Reduce COVID Restrictions!

Is it time to relax COVID-19 restrictions on the golf course?  Most definitely.  We have learned that the disease primarily spreads through sustained physical contact with an infected person and not through contact with hard surfaces.  Many golf courses have instituted guidelines designed to protect players against contacting the disease from objects we touch.  These are over-protective and can be recinded.  Since the game is played outside, social distancing is an easy way to protect players from real transmission and keep the sport one of the safest activities around.  Let’s review what restrictions should be maintained and what we can dispense with.

HARD SURFACES:

Chances of contacting the virus through the handling of bunker rakes and flagsticks are quite remote and can be rescinded.  Most courses have also implemented modifications to the hole to prevent the ball from falling to the bottom.  These usually consist of a restraint that allows the ball to rest just below the surface.  Either way, the player still needs to retrieve their ball from within the circumference of the cup and the virus isn’t living in golf holes.  Let’s resume smoothing footprints in sand traps and putting into regular cups.

GOLF CARTS:

Most courses have restrictions on riding in carts.  You are prevented from riding with individuals other than those you have been sheltering with.  It makes sense to maintain these protections.  Riding side-by-side for four hours with someone who may be infected is asking for trouble.  A side benefit of maintaining current cart policies:  I think a foursome with four carts can play faster than the same group with two carts because some aspects of joint passenger cart etiquette don’t apply when everyone  drives to their own ball.  At least that’s been my observation.  Issues with rationing and cart shortages are being managed well by most courses.

DRINKING WATER:

This one is a big concern.  As we hit the hot summer months, removal of cold drinking water from everywhere on the course is not a good idea.  In a round last week I was walking, and it was hot and humid.  My cold Gatoraid was finished by the 9th hole and I was left with two additional bottles of drinking water.  By the 12th hole it felt like I was drinking hot tea.  The only benefit was that it was wet.  I have a vested interest because of an unpleasant heat exhaustion episode I suffered through a few years back.  There was no cold drinking water on a course I was playing in Myrtle Beach, and I had to quit after seven holes after falling quite ill.  I think it’s fine to bring back the coolers and keep them filled.  Maybe store a dispenser of Clorox wipes next to the paper cups for those concerned.

I know there is a concerning uptick in the infection rate in many of the southern United States.  It may not seem like an opportune time to reduce COVID protections, but this outbreak is being observed because of unwise behavior in bars and gathering spots, not on golf courses.  Golf is one of the safest social distancing outdoor activities you can play.  It’s time to return to a sense of normalcy.

Play well!

 

The Amazing Power of Concentration!

photo from azquotes.com

Did you know good concentration techniques can save you five strokes per round?  How many of you have setup to hit a golf shot and sensed something wasn’t right and pulled the trigger anyway?  Did you hit a good shot?  Doesn’t happen.  That “not right” feeling is caused by either a breakdown in concentration or a faulty address.  If we can eliminate both, we’ll drastically reduce our mistakes and improve our scores.

Address errors usually fall into two categories.  Either your alignment is off or your posture is bad.  The fix here is simple.  Restart your pre-shot routine and get comfortable before you hit the shot.  Of course, you can hit a bad shot from a completely comfortable starting point, but thinking that something is not correct before you swing is a sure fire way to misplay.  Lately, I’ll find myself a little uncomfortable looking at the target and wondering if I’m slightly closed.  This never results in a good shot and I need to work to reset.

Concentration errors come in many flavors.  Anything that pressures you to deviate from your natural rhythm and cadence is an issue.  In my last round, I was paired with two beginners.  There were a lot of swings and misses from these two and I told myself early on to be very patient.  But alas, the extra waiting between shots started to preoccupy my mind and my game suffered.  Something as small as a playing partner stepping on your putting line or playing out of turn, or someone standing in the wrong place, can mess with you.  If you are preparing to hit a shot and thinking about anything other than the specifics of the shot, you are susceptible to a concentration error.  The situation with the beginners put me in a tough spot.  Golf is a social game and I love meeting interesting and new players.  The only measure of control I could have had was to schedule a game with a foursome I was comfortable playing with.  Again, the best antidote is to pause, perish the negative distraction, and reset.

Physical errors are more easily excused because we are human.  Concentration errors are tougher because they’re preventable.  It takes discipline to reset if you’re not ready to swing and do so anyway because you don’t want to hold up play.  It just takes a few seconds to reset and will be worth your while.  Give it a try and watch the extra strokes disappear!

Play well.

Is Top Golf Practice??

Top Golf Facility – photo from morethanthecurve.com

Would you classify an evening pounding balls and drinking beer at Top Golf practice?  For some, any activity with club in hand is practice.  I have never been to a Top Golf.  Sounds like fun but that’s not practice.

Guys in my Myrtle Beach travel group have gone to the PGA Superstore on a rainy day to hit balls in the bays with the new drivers, and putt on the indoor green.  Nope, not practice either.  We used to stay at The Legends in Myrtle Beach.  When we found out our room cards worked in the driving range dispenser, we’d play 36 holes, eat dinner, and then go to the range for practice until the lights turned off at 10:00 p.m.  THAT was loads of fun and we did help each other root out our swing faults for the day, but that took a lot of energy.  I’d call it practice.

Indoor putting green at PGA Superstore – photo by prnewswire.com

I generally practice alone, but on occasion join up with friends.  Both types are valuable.  The last couple times at my club was with friends and the light banter was great, as we worked through long game, short game, and putting.  Sometimes these sessions can evolve into a contest on the range or putting green.  A couple weeks ago it turned into a swing film session.  But the key is the personal interaction.  It’s especially important to socialize at a time when folks can over-isolate themselves.  If you don’t have four hours for a golf game, try half the time at the practice facility.  It works great.

Regardless of how I practice, I enter notes in a spreadsheet on what I worked on, and grade the session.  After the last few with friends, the grades weren’t that high.  Clearly, I do my best work alone.  Today, I went early and alone to the local muni to work on short game and had a great session.  If you time it right, there are drills and games you can play that aren’t possible with friends or at a more crowded facility.  My real work gets done alone.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m back at my club with friends after playing some tennis in the morning.  This tennis-golf routine on the same day is a great cross training aid.  I call it a “Nicklaus” because Jack often spoke of playing tennis.  I also tend to go easier on myself with the golf practice after tennis.

So, what’s your opinion, is Top Golf practice?  How do you practice best, alone or with friends?

Play well!