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.
Most folks who know me know that I am not a big fan of par 3 holes. That being said, I have also challenged myself a few times here and there to play an entire par 3 course. It might sound contradictory, but you really have to follow the logic on this.
My last golf outing that I posted about a few weeks ago felt like a true dusting, not even the type of play that I would call a comeback from a long lay off. It did prompt me to sure up certain parts of my game which had shown some rust and lackluster maintenance. It got me rethinking about consistency across the board and how much more consistency I needed with some fundamentals like alignment and approach.
I felt like a par 3 course like Singing Hills Pine Glen was just what I needed to get me back on track.
Swinging and Switching Up at Singing Hills Pine Glen
Nestled at the foot of East County foothills of San Diego just a short drive from the Sycuan Casino and Resort, Singing Hills is a golfer’s paradise in Southern California. As opposed to its 2 other 18-hole courses, Oak Glen and Willow Glen, Pine Glen is an 18-hole par 3 course that covers a lot of ground at just over 2,500 yards. This course has a total scorecard of 54, but it offers some challenges to make you knuckle down and choke up to keep your shots on target.
You get the point. I was all in my head the front 9. I shot a 39 and paced myself for another disastrous round, but I was angling in the right direction. My swift swing found the sweet spot on that 7 iron a few times and I felt confident. My main issue was that chipping from greenside or even the fringe left me putting for par or worse. I was not giving myself many birdie opportunities.
So, you see the scorecard. You see those 4 GIRs that rarely ever show up on my pics of scorecards. What that really means is that I had some changes that I had to make and I made them going into the back 9. On the 9th hole I had come up short on the left side of the green after a rocket of a shot with a 6 iron dropped in thick grass. The greenside short shot I tried to tap for a little roll caught too much speed and left me with a long putt for par. Then, after putting it past the hole, it took me 2 more putts to close out the hole. That hole got me psyched on how to conquer future holes, though.
I switched up my swing and alignment to get myself swinging on target again. This is one that you don’t get to on the range much because everything is static and nothing changes up much. That’s why I consider some rounds like this as my best practice rather than swinging away on the range with some soggy mat of artificial turf.
As you can see, I started getting my shots on target and putting myself in position to putt for birdie. That’s your best option if you are going to lower your scores, get in a position where you are putting for birdie or better. Putting to save par is too much work when you’re over 20 feet out and you’ve got bad read on the line. If you are putting for birdie, you can simply putt to the hole and follow that up with a putt in the hole for par. Improving my alignment got me on target with some greens in regulation and a handful of par holes to save my hide. The remainder of the holes on the back 9 were bogeys, but I have to admit that some of those were just errors in my putt reads or short game shots that didn’t pan out as I had planned.
Lesson Learned: Switch Up Where and When You Need To
My game is a testimony to trial and error. It speaks volumes about how much time I spend wondering if I am implementing the right techniques rather than testing out what I am doing and making adjustments from there. I need to trust myself more and make slight adjustments where and when I can in play. My cousin was a wild driver off the tee, ending up in the most peculiar circumstances for an approach shot, but I would always be amazed with his recovery shots that got him in a great position for birdie or par in a lot of circumstances. I don’t want the wild shots off the tee that force me to make amazing recovery shots. I want that consistent play that allows me to evaluate my circumstances at the moment and make a judgment call to switch things up here and there to improve my play.
I must have missed the memo, but I certainly can say that my latest outing in golf didn’t get me any closer to breaking 90 or breaking 100. In fact, it simply proved what I know good and well for my own personal golf game. I need more consistency to get better results.
I will even give myself a break. Over the past 2-3 months, I have been heavily into tennis. Playing doubles with co-workers once or twice per week and trying to organize groups of folks to just come out and try it with us for fun and fellowship with a little bit of fitness. And, might I add, I am decent enough to hang even when the temperature tips to about 90 degrees or so.
But this latest golf outing was nowhere near a comeback.
It was like more of a proving ground that what needed work when I left off after Spring Break still needs some work and what I thought I had down and under control still leaves me with drives veering off too far to the right or the left of the fairway.
Willowbrook Country Club
Venture outside of San Diego proper eastward and you will come across Lakeside, a rural area where the summer weather is unquestionably hot as hell and the scenery is majestic with mountain views and wide open terrain. Nestled in the midst of Lakeside and surrounded by mobile homes, Willowbrook Country Club is a nine hole course designed for you to play twice. While playing with Cousin Robert, we went for the white tees on the first round, and then the blue tees on the second round.
The course is in decent shape and the rates are reasonable even with a cart. The staff was friendly and attentive, especially as we awaited teeing off due to the men’s regular Monday tournament in session when we arrived a little early to check in for our tee time. There are plenty of trees and enough water on the course to keep you trying to angle your shots to avoid them. For me, it was like I was on the EPA’s most wanted list and continually hitting anything with bark and leaves on it.
All in all, the course gives you enough of a challenge to keep you working on your game’s necessary tweaks. In my case, I found the types of holes designed on this flat dessert-like oasis to seem more fitting for an early morning tee time with a cool breeze and some June gloom to keep the sun at a distance. But you can only go dogleg left so many times before you have to hit a par 3 over water or decide between trying to drive a short par 4 with the flag behind the brush and sand trap or just lay up in the hopes of getting on in 2 shots.
My Letdowns Left Me Looking for Relief
I spent way too much time with poor shot selections. You know the kind that I mean: chip shots between 2 trees with dangling limbs, approach shots where the alignment is off and you end up in the other fairway, and 3 putts upon 3 putts. man, I really thought I had those 3 putts down.
Despite all of the poor shots and lost balls, I still had my moments out there. My chip shot on the first hole over the trees that I would eventually deflower and damn near destroy on the second round showed promise and left me just off the fringe. My choice to go with a 3 wood when things looked wild off the tee was right on point and gave me a shot at birdie that fast greens do not allow. And of course I had to figure out my hybrid game which offered me some saving grace in a few instances on the course.
Mulligans were being called out countless times. This wasn’t one of those rounds where you felt like tracking any balls into the woods and bushes with the summer heat and any potential disturbance of local critters like reptiles. Like I always say, that’s why they come in packs of 12. Just toss me another one from my bag, bro.
Overwhelmed at Over One Hundred
No matter how bad my scorecard looked, I didn’t expect it to look that bad. But I got to be honest. It was a poor showing of course management and shot selection to go along with just plain gamesmanship. i was basically just out there without any strategy. That’s where I really got overwhelmed, I believe. My entire approach that day was just swinging and seeing where it went rather than trying to navigate the course with strokes in mind.
My first round looked like it might have some promise, but when I look at the scorecard I know that shows signs of an inevitable uphill battle. Throw in that second round and you see nothing but squares and double squares. And yes that is a ten on the 10th hole. I cannot even go into the depths of despair that I went through on the same hole that I had just done okay on in the first round.
Lack of Consistency Without Any Loss of Confidence
I mean I would be a fool if I just said that I am done playing golf due to a poor round. Look at guys like Lefty or Bryson DeChambeau when they miss the cut. They do not run and hide from the golf paparazzi and emerge the next season with a new coach, new caddie and new clubs. They take it on the chin and come back the next time with that prior round off their mind. They come back with a refreshed perspective and a can-do attitude about what is ahead of them. They make a plan to make things work out better than did previously.
Oh, believe me, I am reeling from some of these numbers. I can handle a few double bogeys and an occasional snowman, too. Just let me chip in for par or birdie off the fringe. Let me get a few pars and birdies along the way with those short par 4 and par 5 holes.
Whether you follow golf closely or you just peep in occasionally during the golf season, you have most probably heard of both Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. If you have been keeping up with the latest golf news, you know things have gotten ugly between both golfers, especially if you follow the headlines and digs dished out via social media. In essence, it’s a full blown feud in the eyes of sports media and other media outlets.
What it means so far is that the pair have not been set up to tee off with one another as many had anticipated. What it looks like is that DeChambeau has taken to video to deliver one of his latest blows, and Koepka has utilized the opportunity to shift the focus and spin the narrative in another direction during the U.S. Open Championship. At this point, in the final round, DeChambeau remains 2 strokes off the lead and tied for fourth, while Koepka is stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack tied for fourteenth place. The final numbers have yet to come in, but from the looks of it, DeChambeau appears to be the only one of the two in the running, and the feud can pick up where it left off until the next tourney comes around.
After struggling to scramble for make the cut, Lefty finds himself currently tied for 63rd place at +8 through six holes. That might sound like an issue, but I am sure that he has enough scrambling left in his game to inch up a few spots on the leaderboard before it’s all said and done. After all, he’s one of those players that will let loose like never before on the last day.
Schauffele is another story. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to stay in the hunt for many tournaments recently. The 27 year old golfer is poised to play a promising round today and just might surprise us all with where he ends finishing this final round. We have yet to see and golf usually rewards its fans with some final round surprises.
No matter how you see it. It is good to see the U.S. Open Championship back in San Diego and at Torrey Pines. All that is left is for us to see who comes out on top and what other thrills we will witness along the way to hoisting of that trophy. Hell, with just a few strokes off the lead, Rory McIlroy might be able to work his way into a fight for the lead throughout the day. That would make for a daring finish right there.
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 Yearcombined 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 inEat That Frogwhere 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“The most important shotin golf is thenext 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.