Admittedly, I am a fan of Rory. I root for Rory usually at every turn with the exception of when he goes up against a fan fave like Rickie, Tiger, or Kevin Na. (Tiger, well, he’s in a realm all his own.) Other than that, I can see Rory swinging with power and looking to shave strokes all of the time.
Seeing Rory do his thing is something to behold. The natural flow of his swing is stunning. The amount and degree of torque he generates drawing the club back is superhuman. The yardage he registers time and time again is feat of pure power unleashed. I really enjoy seeing Rory take on the major courses.
When you root for Rory, you want to swing it like Rory 100% of the time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.