Tag Archives: The Birdie Hunt

Hot Start To 2015 Golf Season

HotNot sure what is going on with my golf game but I’m enjoying some early speed in the race for improvement in 2015.  I started the year with a modest goal of being able to walk 18 holes by the end of April and not experience any physical symptoms from my HCM.  Today I walked my second 18-hole round without difficulty and managed to back up last week’s 2-over 74 at Myrtle Beach National with a 1-over 71 on my home course.  I can’t recall coming out of the blocks this fast in the last 10 years and am trying not to over-analyze the reasons and just enjoy the ride.  But over-analyze is what I do, so here goes.  Maybe you can find a nugget or two that might help you.

The first key is a lesson I learned from last year’s dreadful start (92 on opening day) and some excellent advice I received from The Grateful Golfer.  Jim reminded me not to take the early season results too seriously and to ease into my game after the long winter layoff.  In 2015 I did this by walking 9-holes on my executive course on consecutive weekends and playing several balls without keeping score.  As a result, I relaxed for the start of the 18-hole rounds and played with less sense of urgency.  Jim, thanks for the reality check!

Second, I’ve sometimes found that if you are physically ill, or worrying about your health, it takes your mind off your golf game and you play better.  Has this ever happened to you?  I recall playing a round one year in my mid-20s when I was sick to my stomach and shot lights out.  Weird but true.  To be honest, my disorder is always on my mind and when I’m on the golf course I am filled with gratitude that I’m just able to play the game I love, and am not worrying about results.

Third, I’m beginning to wonder if this Rx I’m on isn’t having a positive effect.  Beta blockers are illegal on the PGA Tour for a reason.  They lower your heart rate and theoretically help you deal with pressure and nerves to an unfair advantage.  In my first 54 holes, I have yet to three-putt and feel very confident, calm, and trusting on the greens.

Finally, and most importantly, I heeded the advice of The Birdie Hunt and committed to returning to basics and not overhauling any part of my game over the winter, as I had done to disastrous results in previous years.  My only thoughts during practice and play are to check alignment, make a full shoulder turn, and clear my hips on the downswing.  Contact with my irons was solid last week and again today with 14 GIR.

So I’m going to continue to try hard not to try too hard and just let the game come to me.  Hope you can do the same.  How’s the opening of your season going?

Golf game is coming around. . .FINALLY and thank you!

It’s not often we once-a-week chops are able to string a series of positives together, but I had such the experience from last weekend to this, and it finally feels like my game is coming around .  It has been a brutal spring punctuated by bad weather and terrible ball striking.  The bad swings compounded into stress, worrying, and some serious mental game foibles.   But after this weekend, things are finally looking up and many in the on-line golf community have played a positive part and deserve my thanks.

First, thank you to The Grateful Golfer for pointing out that focus is extremely important in golf.  After our dialog, I realized that I needed a serious re-commitment to my pre-shot routine and to work on changing focus to targets instead of mechanics.  It’s great to bounce ideas off Jim; he’s such a wealth of knowledge and has great perspective.

Next, thank you to The Birdie Hunt for reinforcing the notion that continuous play is more important than practice, especially for the weekend hack.  I try to do both, but clearly the part time player benefits more from play.  Playing once a week is hard because it feels like you have to re-learn too many shots instead of call on them.  I finally played two days in a row for the first time this season, albeit only 27 holes, but the added reps were great.

Third, thank you to my friend Jim Rush who spotted a serious flaw in my swing during my pre-round warm up last weekend.  Nothing will start your round off worse than hitting huge smother hooks while you get loose.  I leveraged his advice as well as the on-line lesson from FixYourGame.com I took a couple years ago.  The takeaway; when things go bad with your swing, you are usually reverting to bad habits, as I was.  I will probably be fighting spine angle issues the rest of my days, but at least when I spray the ball, I understand why and can work it.  Yesterday and today I worked it and finally felt in control off the tee.

Lastly, thank you to Gary Marlowe for the chipping lesson back in 1983.  Gary was a fellow student at the University of Maryland and on the golf team.  Later he went on to play the PGA Tour for one season but had his career cut short by injury.  Gary and I were on the putting green one afternoon and he had me choke down to the metal with my trailing hand for better control, and play the ball back with a pronounced forward press.  I have been very dissatisfied with my distance control and contact this season, and recommitted to this tip yesterday during my nine-hole practice round and it felt good.  Today, I missed the green on #1 at Northwest and imagine how great it felt when I chipped in for birdie.  Change validated!

I’m not totally out of the woods, but it was nice to feel like myself again over consecutive rounds.  Hoping the momentum continues to build through next week’s trip to South Carolina.

How’s your swing coming along this spring?