My play has been anything but consistent. I can admit that.
I need to get more consistent with my play. I commit to that.
I want to be that consistent player who enjoys his play on the course and experiences something good on the scorecard.
Journeys Take Time
There’s a reason why the tagline for this site includes my journey to break 90.
It’s a journey and journeys take time.
You don’t just walk around the corner or down the block for 10 to 15 minutes and say it was a journey. No, journeys take some time.
Journeys take time for you to get the lessons that they offer. You might discover some things along the way, but you usually have most of the takeaways towards the end and after the journey has been completed.
Consistency Pays Off (in the Long Run)
Consistency has a payday.
The problem with that is that it usually takes time for it all to pay off. The payday for consistency is typically in the future. It usually pays off in the long run.
You don’t just show up and (POP or POOF) it all works out. That’s not realistic. It takes consistency. It takes time. Over time, it leads to a payoff.
Seeing Results on the Course
You’ll get the added benefit of seeing results emerge along the way. That’s the beauty of the journey. You can see where your consistency has led to game improvement and where your inconsistencies have led to repeated mistakes and errors in judgment.
Less time invested means you’ll see fewer results. Add another day on a short par 3 course. Put in an hour or so at the driving range. Place an emphasis on your short game. Whatever you do, add to it more consistently.
I am not going to lie at all. I liked what I saw on the course. It was a joy and an honor just to witness it.
Unlike some things in the world of sports, the Wyndham Championship delivered on thrills and moments worthy of ESPN golf highlights. And for there to be a 6-way playoff at the Wyndham Championship, that was all the more exciting to watch.
Congratulations:Kevin Kisner for winning the 6-man playoff and earning a $1,152,000 windfall. It was his first win since 2019 and the fourth PGA Tour win of his career, but it was his first playoff win. Congrats!
My Condolences: My man of whom I am a fan Kevin Na almost brought it home by finishing 15 uner (-15) and shooting rounds of 68-64-67-66. His final round of 66 at 4 under par was good enough to tie for 2nd but remains impressive nonetheless.
What Happened?: Russell Henley was in the lead, then there was a bogey on the second hole. That’s no big deal. Plenty of pros recover from that. It was the four bogeys on the back 9 that gave him a +1 finish for the final round. Ultimately, he missed out on the playoff opportunity and had to settle for tied for 7th with -14. I get it. It happens to the best of them just like it happens to the rest of us. Golf can be merciless at times.
My Hats Off to You: Chesson Hadley striking paydirt with his first career hole-in-one on the 16th hole. Not only was it his first ace on the PGA Tour but it awarded 1 million Wyndham rewards points on behalf of charity. Truly my hats off to this dude, especially for his happy hop of a reaction to hitting it in one shot.
First 6-Man Playoff on the PGA Tour
It was nothing less than amazing to see it play out no matter how it turned out. The thrill of a 6-man playoff on the PGA Tour was truly a treat.
I mean we’ve seen playoff holes before. They’re nothing new. They usually are the stuff that breaks down to exposing the tenacity and toughness of players to go the distance. However, your typical playoff might include 2 or 3 players in a playoff as the norm. It might even require not playing again until the next morning due to the loss of daylight. We’ve seen that before, too.
But a 6-man playoff offers a thrill like none other before. It was the equivalent of a World Series going extra innings with a series knotted up 3-3 and coaches using every arm in the bullpen to nab that victory. Or, it is like OT in Game 7 of an NBA Finals series that has the best of best matched up and going at it for the title. It’s not an everyday occurence and we owe thanks to the PGA Tour and its stellar players for delighting us with such an impressive round of golf and a bonus with the playoff itself.
For me, it’s almost a no-brainer. I enjoy my Cobra F-Max irons. I love the weight of the irons in your hands and the grip. They’re used clubs, but I had a choice between them and a set of some Taylormade irons and hybrids. I don’t have the Cobra driver to go along with the set like DeChambeau, but I also don’t have a personalized fitted set of clubs made just for me.
I can say that my current driver made just for me is sitting outside of my bag more than it sees usage on the course. Why? Because just like the many pros we see them tee off, my tee shots go and drift off this way and that way based on some heavy-handed swinging I am bringing from the shoulders and some alignment issues at address. I brought back my Taylormade Burner and put it into action, but I have found that I can also get more control with my 3 or 5 wood. I can even use a hybrid to launch it off the tee at times.
What the real problem is me and my level of consistency. I need to find that swing groove again off the tee. I am working out differently and it’s also impacting my game. When I was mainly running for exercise, I was slimming down and that should in my level of endurance and energy. Nowadays I do mainly bodyweight exercises with HIIT workouts and floor exercises. I am not losing weight as I put on some muscle mass here and there. This impacts my game as my shoulders and arms are coming down and into the ball, sending that Callaway Chrome into flight. that’s where I see my struggles come from, not the club itself.
Am I ready to go back to my personalized driver yet?
Not quite. Once I settle down and settle into a solid swing rhythm, I think I will be there. For now, I am good with getting my practice rounds in and getting a few more Mulligans in my favor on those wild drives.
Brian Penn of All About Golf suggested I invest in some lessons. I’m not ready to do it yet. I will probably pull the trigger some time this fall and see what comes of it. For now, like I said before, I will take a few wild drives and make some remarkable recovery shots. After all, half of the fun is seeing what trouble you can work your way out of with your clubs. The same ones you got yourself into trouble with.
My time on the gold course has been a continual learning experience. I’ve come to enjoy the little lessons that have come my way by way of learning what works and what doesn’t work for my game.
What Doesn’t Work
It’s always obvious what doesn’t work. The problem is that it’s not always the same thing that doesn’t work. During some outings, I can swing my 7 wood, solidly smack a golf ball against the thin club face, and smash it like a laser unto the green from within 150 yards. Other times, I find myself struggling to get off the tee.
What Works (For Me)
I have learned to put into practice and play what works for me. I cannot speak for anyone else or substitute what works for them and drop that into my repertoire.
I got to go for what I know by applying what works for me.
That’s a struggle on the golf course at times when you have some golf buddies who always have a library catalog of golf tips and knowledge like the next Ty Webb with insights like “Be the ball.” You cannot make every swing adjustment that works for that other dude because he’s all of 5’6 and you’re over 6 feet tall. His swing is troubled by an outside to in swing path with a dip in the shoulders. You just have issues with your alignment at approach and keeping your head down through your swing with your hybrids and long irons. Almost anything he has to say to you is null and void for your game.
Play it smart: think through your next shot based on the conditions and the course
Play it safe: consider the obstacles or hazards in play as well as the course layout like doglegs or low-hanging tree branches near the fairway
Play it strategically: limit the recovery shots by playing the best option available and planning the follow-up shot after that
My goal is to improve my scorecard results. I want to land somewhere between 85-88 on a consistent basis, approximately 75% of the time. I want to feel confident when I go out to play that I will enjoy myself as I fish a birdie out of hole on a par 3 every now and then. That’s what I want and where I am headed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 PGATour 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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I have been building up my confidence through consistent play. I get more out of playing a round of 18 on a par 3 or walk nine holes on a par 72 course rather than swing like crazy with a bucket of 100 range balls on a turf mat. I went so far as to return my TaylorMade 10.5 degree Burner Superfast driver to my bag for my last outing at Cottonwood Golf Club. It worked out when my back wasn’t aching like crazy and forcing me to chop rather than swing the club with my entire body, especially my torso. my best remedy for that is either to go CBD for relief and recovery from the pain or to keep it old school and keep popping the Advil. Either way, that Lamkin grip feels just right when I am in the swing zone and make solid contact with the ball off the tee. If I fight the pain and fatigue from overplaying too many rounds too close to one another, then I can really get back on track with some decent scores. Aside from the flubbed chips and pitches with the shanked and misguided approach shots here and there, I do see some progress.
I say I have seen some improvement despite shooting 49 on the front nine of the course where I have shot both an 83 and an 85. My progress has been in areas where I can see a difference being made and where I can see my overall game coming together with solid consistency.
Golf Shoes: I desperately need to replace my golf shoes with a lightweight upgrade like Skechers or FootJoy. My current golf shoes are clunkers and definitely give me grief since I started walking the course more. If I am going to walk a full par 72 by march, I need to lighten the load on my feet a bit with some new golf shoes. It’s been way too long.
Walking Cart: I have seen some unique walking carts and I believe that I am ready and in the position to make the investment. After I read a few more reviews, I will grab one that is easier to pop open than a new age baby stroller and walk more. My back will thank me for making the move and my budget could take the hit. Bye-bye, Christmas Bonus!
I recently did a 10-day detox challenge in December and I am headed that way again. I could stand to lose around 30 pounds to safely play at a healthy but hefty weight. The CDC’s standards according to my BMI will have me listed somewhere between overweight and obese even if I got down to my playing weight from when I was a junior in high school on the basketball court. For me, I need to detox and get back to eating 75-80% living items like green veggies and fruit while eating out less than 10% of the time. My workouts need to increase and I believe that i have learned my ways to manage that despite COVID-19 and its repercussions. Walking, running, dancing and more will serve as my means for staying active beyond walking the course. Put it all together and you have a combination for getting better sooner than later.
Within the next 2 months, I will play Cottonwood and Carlton Oaks at least twice. I will add a round at Mission Trails and maybe one at Sycuan (Singing Hills). Eastlake is being used as a qualifier for the PGA’s Farmers Insurance Open, so playing there again for any sort of redemption is out of the question for a while.
My measure of play comes down to both fairways hit and greens in regulation (GIR) much like the Grateful Golfer shared in his post. If I do not give myself an opportunity for birdie while I am averaging two putts per hole, then I am not giving myself a decent shot at par either. Ultimately, by the time I get to my spring break in late March, I believe my consistent play and game improvement will add up to some lower scores and some good times on the course.
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If all else fails, I know two things that will remain consistent. I am going to keep swinging and having fun while doing it.
I was hesitant about golfing with the lockdown looming in California. We go all in on quarantine, with curfews blown and non-essential everything else up for grabs based on interpretation. Nevertheless, I have managed to get into a driving range routine over the last two weeks in preparation for my golf foray while on hiatus from Zoom meetings and remotely working from home due to COVID-19.
A lot of this game is simply about getting out of your own head space. We clutter our minds with swing mechanics and every little thing we have red in tons of golf books as well as what we’ve ear hustled through the dense fog of cigar smoke from the golfers who just finished a round or two at the 19th hole and their reflections on the day’s outing. We need to simply clear some space and set our minds on putting our focus and energy towards just a few things that can really get us started on the right pathway. Too much is just too much.
Much like I read about Anirban Lahiri, it’s just great to get back to swinging on the course again. As I move forward with embarking on a whirlwind of golfing over the next 2 weeks, I wanted to take a closer look at my swing and what I could do differently as well as recognize what I am doing right. I want to acknowledge where I have made some progress as well as where I still struggle.
My grounds for my analysis and evaluation of my swing sequence takes into account that I have an average of 2 days per week at the range over the past month. My trusty GoPro Hero Black 8 and my Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ have been my main documenting resources for posting to Instagram and YouTube with pics and videos on my practice sessions. The feedback and comments that I received both here and via social media have allowed me to set a baseline for where I was starting out and what I needed to alter and adjust in order to make some marked improvement in my swing. By no stretch of the imagination am I saying that I am totally on top of my game. I do not see that coming about until maybe a good run in the spring or even summer. Am I ready to play and replay a few rounds this coming week and next? You better believe it!