Archive for the ‘Blog/Life’ Category

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#18th Tee Mountain Course

**Here are some of the pictures taken at the tournament in Palm Springs few weeks ago.  The PGA West courses in Palm Springs are beautiful and it was a real treat to get to experience golf at some of the finest courses in the US.**

Spent most of my time this week at the range working on my long game to try and stop my shifting forward in my downswing.  It’s something that my coach identified as a problem months ago when I first started getting lessons again, but I could never fully grasp the correct “feeling.”  I dedicated myself this week to finding that feeling as I know that I have fallen back into my bad habit of shifting forward with my hips instead of turning through on the downswing…and it causes me to have real inconsistent contact with an either push or big draw ball flight.   I feel like now I have finally figured out the correct feeling and my swing feels a lot smoother and my contact is A LOT better.  Worked in front of a mirror, with swing analysis video on my phone and at the range and I’m seeing great positive results.

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Me putting on #18 Dunes Course

I played a round with my friend on Wednesday over at the Vineyard to try and take my practice to the course and see how it would hold up during a round.  I shot a disappointing 79, but my ball striking with my irons was really solid and my ball flight was a lot more accurate than it has been.  My only problem this round was off the tee with my driver.  I hit every single drive solid, with distance, it was just leaking left.  I found the out of bounds off the tee 4 times on Wednesday, causing me to have 3 double bogeys.  b1dfab579a60ec73ca8d4ebdbb0b10e9So I know what I need to work on again and it is straightening out my driver, the contact and distance is there, but I can feel I’m coming slightly over the top, now I just need to find the correct slot and that should straighten it out.  Worked last night at the range for a bit and my driver was getting a lot better, still slightly leaking left, but definitely straightening out.

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Chipping

My short game is the best it’s ever been right now, I’m really confident in what I’m doing with my putter.  I’m finally getting consistent solid contact in the center of the putter face and it has greatly improved my distance control.  The ball is rolling off the putter face as it should and my green reading is improving also.  I’m the most confident I have ever been on the greens right now and I hope to keep it going

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Our Group Day #2 at the Dunes Course

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get out and play this weekend, but hopefully next week I can get out 2-3 times and play some solid golf.  If I keep hitting the ball like I am and straighten out that driver, I feel like I can go real low, let’s make it happen!

Being Congratulated on the Victory

Being Congratulated on the Victory

….ME!! 

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My View of the Nicklaus Course on Day 1

YES!! I’m still slightly in shock that I was able to win the tournament in Palm Springs this past week!  It was my 3rd time attending the tourney and ever since my 1st a few years back, it has been a big goal of mine to get my game good enough to try and win, so this is a big accomplishment for me mentally.  It proves to me that hard work and dedication really do pay off.  I did not play as well as I know I’m capable of, left a lot of shots out there due to short game, yet it was still just enough to get the job done as I beat the field of 85 by just 1 shot by the end of Sunday!

**I have been putting off writing a post about the tourney yet  because I have been waiting for them to post the pictures, but I think it’s time I at least clue you guys in and let you guys know that I actually won the thing!** 

It was a 3 day tournament in Palm Springs20130816_141930Day 1 we played at the PGA West Jack Nicklaus Course20130824_103829, it was 110 degrees and I shot a 79 (+7), putting me tied in 2nd place after day one (low score of day was a 75).  This round was actually really disappointing for me, we started on hole #5 on a shotgun start and I was at Even par through my first 11 holes and then went +7 over my last 7 holes to finish.  I think the heat got to me near the end.  I was hitting the ball great all day, but near the end I started missing greens and could not get up and down to save my life.  Went 0-5 on up and down over my last 7 holes and had a 3 putt.  So even with the very disappointing finish to the first day, I was still only 4 shots back from the lead and feeling good.

20130824_103916 20130824_103926Final Stats for Nicklaus Course: Score: 79 (+7) Fairways Hit (FW) 7/14 50% Green in Regulation (GIR) 8/18 44% Up/Downs 2/9 22%. Sand Saves 0/0 0% Penalties: 0 Putts: 33

Day 2 we played at the La Quinta Dunes Course20130824_103953 and I tied for the low round of the day with a solid (+3) 75!  We started on hole #14 on the shotgun start and something amazing happened…..the first two holes, back to back, I chipped in for birdie!  Both were great chips that one hopped and fell into the cup, it was crazy and missed a 3rd on the next hole by an inch.  So that start was a nice treat, but unfortunately I was not able to make another birdie the entire day, but played solid golf to only finish at +3.  I doubled #17 which is the #1 handicapped hole, perfectly in the fairway, but I blocked my 7 iron and it found the water left of the green.  I did not hit the ball well off the tee this day, but my short game was a lot better and as a result I finished the day tied for the lead going into Sunday!

20130824_10402020130824_104007Final Stats for Dunes Course: Score: 75 (+3) Fairways Hit (FW) 4/14 29% Green in Regulation (GIR) 9/18 50% Up/Downs 5/7 71%. Sand Saves 0/1 0% Penalties: 1 Putts: 27

Day 3 (Final) we played at the La Quinta Mountain Course20130824_104047, my first time ever playing at this course.  It is a beautiful course, literally carved into the la quinta mountain side and it even features an island green, only it’s surrounded by rocks and not water like at Sawgrass.  We started on #14, the 2nd handicapped hole and I hit it to about 12 ft for birdie…..then I promptly 3 putted for a bogey, ridiculous!  I was very upset at myself, but I think in a way it almost freed me up to just go out and play and not worry about score or winning and just let the chips fall where they may.  I hit a lot of close shots for birdie, but could not convert a lot of them, missed 10 ft birdies on #15 and #17 and even a 3 ft birdie on #1, horrible!  I was +4 after my first 7 holes, but still striking the ball well.  I was able to make some clutch putts coming down the stretch, a few birdies and finished my last 11 holes at just +1.  I had no clue that my score of 77 (+5) was going to be good enough to win the tournament.  We all gathered back in the clubhouse to hand in our scorecards and that was when I was told that I had won the tournament by 1 shot!  I was in shock as the other person I was tied with on the final day had shot a 78.  Needless to say you can tell that this was not the most difficult tournament, as my final 3 day total of 231 (+15) won, but I’m still extremely proud to top the field of 85 players and happy to accomplishing a big goal of mine.  We played on the same courses where they play the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, the rough was long and fluffy and it was 110 degrees + every single day.  The Golf Channel Am Tour events will be more difficult and significant to win, but this win is a real confidence booster for me and a big stepping stone in my journey to become a scratch golfer.  My goal for next year at this tournament is to shoot an under par round, I believe if I keep putting in the time and effort, I can make it happen!

20130824_10405720130824_104104 Final Stats for Mountain Course: Score: 77 (+5) Fairways Hit (FW) 9/14 64% Green in Regulation (GIR) 10/18 55% Up/Downs 1/5 20%. Sand Saves 0/1 0% Penalties: 2 Putts: 32

**I will be posting pictures of the tournament when they release them so stayed tuned in the next week.**

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This week has been a real struggle for my golf game….I played on Monday and Wednesday, at Vineyard (Mon) and Riverwalk (Wed)….both rounds were disappointing.  Shot a 78 (+8) at Vineyard and an 82 (+10) at Riverwalk, birdied just once for the two rounds total and struggled off the tee.  My putting was horrible at Vineyard, but improved by the end of my Riverwalk round.  Once I started to move the ball more toward the middle of my stance, I was able to get solid contact with each putt and over my last 13 holes at Riverwalk; I putted the best I had in months.  Now that I’m able to get consistent solid contact on my putts, my lag putting was spot on, no possibility of 3putts.

Golf is such a frustrating game and I keep questioning myself as to why I can’t stay consistent.   I seem to find my swing and then lose it almost on a weekly basis.  I know through coaching from my instructor that my tendency is to get too steep on the downswing….this leads to real inconsistent strikes.  So I have spent the past 2 days analyzing my swing for hours in front of a mirror and on video.  I got a new phone this week, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and it has given me the ability to download apps that can help improve my game.  I am now able to record my swing and use the golf apps to draw lines to analyze my swing. Seeing my swing on video proved that I was indeed getting too steep again on my downswing….I used trial and error over the course of a few hours trying to see if I could get my swing back on plane, but nothing was working.   I spent the next hour or so before work just thinking about what I could do to keep my club on plane on the downswing…..and then it clicked.  I already in my mind tried to get the butt of the grip on the backswing pointing toward the ball, this is what helps me get the club started on plane, but I was forgetting to make sure it’s pointing at it on the downswing.  I had just assumed that in my downswing I was basically on plane or that my arms were subconsciously just continuing to follow the plane from my backswing.  Once I figured out how to get my club back on plane on the downswing, I did a few pump drills to make sure that I was getting the feeling.  After work, I was able to head to the range and test out my theory…..it worked!!  I hit the ball better than I have in months, more solid contact than I can remember having ever and the ball flight was consistent.  Had a few misses to the left and right, but I realized that my tempo was causing that.  Once I slowed down my tempo and made sure my club was on plane, I hit the ball exactly how I have dreamed I could.

I’m playing rounds again next week on Monday and Wednesday so I hope that I can get back to scoring well, after last night, I’m confident that I am going to improve.  Now that I have the ability to record my swing at home and analyze it, should help me stay consistent…now I just need to keep the ball in play off the tee and start rolling in those putts!  In a few weeks time, working on keeping my club on plane, I feel like I can get my scores back to the +1 and +2 I was shooting just a few weeks ago.

Also, I have signed up for a tournament coming up on August 16th-18th in Palm Springs.  I’ll post more about that in coming weeks, but it will be my 3rd year in a row attending this tournament.  Was in 2nd last year heading into the last day, until I blew up for an 83 on Sunday, so I’m hoping to improve from last year.

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This years British Open has been really fun to watch, there is the possibility of a 3 or even 4 putt on any given hole which makes for some exciting golf to watch….no lead is safe.  I love watching the US and British Opens because they are always the toughest tests in golf, where par is an amazing score.  Tiger is just 1 shot back going into the weekend and I must say that I am pulling for Tiger to win his 15th major and 1st since doing it here in my home town of San Diego at the US Open in ’08 at Torrey Pines.  It seems that every major over the past couple of years, Tiger has found himself at this exact same spot, in the lead or 1 or 2 shots off the lead heading into Saturday.  Saturday is “moving day” as Tiger likes to say, but lately he’s played his worst rounds on Saturday and instead of moving up, he’s moved way down and has dropped out of the competition heading into Sunday.  I’m hoping he can reverse his trend tomorrow, he’s hitting a ton of FW’s right now, if he can continue that and keeps making those clutch 10ft putts for par, I think he will easily be in or close to the lead by days end.  Honestly with how tough this course is playing, you could potentially be 6 or 7 shots back heading into the final round and still win…..can’t wait to watch the conclusion of this awesome weekend of golf!

I did end up playing a golf round on Wednesday, but we were not able to get onto Riverwalk.  We ended up having to emergency drive up to Vineyard and luckily we were able to get a golf round in.  I did not play very well and ended up shooting a very disappointing 80.  I’m not going to do a golf recap of my round, I’ve been obsessed with watching every second of the British Open and it’s on very early in the morning in the US.  I will give a quick over view of my round however, just could not get up and down all day long.  Ended my round 2 for 7 on up and down chances, not that I was hitting bad chips, just couldn’t make a putt.  Still getting used to not lining up my ball on putts inside 10feet and I’m just struggling with confidence right now.  My lag putting is improving nicely though, I did have two 3 putts, but they were not because I left my first putt 6-8ft short like I have been….this round they were just missing the short 2nd putt.  Frustrating, but I feel like it is just a confidence thing, I finally found a set up and stroke that is making consistent contact in the center of the putter face and thanks to my lesson last week, I now have a better ability to self diagnose and understand the feelings I have when I have a miss hit.  With more putting practice, my kinks should start to iron themselves out and help me gain more confidence.  My driving took a slight step backwards during this past round, just couldn’t find the center of the club face and as a result I hit a few very poor drives.  One of them cost me big time and I made a triple bogey after hitting a tree just in front of the tee box on #8.  The tees were extremely far back and tucked to the left, forcing me to try to hit a big cut shot as I’m lefty.  I’m not comfortable with that shot at all yet, and I pushed it left into the trees.  Also had a double on #3 as I hit my tee shot in the water on the par 3 and was unable to get up and down from the drop zone.  Back 9, I started off par, par, but then went on a bogey streak that lasted the next 5 holes, until paring 17 and 18 to end.  It’s tough to go from 71, 72 on the exact same course to 80 just a few days later……but that is golf, the true definition of a love/hate relationship.  I’m going to take the weekend off from golf and just relax, clear my head again and watch the British Open.  Will be playing again on Monday and Wednesday next week, so fully back to the grind on Monday….will continue to hit up the range if I can after the work for the next few days.

Final Stats for round:  Fairways Hit (FW) 7/14 50% Green in Regulation (GIR) 9/18 50% Up/Downs 2/7 28%. Sand Saves 0/2 0% Penalties: 2 Putts: 33

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I am now 28 years old and I have discovered that this is about the age when real regret for the paths you wish you would have taken or the dreams you wish you would have pursued  and did not in your early 20’s are starting to set in.  We might feel and think like we are still 18, but we are not.  The days and weeks feel much quicker now, the calendar pages feel like they are being turned more rapidly each year and nostalgia for the good old days occur more and more frequently.  When these feelings start, one must realize that you are not alone and that 99% of people will have these same feelings at some point, even the ones you think seemingly have it all.  What is it? It’s that feeling in your gut that says “I want more.”  It’s that will to improve yourself, grow and know you were meant for better.  Scared are some of that feeling, they begin to settle and get lazy, they end up doing the easy thing and in the end they’ll never know if they could have accomplished their dreams because they were too afraid of the work, dedication and time it would take.  It’s that fear of the unknown, the fear of failure or even success that hold us back from getting what we really want and accomplishing the dreams in our heart.  Fear of where that mysterious path to accomplishing dreams would take you, somewhere unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone.  I for one will not continue to be that person.  I want to go on that journey that comes with the pursuit of a personal dream.  I want to know that a plan, dedication, focused intensity, faith and hard work really do pay off and even if I fail in my goal, at least those principles will be ingrained in my psyche  and ultimately make me a better person. “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” –Henry David Thoreau

For me, my dream is to be a scratch golfer, to be able to shoot under par on any given day at any given golf course and do it consistently.  This blog is going to be dedicated to that pursuit and if you are a fan of golf in any capacity, I encourage you to join me, stick around and follow my journey.  My journey is going to involve regular long hours of practice, patience and faith.  Anybody who has played golf before knows just how frustratingly difficult the game of golf can be.  It’s a game that takes constant practice and patience, but a game that is so rewarding when played well.  I have had this dream in the back of my mind for the past year and a half when I started to play golf again more frequently, but have not shown the true dedication and hours of practice that is needed to accomplish it.  I have improved however, started at about an unofficial 9-12 handicap a year and a half ago and am now down to an official 5.9, lowest of my life.  I believe that with consistent and correct practice, I can improve quickly.

To recap my goal for this blog is to plot my journey to becoming a scratch golfer, shooting my first under par round and getting my handicap down to a 0 or better.  When I first picked up a golf club at age 14, I dreamed of the day that I could sign a scorecard with a negative under par score, just like the professionals.  I believe that with the help of this blog keeping me motivated, lots of dedicated and focused practice that I can accomplish one of my goals of shooting an under par round of golf possibly by the end of 2013, if not than at least in 2014. **Update: First Under Par Round Accomplished 6/25/14, Read About it Here: A Dream Realized**   My journey to become a scratch golfer will hopefully take me out of my comfort zone and help me grow as a person.  It will take me from early morning rounds by myself to amateur golf tour events to who knows where if I actually accomplish it in the coming years.  The journey will be long, and no doubt frustrating at times, but fulfilling to know that in the end, many years from now, when I look back, I will have pursued a dream of mine and I will not have to regret another “what if” moment.  I will be posting scores and stats, practice sessions, round recaps, lesson videos and pictures.  So I ask you even if you’re not a golfer too, to please join me and follow along as I go on this journey toward my dream.   I also hope that it can inspire you to find that dream of your own you’d like to accomplish.  Create a plan and go for it and together we can help support and push each other to live the dreams in our heart!