Project 2 Handicap

Online log of a quest to drop my golf handicap from a nine to a two within sixty months. Sink or swim, I'll give it my best shot. Advice is not only appreciated, it's encouraged!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Round Report: 07/08/07

Well, my strategy of "making every shot" worked, not to perfection, but to about eighty five percent of perfection.

Turns out that this exercise was quite enlightening. I made "making the shot" my swing thought on every shot, and it usually worked to keep my emotions from wrecking any havoc on my swing. Prior to every swing I was convinced that I was focused, but I found that when I assessed my pre-swing state of mind after each swing, I could sometimes identify times when my emotions did affect my shots.

For example, on a par five, after a good drive I decided to go for the green in two. I was easily within 3-wood distance, but I had a slight downhill lie and the shot was over water. Prior to the swing I thought I was in good emotional shape - "don't worry about the outcome" I told myself, "just give it a loose swing and live with whatever happens". But then during the swing, "outcome worry" crept in and I tensed up. This resulted in a poor swing (and yes, a poor outcome as well).

I'm encouraged enough, though, to keep at this. I've been working on this technique with my putting for several weeks now and today my putting was phenomenal. My lag touch was off just a bit, but I "made" (and holed too!) all but one short (8 feet and in) putt, and I also holed a couple of longer putts. Actually, I counted only two putts that I didn't "make" during the entire round. I'm very please with that performance!

And yes, the exercise did translate to a pretty good scoring round - a six over par 78, including an even par 36 on the back.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Goal for Sunday: Make Every Shot

Wednesday, emotions kept me from playing my best golf. If I'm to reach my goal, I have to do a better job with emotions. Not controlling them, because emotions are part of golf, but playing the game the right way regardless of the emotions that I'm feeling.

So Sunday, I'm gonna try a little experiement...

A little while back I heard Dr. Joe Parent, author of Zen Golf discuss the idea of "making every putt" on a GolfSmarter podcast.

By "making every putt" Dr. Parent doesn't mean "holing" every putt, he means that we should try to roll every putt along the intended line, at the intended speed and consider that to be a successful putt. In other words, in order to keep emotions from interfering with the putting stroke, remove the desired outcome of holing the putt from the definition of success.

Easier said than done to be sure, but I have had some success with this on the greens recently.

In my next round this Sunday, I intend to extend this thought to my full shots too. Except that I'll have to revise it just a bit for full shots. "Success" on a full shot will mean that I played the shot without any emotional baggage.

Emotional baggage could mean, as with putting, concern about the outcome of the shot. Or it could mean playing a shot too quickly because I'm still miffed about my score on a prior hole. Or it could mean playing a shot that I don't really believe I'm capable of pulling off just because I want to make up for a prior poor shot on the hole.

Playing the shot without emotional baggage will mean playing within my routine; planning the shot and swinging the club in the manner that I believe will produce the shot that I've planned. Each shot that I play this way - in the present and free of emotion about the past or the future - will be counted as a successful shot.

The result of the shot will not be a factor in whether or not the shot is considered a success. So a skull, shank, top, chili dip or whatever could be a successful shot as long as I play the shot without emotional baggage affecting my preshot routine or my actual swing.

If I can pull this off then I can honestly say that I played the best golf that I was capable of playing that day.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Taking it to the course

Why do so many of us have trouble with this?

Yesterday I was warming up on the range prior to my round and found that I was just striping the ball. Every swing was excellent, and it wasn't because I found a groove with a single club. Even as I moved from club to club the swing was there.

The positive thoughts carried to the course - through the 1st nine at least where I was just two over par. Then came the back nine where I lost confidence in my swing and struggled to bring it home at nine over par.

So what is it? I know what to do. I know to swing in a relaxed manner. But doing it consistently continues to evade me.

I think I might care about the outcome too much.