Aerated Greens and More Challenges

“A great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer’s mind.” — Tom Watson

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Most golfers can say that the challenge of your average golf course comes down to its design or its incorporation of the natural landscape into the course design. Whether it be the flowing waterways that present a hazard running parallel to and across a course’s fairway or the rocky hillsides of local mountain ranges, most courses tend to place you smack dab in the middle of nature with a few added challenges to boot. To be honest, most golf courses have their own built-in challenges.

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Aerated Greens Add a Challenge

Playing Cottonwood the other day gave me a discounted tee time and plenty of challenges on the putting surface. The course is an East County of San Diego County staple with its wide open fairways and reachable par 5 holes. Take into account that landing in the rough tends to come at a high cost for the average player, this course continues to reward straight drives and soft chips onto the green with little backspin. . . even on aerated greens.

Decent Play Despite the Heat

An added challenge for this day was the heat. I was on my way to the course and found myself battling temperatures pushing beyond 90 degrees. As I drew closer to the course, the higher the temperature rose. By the time I reached the course, the temperature was somewhere between 92 and 95 degrees. Thank God for dri-fit golf shirts and board shorts.

Despite the heat, I still had a decent outing. I found myself pulling my drives to the right initially. My on-spot analysis gave me every indication that my hands and clubhead were moving out of sync with my body, but I did not make a major adjustment immediately since my recovery shots were placing me in a decent position. Those right-sided drives would come to cost me on holes #10 and #17, robbing myself of yardage as obstructions cut down the ball flight of my tee shots.

Oddly enough, my tee shot on hole #13 placed me smack dab behind a tree line and facing about 195 yards out from the green. I smacked a 5 wood low and it threaded the needle between a wishbone-looking branch of a tree for a straight pathway that left me about 10 yards short of the green. Having survived that hole with bogey, I began to adjust my alignment on the tee and cut down on my tendency to pull my drives to the right, but I slipped back into old habits on hole #17 and it proved costly.

Scrambling Saves the Scorecard

Let’s be honest! If you keep pulling your drives to the right, you will not hit too many greens in regulation nor set yourself for too many birdie opportunities. You’ll work against the thick grass of the rough, having to select a club and shot based upon how the ball lies in the thicker grass as opposed to how it might be sitting on the fairway. So, hitting 3 fairways and 1 green in regulation did not help to improve my scorecard.

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My scrambling got me out of trouble a few times and I thank God for that type of recovery on the course. However, even scrambling here and there isn’t enough to get you shot at birdie or par. In most cases, it is just enough to keep playing that bogey golf. On the front end, my 3 double bogeys cost me. In theory (and hindsight), if I had cut that down to just a single double bogey, I would be sitting pretty with an 89. But my 91 was well earned. My putts rolled well despite the aerated greens, edging the hole more often than I care to mention, so I continue to play with confidence.

Aerated greens? I’ll take the challenge. And I’ll take the discount as long as it’s still available.

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Spring Break Golf PLans

Spring Break golf plans are underway. Every single day during the week of Spring Break this year has some element of golf on the to-do list, even if it isn’t all play. Whether it be a bit of wedge work and chipping around the green or walking 9 holes in the morning hours, this week is dedicated to getting out there and getting back on track to breaking 90 more consistently.

Spring Break Golf PLans for 2021

After some review of my winter break golf spree, I have chalked up my lessons learned and see how to add more balance to days off and spending time between rounds of golf on productive work like my freelance writing, weekly video livestreams, and organizing multiple side hustle projects. I have made an initial decision regarding my dilemma to go spikeless or spikes, purchasing the Skechers Pivot spikeless golf shoes. Other than a few extra pounds from bouncing from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, I believe that I am armed and ready to get back out there on the course.

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Limited Daily Doubles

Roll back the calendar a few years ago, I would have definitely felt fine about taking advantage of free replay or playing early AM and then again at twilight on the same day. I learned my lesson and I definitely will take it easy, spreading out my daily doubles during this time of intensive play. My regimen has to include at least half a day gap if not a full day off from playing twice in one day. The body needs what it needs.

Walk More, Ride Less

Like I said, working from home and sitting on Zoom has not been the best thing for my health. I have truly had to change some things up in order to get my fitness back on track. That is perfectly fine and it fits perfectly into my playing plans for Spring Break golf rounds this year. My focus is to walk 75% percent of the time or more. If that’s the case, then I need to be sure that the Advil is packed, the water bottle is filled, and my pre-game stretch routine includes some deep or dynamic stretching.

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Breaking 90 is an Ongoing Goal

I have broken 90 multiple times. That is not the problem. I can play primarily bogey golf and catch that one par to break 90. The formula is not that hard to calculate. Execution is the key. That’s a major factor when you start talking about golf and errant drives, remarkable recovery shots, and yipped chips around the green.

Here is my short list for keeping my head in the game and getting out of my own head:

  • Control: I want to remain in control and that means not forcing myself to make a lot of poor choices that leave me with limited shot options. Know when to layup. Keep an eye on where I am with hitting the fairway consistently. Manage my expectations and play the shot that will deliver the most benefits with the least amount of trouble. Play under control and keep swinging.
  • Confidence: The more I play the more confidently I play. That might be more than just me, but it makes a difference. You can be 1oo confident. That’s cocky. We don’t want that. We want confidence in our swing and shot. That’s where we want to be this Spring Break.
  • Consistency: This comes from doing thing right time and time again. Don’t make drastic changes. Adjustments are fine. Those don’t cause us to get too far off into our own head. Major changes can cause
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Overall, I am ready to hit the course this Spring Break and see what rust I can shake off and what new adventures that I can experience. I have a good idea of where i would like to play, so I will keep you posted as I post throughout this week.

Keep swinging and having fun.

Finding More Fairways and Fixing Flaws

My latest golf outings show that my score did not improve much, but my overall game improved in different areas. What does that mean? I am finding the fairway a little bit more with each outing. I have also been fixing flaws here and there, so I can see and sense some changes in my game. I have not conquered those greens in regulation (GIR) yet, but I am making some overall progress with my game improvement time and time again. Having played Carlton Oaks at least 3 times in the past 6 months, I have been able to compare my stats and recall my mishaps where I still need to make some simple fixes.

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Back at the Back Nine Again

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I spent an early Sunday morning walking 9 holes at Carlton Oaks with the sun just beginning to peak out over the ridges of the nearby hillsides. I usually find a deal on this every so often, so I take advantage of the price and the opportunity to get my steps in before 10 AM by walking the back 9. This also makes my comparison between these rounds played at different times.

I love that scenery and layout of the course, especially the back nine. I am growing more comfortable with substituting a fairway woods and hybrids for my long irons on approach shots and second shots on long par 4 holes and par 5s. I can see the difference in my play. Plus, it is just refreshing to get up and walk 9 holes every so often.

Body Alignment = My Best Adjustment

My alignment in the tee box and off the tee has improved over the last few weeks, especially after seeing some of my better iron shots and other shots miss the mark due to my body alignment with the target at address. By making some simple alignment adjustments, I am finding more fairways and playing from a better position than the rough to the left or the right. I can feel the difference upon contact, and I can see the difference with the ball placement after its carried nearly 200 yards off the tee. Centralized ball placement on most holes will provide you with a better shot at getting on the green in regulation (GIR). Just this change alone has contributed to more consistency within my play.

Approach Shots Getting Closer

My approach shots are getting closer. I have not been able to get those GIRs in place yet, but I have been able to get closer to the green. Somebody who tends to these greens keeps those things protected by thick rough on their fringes. In many cases, if I had taken a little more club or drawn back with a three quarter swing instead of a half swing, I would have been safely on the green. That’s about my judgment call and I can improve that. In fact, that’s on my agenda to fix soon.

Fixing Flaws

My main flaws have been the lack of greens in regulation (GIR) with some fairways hit and poor judgment in some key areas of my game. I already addressed the GIR situation, but let me expand a bit further on these fairways. This latest outing had me with no GIRs but 57% of fairways hit compared to 42% in January and 25% in December. That’s incremental improvement and I will take that over time all day long. If I continue that pattern and pace, then I will killing the fairways time and time again.

Judgment calls cost me strokes at times. To be honest, these poor judgment calls are costing me at least one if not two strokes each time. I need to minimize that and quickly. I can recall 2 holes specifically where poor judgment killed me.

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Par 3 12th Hole

I messed up off the tee and hit the ball fat off the edge of the club’s face. That produced an odd runner that skipped and bounced onto the edge of the green with a rollback that settled on the fringe. I putted onto the putting surface working a whale of a curve shaped into the green only to come up too short on the right read. Get that fact. I had the right read. It was the right line. I just didn’t give it enough gas. After my next putt went beyond the cup, I settled down and got it in for 5 strokes. I knew where I misjudged and I will work on that.

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Par 4 18th Hole

This hole requires either a bold and big time second shot to give you a chance at par or a deflated ego that can live with laying it up and taking it home with a bogey on the card. I let my ego get the best of me. My hybrid and 3 wood had been good to me all day. With less than 220 yards to carry the water hazard, I swung that 3 wood and fell short of my goal by about 10 yards. Total Tin Cup scene played out right there. I dropped another Callaway right where I was and I repeated the same shot but aligned with twin bunkers guarding the green, swung with that alignment, and got that Callaway 3 feet off the green. I at least know that I have it in me. I know that by the time I got done with the drop area and a bunker shot I walked away with my double bogey and laugh at the expense of another stroke.

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Oh, I am getting better. I just getting ready to pounce on some spring break golf opportunities and then it will really show.

Mixing in Weekend Workouts and Practice Rounds

In planning my play, I have mentioned at times on this blog how my work schedule allows for me to have extensive periods of golf play during school breaks. Technically, I preferred the year-round school schedule with its periodic 20-25 days off. But you oftentimes have to make do with what you get when you work for someone else.

PLaying Practice Rounds

President’s Day Weekend is one of those rare four-day weekends that affords me some extra time to mix in some practice rounds. This includes me playing at a championship course like Carlton Oaks. Gone are its days of luster from yesteryear, but this course still packs plenty of challenges for an average golfer. Walking the back 9 for about a third of the regular price for the full course with a cart is great way to make the most of my practice rounds.

Whenever I am planning my next round of golf, I tend to go through a routine that helps me get in the right mindset, find a good deal on tee times, and occasionally work in walking the course as part of my weekend fitness routine. I find that playing an 18-hole par 3 course is more economical and more efficient than buying a large bucket of range balls. The key advantage is that I learn more situational golf skills, decision making, and adjustments.

Weekend Workouts Versus Weekday Workouts

I like mixing in weekend workouts and practice rounds of golf whenever I can. These both work to my advantage. These both best fit the time that I have free and available. When it comes to the weekends, I need to make the most of my time.

Weekday Workouts: Training Days

During the weekdays, I set up Tuesdays and Thursdays as my training days. I usually try to get in my high intensity interval training (HIIT) along with some simple cardio and resistance training on these days. The other days are simply walking or light cardio and bodyweight exercises. This has worked for me so far, and I find that what I am able to get done before one makes me feel like I have accomplished so much.

Weekend Workouts: Walking the Course and Practice Rounds

It might seem like a bit of a cheat but it works for me. I used spend endless hours searching for the ideal local 5K to run at least once per month. Usually these happened on the weekends, so my weekend workouts were in the bag per se. Then COVID-19 hit.

No more 5Ks other than run-on-your-own virtual events. That called for me to come up with a replacement. With golf fitting in as a perfect social distancing sport, I found that walking the course gave me some challenges but it was best for me overall as I entered 2021. This allowed me to get in some steps build some stamina and build confidence as I mix in a few practice rounds.

Maximizing Practice Rounds as Weekend Workouts

I know that my practice reveals my problems, but I also know that it also sheds some light on where I have lost a step or two and where I need to push myself in order to get back into shape. That’s a reality that I have had to face, so I deal with it by mixing in some weekend workouts with practice rounds this weekend. I will face some challenging courses and some familiar holes with different flag pole positions, but I will also be killing two birds with one stone. I get in my walking steps at new heights for probably two days in a row and I will kick off my week with a fitness spark that will keep me motivated throughout the week.

Golf Shoes: Spiked or Spikeless

It is time for me to upgrade my golf shoes.

How do I know?

The Conditions When I Play

I tend to play golf in the morning a lot. Sometimes, as luck and circumstances would have it, I just get a better deal on that 6:30 AM tee time. That means that I not only find myself getting dressed while it is still dark and downing a hot cup of coffee before hitting the road towards the course but also facing different types of conditions. It’s usually wet with dew still making the fairways and greens play differently. It usually includes some fresh mud and even marsh-like conditions when you find that tee shot has veered to the rough just left of the fairway. And heaven forbid if I find myself in one of those beach-like bunkers with that wet sand like a shoreline.

The Way I Tend to Play

I try to walk the course more often nowadays. Riding a golf cart does not require a lot of consideration for the comfort level of your golf shoes. However, even walking 9 holes or a compact par 3 course, I discovered the need for greater comfort and more traction.

I have slipped and busted my butt a few times playing early mornings with only the sun peaking through the distant trees, so I know that I need some grip and traction. There’s nothing like having your swing mechanics aligned with all of your swing thoughts, only to result in you swinging and spinning out of control every now and then. That causes you to play too cautious and rob yourself of some yardage on a tee shot. Approach shots, chips, and pitching are not so bad. But I never noticed how much your shoes came into play for putting out on the green until my feet were pulsating and throbbing after tackling the front 9 of a hilly, slightly-sloped course. You don’t have to worry about the yips when you got aching feet halfway through a round. That’s when I vowed to restrict my play to certain predominantly-flat courses until I made some changes with my footwear.

The Choices are Either Spiked or Spikeless

Regardless of how you play or under which conditions you usually play, you got a choice of two options: spiked or spikeless. You can go traditional with spiked golf shoes. Or, you could go with the more trendy option of spikeless golf shoes. My current golf shoes are an early version of spikeless golf shoes and have suffered the inevitable doom of wear and tear. Prior to that, I have had both types of shoes. Since I am walking more, I am leaning toward the comfort and lightweight spikeless versions. Yet, due to playing in the mornings a lot, I recognize the benefits of a good pair of spiked golf shoes.

What a dilemma?

The recent rollout of the latest golf shoes has me salivating in all honesty. I mean this is purely a Pavlovian experience every time I check them out. I look at the latest spiked golf shoes and I start getting that itching to just pick out a pair and try them out on the course. Then, almost like Pavlov’s dog, I see the latest set of spikeless golf shoes and I am smitten by them all.

Do I Buy Spiked or Spikeless?

I want to that 72-hole test of spiked versus spikeless like Daniel Box of Golfalot.com, but I don’t think Amazon Prime will take anything back after such an undertaking. But I am on the hunt. All of the top brands have some great options and some new names have emerged in the fray, too. But here’s where I am stuck.

Help me out and answer a poll for me.

I will be sure to check back over the next few days to weigh the results. I already have some folks weigh in offline and they are killing me with their rationale. If you believe that you have some sound advice, drop it in the comments and I will be sure to check it out. I usually get some sound advice from the likes of Brian Penn and other golfers who blog on their play and the sport in general, so I am looking forward to getting some ideas on this whole dilemma.

Thanks a million. I will keep you all updated.

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Getting Over the Mud Ball Ruling and Other Controversies in Golf

Before I get too far into the whole mud ball ruling and Patrick Reed’s advantage in his recent PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines by 5 strokes, I have to admit that golf fans can get into a frenzy over all things golf related. This is especially a sensitive issue when it comes to the rules of golf. We see golf fans up in arms of things that span the full spectrum of play from the new rules regarding the flagstick to the highly-debated controversy of Mudgate, the muddy ball ruling that has sparked so much chatter and fodder on discussion boards like Reddit and social media like Twitter. At the end of the day, we spend a great deal of time discussing and debating these occasional hiccups in the professional ranks and end up pointing fingers rather than developing real-time solutions and accepting human error as part of the game.

Am I a Patrick Reed fan? I think some would do well to read hist story before passing judgment on a journeyman golfer who finally broke the ranks to win in the professional ranks. His journey to where he is now says a lot of who he really is and might help some folks see the man beyond the hoopla of the headlines.

Controversy or Convictions

Will I win many fans based on this post? No, this post is bound to split the entire span of golf fandom right down the middle. We are so likened to baseball and its vanguard of the legacy and integrity of baseball that even we at times can’t see that the times are a-changing right before our eyes. Golf today is nowhere near what it once was to so many diehards, but most of the changes have led to increased diversity and all sorts of innovations to spread the gospel of the game of golf to new fans and players alike.

We’ve got basically two distinct but overlapping sets of golf fans. There are those who just watch and follow golf, and then there are those who play golf and try their best to keep up with the latest PGA Tour and LPGA Tour buzz. A few are dedicated followers of the senior ranks in the Champions Tour, but for the most part people keep their eyes out for PGA Tour major tournaments and some serious competition within the LPGA ranks like the Koda sisters, Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang, and Lydia Ko. Brooke Henderson, Anna Nordqvist and Charley Hull are popular LPGA players with a fan following that includes some rowdy boys shouting out their undying love every now and then at an otherwise quiet par 4 hole. That’s not the entire realm of golf fandom but it puts some major groupings in order for starters.

Here’s the scoop on all of this. They’re pros. We’re not. They’re human. Yes, they are. They make mistakes just like us and they tend to err in judgment just like the rest of us who seek relief or declare a ball unplayable when we know good and well that we’re just not that good.

Questionable Play Beyond the Mud Ball Ruling

There have been plenty of questionable antics on the PGA and LPGA tournament circuits that we’ve witnessed televised right before our eyes. Golf fans keep an eye out for some of the slightest rules infractions as well as some of the most egregious ones. It’s part of the phenomena of watching golf live and seeing things go down during real-time viewing.

Lefty in the 2018 U.S. Open

Albeit one of my favorite guys to watch, Lefty took things to an extreme in 2018 U.S. Open. He putted a ball while it was rolling. He took the 2 stroke penalty and moved on. Most golf fans did not. Such an act was unfathomable and it was just too much for too many fans.

Really?

I dare most weekend golfers to go back over their weekends on the links and recall the most outrageous act by that guy in your foursome- you know the one who pushes the envelope at every opportunity and says to hell with the rules. Whether he claimed that his twelve feet left to putt should be a gimme or he used 2 mulligans before you reached the 6th hole, that guy gets a pass with his constant rule-breaking antics and Phil Mickelson needs to be demonized?

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Lexi’s LPGA Loss Due to Fan Calling In a Penalty

Fan input took to an all-time new high when a fan dialed in to share that Lexi Thompson should have been docked four strokes. The fan stated that since Lexi moved the ball she should have been assessed a two stroke penalty and then a second two stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. Four strokes? That cost Lexi the win despite her heroic efforts in a major tournament playoff round.

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Imagine playing with that guy. Well, you probably have played with him before. Or, you have played with someone with a similar disposition of knowing what’s best. You know the guy who keeps the scorecard and asks after every hole: “How many you get on that one?” and he still counts every stroke and step you took from the tee to the green. Some people take the fun out of just enjoying a sunny afternoon on the course. It’s different if you got some money on the game, but this is an otherwise futile fun-stripped outing at best with this guy.

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LPGA Q-School Rules Violation

I don’t know who is really to blame for this. It seems like part of the point of Q-School is to get more familiar and prepared for entry into the professional ranks. The primary folks in any Q-School whether PGA or LPGA are people coming up from the amateur ranks. Either way, the controversy in 2019 LPGA Q-School involved two players, a par 3, an 8 iron, and a two stroke penalty. The real funky part of this ruling was that it simply involved asking another or his or her caddie for information during play. She asked what club the other player was using, and the other player’s caddie obliged by divulging the information.

Whoa! How many times in similar situations have you heard another player ask a fellow member of his or her foursome: “What club did you use on that shot?” I mean I would imagine that unless you have been playing with some tight-lipped golfers, plenty of us have gone so far as to break that one on every dogleg and tucked away green on the course. And, like these ladies involved in the ruling, we didn’t realize it was a rule either.

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Where do we go from here? Patrick Reed will continue to be demonized as a PGA tour menace for all kinds of reasons that people feel comfortable tossing his way. Lefty will always get a side eye glare as he plays until his retirement. Fans will no longer have input on rulings, though. That might remain a good thing that comes out of all of this controversy.

I find that the best answer to all of this comes in the form of a controversial video of one of my favorite golf guys Bubba Watson. He has a recovery shot and a fan belts out advice from the other side of the ropes on what Bubba should do, but Bubba takes to addressing the ball and striking it pure to make a sensational recovery. He looks around for the guy afterwards but no sign of him. What is most delightful is Bubba stating that there’s a reason that the fan is on that side of the ropes and he’s not before taking his swing.

They’re pros. and we’re not.

Leave it at that.

Captivated by the Challenge of Championship Courses

In golf your strengths and weaknesses will always be there. If you could improve your weaknesses, you would improve your game.

Harvey Penick

As I dip in and out of watching the early rounds of the Farmers Invitational, I know that it has been something of a desire for many to play our local Torrey Pines course. I know the familiar coastal views and the lush green fairways appear even more majestic now that we cannot travel in hordes of rowdy fans trailing Tiger, DJ and Brooks to rival our Phoenix Open golf bros with this COVID-19 fan restriction, but the course still appears to be challenging from what I have seen on TV so far. All those in contention for the lead (or even a share of the lead at the least) have one thing in common: they’re all playing the same course and facing similar challenges.

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The Course is Both Challenger & Competitor

I see the course as both challenger and competitor. It has been designed to not simply offer too many “gimme” holes in the form of easily reachable in 2 par 4s or simple par 5s that are just a mere 15 to 20 yards longer than the longest par 4 on the course. Course design of late has seemed to taken a less is more approach that somehow leaves most Saturday and Sunday golfers seething with some sort of sadistic sensation of seeking more as their course designs dumbfoundedly develop desires as they both defeat and dissatisfy the average duffer at the same time. In other words, plenty of folks are not getting plenty of pleasure out o these course designs but they keep coming back for more like gluttons for punishment.

It is simply by design now and more apparent when we see championship courses that might have boasted of a challenging par 5 last year that the tournament committee has unanimously and hilariously opted to convert to an extensive par 4 for this year’s tournament. Course design typically pits a full roster of FedEx Cup chasers against the course and its course designers and groundskeepers. Those pin placements are so intricate and whatever clipping or trimming level that they are using for these greens with this mixed in sand are enough to keep your head spinning from day to day. But whoever created island greens or bunker-guarded greens just plain has some aggression issues that need to be worked out. I can only imagine what it does for these guys seeking FedEx Cup points who have braved courses from Dubai to Mexico in the off season, only to face the return of the PGA Tour season with a kickstart in Hawaii and the newly-COVID-cleared West Coast Swing kickoff at Torrey Pines (and we’ll see from there).

So what does that mean for us so-called regular golfers?

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Past Championship Courses Still Present Challenges

I played Carlton Oaks many times before I realized that it had hosted PGA and Canadian Tour Qualifying Tournaments, NCAA Western Regional and Championship events, Junior World, The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and many other professional, collegiate and amateur events. One guy remarked when I got my first par on the course a few years ago that scoring well on that course and keeping it in the low 90s is feat within itself for a weekend golfer. I shrugged it off, but then later I began to realize how much playing practice rounds and multiple tournament rounds does to a golfer’s advantage within a week.

I guess if a few of us played the same course again and again, even something like Carlton Oaks, we should see some marked improvement over our scorecards, too. Some would get a better feel for the course in general, other would hone in on those special touches around the green to get that to work for them. In other words, we would have time to tackle the course based on past and present experiences and make note in our own little yardage books that very same hole where the fast greens veered to the right now have a sudden speed drop within 2 inches of the hole.

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Chisel the Course into Chunks

Armed with that knowledge, I would probably shave a few strokes off here and there. My problem is that it took an article in Today’s Golfer to open my eyes to what a round of golf really come down to in terms of strokes. “Golf’s Most Wanted Shots” opened my eyes like I said to how much short game focus would be required to shave strokes off the scorecard quickly and repeatedly.

Golf Shots as Today’s Golfer expertly broke down

The main shot of any round is putting. Say what? Every hole doesn’t require a drive off the tee. Every hole doesn’t require an approach shot or layup. But each and every hole requires you to putt. So, if that’s the case, improve your putting skills and start to improve your scores. Combine wedge shots, chip shots and bunker play and you have another 13 strokes or so added to 35 putts which makes for 48. Well, man, I shot that on the back 9 alone a few times on a good day.

What I am saying is that we look at the game from the wrong perspective. We tend to rally behind DJ, Brooks, Tiger and a few others because they crush that ball off the tee and send us into a frenzy over what is not even a major factor in the scoring calculation of a full round. Driving counts. It just doesn’t count as much as we make it seem like it should.

If you are serious about your game, sooner or later you’ll play Ben Hogan.

If we chisel down the course into chunks, then we can approach each hole with analysis and anticipation. We can design a strategy (Plan A) for if we take care of business and launch a solid tee shot into the fairway at approximately 200+ yards. But, if need be, we have a recovery strategy (Plan B) where we select a long distance hybrid after a weak tee shot landed us at an odd angle 180 yards from the green and just off the fairway in the early signs of the rough that our fairway woods won’t be able to cut through at all. That way we keep the emotions out of it. That way we don’t lose it and toss clubs into lakes or trees. We simply assess the results of our last attempt and make an adjust prior to taking action with our next attempt. Other ideas on how this can help lower scores are out there in the blogosphere.

Conquer the Course: Hole by Hole

If we could do that for every hole, review and revisit it as we play, and remain calm enough to continuously refer to it, then I believe that we could see results trickle in over time. It’s just like that elephant that the consultant spoke about during your last strategic planning session or team training that you attended. You’ve got to take it one bite at a time, so chunk that 18 holes into sets of 3 holes. See each hole within that set as a separate attack plan with a sequence of anticipated actions in mind.

I have included part of my process for planning my play that i used in 2017 and 2018 as I began to approach golf with a different mindset. These are visuals that I use based upon the current scorecard available on www.greenskeeper.org and most discount tee time sites. This process helps me develop my attack plan hole by hole in a planning mode that I try to translate onto the course without losing my way or getting too cocky if it’s going good. Much like other golf bloggers out here, I can admit when I lose sight of the goal or focus on the immediate action in the moment.

As I continue to work on my game, I am going to watch Brooks and DJ clobber those tee shots. I am going to shout and howl when that titanium plate makes contact with that dimpled synthetic ball, sending it to heights and distances that even send the most popular golf shot trackers out of orbit. But I will know deep down inside that I need to watch those putting techniques from the types of John Rahm, Patrick Reed, Kevin Na and Webb Simpson

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Owning the Course

Be sure to read my article on owning sports & entertainment stocks to get the full list of stocks.

When it comes to playing in your zone, you are said to own the course. In other words, you can’t do wrong. And if somehow something does go wrong or awry, you end with such a sweet recovery that it all just seems so meant to be somehow. You play with an ease that keeps the yips at bay. You play with such a laser-like focus that your clubs work like magic from hole to hole and your scorecard shows it.

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Own the Course Beyond Your Play

I recently wrote an article about my sports-folio, the portion of my investments that I dedicate to stock in sports and entertainment companies. This was a follow-up to another article I published earlier the same day on Medium. Some of what I own spans the sports world from sports teams like the Atlanta Braves and Manchester United to entertainment and media companies like Disney and Comcast, but owning some of the golf companies is real hoot.

I have been investing for years now and it has saved me from some real low times in my life. My most recent investing has me weighing heavy bets on the dividend-paying stocks of the Dogs of the Dow and a major index -driven ETF position of DIA (Dow 30), SPLG (S&P 500), and QQQ (Nasdaq 100). However, I do get to dabble in what I call my sports-folio. It literally lets me own the course in a few instances with some relevant golf stocks.

While there are plenty of sports-related stocks, I try to manage and hedge my bets. I like owning a piece of the action. I like being able to say that that’s my team and I literally mean that’s my team. I use Robinhood and Stash for these portfolios split almost evenly between both accounts. If you join and add cash to Stash now via my link, you will get $20 sign-up bonus and I will receive a $20 referral bonus. Join Robinhood via my link, and we both get a FREE share of stock.

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Got Golf Stocks in My Sports-folio

My sports-folio got a wide array of sports and entertainment stocks that include Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA) as well as Barclays (BCS), Manchester United (MANU) and Madison Square Garden (MSGS).

Acushnet Holdings (GOLF) gives me a piece of the action with some highly recognized names in golf today. Considering that GOLF is associated with some of the biggest names in the sport like Titleist, Vokey and Scotty Cameron, I have to admit that it seems like the Amazon of golf stocks to me. It just has everything in its wheelhouse. Wedges, putters, and all of the equipment and one of the most popular balls on the PGA Tour and among weekend golfers with the Titleist ProV1. This one is just a winner all around.

VIVI Properties (VICI) is a diversified real estate company formed as a REIT with a handful own golf properties in its portfolio that are featured on the PGA Tour. The company is truly engaged in entertainment, hospitality and more, including Caesars Palace. VICI owns four championship golf courses among its portfolio of properties and stands to keep investors happy with its consistent dividend payments going forward.

Another blogger did an excellent job laying out similar golf stocks, including the ones that elected to not add to my sports-folio. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

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Why These Golf Stocks and Not Others

Nike (NKE) and Callaway (ELY) are still involved in the golf equipment and apparel markets. Why not NKE, a major leader among sports retailers on a global scale? Why not ELY which represents one of the most popular brands of golf equipment and apparel on the market today? because I am looking at the stock and not for a new driver. I have a different strategy for evaluating stock ever since I started reading and listening to Gerald Peters. Those stocks do not fit my plan right now. And, to be truthful, they may never fit and I can live with that. Investing should not be based on emotions and sentiments. It should make sense for making you wealthier day by day with increased valuations and price as well as dividends or other perks.

At the end of the day, I feel good of where I am with this sports-folio. I am hedged my risk. I am positioned to say I own a piece of the action in both sports and entertainment. And I know that may not say something to someone else, but it makes me feel like I am really owning the course. And in some cases, I am really owning the course.

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Finding Time for Fitting in Fitness

My back is aching. Not my whole back but my lower back seems to carry the brunt of the issue. My morning ritual has been disrupted by a sinus headache and I wonder if I am feeling the effects of the sudden change in weather or just the lack of preventive care for an ongoing problem. Despite all of this, I wake up and work out.

100 +100 +100 Just to Start

I start my morning workout with a mini stretch session that by most standards is not enough to relieve me of my lingering back pain. It is more of a warmup than a stretch at less than 3 minutes, but it gets my blood flowing a little bit and keeps me motivated for the morning workout.

My typical morning workout finds me doing this regimen:

  • 100 modified push-ups
  • 100 bodyweight squats
  • 100 jumping jacks

I try to down a full glass of water along with that regimen to get started. Otherwise, I dive right into my coffee and I can see my water intake getting thrown off track throughout the day. Combining the water intake with the workout makes me feel like I have conquered something, as if I have overcome a challenge or leaped a major hurdle.

I’ve got my reasons.

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Problematic Pandemic Conditions

Pre-Pandemic, I would go to the gym at least three times per week, shooting hoops 2-3 times per week and doing walk-jog-run intervals on the treadmill every time I hit the gym door. I would walk at least 3 times per week and do a 5K distance run on Sundays weekly. That was my routine. I found the time to make it work for me and add jumping rope and other exercises within my gym sessions and seemed to have my weight under control, making gains on my weight loss goals month by month.

Then came this coronavirus curveball. . .

I had to start working from home remotely. Joining Zoom sessions every other hour and organizing emails along with responses to emails in the midst of coordinating and calibrating with others on my team at work. By the time that I got this figured out, I believe that my routine had been severely thrown off course.

Gym closed. Parks closed. Golf courses closed. Cities and counties went on lockdown with curfews. States declared pandemic regulations and provided updates daily from the governor and leading public health officers. In the meantime, my waistline expanded and my weight loss crept back to prior numbers and beyond as I just tried to figure out what working from home meant and how it worked for me.

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Finding the Right Fit for You

I have spent a great deal of time trying to make fitness fit into my schedule. It can be a challenge, but it can be done. What I truly learn in the midst of all of this confusion is that you have to make certain things a priority in order for them to get done throughout your day or week.

  • Schedule fitness breaks throughout the day
    • Use your smartphone’s alarms
    • Set reminders on your wearable tech like your FitBit or other device
    • Create and post a schedule on your fridge or mirror for you to reference throughout the day
  • Keep your water bottle filled and close by
  • Take a walk for 10 to 15 minutes before your lunch break
  • Stretch and walk around the house every 30 to 45 minutes
  • After work, take another walk or do some form of indoor workout before dinner

You have to find the right fit for you. The most important thing is that you work in some time to get your fitness in and make it happen. Don’t give up. You have more to lose by not making it work than you do by not doing anything about your health.

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So I Walk 9 Holes

You got to start somewhere. If I mix in walking 9 holes with my regular routine, I am doing okay. Yeah, my goal with golf is to break 90 on a consistent basis. That’s my goal. Does walking 9 holes fit into that? It helps me practice and get into a rhythm. Does walking 9 holes make me more fit? It certainly does that, too.

My next move is to get a cart for when I walk. I have seen some pretty good deals on them, so I would like to snatch up a good deal before spring comes along. That would keep me from slinging my bag across my back (right where the pain seems to sit) and pushing through round after round. by the time I get to spring break, I would like to walk 18 on a fairly flat course on a regular basis like biweekly. That way I can walk 9 on the alternate week when I am not walking 18. After all, in some places golf means walking-only these days.

It’s a start. You got to find the right fit and right the right time. I just have to remain consistent with it. I just have to tick with it and commit to making it happen.

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MLK Day: A Day Off, A Day on the Course

I rarely pass up a good deal. And, when it comes to good deals on a round of golf, I am usually game. That’s what I came across online for walking 9 holes at Carlton Oaks Country Club at 7 AM on MLK Day. I took that with a quickness.

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Carlton Oaks Country Club (Santee, California)

Located in the midst of a residential area, Carlton Oaks Country Club is tucked away between the 52 Freeway and the single family homes of this eastern suburb. In an era where many courses seem forsaken by management and groundskeepers alike, this course still retains its luster as the morning sun pushes up from behind the nearby hilltops and shines upon the dewy fairways. Even with the morning mist rising from grassy open areas, this course offers plenty of built-in challenges embedded within the front and back. It also includes water coming into play on some key holes, especially a forced layup for most golfers on the final 18th hole.

Play to Your Strengths

My switch back to the TaylorMade Burner with the 10.5 degree head has been awesome off the tee. I am seeing more lift in my drives with less drift and pull. Right now, I am just under 40% of fairways hit. I expect that to bump up on my next outing for a similar course. I can gain a little bit more control extending my arms through impact and following through further. Plus, if I can be honest, I could truly have utilized my 3 wood off the tee to have given myself a better second shot in a few places. Implement that strategy on 2 holes, and then I am busting over 60% fairways hit.

Maybe next time.

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More Par Opportunities and Close Calls

After my play at Cottonwood, I knew one of my struggles was not giving myself enough of a chance at making par. What does that mean? If I average two putts when I make it to the green, then my best shot at par is to get to the green with at least a birdie opportunity. For instance, I took some time to read and watch Today’s Golfer’s instructional article and video on scoring better on par 5s. I am not there yet, but I am getting closer.

My par on the 15th was after my third shot with a hybrid landed above the hole just off the green. By following that up with a light chip shot that rolled within inches of the hole, I was in the prefect position for par. Fast forward to the next hole and I found myself in a familiar position at the same hole I had chipped in for par my last time on the course, but this time fate killed my chip shot just inches from falling into the hole and forced me to take a bogey. It was a heartbreaker, but like I said before, you limit your chances for making par when you force an all-or-nothing shot for par off the fringe or at an extensive distance.

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Next Time I Play. . .

  • I will have on some lightweight golf shoes
  • I will consider my 3 wood on some holes surrounded by hazards
  • I will try to shave 2 strokes off my score
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