Human beings are predisposed to favor either creativity or analysis in their thought processes. Take cooking for example. We prepare a successful meal by either following a recipe or inventing one on the fly. I am definitely in the latter camp, and believe that when we identify with a trend, it’s probably best to play golf in a similar fashion. I had an epiphany recently. I have always thought I trended scientific, but now believe the opposite is true, and realize my current technical approach may be hurting my game.
Do you play with a laser range finder? I do and my regular golf partner has a GPS device. These are wonderful instruments of precision and we normally share information on most shots, so I have the distance to the flag, the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green, as well as distance to any hazards or hidden course features at my disposal. When I factor in wind direction and speed, condition of the putting surface, and my current swing key(s), it feels like I’m trying to land a 747 on a small runway in a 20 knot cross wind. I’ve been consuming all this information for a long time and have been struggling to hit shots when thinking so precisely. I think there’s a connection because I had more success when I simplified by calculating yardages old school (using sprinkler head distances to the middle of the green and adding or subtracting estimated yardages for front or back pin placements). Lately I’ve also noticed I’ve had good results executing difficult recovery or partial shots where my approach has been very simple.
Here’s two recent shots side-by-side to illustrate. Shot 1: Yesterday I had a short approach into a par-5. I measured 54 yards uphill to a back flag. It was downwind, and the greens were running fast. I had 60 yards to the back. I thought, “lob wedge to 51 yards” but tried to be too precise and shut the face a little and the ball trickled over the green into the fringe about 25 feet long leaving a treacherous downhill putt, which I promptly three-jacked. I’d have been better off playing for the middle of the green. Shot 2: Last week, I drove a ball under a tree with low hanging branches. I had 160 yards left but could not elevate a shot. I thought, “hit a low 130 yard 3-iron then let it run up”. Now who practices that shot on the range? Not me, but I just rehearsed a simple little half flip with the club and hit the shot as planned. My target was much less precise, but I felt more relaxed during my pre-shot routine than for Shot 1. Why? I believe Shot 1 had too many technical inputs and Shot 2 didn’t. It allowed me to take a creative approach that my brain was comfortable with.
So what to do now? It’s quite possible that I’m not using the information at my disposal correctly or maybe it’s just too much information. I’m going to experiment on my upcoming eastern shore golf trip Friday to Sunday. Friday’s round is at Heritage Shores which I have played twice and am less familiar. I’m going to use the laser and GPS. Saturday we play Eagles Landing which I have played over a dozen times and know where to hit it. So I will go old school and pace off yardages and simplify. Sunday at Baywood Greens will be the more comfortable of the two approaches. I will let you know how it goes next week.
Do you over-complicate your approach on the course? Hope not.
I headed out to the driving range this morning determined to fix the mechanical fault in my golf swing that had created so much angst last weekend. If you’ll recall, I wrote that last Saturday’s range session had left me with a bad case of the pulls and I was able to slap a partial band-aid on for the following day’s round. Needless to say but I had completely taken the right side of the golf course out of play.
Armed with the same band-aid, today I proceeded to have one of those range sessions where everything was pure garbage. These things occasionally happen and I had the common sense to immediately whip out my iPhone and grab some DTL video with my gap wedge, Driver, and 6-iron. What I captured with the 6-iron was revealing. See if you can spot the root cause of Mickey Mantle:
The video coupled with a review of a couple DTL setup shots from previous blog posts solved it. Here is a shot from me last November at Baywood Greens when I was beginning to suffer a case of the pulls:
Now here’s a shot From Ross Bridge in October when I was hitting it good. Spot the difference?
In the good shot, I’m very balanced at address and in the Baywood Greens shot, my weight has started to slip back toward my heels. In today’s video, my weight is very much on my heels creating the insight path on the back swing and over the top move on the downswing. A good move in golf is an athletic move and I was in a poor athletic position. I could feel something wasn’t right but couldn’t nail it with out the visual.
What’s fascinating and frustrating are how these things keep creeping into my swing, but I understand that golf more than any other sport is a game of never ending adjustments. Part of the fun and challenge is trying to bank a group of recognizable adjustments that you can call on in short order when something goes a kilter. So, if you aren’t periodically filming your setup and swing you should be, and the more you can, the more you will learn, and the steadier you’ll play.
Can’t wait to battle test this tomorrow afternoon at Northwest. Happy Easter everyone!
We played Baywood Greens in Long Neck, DE on Saturday, November 2, 2013. What strikes you about this course is the aesthetics and attention to detail with regard to the landscaping. Baywood is known for its floral arrangements and during the growing season, they purport to have over 200,000 of the most beautiful flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees adorning the course. With everything dormant in early November, you could see where the pots and boxes were, but could only imagine playing in a floral paradise. Around the clubhouse and pro shop, the various appointments and touches were very nice and exuded class. What I found a little awkward were several gazebos positioned at various points on the golf course. In these structures were couches and big comfy chairs and I was left to wonder if a group is supposed to pause in route between holes and rest in one of these structures. Wouldn’t that slow play down?
The course is a distinctly different play from front nine to back. The outward half has more of a parkland feel with tighter tee shots framed by tall trees and on the back, lots of water comes into play. I found the back more scenic with many of the shots fitting my eye nicely. I was able to relax and strike the ball well off the tee and the course is not long so a good ball striking day can lead to ample short iron approaches and opportunities to score.
Conditions were very good but not perfect. The bentgrass greens were running smooth and medium-fast but a couple of the tee boxes were a bit chewed up with divots (see the photo of me on the 18th tee) and probably could stand to be rotated more frequently. Otherwise the course was a delight to play and I only suspect heavy play throughout the summer and fall took it’s toll on the tee boxes.
Playing Tips (from the white tees):
We were fortunate enough to be paired with a very friendly club professional (Tony) and he had lots of good information on where to position your tee shots which was great. Without that local knowledge, us first timers would have had a tough day. Thanks Tony!
It took me nine holes to figure out that pin-hunting was ill advised and some of these greens have a lot of slope. I started aiming for the fat parts of the greens and kept it below the hole on the back nine which helped take pressure off my putting.
#1 is a short par 4 but you don’t want any part of the fairway bunkers framing the hole. Take a 3WD off the tee and you’ll avoid the trouble and have a short to medium iron in.
The par-5 5th hole is very tight in the landing area for a driver. I didn’t know this until I watched Tony tee off with a 3WD or utility club. It’s a three shot par-5 so just get it in play.
The par-4 fourteenth hole has an island fairway that plays straight out and a chicken fairway that veers right and offers a much longer shot in. Again, I took 3WD and nailed it deep into the island and left myself with a 110 yard shot in. Driver could carry through the landing area so leave it in the bag.
#16 is a risk-reward short par 5 that plays 452 yards from the white tees. If you bust your tee shot and want to go for it, you better make it on the fly because water sneaks in from the left and protects the green almost all the way across the fairway. If you’re going to lay up, lay it back on the face of the hill at about 100-125 yards out. You cannot see the water on the second shot.
On the par-4 18th, aim farther left then you think. The left bunker or the cart bridge in the distance is an excellent target. Otherwise, water creeps up fast on the right!
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
High season prime time greens fees will set you back $129 if you want to golf on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It drops to $109 in mid summer and only eases up after October 27th when the weekend rate drops to $59. If you want to play in the summer, best to take advantage of the after 1:00 p.m. rate of $79. Your greens fee includes complimentary range balls, use of the practice facilities, and GPS on carts.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
Baywood Greens has a large pro shop and an extraordinary sized clubhouse/restaurant where parties and weddings are a regular occurrence. The white pillared driving range was a beautiful building that had many indoor – outdoor stalls. We were hitting from mats but there were ample stations to hit from grass, when the tee was open. There were two putting greens of adequate size and a smallish pitching green with adjacent practice bunker. While we warmed up, I observed that only two players could comfortably use the pitching green without getting in each other’s way.
On the course, #1 and 2 were playing cart path only, which precipitated a slower than desired start and I wasn’t sure why these holes were roped off. Elsewhere, there were very few areas to enter the fairways off the cart paths which felt a little awkward but wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. The “no cart” signs extended way back from most greens, so if you were within 75-125 yards, you needed to grab a stack of clubs and head out on foot.
Finally, we observed that nine holes were being constructed across the street. The goal is to make Baywood a 27 hole facility, but apparently the construction has been going way longer than expected, and while the appearance of readiness from the road looks close, there is no imminent date to open these extra holes.
Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)
When we arrived at Baywood Greens, there was a small traffic jam at the bag drop and the attendant didn’t proactively take action to move things along but we eventually dropped after a five minute wait. When we completed play, the gentleman taking in carts was friendly and cleaned our clubs promptly. As I mentioned earlier, we played with Tony the pro and he was very hospitable and made our afternoon enjoyable.
The process of teeing off is a little different at Baywood Greens, with the starter coming to get you at the driving range, and you following him in his cart to the first tee. I suppose that controls traffic and keeps groups from backing up at the tee. Golf carts are equipped with coolers and fresh ice, which was nice. The GPS measures your position to the center of the green, but not the flag stick. The GPS did have helpful playing hints on every hole, but I needed my laser rangefinder to get exact distance to the flags.
I would like to come back and play this course in the spring or summer and fully enjoy the landscaping in all it’s glory. It was an enjoyable day and having Tony as a playing partner made it extra special. For the record, we played from the white tees that measured 6,088 yards and I shot a 6-over par 78.
Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)
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