (other than in US Opens where the flagstick is made of some different material). Others are keeping it in or having it removed to suit situations.
Anecdotally, I’ve observed that most shots that strike the pin from off the green end up closer to the hole than if the pin hadn’t been in and this is in the forefront of my mind. I have not played in 2019 (still rehabbing elbow tendonitis) so I have plenty of time to think about how this will play out.
My initial thoughts:
On long putts where I’d normally have the flagstick tended, I’ll leave it in as a backstop. This is definitely beneficial if I am coming in too fast. The one exception is if the wind is blowing and the flapping of the flag creates a distraction. Then I’ll ask for a tend.
On downhill putts of any length, I’ll leave it in as a guard against too much speed.
On short straight putts, I’ll leave it in and use it as a small target to try and bang the ball against. This will help me get more aggressive, which I badly need to do.
On short to medium breaking putts where I’m trying to feel the speed, I’ll take it out unless the hole is on a severe slope and I can guard against a runaway.
I have a system I use for putts of 15 feet and longer to judge the distance. Will this need to change? I was also planning on getting a professional putter fitting and replacing my 1980s model Ping Answer with something customized to my game, but this may have to wait. Changing putter and approach at the same time may not be a wise choice.
The most important aspect will be to practice all putts with real flagsticks and not just those skinny little three-foot high metal pins used on most practice greens. A round on my 9-hole executive course will be just the ticket.
Have you putted with the flagstick in yet? Please share any thoughts or strategies you have.
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