Have you ever played too much golf? Has excessive golf negatively affected your game? How do you come out of an indulgence-induced swing coma and continue to enjoy the game at the height of the season?
You guessed it, I’m in a slump and the problems started with an elevated amount of play. I’ll spare you the ugly vagaries of what the slump looks like and nail down what happened to help you avoid for yourself.
Back up one month and I was on my annual golf trip in Boyne Highlands, Michigan. The effort on these week-long sojourns is to overindulge, and the temptation is enticing. With beautiful weather and pure golf courses, you want to be engaged for every waking hour. A typical day has you arrive at the course at 7:30 a.m., warm up for a half hour, play your first round, eat lunch, re-warm up for 15 minutes, and play another 18. The day usually finishes around 7:30 p.m. You grab a shower, eat a late dinner and do it all over again (five or six straight days).
After two days (72 holes) I was feeling fresh. On Wednesday, we completed our morning round at Crooked Tree, and I played well, shooting 78 with 11 GIR, but the afternoon round was scheduled on the same course. The first two days, we had played four rounds over four different courses and the newness of each experience kept your mind fresh. Crooked Tree is a drop-dead gorgeous track on the south shores of the Little Traverse Bay, but the allure of the beautiful holes and tremendous scenery were absent for round two. It appears that a slump may be induced as much by mental fatigue as physical, because my concentration and swing departed in the afternoon. On day four, I awoke with a pain in the left side of my neck and couldn’t even turn my head 90 degrees to look at my target. The morning round was a disaster and after nine Advil, it finally loosened so I could at least play the afternoon. On day five, I was whipped enough to only play 18 and was just going through the motions.
When you’re on a trip, you desperately want to play your best, and when your swing goes, you can ride the poor streak out and hope it comes back or try and fix it. The lethal combo I encountered was fatigue + mechanical thoughts (trying to fix it). For me, good play begins with the driver. Excellent play begins with dialed in irons. On day three, my driving became erratic and ever since I’ve been back, I’ve struggled to hit the fairway. Clearly, I need a reset and have scheduled a lesson next Saturday. The good thing about my instructor is that even when we work on my swing mechanics, the message is single-threaded. He has me focus on one thing and the simplicity of message gets me re-focused.
On future trips, the message is also clear. I need to conserve mental and physical energy which means restricting myself to 18 holes per day. I realize that this year, after day two, I had played as many holes and hit as many practice balls as a regular tour pro on a tournament week (well almost). That’s a bit much for this desk jockey.
Have you had a recent slump? I hope these lessons learned will help you avoid the next one. Play well!