Admittedly, I am a fan of Rory. I root for Rory usually at every turn with the exception of when he goes up against a fan fave like Rickie, Tiger, or Kevin Na. (Tiger, well, he’s in a realm all his own.) Other than that, I can see Rory swinging with power and looking to shave strokes all of the time.
Seeing Rory do his thing is something to behold. The natural flow of his swing is stunning. The amount and degree of torque he generates drawing the club back is superhuman. The yardage he registers time and time again is feat of pure power unleashed. I really enjoy seeing Rory take on the major courses.
When you root for Rory, you want to swing it like Rory 100% of the time.
For me, it’s almost a no-brainer. I enjoy my Cobra F-Max irons. I love the weight of the irons in your hands and the grip. They’re used clubs, but I had a choice between them and a set of some Taylormade irons and hybrids. I don’t have the Cobra driver to go along with the set like DeChambeau, but I also don’t have a personalized fitted set of clubs made just for me.
I can say that my current driver made just for me is sitting outside of my bag more than it sees usage on the course. Why? Because just like the many pros we see them tee off, my tee shots go and drift off this way and that way based on some heavy-handed swinging I am bringing from the shoulders and some alignment issues at address. I brought back my Taylormade Burner and put it into action, but I have found that I can also get more control with my 3 or 5 wood. I can even use a hybrid to launch it off the tee at times.
What the real problem is me and my level of consistency. I need to find that swing groove again off the tee. I am working out differently and it’s also impacting my game. When I was mainly running for exercise, I was slimming down and that should in my level of endurance and energy. Nowadays I do mainly bodyweight exercises with HIIT workouts and floor exercises. I am not losing weight as I put on some muscle mass here and there. This impacts my game as my shoulders and arms are coming down and into the ball, sending that Callaway Chrome into flight. that’s where I see my struggles come from, not the club itself.
Am I ready to go back to my personalized driver yet?
Not quite. Once I settle down and settle into a solid swing rhythm, I think I will be there. For now, I am good with getting my practice rounds in and getting a few more Mulligans in my favor on those wild drives.
Brian Penn of All About Golf suggested I invest in some lessons. I’m not ready to do it yet. I will probably pull the trigger some time this fall and see what comes of it. For now, like I said before, I will take a few wild drives and make some remarkable recovery shots. After all, half of the fun is seeing what trouble you can work your way out of with your clubs. The same ones you got yourself into trouble with.
My time on the gold course has been a continual learning experience. I’ve come to enjoy the little lessons that have come my way by way of learning what works and what doesn’t work for my game.
What Doesn’t Work
It’s always obvious what doesn’t work. The problem is that it’s not always the same thing that doesn’t work. During some outings, I can swing my 7 wood, solidly smack a golf ball against the thin club face, and smash it like a laser unto the green from within 150 yards. Other times, I find myself struggling to get off the tee.
What Works (For Me)
I have learned to put into practice and play what works for me. I cannot speak for anyone else or substitute what works for them and drop that into my repertoire.
I got to go for what I know by applying what works for me.
That’s a struggle on the golf course at times when you have some golf buddies who always have a library catalog of golf tips and knowledge like the next Ty Webb with insights like “Be the ball.” You cannot make every swing adjustment that works for that other dude because he’s all of 5’6 and you’re over 6 feet tall. His swing is troubled by an outside to in swing path with a dip in the shoulders. You just have issues with your alignment at approach and keeping your head down through your swing with your hybrids and long irons. Almost anything he has to say to you is null and void for your game.
Play it smart: think through your next shot based on the conditions and the course
Play it safe: consider the obstacles or hazards in play as well as the course layout like doglegs or low-hanging tree branches near the fairway
Play it strategically: limit the recovery shots by playing the best option available and planning the follow-up shot after that
My goal is to improve my scorecard results. I want to land somewhere between 85-88 on a consistent basis, approximately 75% of the time. I want to feel confident when I go out to play that I will enjoy myself as I fish a birdie out of hole on a par 3 every now and then. That’s what I want and where I am headed.
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.
I rarely pass up a good deal. And, when it comes to good deals on a round of golf, I am usually game. That’s what I came across online for walking 9 holes at Carlton Oaks Country Club at 7 AM on MLK Day. I took that with a quickness.
Located in the midst of a residential area, Carlton Oaks Country Club is tucked away between the 52 Freeway and the single family homes of this eastern suburb. In an era where many courses seem forsaken by management and groundskeepers alike, this course still retains its luster as the morning sun pushes up from behind the nearby hilltops and shines upon the dewy fairways. Even with the morning mist rising from grassy open areas, this course offers plenty of built-in challenges embedded within the front and back. It also includes water coming into play on some key holes, especially a forced layup for most golfers on the final 18th hole.
Play to Your Strengths
My switch back to the TaylorMade Burner with the 10.5 degree head has been awesome off the tee. I am seeing more lift in my drives with less drift and pull. Right now, I am just under 40% of fairways hit. I expect that to bump up on my next outing for a similar course. I can gain a little bit more control extending my arms through impact and following through further. Plus, if I can be honest, I could truly have utilized my 3 wood off the tee to have given myself a better second shot in a few places. Implement that strategy on 2 holes, and then I am busting over 60% fairways hit.
My par on the 15th was after my third shot with a hybrid landed above the hole just off the green. By following that up with a light chip shot that rolled within inches of the hole, I was in the prefect position for par. Fast forward to the next hole and I found myself in a familiar position at the same hole I had chipped in for par my last time on the course, but this time fate killed my chip shot just inches from falling into the hole and forced me to take a bogey. It was a heartbreaker, but like I said before, you limit your chances for making par when you force an all-or-nothing shot for par off the fringe or at an extensive distance.
I see the shutdown orders as another thing that will simply force me to do what many golfers dread and some others simply geek out about to no end. I am going to be forced to plan my play.
Plan Your Play
Working in the school system means that I get those extended breaks for winter and summer, even those week’ for Thanksgiving and Spring Break. Hey, I will take them all day long.
And this usually causes me to engage in planning my play. Scheduling includes which days I will make a run up to Oceanside and visit the LinkSoul shop for my Make Par Not War gear and play Pala Mesa Resort. Or, it might even entail my own personal version of two-a-days where I might play a par 3 course in the morning hours and work in a full 18 on a course like Cottonwood or Chula Vista which isn’t too long or drastic like Barona Creek or Eastlake Golf Course. Courses like Sycuan offer multiple hole layouts so you could replay and have the feel of a totally different course. Regardless of how I format it, such extended periods of time afford me the opportunity to plan my play much like the Grateful Golfer shared.
Outdoor recreation will adjust again. We will have to remain contactless and maintain social distancing with face coverings of course. It is in effect for 3 weeks, so that will put us right into the middle of my winter break. I could jam in a handful of rounds weather permitting… Oh, who am I kidding! It’s Southern California. Any bad weather is a welcome added challenge for the course.
In all honesty, I look forward to having to plan out my play. I got a few folks I need to try to catch up with on the course. It will give me a good target to take aim at as I do my indoor workouts daily in preparation for my next outing.
Tomorrow’s driving range session will be another chance for me to get the GoPro working and capture myself in full swing mode after all of that quality advice and feedback alongside the golf tips and videos that I researched and reviewed. I think it will be a bittersweet session since I have only played in a tournament since COVID-19 struck us with its massive effects on our daily lives. All I know is that next time, I am jumping out there and getting on the links when this thing opens up again (as long as the cases go down like the governor hopes).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential.
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 Softlike Cookie Monster on a chocolate chip cookie. I just miss the game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
in 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.