Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential.
If I am honest about it, I have not played golf in ages. I can honestly say that I miss it.
I miss that feeling of the soft leather glove gripping the driver and taking the club head back slowly at the first tee and letting it rip on the downswing. I miss the green grass fairways and the oddly cut greens that leave your putts short and absorb a Callaway Super Softlike Cookie Monster on a chocolate chip cookie. I just miss the game.
Almost daily, I walk by multiple sets of clubs in my garage over and over again, agonizing over the pandemic precautions and the restricted movements of our society. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that many have suffered and died due to this COVID-19 pandemic. I truly have been stuck with where to begin again with my golf journey to breaking 90 on a consistent basis.
What better way to work my way back into the game?
The last tournament I played in tested out my latest driver and fairway woods. This one will give me a chance to shed some rust from the coronavirus closure. It would mark my first foray back onto the fairway.
Am I ready?
Can we ever say that we are really ready? I doubt it. I probably will regret not buying a few Mulligans. I probably will have a few of those yippy putts where I regret not practicing my short game on the bedroom or hallway carpet just to maintain my feel. But I bet I will have some of that old luster come out, too. You know that one drive where you say that’s why you came out in the first place. I could imagine feeling myself get into the swing of things by the back nine, depending on where I start with the scramble rather than shotgun start.
I think I can get in about 3 or 4 trips to the range and maybe 2 solid golf rounds before the tournament. That way I can at least make a decent showing before I tee off with my fellas from the Escondido Chamber.
At the least I should get a pretty cool golf face covering in the goodie bag with some free tees.
I want to be better, That’s my goal. My golf goals reflect that. I want to break 90 consistently. And my focus and dedication from 2018 to 2019 proved the possibilities of making that a reality. So, I want to be better. I like how the Grateful Golfer poses question about whether you’re a serious golfer or not.
I want to better than what I had managed to get done before COVID-19. I want to repeatedly do the right things to get those scorecards racking up scores in the 80’s. I just don’t want to squeeze out an 88 or 89 and barely get by. I want to return and work on a steady stream of 84 or 85 with consistency.
In the meantime, I will continue to share with you how I broke 90 and made it a regular thing.
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Some people swear by SMART Goals, while others are all about planners and systematic approaches such as Franklin Covey planners and inserts. I tend to get lost with such things. I have a content planner for multimedia, a general 18-month day-to-day planner for ideas and inspiration, and a journal where I keep track on four daily focus areas: FAITH, FAMILY, FITNESS, &FINANCES.
I believe I found the most usage out of the 12 Week Year, but I adjusted my daily tracking and to-do list a little more extensively. I needed the core elements of the 12 Week Yearcombined with The 100 Day Goal Journal. I felt that both systems worked to give me the things I need to advance and achieve goals.
Recently, I had to hit reset ad take a deeper look at my goals. As I approach the milestone of 50, I had to keep my mental bearings about me. Despite living pretty well, I have experienced greater anxiety with the onset of my mother’s cancer and I felt some hints of depression with mood swings after my cousin’s death last year. I remain highly aware of the day to day condition of those living with mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar, but I am also aware of the potential for a mental breakdown based upon the various pressures of this life.
I rely a lot on my faith, remaining firmly rooted in my beliefs. However, I do have to keep my awareness sharp, so I watch out for signs of undue stress and pressure. I fight to avoid any possible triggers, especially when I can predict some tense moments arising.
Managing my time is just one of those things that I have gotten better with over time. Due to my own compulsion, it has to be a certain way or it’s a total waste of my time. With that in consideration, I took a deeper look at how my progress was going with the system.
My Best Could Be Better
As I reviewed my daily logs since January, I realized that the evolution of the more personalized and customized system resulted in the elimination of a few pieces that also made it comforting work. The latest version had me still score my actionable items as opposed to questioning my progress towards long range goals for 10-12 weeks, even less.
The missing element was an evaluation method that informed me of where I was ad wasn’t progressing on my goals. What I realized was that I needed to focus on more of a simple set of evaluation questions to get to my progress towards goals.
What did I struggle with today?
What are some possible solutions?
Am I closer to my goals today?
I usually score my check boxes by the number completed versus the total number of check boxes for the day. I had set my mark for 85%. Oddly enough, I reviewed my work and even on my best days I was at 83% and 84%. I decided during this reset to adjust my mark of success to 80% until I feel the need for a change. I just want to make sure that my daily goals remain in line with my long term goals.
I was doing good, but I know that I can be better. I just need to place more emphasis on progress through daily actions. I can do way better in working towards my goals. I just need to document that work.
Goals and Golf = My Breaking 90
When I read Brian Tracy’s Goals!, I was still coming off a motivational high from David Goggins giving me insights into true endurance and fight through Can’t Hurt Me. Where Goggins left me high and with my feet off the ground, Tracy slapped me across the face with another level of a wake-up call. He gave me an a-ha moment like inEat That Frogwhere I finally figured out where the puzzle piece I had along fit into the big picture of getting things done.
I lacked commitment and consistency.
The 12 Week Year taught me the new definition for commitment that I felt compelled to live out fully. It stated that commitment is: the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action. In the past, my understanding of commitment was to just show up and at least show up on time if not early. This new definition forced me to have some kind of skin in the game.
In golf, some folks are comfortable wagering on a round. They play relaxed and calm, no sign that they feel pressured or anything like that. Then, there’s the other guy like me. He’s calculated the risk and has worked out scenarios on how to play it safe and smart, even if there’s money on the line. I have to tap into a buried part of my past to climb out of the darkness and swing for the fences off the tee and putt with finesse around the green.
My cousin and I used to place bets on each other’s shots, but we used to talk trash and take shots at each other’s confidence. We knew each other well and knew which buttons to punch and when to put just enough pressure on them. The money was no longer a factor by the turn. Pride was on the line once we got to the back nine.
Where I could never get tripped up was once I determined a certain goal, a score or a different focus beyond $2 per hole par or better. Once I had the determined mindset and focus, I was clear and the game played out right along with me. On one outing my cousin smoothly told me that I could relax and go to the bar or something to loosen up at the turn. I simply said with a smile,”I’ve never played so relaxed in my life.”
Golf goals allow you to focus and draw a mental map, detailing your plans from hole to hole. I am not saying that you picture every shot and situation. What I am saying is that you develop a calmness and a sense of confidence because you have considered a wide variety of scenarios with their best potential solutions ahead of time. In real time, all you are doing is evaluating which scenarios require which solutions.
What if you flub a putt read? Did you get any closer to hole? Then that’s progress.
What if my drive veers off to the left and lose some yardage? Adjust and compensate for the loss in your approach shot. That’s situational solutions to aid in making progress.
I am on Day #2 of the reset, but I am certain of one thing. It’s bound to get better because I am looking it over and placing my focus on progress for my long term goals.
Folks want things to go back to the way they once were. Or, so they say so.
With the new requirements of face coverings and social distancing, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
My home golf course sent me multiple emails, urging and encouraging me to return the course. They have assured me of all of the safeguards that they have put in place to ensure that play remains both safe and enjoyable. The emails seem well intended and well written.
I’m just not ready yet.
Fauci and Facts
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, “The Virus is a formidable foe.” No matter what President Trump says about Fauci, the fact remains that only one of them is a doctor and a leading expert on such health conditions. In a mad rush to reopen the country, we have seen an enormous increase in the amount of cases across the nation.
The PGA and Golf Channel have given us some teasers with a few tourneys the prior month, then some regular PGA events. Our appetites for watching golf had us salivating for at least a morsel something that we could sink our teeth into beyond those late night viewings of Celebrity Golf with black and white footage of Sam Snead and Hollywood hunks going at it for nine hole challenges. And the almighty golf media gods delivered.
My county has seen fit to reopen golf courses with a laundry list of safety precautions. The one about single golfer per cart is nice since courses were trying to pair riders prior to this, but not touching the flagsticks and removing the ball washers seem sort of extreme. But those precautions would not be deal-breakers.
Other states have slowly reopened courses as well, while some have chosen not to do so. As of now less than 5% of GolfNow.com‘s 5,300 partner courses remain closed. But that doesn’t speak to the amount of players actually hitting the links for a round. The question is not whether or not we can play. The question is whether or not we will play.
As for me and my clubs, I’m just not ready yet.
It’s Been a While and It’ll Be a While
It has been a while since I last played golf. I am not going to lie. And, like many golfers, I feel that itch to toss the clubs into the trunk and head over to at least the driving range to see what I still got in the tank.
But I’m just not read yet.
I believe that I could probably handle a full round of golf and hold my own. I don’t believe that I would come out striking the sweet spot on my drives or reading the greens for those delicate putts for par or better. But I do believe that I could go out and have a great time enjoying the challenge of the course and maintain a steady pace of play.
But I still believe it will be a while before I play again.
This time last year I was knee deep in golf. I played a short par 3 course near home in the AM hours and a choice of municipal and resort courses throughout San Diego County. Or, if I had the option, I would stay overnight and play Barona Creek or Sycuan, even Pala Mesa Resort. On “off days,” I would just hit the range or work on my short game with the gap wedge and pitching wedge. That lob wedge can be tricky. I’d work on putting game every so often, but I had grown accustomed to using my early morning play on par 3 courses to develop an eye for reading greens and feel for delivering some near-miss putts.
I even had plans of venturing up to Journey at Pechanga this summer, but circumstances changed that. The same circumstances have me resolving to not rush it, to take things slow and easy, and simply wait it out until I feel comfortable and confident about getting back out there.
I believe that there is still a while to go before we get through flu season and see the coronavirus curtail and dovetail into the distance like a hooking drive angled on a dogleg fairway.
My hybrids may grow a little dusty and my putter stroke may grow a little rusty, but golf is about touch and feel among other things. I do not believe that I have totally lost touch with the desire to play. That’s still in there. I do believe that when i feel comfortable and confident, I will load up the golf bag and mark my Callaway Supersoft balls with my red Sharpie as I take a few deep breaths at the first hole. Whenever I go out there again, I will probably wear some Loudmouth gear or something else bold and obnoxious to pretty much announce my return whether anyone else gives a hoot or not.
I just feel like I can wait it out until I am good and ready.
Weight Loss Update
Over the last two weeks, I have extended my long runs on Sundays and have also returned to the work site. Working on site as opposed to remotely from home can impact everything from workout schedule to meal planning. And I feel it.
I lost 7 pounds 2 weeks ago and regained 4 pounds before I got back into any kind of fitness groove this week. I need to kill it on my run on Sunday to keep pace with the weight loss as I enter a 10-day Daniel Fast coming up.
I will be sure to keep you updated as I go further with this journey.
Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for what I have mainly the ability to get up and get out, working out or walking, even playing golf. I see the condition others are at my age with aches and pains, especially former high school and college athletes, and i thank God that I got what I got.
But here’s what I see as what is wrong.
I am not in the best of shape.
To be turning 50 in less than 50 months, I need to make some real life changes. My cholesterol is in line and no high blood pressure. I do not have diabetes. I do not have major joint or back problems or pain.
On the other hand, I tip the scale at just over 280 lbs over the last 3 to 4 months. Call it COVID-19 weight or whatever, but I need to shed it. The last time I was this heavy just over 275 lbs with a limited active life, I was diagnosed with “pre diabetes.” That simply means that I am on the verge if I don’t make changes. And I did make changes. I got active. This time I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. I do NOT like the machine or the mask. The mask shifts around too much and the hose annoys me. I look like a lost Jedi fighter pilot out of Star Wars or something. I decided to continue with the sleep study and try my best, but I am also determined to get in shape before 50 and NOT need this machine at night or 2 Advil in the morning.
I want to be fit by 50.
Everything that is wrong with me is under my control: Sleep, Nutrition, and Activity.
Sleep: I do not sleep long hours. I got sleep apnea. But the sleep that I do get isn’t always restful. It’s time I take sleep seriously due to its impact on my ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.
I will commit to eliminating the things that disrupt and rob me of a good nigh’s rest, interfering with my sleep and my health.
Nutrition: I have added more fruit and vegetables to my diet, but my problem is that bread dominates my diet. It can be tortillas, pizza dough, sourdough slices, or biscuits. I drink too much coffee throughout the day (and evening). Too much coffee leads to added sugars because I am that guy. I also do not drink enough water.
I will commit to eliminating bread from diet for 2 weeks initially. I will commit to removing white bread and white sugar from my dietby July 20th. I will focus on the transition to a plant-based diet as I begin again with “clean” eating.
Activity: I am inconsistent and too sporadic with my activity. Prior to COVID-19, I played basketball once per week if not 2-3 times. I also went to the gym at least 4 days per week (treadmill, free weights, weight machines, and stationary bike). I would do Zumba and body combat classes. I would run an average of 8 to 10 miles per week. Now gyms are just reopening. When it comes to golfing, a lot of golf courses are just getting back to up and running again. I should have read those blog posts on getting fit while at home. And we are all supposed to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. I might be doing 4 to 6 miles per week run, jog and walk at best. I am sort of at the starting block as Eleanor Sophie put it in her recent June post.
I commit to maintaining a consistent activity schedule, including logging at least 10 miles per week. I will also add variety to my workouts to attack my problem areas.
Golf is a game. Some will go so far as to call it a sport. You play golf for fun.
You play golf for the challenge. You play golf for the experience. You play to get better.
“If you play poorly one day, forget it. If you play poorly the next time out, review your fundamentals of grip, stance, aim and ball position. Most mistakes are made before the club is swung. If you play poorly for a third time in a row, go see your professional.”
– Harvey Penick
Golf is a game like I said.
I view it is a game that requires both skill and strategy. In essence, to play golf, you need to plan your play. Otherwise, you will suffer from many of the ills that plague so many and leave them frustrated for an average of 18 holes and too many strokes.
Plan Your Play for Each Outing
You need to know what you have to face when you go out to play. Blindly jumping onto any course without knowing the lay of the land is like breaking every rule of The Art of War. Get a preview of the course and its layout before you head out in order to get an idea for what type of shots will come into play.
For instance, I love a long course. Hit me with a handful of par 5’s and limited amount of par 3’s and I am good. I use Greenskeeper to get a sneak peak of courses that I have yet to play or that I haven’t played in a while. After all, some of these groundskeepers and course managers love to make more than subtle changes from season to season. Forget pin placement. I am talking about overall structural changes. These can throw off your plans tolay up on approach or go for the green in two.
One of my favorite courses is Singing Hills (Sycuan Resort). It has a great layout for long ball play and challenging holes for approach shots. I take on the par 3 Pine Glen course for some short game practice and walking, but I tend to love the wide spaces offered on the Willow Glen and Oak Glen courses. Even though I have played these courses multiple times and played some of my best golf there over the years, I still find that hosting numerous tourneys has led to some changes over time. Plan prior to play.
Plan Your Equipment for Your Challenge
I have some days where I never touch the beach. Then, there are times where I cannot seem to get enough bunker sand in my socks. I also find that much of this tends to stem from the type of course I am playing and the type of equipment.
Considered sort of heavy handed? Got hybrids? Use them more often than your irons. I don’t care if play blades or cavity-backed clubs. The advent of the hybrid is a godsend for big guy like me. It’s more forgiving than my long irons, and it surely packs a punch like a wood. You will never play at a higher level if you do not consider what type of equipment you are playing on different types of courses.
I tend to struggle with that approach shot that lies somewhere between 160 yards to 90 yards. What used to be a soft 6 iron for me has now become a 3 hybrid half swing or a hooded 5 iron shot, all depending on what I am facing and where I am trying to go.
More Things to Consider in Coming Posts
In future posts in this series, I want to point out how planning your play can go beyond the surface of scorecards and checking your golf bag’s contents. I want you to consider how much more fun your game would be when your scorecard shows those 17 bogeys instead of that 3-digit monster that haunts so many weekend golfers from course to course.
You can open your mind to all sorts of methods of getting there. The biggest challenge is to narrow down all of your choices to a simple solution that works for you. That’s the whole point. Find what works for you and play it all the way.
Getting to the point where you can break 90 easily comes with practice and consistent play. That’s a simple look at it. Dig deep into the idea of fixing your golf game for better scores and more fun. Dig deeper and you will discover that breaking 90 will take more out the high handicapper than just showing up and teeing it up for a round of 18 holes every weekend.
Your game will not improve without making some changes. The things that need improvement usually take away from the game being fun. You know what should happen, but you just don’t seem to have that execution down yet.
That needs fixing. You have to fix your flaws.
I love to research different golf publications that can help. Some of my go-to reads include:
These usually give you tips and exercises on game improvement as well as equipment and product reviews that span from golf shoes to golf equipment.
Find the Right Strokes and Shots
You have to add a little bit of finesse to your game. You have to add some focus as well. You also need to add the right shot selection for the present opportunity. That means taking into account the course and the conditions as well as the lie of the ball and how well or poorly you have been playing so far and similar situations.
Some folks might recall me sharing about the infamous flop shot and how mastery of it does not come easily. When you are struggling and scrambling to keep up with the rest of your foursome, that is not the time try out some new shot or swig technique that you caught a glimpse of while watching YouTube.
Find what works for you and keep a running mental file of which shots work best in which types of situations. Refer to these when you are considering your options. Rely on these when you have very few options before you. High quality equipment and gear play a role in golf, but they do not outweigh shot selection as a core element of game improvement. Your shot selection is highly import and has an impact on improving your game.
Many people have a “home course” or some course that they play often. What that really means is that they play that course frequently. In many cases, they can run down the specifics of each and every hole as if they were asked to recite the ABC’s. The problem with home course mentality is applicable to maintaining one’s game, not necessarily improving one’s game with challenges found in different courses.
Your game cannot improve without some challenges being faced and conquered. That is where the improvement comes into play.
in to improve your game, the challenges faced must take you to different aspects where your game is not at its best. That’s when you have to start improving via innovation and intuition. If you do not do well on par 3;s, play a full 18 hole par 3 course. They do exist, you know.
Your game will not improve just by research and swing analysis. You need to put together a plan that will both challenge and help change your previous knowledge. Your biggest hack for your game might come in the form of learning how to conquer your challenges.
It goes sort of like that flop shot that every golfer seems to flip out about mastering. As much as golf pros and swing coaches might suggest ditching the lob wedge in lieu of a gap wedge or alt wedge, it still sits in the bag. We still try to force ourselves to emulate or rather imitate what we see Lefty pull off from the fringe. We consider it working on our short game and fight to master a flop with finesse.
I have yet to see it work out. Its infrequent and inconsistent success keeps me chipping with my other wedges and 9 iron more consistently rather than taking the risk of yips taking over as I overthink what should be a simple and routine shot. I would rather face a shot with consistency and confidence. I would even putt it from the fringe if the lie is right and I can see the possibility of getting a good line at the hole. That beats out the possibility and potential of a flop from the fringe every time.
Focus on Fixing What You Can Fix
So, when it comes to my Fitness Fridays, I sometimes lose focus or even miss the opportunity. I make the mistake of not getting in enough protein. I skip a meal or commit some other fitness cardinal sin. It turns out like that flop shot.
When your fitness focus flops, be sure to set up a comeback. Do not beat yourself up too much. You just need to refocus and get back at it to get back on track.
Talk yourself out of doubt. Your self-talk will make a difference in your success.
Spend some time making a commitment to your fitness and nutrition regimen.
Set some simple and attainable goals. Think SMART goals.
Work on working in some makeup days in your weekly routine.
Meal plan and meal prep ahead of time, not the morning of or on the fly.
Keep a journal or diary of your fitness journey. Include workouts and meals, even results from weigh-ins.
Your success is about long term results. Such success is achieved through commitment and consistency. You can change the course of your own success by making some changes along the way.
Think about it. Your golf round is not summed up by your worst par 3 hole. It is the culmination of all 18 holes. Approach your fitness plan the same way.
I want to make my Fitness Fridays more successful. I want to see a change in my strength and shape, even my weight. I cannot achieve it if I stay in the dumps about what one day that did not work out. I have more to achieve and I need to spend some time making sure that I focus on how to fix it when it flops.
Now that flop shot? I think I will spend some time working on it here and there, but I doubt if it ever becomes one of my go-to shots that I would rely on in pinch. I will treat it like the days when my fitness focus does not work out. I will simply take a step back analyze what worked and what didn’t work, and then I will shove that lob wedge back in my bag and take a sure shot that I feel more confident about each round.
If I am going to break 90 consistently, dropping pounds and improving strength and stamina are definitely necessities. Otherwise, my golf game will be so inconsistent it will become unpredictable.
I started a regular fitness regimen a few years ago and it has been beneficial. I walk. I run and jog. I play hoops. I lift weights. I hit up the cardio classes at 24 Hour Fitness on the weekends. And I need to keep losing weight and building up my strength and stamina.
Some time back, I found it difficult to walk a par 3 18-hole course. Heck, I could hardly handle a 9-hole with over 6 clubs in my bag at that time. It was all about a cart or no deal.
Nowadays I can walk that 18 hole par 3 course. I prefer mornings myself. There is something about that fresh cut grass smell in the air and the frost coming off the greens to make them slightly slick in the right (and wrong) places. It also serves as a major step count boost, especially if you get 18 holes out of the way early in the day.
My fitness level improves my ability to have a strong game.
Consider the following items to fix your fitness for the fairway:
Nutrition: Check out your diet; what you take in day by day, meal after meal. Track meals and manage your diet based on your weight and other health goals.
Exercise: Get moving daily. Get those step in day after day. Join a run club or a fitness center. Walk at the local park. Just get up and get motivated to get moving. The heaviest thing you lift should not be your golf bag.
Rest: I used to not give this any credit, sleeping 4 to 5 hours per night and wondering why my immune system would shut down on me every so often. Duh!! I average 6.5 to 7 hours now. I even cut off my snacking after 9 PM due to how it disrupted my sleep. Like the commercial says: never underestimate a good night’s rest.
Stress Reduction: If you do not reduce your stress level soon, you will create a load of problems for yourself further down the road. Stress disrupts your entire system. Major and chronic illness is called disease. In other words, your body system is NOT at ease. From blood pressure and heart disease to anxiety and panic attacks, stress is a killer. At the least, stress can kill a great foursome and a good round of golf. Just ask your playing partners.
Make the most of your opportunities to stay fit. Fix what you need to fix to get fit for the fairway. It will show on your scorecard. Your body will definitely thank you for it.
But beyond play, golf has a unique style of its own.
Whether it’s Callaway, Titleist or Under Armour, I enjoy golf style both on and off the links. Nike and Adidas golf gear rank up there, too. Greg Norman has a style that I have always loved. Ashworth used to be among my go-to brands, but things change over time.
I prefer a blend of both classic and bold styles. I am not so much for all of the modern styles offered, but I definitely have dabbled with a few since I discovered golf subscription boxes like Short Par 4, Swing Society, Birdie Bundle and Swinger Box. For bigger guys like me, some styles do not fit.
I love LinkSoul and all that it has to offer from hats to tee shirts and shorts. Asher Golf and LinksStyle Golf are among some of the brands I came to love through Swing Society and Birdie Bundle. Travis Matthews and Matte Grey are a few of my favorites, too.
Get discounted golf styles at the following links: