Cantlay Hits a Hot Streak

Winning the FedEx Cup Plus More

ESPN entitled its coverage of his latest victory like this: Patrick Cantlay posts ‘a huge win,’ capturing FedEx Cup in dramatic fashion at the Tour Championship. Yes, in bold print!!

You cannot doubt that Patrick Cantlay has been on a run of late.

  • FedEx Cup ranked 1st
  • Ryder Cup slot with latest victory
  • Tour Championship win
  • BMW Championship win
  • Memorial Tournament (Nationwide) win

Aside from everything else that has been going on in the golf world to take away our attention from solid, consistent play, let’s say that 2021 has shaped up to be a banner year for Patrick Cantlay. He’s got more top PGA wins this year than any year of his career. He’s making a name for himself as he delivers time and time again, even in playoff situations.

What’s Next for Cantlay to Conquer?

Next up has got to be a major championship. Cantlay has not won one yet. And that seems to remain a point of contention for many observers without Cantlay having to say much about it himself.

Patrick Cantlay has a record in the majors that no one but the golf press really would write home about. Missing the cut at 2 majors stands out. Not even ranking for a top 10 position in any 2021 major stands out as well. In fact, He ended up tied for 15th place at the U.S. Open. His best performance in a major event left him tied for third at the 2019 PGA Championship. With dismal numbers like that, it’s hard to imagine Patrick Cantlay bringing home some PGA major event hardware home any time soon.

Kyle Porter just dropped an article on CBS Sports regarding Cantlay and his failure to win a major. In Porter’s own words, he was sure to say: “This is not a criticism of Cantlay’s game.” However, no matter how you question it or pose it as a wondering, even an inquisitive inquiry, it boils down to the inability of Cantlay to claim a victory in any of the 4 major championships.

The Future Odds on Cantlay

Despite his latest victories, Cantlay is not a favored pick for a major with some oddsmakers. It’s a toss-up when you consider his past record in majors and his recent victories on the PGA Tour.

Golfodds.com has names like Dustin Johnson (16/1) and Jon Rahm (10/1) ahead of Cantlay at 20-to-1 odds of winning the 2022 Masters. Vegas Insider has Rory McIlroy as a top pick for the 2022 PGA Championship with Cantlay somewhere in the midst of the fray behind Brooks and Xander. The Sports Geek points out: “Patrick Cantlay is a +550 betting favorite at BetMGM to win a golf major in 2022.”

But did fantasy golf experts have Cantlay on their top picks for this one? Do oddsmakers have the final say through the final round? Or, are all of these predictions just throwing caution at the wind when we just have to have it played out in reality?

Fan favorite or not, Cantlay has a bright future ahead of him if he stays on this type of streak. His putting is spot on and he’s seemingly directing the ball at the right angles for the perfect setup shots. Most fans would hope for him to keep marking pars and birdies on the scorecard on the way to more victories. Yet, if 2022 comes without a major championship win for him, we’re left to wonder where does that leave Cantlay in the golf history books.

Will a major championship make that big of a difference?

I’ll get back to playing in a week or so. Nagging wrist injury from applying for jobs online. LOL

A 6 Way Playoff at Wyndham Championship

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.

The DeChambeau and Cobra Golf Controversy in My Eyes

DeChambeau Expressed Frustration with Cobra Clubs

Bryson DeChambeau gave an explanation as to why he struggled in the British Open. He put the blame right in his own bag: his Cobra clubs, especially his driver. He said his Cobra clubs were the issue. Naturally, Cobra was not pleased and one of its reps expressed their dissatisfaction with DeChambeau’s remarks.

Of course, DeChambeau’s comments did not just remain out there. He later apologized for his remarks. He and Cobra appear to still be in partnership, DeChambeau seen sporting a black Cobra driving cap during the St. Jude Invitational. That British Open apology from DeChambeau did not seem to linger long.

Satisfied with Cobra Clubs

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Vice Golf Golf Balls

Bringing Back Conservative Play

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.

Give me another ball! (Tin Cup)

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.

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Conservative Play Means

  • Cautionary without getting careless
  • Consistency without getting too complicated
  • Correction without creating a new swing by the turn

My Mantra is Reborn

It all comes down to the way that you play. You’ll never have fun if you keep playing stressed out and on edge. Golf is a leisure sport. It’s not meant to be played like high intensity sports like the grid iron, hoops or baseball. You’re supposed to enjoy golf and reap the benefits of a an easy-paced recreational sport.

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My mantra is:

  • 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.

Let’s see what comes up next time.

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Tuning Up with a Par 3 Course

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.

On target?

Yep, that would have been great to remember as I started launching balls in all directions except onto the putting surface. I could have used that reminder when I came up short or just so close with my initial shots off the tee. I need to keep the ball on target and I can’t do that if I am not aligned with my target and I need to. . .

Front 9: Nothing But Bogeys and Double Bogeys

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.

When that’s the way you are playing, you leave yourself little room for error. My putting was rolling along as I expected and I could not ask any more it than to maybe give me breaks on those putts that just slowly edged the hole and came to a complete stop. When that’s your putt for par, you can’t help but get nothing but bogeys and double bogeys.

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Back 9: Swinging on Target and Switching Up

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.

Not Exactly a Comeback

Mama Said Knock You Out– LL Cool J

C’mon man
And with the local DDC news, LL Cool J with a triumphant comeback
But tonight…
Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years
I’m rockin’ my peers, puttin’ suckers in fear

LL Cool J lyrics from “Mama Said Knock You Out” via Musixmatch

Definitely Not a Comeback Performance

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

With Cousin Robert @ Willowbrook Country Club

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.

I am still on my way to consistently breaking 90. This one just truly informed me with data to work with and analyze for my next round. Like some golf bloggers have shared, it makes sense to prep for each shot one by one, hole by hole. Now, armed with a scorecard that seems like a video game score and an attitude that says Yes We Can/ Si Se Puede and “Be the ball,” I am ready to tackle my next round later on this week and see what I get out of that.

U.S. Open Hosted in San Diego Again

Rocco & Tiger at 2008 U.S. Open

Not since the the storied playoff of 2008 has there been so much fervor over the U.S. Open in Southern California. The U.S. Open is being hosted in San Diego at Torrey Pines again. No, there will not be a rematch of Tiger and Rocco again, especially since Tiger is recovering from major health setbacks due to an accident earlier this year. This year’s tourney has plenty of other drama to keep it buzzing.

The Brooks versus Bryson Feud

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.

Hometown Favorites Schauffele and Mickelson

Any pro golf tournament that hits the West Coast, especially anything close or within the San Diego area, seems to stir up two hometown favorites. No matter what is at stake and where things stand, Lefty (Phil Mickelson) and Xander Schauffele always seem to come up in discussion and debate.

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.

Current Three-way Tie for First Place

Usually, you can expect some tough competitors to brave the heavy morning fog on the coastal course of Torrey Pines, but this year has us all a little thrown off. Not many off us expected to enter the final round of the U.S. Open this Sunday with three players tied for first place. The course will continue to test each player’s grit and mettle. There’s bound to be some final round falloff. Someone will lose their nerve and in turn lose their place in the running for taking home that grand prize. Or, perhaps we could witness some form of link to the past greatness of the Open at Torrey Pines like the playoff between Rocco and Tiger ages ago.

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.

Reviewing My Winter Golf Game

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

John C. Maxwell
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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.

Facing Facts from My Final Round During Winter Break

My Final Round for the Week and My Winter Break at Enagic Country Club

I planned my final round according to my Golf Planning Resources and still felt as if I had left something to chance. Playing Enagic Country Club in Eastlake was a familiar layout that takes you in and out of street traffic on a course interwoven into the Eastlake residential community. The course is laced with some challenging holes such as its signature usage of waterways on hole #9 and #12. In particular these two holes are guarded by water and bunkers, making accuracy a key factor in approaching the green.

My goal was simple: finish the week and winter break on a high note and possibly take note of where I leave off to take my game to a higher level upon my return to regular play.

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Don’t Play Yourself

I found things different at the course since I last graced its tee boxes. As I sought to keep up with the long-driving and power-hitting younger trio of my foursome, I felt like the odd man out. In some cases, I knew what I was doing wrong and I was just struggling to get out of my own head with weak tee shots forcing long distance recovery and scrambling for a shot at par. Even saving bogey was tricky at times. My best play came using my putter off the green to trail my Callaway Super Soft along a prickly fringe to bend onto the green and end up within an inch from the hole. Close but no cigar, just another bogey. Beyond that my short game research came into play and helped me save some strokes within 50 yards and at times within 100 yards. One key to my play was fatigue. I played myself out. I played a lot of golf and by the time that I got to this course I was not having as much fun and I felt the physical strain of it as I struggled in various parts of my game.

Good Scores, Good Vibes and Good Tries

I shot a 97 at Pala Mesa & a 93 here

My struggles did not translate to the scorecard as much as I felt. My mulligans had to come in to use on a few holes, but I can live with that. I was not playing for any type of wager and I certainly was not going for the club record, so I can roll with it. After all, I was having a good time and I was feeling those good vibes like when you are first introduced to Bob Marley or Steel Pulse.

I felt like my prior score on a par 3 was a more productive round, but I can still recall some highlights of this round making me realize why I come out to play. That feeling of punching a stinger across the fairway and getting that favorable bounce at the edge of a bunker that sends your ball swirling around the green to leave you with a four to five foot putt is hard to recreate on one’s own. Those types of shots keep you coming back for more and eagerly seeking out almost any opportunity to work in some new technique that the club pro or a golf buddy has shown you to give your game an edge.

I find it amazing that I could feel so inadequate about my game. I knew that my body was tiring from more consistent play than usual. I loved being in the company of some guys who could pound it off the tee and maneuver around the course. The number of double bogeys alone would amount to dropping four strokes if they bogeys and 93-4= 89. Playing bogey golf alone would it make a major difference in scoring. But if I had gotten at least 3 holes where I landed on the green rather than to the right or on a fringe, I would have had both green in regulation (GIR) and a shot at birdie which would have me with a greater chance at par than bogey due to my 2 putt average per hole. With so many options for breaking 90, I need to revisit my game strategy and execution for next outing.

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5 Lessons Learned on My First Round of Golf since the Pandemic

I learned some real valuable lessons on my first round of golf since the pandemic hit our nation and the entire world. I wouldn’t really consider the golf tournament that I participated in this fall as a round of golf nor anything that contributes to my goal of breaking 90 consistently. It definitely helped to boost my confidence, but it was just not one for the record books. I felt that this was my first outing and I learned plenty along the way.

My outing included some lessons learned on two different courses positioned at opposites sides of East County San Diego and at opposite ends of the day. Morning started with me walking the back nine at Carltons Oaks Golf Course in Santee as clouds of mist began to subside to the rising sun. That afternoon had me facing the par 3 18-hole Pine Glen course at Singing Hills Golf Course (Sycuan Resort) in the middle of threats of rain and mild Santa Ana winds. Both courses offered me some extremely timely and useful lessons on engaging in golf since the pandemic as I walked each round with my golf bag slung across my back.

1. Walking the Course Has Advantages Over Riding

I find that walking a course toting your bag on your back can give you all sorts of lessons alone, especially when you consider issues such as lower back pain and overall fitness. The game of golf has its own lessons and walking the course teaches us plenty, too.

  • Much like running or jogging, walking the golf course during a round allows you to listen to your body.
  • You quickly have an idea of just how fit your are (or not) as you walk the golf course during your round
  • You try to keep your shot selections more selective and strategic when walking more than while riding in the cart
  • Downsizing is a practical pathway, whether it be the number of clubs or other items in your bag.
  • You feel a bit closer to nature while walking the course during your round of golf. It can be the ducks by the water hazards or the rising mist from the grassy fairways in the morning, but it is definitely a sense of serenity that comes over you as you take it all in step by step.

2. Technology Helps Track Stats More & More

I used to keep scorecards stuffed and tucked away in my golf bag’s pockets. They would come straight from the back pocket after the final hole and into a hidden place in that bag and remain there until they slip or drop out by mistake. That’s not what I am doing now.

I used Garmin’s mobile golf app on both my smart phone and my Garmin Vivoactive 3 watch. My preference is the mobile phone app for just tracking strokes, but the watch allows you to track distance to the pin as well as the distance of your last shot. Course information can be downloaded in advance for usage on the watch during a round. Another option is MyScorecard and its mobile app. The technology kept me on track as I improved my score hole by hole.

3. Muscle Memory Works Most of the Time

I hate to admit it but it’s true that muscle memory is not an absolute. It tends to fail when your nerves get the better of you and those first tee jitters get to jumping around like nervous butterflies in your belly. Yips can override any personal yearning for swinging for big yards and open fairways as I realized the reality that played out before my eyes unlike some things I read when I browse the blogs and sports articles. I definitely learned that some things are slower to change as it initially took me 3 holes to warm up at Carlton Oaks.

4. Every Round of Golf Offers Surprises

It almost goes without saying that nearly every single time I play golf that I am provided some kind of surprise. Previously playing Oak Glen at Sycuan, I learned how a wayward duck can disrupt the perfect flight of a line drive from a hooded 6 iron. While playing at Chula Vista Golf Course, I discovered how a fairway wood recovery shot could simply be shortened and cutoff by low-hanging electrical wires threaded across the otherwise wide open fairway.

This time around did not displease. Hole #16 at Carlton Oaks gave me an unjust and cruel fate handed down when my approach shot was cut short by grazing the peak of a jutting mound of earth, forcing me to chip as close as possible to the green with an explosion of sand in my face upon impact. Faced with a par shot off the fringe of the hole, I elected to use my putter as opposed to any wedge play and struck paydirt for par even to my own surprise. Like I said, I’ll take that all day long.

5. Your Game is Usually Better Than You Expect

Put all of the b.s. aside for a moment. I am not always walking the course, and I am most certainly not always one who undergoes a regimented routine of arriving at the course early and ensuring that I have things in order to have a productive and positive round of golf. Maybe that is a profound lesson learned for me, too. Things can be more productive and more positive when you decide to do more preparation for your round than just popping up and playing without a plan.

My results speak for themselves. I was +13 on 18 holes of par 3? Anyone who has played with me over the years know that I dread almost any par 3 hole. For me to make multiple pars on that course, I knew that my morning round had helped me build some confidence and recognize where I lacked strength. Prior to teeing off at Singing Hills that afternoon, I smashed range balls with my 6 and 8 irons as a warmup and a reinforcement of my own potential with my irons.

You have to understand that despite being +9 on the back nine at Carlton Oaks those irons were not my saving grace that morning. Every time I pulled them out of my bag it seemed to my detriment. I even went so far as to using my hybrid to work anything between 150 to 100 yards out and my pitching wedge for anything within 100 yards of the pin.

Knowing that I was facing 18 holes of par 3 challenges, I knew that I needed those two clubs to get my scores down and conquer those par 3s. And they delivered well and allowed me to keep pushing even when I had to use the same club where I had just flubbed a tee shot to pull off a high risk recovery shot. I learned that my application of hooded tee and approach shots with a 6 iron and sharply-chopped 8 iron rolls were enough to keep me in contention for par at nearly every turn.

I value all of the lessons that I learned playing golf again since the pandemic arose. I am eagerly awaiting my next outing this week most probably on New Year’s Eve. I am going to reference my notes and try to compensate for where I allowed my game to lack focus and get sloppy. I mean what do you call it when your second shot on a par 5 places you squarely 155 yards from the pin and your 6 iron sends a rocketed misaligned third shot approximately 25 to 30 yards off target to the left of the green? I think sloppy is a euphemism for such a thing, but it all taught me a clear lesson on the power of consistency making things easier for myself than forcing risky and remarkable recovery shots. Thank God for walking the course, bitterly condemning myself as I walked from one shot to another to regain my composure and play it strategically to keep things under a double bogey.

Until next time, keeping swinging and having fun.