Back into the Swing Again & Then. . .

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” And seems like a promise more than an axiom

 

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I got back into the swing of things by participating in the Escondido Chamber of Commerce’s annual golf tournament at Woods Valley. It was a sunny day in Valley Center just east of Escondido, California, as I checked in and made a hasty attempt at stretching for the delayed tee times. I used to love the shotgun starts, but we got new rules and regulations for the new normal. I was ready to get going and get out there to get swinging.

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Undoubtedly, I had a great time being teamed up with some extraordinary folks within North County. I truly enjoyed the special ball launcher advantage early on where my foursome easily birdied. I mean what else could be expected with that canon at work and playing best ball?

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I loved the time spent with my friends from the Chamber office and made plans to get together “once this COVID thing died down.” Altogether, I got some good advice from one of fellow players, opened up my stance and laid out some promising drives that sailed down the fairway. That was a far cry from that initial set of drives that all drifted and faded like crows diving from the sky.

Jersey Mike’s and IPAs at the Turn for Lunch

Hello! I mean it was all cool that I did not win the raffle prizes… ANY of them at all! I just could not believe that one dude in my foursome won 3 raffle prizes. I mean for real? Needless to say, we didn’t win the tourney either. But we did manage to square away a solid scorecard and come in 5 under on a fairly challenging course.

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What I did learn was that my putter stroke was still smooth and i dropped a few crucial ones when we were in a pickle. I did not have to use my Mulligans so i shared the wealth with my foursome. I also felt pretty good about my approach shots with the hybrids. The long irons above 6 are almost obsolete. Plus, it requires a lot of adjustment for guys like me to angle that shaft and clubhead after whacking balls with drivers and hybrids. The accuracy is still under construction with the long irons 6 and above. Heck, they hardly offer full club sets with 3 irons anymore and the ones with 4 irons are gradually being replaced with mini hybrid clubs.

Play your best and make it work. Keep swinging and have fun.

I wanted to get a bicoastal competitive vibe going with my guys back East Golf Rookies 704. That might have to wait given the conditions these days. California has gone COVID crazy!

Now that this COVID thing is NOT going away any time soon, I am not sure on the new regulations and restrictions. I have to see what my holiday week off looks like. I f I can get one or two rounds in, I am golden. Otherwise, I am down to hold on for another lockdown period. I waitied this long.

But that one day got me jonesing for more for sure.

Restart Today

Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential.

Marcus Aurelius

If I am honest about it, I have not played golf in ages. I can honestly say that I miss it.

I miss that feeling of the soft leather glove gripping the driver and taking the club head back slowly at the first tee and letting it rip on the downswing. I miss the green grass fairways and the oddly cut greens that leave your putts short and absorb a Callaway Super Soft like Cookie Monster on a chocolate chip cookie. I just miss the game.

Playing in the TJ Winters Golf Tournament its first year at Riverwalk Golf Course

Almost daily, I walk by multiple sets of clubs in my garage over and over again, agonizing over the pandemic precautions and the restricted movements of our society. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that many have suffered and died due to this COVID-19 pandemic. I truly have been stuck with where to begin again with my golf journey to breaking 90 on a consistent basis.

Then I got an email about an upcoming golf tournament for a good cause. The Escondido Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Chamber Challenge Golf Tournament November 2nd at Woods Valley Golf Club. A good cause plus a good price usually equals a good time.

What better way to work my way back into the game?

The last tournament I played in tested out my latest driver and fairway woods. This one will give me a chance to shed some rust from the coronavirus closure. It would mark my first foray back onto the fairway.

Am I ready?

Can we ever say that we are really ready? I doubt it. I probably will regret not buying a few Mulligans. I probably will have a few of those yippy putts where I regret not practicing my short game on the bedroom or hallway carpet just to maintain my feel. But I bet I will have some of that old luster come out, too. You know that one drive where you say that’s why you came out in the first place. I could imagine feeling myself get into the swing of things by the back nine, depending on where I start with the scramble rather than shotgun start.

But I need to get started now and take on some sage advice for tournament play.

So, today I dust off the clubs and hit the range. Brush up on that good old golf etiquette.

I think I can get in about 3 or 4 trips to the range and maybe 2 solid golf rounds before the tournament. That way I can at least make a decent showing before I tee off with my fellas from the Escondido Chamber.

At the least I should get a pretty cool golf face covering in the goodie bag with some free tees.

Let’s get this thing started.

Plan Your Play Part 1

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Golf is a game.  Some will go so far as to call it a sport.  You play golf for fun.

You play golf for the challenge.  You play golf for the experience.  You play to get better.

“If you play poorly one day, forget it. If you play poorly the next time out, review your fundamentals of grip, stance, aim and ball position. Most mistakes are made before the club is swung. If you play poorly for a third time in a row, go see your professional.”
Harvey Penick 

Golf is a game like I said.

I view it is a game that requires both skill and strategy.  In essence, to play golf, you need to plan your play.  Otherwise, you will suffer from many of the ills that plague so many and leave them frustrated for an average of 18 holes and too many strokes.

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Plan Your Play for Each Outing

You need to know what you have to face when you go out to play.  Blindly jumping onto any course without knowing the lay of the land is like breaking every rule of The Art of War.  Get a preview of the course and its layout before you head out in order to get an idea for what type of shots will come into play.

For instance, I love a long course.  Hit me with a handful of par 5’s and limited amount of par 3’s and I am good.  I use Greenskeeper to get a sneak peak of courses that I have yet to play or that I haven’t played in a while.  After all, some of these groundskeepers and course managers love to make more than subtle changes from season to season.  Forget pin placement.  I am talking about overall structural changes.  These can throw off your plans tolay up on approach or go for the green in two.

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One of my favorite courses is Singing Hills (Sycuan Resort).  It has a great layout for long ball play and challenging holes for approach shots.  I take on the par 3 Pine Glen course for some short game practice and walking, but I tend to love the wide spaces offered on the Willow Glen and Oak Glen courses.   Even though I have played these courses multiple times and played some of my best golf there over the years, I still find that hosting numerous tourneys has led to some changes over time.  Plan prior to play.

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Plan Your Equipment for Your Challenge

I have some days where I never touch the beach.  Then, there are times where I cannot seem to get enough bunker sand in my socks.  I also find that much of this tends to stem from the type of course I am playing and the type of equipment.

Considered sort of heavy handed? Got hybrids? Use them more often than your irons.  I don’t care if play blades or cavity-backed clubs.  The advent of the hybrid is a godsend for big guy like me.  It’s more forgiving than my long irons, and it surely packs a punch like a wood.  You will never play at a higher level if you do not consider what type of equipment you are playing on different types of courses.

I tend to struggle with that approach shot that lies somewhere between 160 yards to 90 yards.  What used to be a soft 6 iron for me has now become a 3 hybrid half swing or a hooded 5 iron shot, all depending on what I am facing and where I am trying to go.

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More Things to Consider in Coming Posts

In future posts in this series, I want to point out how planning your play can go beyond the surface of scorecards and checking your golf bag’s contents.  I want you to consider how much more fun your game would be when your scorecard shows those 17 bogeys instead of that 3-digit monster that haunts so many weekend golfers from course to course.

You can open your mind to all sorts of methods of getting there.  The biggest challenge is to narrow down all of your choices to a simple solution that works for you.  That’s the whole point.  Find what works for you and play it all the way.

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17 Bogeys

The most important shot in golf is the next one.” – Ben Hogan

Breaking 90 is simple.

All it takes is 17 bogeys.

All you have to do is make 1 over par on 17 holes and make par on 1 hole.

Sounds simple. . .

But breaking 90 is not so easy if you do not play every other day or couple of days, or even every weekend.  Without consistent play, breaking 90 can seem like a massive endeavor.

This is simply a reflective look at how a high handicapper took on a simple challenge to document the process of breaking 90.  It is about setting goals and working on how to achieve set goals on a consistent basis.  It is a journey about accomplishment and activity.

Join me on this journey and let’s tee off.

 

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