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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Reviewing My Winter Golf Game

Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.

John C. Maxwell
I’m loving using the garmin Golf App

Main Key to Everything Golf: Consistency

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.

Game Improvement

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!
  • Short Game Practice: I am going to schedule at least 2 rounds of short game practice at local par 3 courses before March. My ability to wage war with a gap or pitching wedge within 100 yards has answered some serious questions on approach shots. I need to increase that accuracy approaching the hole and keep working the magic around the green. I see my practice routine shifting in the coming months and making adjustments based on what translates to the 18-hole par 72 rounds in the near future. Honestly, my lob wedge and that dreaded sand wedge have hardly left the bag, even when I have found myself in the bunker. It all comes down to how you plan your play.
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Golf Fitness & Nutrition

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.

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Playing Rounds of 18

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.

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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.

Swinging Again for the Fun of 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.

Swing Mechanics and the Mental Game of Golf

I look at Brian Penn‘s post on Getting Too Mechanical and I know that there is a kindred spirit alive and well out there. As golfers, we think about the swing too much. We let the golf game get all in our head and we try to recall every aspect of what the hips and the torso should be doing in tandem or synchronicity. Throw in the grip and body alignment, and then you have the recipe for a self-induced migraine all within the confines of your own psyche and head.

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.

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Getting Back Into the Swing

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 favorite post: 17 Bogeys

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!

To CBD or Not to CBD: How Legalized Cannabis May Be Par for the Course

Cannabis oil seems to be all the rage these days. Sports have seen a surge in the advancement of its promotion and advertising as legalization of cannabis and similar products have increased in recent years. For the average golfer, the usage of CDB whether oil or other formats can provide legitimate benefits to user.

CBD Product Overview

GLT Golf gives a pretty basic overview of CBD oils and their usage for numerous benefits, especially on the course and after a grueling round. Let’s face it. If you are left with some aches and pains after the back nine, then you might be a prime candidate for some form of recovery. I know that I have had my own issues with lower back pain entering into my 50s, so I can only imagine what it is like for a more seasoned golfer or one who has suffered from long term injuries that flare up every now and then.

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The GLT Golf article points out how CBD oil has benefits related to numerous conditions. Some of these conditions include but are not limited to pain, arthritis, diabetes, inflammation, depression and anxiety. Pro golfer Billy Horschel is said to stand out as both an advocate for and an investor in CBD products, noting the CBD products as a contributing factor to his recent “return to top form” on the PGA tour. Other advocates on the pro tour include Bubba Watson and Scott McCarron.

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Going All In on CBD Products for Golf

Tim Reilly has given some key reasons for golfers using CBD products, citing the CBD craze as “one of the fastest-growing sectors in the golf space.” Among his 5 reasons for going all in on CBD, Reilly points out the obvious with the relief from aches and pains as well as the “calming effect” elicited from CBD product usage. However, what makes this particular to tour pros as opposed to the weekend golfer would be Reilly’s reference to what he calls “travel balance.” The recovery effect and increased focus are additional benefits that any golfer could use when facing tee shots across streams of water and putting surfaces that seem to have meticulous cuts designed with frustrating golfers in mind.

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Numerous Options with CBD Products

Golfers have a lot of options when it comes to CBD products. My first encounter with CBD products tailored with the golfer in mind came through a set of samples from Enveed Golf via a golf subscription box. It is actually a local company in San Diego but I had never heard of it until I got that subscription box.

You could follow the advice MyGolfSpy via their buyer’s guide for CBD products or you can follow the advice of Luke Kerr-Dineen on his 5 favorite CBD products at a deep discount. You can get CBD products in all sorts of forms including extract oil and roll-on. With CBD products, you are not limited. You could even dabble with some of the gummies if you felt like a chewy alternative. The long list of CBD options is only limited by the advances in product development within the legalized cannabis industry.

The CBD Buzz and Debate Continue to Rage On

Golf performance and game improvement are debatable when it comes to CBD products. GLT Golf states that cannabidiol can offer some genuine golf performance benefits such as “allowing a golfer to maintain a full range of movement in the swing despite injury pain.” According to Tim Gavrich, Senior Writer for Golf Advisor, “The proliferation of CBD products in the golf industry is part of greater efforts to market and sell CBD products.” With the emergence of more CBD products, the full spectrum of the CBD influence has yet to be seen.

CBD products might pack a load of benefits for sports performance, but the official stance on them is still out there. Are these controlled substances? Do these qualify as performance enhancing drugs? Are gummies really drugs? Or, are they more like candy? No matter where you stand on the issue, the CBD industry is not backing off into a corner any time soon. If anything, the producers of CBD products are up or generating a buzz about all of the benefits of cannabidiol.

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California Lockdown is Not a Total Shutdown

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California is suffering right now. Santana winds are doing their normal seasonal thing and threatening wild fires across the Southland. Winter mornings are getting more chilly, but the days seem to continue with seemingly summer-like temperatures. But then again there’s COVID-19.

COVID-19 has California trying to figure out how to handle a global health pandemic on a statewide scale. It has the San Francisco Forty-Niners practicing and playing outside of the state. It has the governor and the mayor of L.A., along with a number of other state and local officials, receiving death threats and other types of hate mail due to the calls for curfews and limited holiday celebrations.

But it has not completely wiped out and shut down golf courses.

So What’s a Golfer to Do?

For me, I am all in. Like I said in previous posts, I got some extended time off coming up and aligns perfectly with the potential lift of this lockdown in mid to late December. I am readying myself for that time with a consistent practice schedule weekend by weekend. Whether it is my iron play and woods or my short game, I keep my focus on bringing my game up to a place where I can expect a skills transition from the driving range to golf course.

Bonita Golf Course

I am seeking input and feedback on my swing techniques and mechanics. Hey! Yeah, I know that the belly fat isn’t helping me gain any torque, but I got a plan for that. But I am open to feedback like what I got from Brian Penn from All About Golf and some others like the Grateful Golfer. I tried engaging my core more, but I know that it needs work especially with a baseball background. With muscle memory, I am somehow always drifting back to my roots as a long ball hitter at the plate not the tee. In fact, I am really digging Cathy McPherson’s pointers about pre-shot routine and other aspects. The LPGA perspective helps a common golfer like me because the focus is not on long drives and wild recovery shots like the PGA Tour. Following the LPGA and Senior Tour lets us focus on fundamentals and shot selection as opposed to muscling up off the tee snapping a second shot to get back into play like some PGA pros. I am doing all of this while I got the time.

What I am Working on for the Next 2 Weeks

My primary focus for the next 2 weeks is all about fitness and health. In fact, I am starting a 10-Day Detox Challenge tomorrow. The prep for my mind, body and spirit has been revealing. When it comes to golf, I will continue to the consistent practice and even start out with walking a par 3 once I go on break. But I definitely have my eyes on overall health and wellness along with diet and nutrition as it relates to golf performance. I mean look at DeChambeau’s daily diet and what it entails.

I will continue with a focus on fitness for two weeks and end up swinging for fun on the course again before I even know it. I am not even ready for the 90 Day Challenge to go scratch. That ain’t even me yet. I am sort of working on my game and my physique simultaneously. Remember, y’all, I am just trying break 90 and do so consistently. No lockdown is going to shut that down, but it has definitely caused me to be a little more cautious with what I do and when I do it. After all, I am still learning how to break free of that wide angle slice that looks like a drone gone wild in flight. If I can get that done in the next month, I see my scores leveling out by spring.

Well, unless things change again in 2021.

Practice Reveals Problems

The driving range offers you an opportunity to bring your best and see how well it measures up. It is never as menacing as the course itself, but it does have its own way of showing you where you might have some issues with your swing. Whether it be a matter of trying to address that major hook that was supposed to simply be a line drive or adjusting your body and stance at address to establish better alignment, you can learn a lot about your swing on the range.

My first outing since COVID-19

My overall focus is getting back to regular play. That most probably will not occur to winter break. Even with school’s going to distance learning, those of us who work with the kids in the school system still need to show up and remain attentive. After all, I can wait until a few weeks to make golf a regular feature in my coronavirus-impacted life right now. My goal of breaking 90 regularly will have to hold on until then and i will take to range more often to prepare myself for that time.

And the driving range reveals where you have swing issues. Like an old school basketball coach told me long ago, your practice reveals where you got problems. Address your problems while you got time to practice.

golfimage1

Your Most Important Swing Component: Your Body

Swing mechanics look at numerous components of your golf swing. Watching my video recording of my golf practice sequence, I noticed my body was stiff and rigid. I did not have that loose flow within my swing that once helped me gobble up at least a handful of pars and an occasional birdie while at play. I went back to Golf-tip.com and looked at the advice offered there for game improvement. Like I said, my body was not engaged properly and I was making solid contact, but I was still robbing myself of quite a few yards of distance because of it.

According to the Grateful Golfer, golf fitness can lead to lower lower scores. As I observed my COVID-19 gut, I could not help but agree. My limited flexibility cut down on both my distance and accuracy on the range. That would translate to some added strokes on the course. I know good and well that I need to add more dynamic stretches to regime as well as use some of the yoga that I learned to open up my hips like I do for running.

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Beyond stretching and adding yoga, I want to address my overall health. Golf is just a part of that practice. I want to add more cross-training. I need to bike, hike and run, even dance, more day by day. I might even consider incorporating Gary Player’s 60/40 Rule. But I definitely will be running and walking more regularly.

By addressing just a few of these issues over the next couple of weeks, I think that I can get back into the low 90s by mid-December. Increased flexibility would help with both my golf game and my overall workout regimen of taking on fitness activities for at least 3 to 4 days per week. This will really help as I seek to walk the course more in 2021 than I have ever walked in my past.

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Adding Self-Talk Helps Beyond Muscle Memory

There are numerous strategies to fix your flaws, especially your posture and golf swing. For me, I know that I need to add more self-talk as I address the ball where it lies. We all have our own thing, but mine seems to be not taking enough time in my setup. I need to slow down and spend a moment simply talking myself through the next steps that lead to a successful golf swing for the moment.

I need to do so with course awareness and heightened sensitivity to the overall conditions. I do not mean to stand there and measure the wind projections. I mean to simply talk myself into refraining from hitting a lofted club into the windy air and settling for a hooded seven iron with a half swing to keep it low. I need more self-talk like that to keep me from self-cursing when I have to search for lost Callaways or Pinnacles in thorn bushes and amid cacti.

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Practice Reveals Problems: Whether You Fix Them or Not

Brian Penn nails this down on an All About Golf post related to proactive or reactive. It’s called game improvement because inherently most folks want to improve their game, their scores and overall play at golf. I welcome more advice, tips and comments on my swing as I focus on getting the rust off and increasing my flexibility. Drop them in the comments of this blog and offer your feedback. Just try to keep it helpful. After all, I am going for game improvement and trying to maintain some positive Zen if at all possible.

Better Isn’t the Same as Before

“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle

I want to be better, That’s my goal. My golf goals reflect that. I want to break 90 consistently. And my focus and dedication from 2018 to 2019 proved the possibilities of making that a reality. So, I want to be better. I like how the Grateful Golfer poses question about whether you’re a serious golfer or not.

I want to better than what I had managed to get done before COVID-19. I want to repeatedly do the right things to get those scorecards racking up scores in the 80’s. I just don’t want to squeeze out an 88 or 89 and barely get by. I want to return and work on a steady stream of 84 or 85 with consistency.

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My best is still ahead of me. I have yet to practice my short game and putting. I am rusty with the woods and hybrids. I bet I could shank every approach shot from 150 yards down 80 yards out. I just haven’t played in ages. I haven’t felt comfortable with trying to select which set of clubs to play when folks are losing jobs, quarantine round 2 lurking or looming in my area, and the whole economy teetering on stimulus checks and faulty stock market out of alignment with its earnings, production and valuations. I am beginning to think that I will play when the weather cools down with post-summer breezes and some easygoing days. Maybe that will be when. . .

Well, until then, I will wait it out. I want to be at my best. I want to get back to where I left off, and then surpass just breaking 90.

In the meantime, I will continue to share with you how I broke 90 and made it a regular thing.

 


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Reset to Refocus

Taking the Time to Look Deeper

Some people swear by SMART Goals, while others are all about planners and systematic approaches such as Franklin Covey planners and inserts. I tend to get lost with such things. I have a content planner for multimedia, a general 18-month day-to-day planner for ideas and inspiration, and a journal where I keep track on four daily focus areas: FAITH, FAMILY, FITNESS, &FINANCES.

I believe I found the most usage out of the 12 Week Year, but I adjusted my daily tracking and to-do list a little more extensively. I needed the core elements of the 12 Week Year combined with The 100 Day Goal Journal. I felt that both systems worked to give me the things I need to advance and achieve goals.

Recently, I had to hit reset ad take a deeper look at my goals. As I approach the milestone of 50, I had to keep my mental bearings about me. Despite living pretty well, I have experienced greater anxiety with the onset of my mother’s cancer and I felt some hints of depression with mood swings after my cousin’s death last year. I remain highly aware of the day to day condition of those living with mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar, but I am also aware of the potential for a mental breakdown based upon the various pressures of this life.

I rely a lot on my faith, remaining firmly rooted in my beliefs. However, I do have to keep my awareness sharp, so I watch out for signs of undue stress and pressure. I fight to avoid any possible triggers, especially when I can predict some tense moments arising.

Managing my time is just one of those things that I have gotten better with over time. Due to my own compulsion, it has to be a certain way or it’s a total waste of my time. With that in consideration, I took a deeper look at how my progress was going with the system.

My Best Could Be Better

As I reviewed my daily logs since January, I realized that the evolution of the more personalized and customized system resulted in the elimination of a few pieces that also made it comforting work. The latest version had me still score my actionable items as opposed to questioning my progress towards long range goals for 10-12 weeks, even less.

The missing element was an evaluation method that informed me of where I was ad wasn’t progressing on my goals. What I realized was that I needed to focus on more of a simple set of evaluation questions to get to my progress towards goals.

What did I struggle with today?

What are some possible solutions?

Am I closer to my goals today?

I usually score my check boxes by the number completed versus the total number of check boxes for the day. I had set my mark for 85%. Oddly enough, I reviewed my work and even on my best days I was at 83% and 84%. I decided during this reset to adjust my mark of success to 80% until I feel the need for a change. I just want to make sure that my daily goals remain in line with my long term goals.

I was doing good, but I know that I can be better. I just need to place more emphasis on progress through daily actions. I can do way better in working towards my goals. I just need to document that work.

Goals and Golf = My Breaking 90

When I read Brian Tracy’s Goals!, I was still coming off a motivational high from David Goggins giving me insights into true endurance and fight through Can’t Hurt Me. Where Goggins left me high and with my feet off the ground, Tracy slapped me across the face with another level of a wake-up call. He gave me an a-ha moment like in Eat That Frog where I finally figured out where the puzzle piece I had along fit into the big picture of getting things done.

I lacked commitment and consistency.

The 12 Week Year taught me the new definition for commitment that I felt compelled to live out fully. It stated that commitment is: the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action. In the past, my understanding of commitment was to just show up and at least show up on time if not early. This new definition forced me to have some kind of skin in the game.

In golf, some folks are comfortable wagering on a round. They play relaxed and calm, no sign that they feel pressured or anything like that. Then, there’s the other guy like me. He’s calculated the risk and has worked out scenarios on how to play it safe and smart, even if there’s money on the line. I have to tap into a buried part of my past to climb out of the darkness and swing for the fences off the tee and putt with finesse around the green.

My cousin and I used to place bets on each other’s shots, but we used to talk trash and take shots at each other’s confidence. We knew each other well and knew which buttons to punch and when to put just enough pressure on them. The money was no longer a factor by the turn. Pride was on the line once we got to the back nine.

Where I could never get tripped up was once I determined a certain goal, a score or a different focus beyond $2 per hole par or better. Once I had the determined mindset and focus, I was clear and the game played out right along with me. On one outing my cousin smoothly told me that I could relax and go to the bar or something to loosen up at the turn. I simply said with a smile,”I’ve never played so relaxed in my life.”

Golf goals allow you to focus and draw a mental map, detailing your plans from hole to hole. I am not saying that you picture every shot and situation. What I am saying is that you develop a calmness and a sense of confidence because you have considered a wide variety of scenarios with their best potential solutions ahead of time. In real time, all you are doing is evaluating which scenarios require which solutions.

What if you flub a putt read? Did you get any closer to hole? Then that’s progress.

What if my drive veers off to the left and lose some yardage? Adjust and compensate for the loss in your approach shot. That’s situational solutions to aid in making progress.

I am on Day #2 of the reset, but I am certain of one thing. It’s bound to get better because I am looking it over and placing my focus on progress for my long term goals.


Update: 7-26-20

Morning Weigh-In: 284.9 lbs

Activity: Jog/ speed walk 1.36 miles, 170 incline push-ups, hip-hop/ Afrocentric dance @ 20 minutes

What I learned today: Speed walk is less stress to body and maintains a pace @16 miles per hour or less, even when the outdoor heat is averaging 80-85 degrees.

Game Improvement at a Higher Level

Active Faith Sports
Getting to the point where you can break 90 easily comes with practice and consistent play.  That’s a simple look at it.  Dig deep into the idea of fixing your golf game for better scores and more fun.  Dig deeper and you will discover that breaking 90 will take more out the high handicapper than just showing up and teeing it up for a round of 18 holes every weekend.

“Play your own game.” – Harvey Penick

 

Fix Your Flaws

Your game will not improve without making some changes.  The things that need improvement usually take away from the game being fun.  You know what should happen, but you just don’t seem to have that execution down yet.

That needs fixing.  You have to fix your flaws.

I love to research different golf publications that can help.  Some of my go-to reads include:

These usually give you tips and exercises on game improvement as well as equipment and product reviews that span from golf shoes to golf equipment.

Find the Right Strokes and Shots

You have to add a little bit of finesse to your game.  You have to add some focus as well.  You also need to add the right shot selection for the present opportunity.  That means taking into account the course and the conditions as well as the lie of the ball and how well or poorly you have been playing so far and similar situations.

Some folks might recall me sharing about the infamous flop shot and how mastery of it does not come easily.  When you are struggling and scrambling to keep up with the rest of your foursome, that is not the time try out some new shot or swig technique that you caught a glimpse of while watching YouTube.

Find what works for you and keep a running mental file of which shots work best in which types of situations.  Refer to these when you are considering your options.  Rely on these when you have very few options before you.  High quality equipment and gear play a role in golf, but they do not outweigh shot selection as a core element of game improvement.  Your shot selection is highly import and has an impact on improving your game.

Play Strategically

Take on All Kinds of Challenges

Many people have a “home course” or some course that they play often.  What that really means is that they play that course frequently.  In many cases, they can run down the specifics of each and every hole as if they were asked to recite the ABC’s.  The problem with home course mentality is applicable to maintaining one’s game, not necessarily improving one’s game with challenges found in different courses.

Your game cannot improve without some challenges being faced and conquered.  That is where the improvement comes into play.

GolfEtail.comin to improve your game, the challenges faced must take you to different aspects where your game is not at its best.  That’s when you have to start improving via innovation and intuition.  If you do not do well on par 3;s, play a full 18 hole par 3 course.  They do exist, you know.

Your game will not improve just by research and swing analysis.  You need to put together a plan that will both challenge and help change your previous knowledge.  Your biggest hack for your game might come in the form of learning how to conquer your challenges.