Archive for the ‘Long Game Practice’ Category

 

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First off let me say I’m sorry for the lack of posts or updates these past several months…with new schedules and the time change causing cheap twilight golf to be near impossible, I felt it was the right time to start putting more focus and time toward a new idea that I have had floating around in the back of my head. 

The amazing response and support you all have shown me and this blog, has helped me to discover a true passion for writing that I never knew I had.  I’ve discovered a passion for encouraging, helping and inspiring others to develop themselves and work toward personal growth in order to achieve their goals and dreams and live their best life. 

As I’ve talked about in previous posts, over the past several years, I’ve experienced my fair share of emotional ups and downs.  As a result, the art of self development and self improvement has become the most important component of my life.  I have a deep desire to grow…to become the best version of myself while living a happier and more productive existence.  I have a thirst for knowledge and ideas. I’ve spent much time seeking out anything that I could learn from and apply to my life in order to help me to grow and improve.  I’m infatuated with stories of success and I want to help others in creating their own.

One of the reasons I started this journey in golf was to push myself toward self improvement.  I wanted to challenge myself to excel at something that was exceptionally difficult.  I was yearning for growth, not just in golf, but with my life.

 I will talk more about my new endeavor in coming months, but I just wanted to let you guys know where my focus and energies have gone these past few months.  I’m still in the process of learning and developing the necessary skills required to bring my new vision into reality and I’m excited to be able to share it with you all in the coming months! 

 Ok, now back to golf!  I’ve now started the process of integrating golf back into my daily routine and yesterday I finally played my first round of 2015! 

The only golf that I have played since December has been just a handful of range sessions.  My handicap before this 2+ month break was down to a career low of 1.3.  With golf being a game that requires constant dedication, I can tell you I wasn’t expecting to score like a 1 handicap my first round back, but I do consider myself an athletic person with a pretty good understanding of the golf swing.  So I knew I wouldn’t play as good as my previous handicap, but I still did expect to play relatively well.

My buddy and I met up at a new course for this blog ~ Mission Trails. 

Mission Trails is a Par 71 and at just over 6,000 yards, it’s not very long, but it does feature elevation changes, blind tee shots or dog legs on about 90% of the holes, which makes it a still somewhat challenging track.  I had played out here once before, but not in several years and I could only remember about 3 holes.   Playing into elevated greens, where you can’t see the putting surface, is a difficult task if you don’t have any previous course experience or real knowledge of the green layouts. 

Despite my rustiness and lack of course familiarity, I did not start out playing like someone who had just taken 2 months off…after the first 10 holes, I was sitting at only (+1)! 

I was hitting the ball solid.  However, I did seem to be hitting a consistent cut off the tee, something that I’ve never really previously done.  Both my chipping and putting were surprisingly efficient.  I was making some great putts and had a few great par saving up and downs. 

The slight cut off the tee would eventually cost me on the back 9 and it would cause my final 8 holes to be more than frustrating.  On the 5 hole stretch of #11-15, I shot (+6), missing all 5 fairway to the left side.  One found a hazard while the other 4 found me in lies of either twigs or dirt or stuck behind trees with no shot except a punch out.  I bogeyed two par 5’s during this stretch and also had a 3-putt. 

What I thought might be a pretty awesome first round back, was starting to get away from me and I was now fully onboard the runaway train of the bogey express.  Thankfully, I was able to slow it down by making a couple pars on both #16 and #17 before finally crashing to a stop with a 3-putt bogey on #18. 

A back 9 of 43(+7) after a 36(+1) on the front 9 ended the round on a salty note, but I still was able to break 80, with an overall 79(+8).

Although it’s frustrating to play so poorly on the back 9 after such a great front 9, I will take away a lot of positives from this round.  Overall, I did play fairly well for someone coming off of a 2+ month absence. I was reading and seeing putts well and thankfully I didn’t develop the Tiger Woods layoff chipping yips.  I also struck the ball pretty solidly with all clubs.  I look forward to getting back to the range to work on my swing this week.

With this other project, I don’t currently have the ability to be playing 2 to 4 times a week, like I was for most of 2014.  My hope is that I can still get out and play at least once a week, but most of my time will be focused either at the range or on short game practice 3-4 days a week.  My goal for this blog is still to get my handicap down to a 0, and since starting this blog in May of 2013, I have taken my handicap from 9 down to a 1.3.  To me, that is pretty amazing!  I have almost accomplished my goal of becoming an “official” scratch golfer, although some could argue that 1.3 could already be considered scratch.  I have also accomplished my big dream of shooting under par, not once, but twice.  Not to mention I’m 3 for 3 in tournaments, having won all 3 since starting this blog.  I fully intend to defend my back to back championships at Palm Springs in August and go for that 3-peat this year with an under par round.

On another side note, tomorrow I’ll be heading down to Torrey Pines for the 2015 PGA Farmers Insurance Open.  It’s always an amazing experience watching the best players in the world play golf.  They make this difficult game look so easy…hopefully I’ll be able to capture some footage again this year and post it up for you all in coming days.  If you’re interested, you can check out my 2014 footage featuring Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and many others here: 2014 Farmers Insurance Open

Again I’m sorry for the lack of updates.  I thank you all for your continued support of me and this blog.   Now that I’m slowly gearing back up into golf, I’ll start updating again more often.

 

 

flickr photo by JD Hancock, creative commons licensed (BY) : http://flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/4036482004

Alright well I’m leaving tomorrow for the 3 day tournament in Palm Springs and I’m both excited and little nervous.  I’m more excited than nervous really, but there is a part of me that has added some unneeded pressure on my performance this year because of the unexpected success I experienced last year.  I want to go into this years tournament just like last year with no expectations of results, just purely with the mindset of sticking to my routine and focusing on trying to execute one shot at a time…if i can do that, the score will take care of itself.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my goals for this tournament (shoot an under par round), but I know it’s going to be extremely difficult and that the only way I’m going to actually accomplish that is if I stick to my routine and stay positive.  Can’t get too up or too down and I must tag the same amount of low importance on every shot, from the first tee shot to the last putt and everything in between. A lot can happen in 54 holes…I know I have the ability to shoot under par now, I know that it’s possible, so lets have a positive mind set and give it my best shot!

I’m planning on taking some videos of my swing during the tournament and some pictures of the overall event that’ll be able to share when I get back.  That is if the camera on my phone doesn’t bug out on me again like it has been for the past week or so.  It’s been freezing up lately, but I got it working last night and had a friend record my last swing at the range.  I haven’t shown you guys the progress of my swing in many months, so I thought I’d show you guys a quick down the line video of my driver.  I’m really happy that I have figured out my driver in advance of the tournament, finally found a set up that is allowing me consistent solid strikes and the ball is jumping off the face with accuracy.  Any feedback on the swing would be nice, I haven’t looked at my swing on video in awhile, It looks like I get pretty steep, but I’ve always done that naturally and right now I’m sticking with it because I’ve learned how to hit the ball well with it…I guess it doesn’t matter if the ball goes straight.

images (3)Hello everyone, been a few months I know, but I have still been on the grind playing/practicing golf and I think it is time I give you all a recap of how I’ve been playing.  Over the past 2 months, I have made an effort to focus on my putting and chipping to try and raise my Up and Down stats. After playing with different ball positions and seeing how it affected the strike, height and spin of the wedges, I found that playing the ball off my back ankle when chipping gave me a consistent solid strike with solid spin.  I was able to control the height of the shot with my hand positions and club face angle.  For my putting, I started to create a consistent and repeatable putting routine….check the break from behind the ball, line up my mark to that spot, practice strokes while looking at hole to get distance feel, club face down feet together, look at hole while separating feet, one last look at hole, forward press and go.  My lag putting has gotten a lot better; I have only 3 putted twice in the last 3 rounds, made a ton of putts from 5ft and in and a solid amount from that 8-20 range.

My focus now is to try and raise my stats to PGA Tour averages, if I can do that or get close to those numbers than the scores will take care of themselves.  That under par round that I have been chasing is only going to come when my score is almost an afterthought.  The current PGA Tour Stat Averages are FW: 60% GIR: 67% Up and Down%: 57%.  Obviously they are playing much longer, narrower and more difficult courses, so I should aim to get much higher than those, but if I just reach these stats, with solid putting, I should be shooting under par.  I have been inputting scores into a website since about 2010 and currently I have 90 rounds in there and my stats are as follows.  FW: 39% GIR: 50% Up and Down%: 29%.  Because I have 90 rounds already logged, even with me playing at my best level ever right now, it is going to take a lot of consistently solid rounds to move these numbers significantly.  Just to give you a barometer of how I’m playing currently over my last 3 rounds my stats are as follows: FW:  23/43 53% GIR: 27/54 50% Up and Down% 11/18 61%.  I am playing well off the tee right now, been a big point of emphasis for me and my driver and woods have been solid, that number could be a lot higher as a lot of the fairways I missed where not by much at all.  The GIR of 50% is disappointing, especially since I am hitting more fairways, my wedge game has been off lately and I’m missing greens that I should easily hit.  My up and down % has gone from 29% to 61% since making the change to my putting and chipping so I’m excited to keep tine tuning that and get those numbers even higher.

My last two scores have been a +2 (74) at Double Tree and +5 (77) at Carmel Mountain from the tip Black Tees.  It was my first time ever playing from the blacks there as I have always wanted to, Carmel Mountain is a very challenging course, 6599 yards 73.2/133 slope from the tips with lots of out of bounds and tight fairways.  I’m really proud of the way I played there, should have been a lot better than +5, but could only make 1 birdie.

I’ll update again soon, doesn’t look like I’ll be able to play another round until next week sometime, so I’ll be hitting up the range over the next few days, hopefully I can continue my solid play.

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It has almost been a month since I have updated this blog, I apologize for lack of content, but I haven’t been able to actually play many golf rounds in these past few weeks.  I have been going to the range a few times a week, but that is about all I have been doing, no real short game practice.  I have however, in the past week, had a serious breakthrough with my full swing.  I have talked about in previous posts that my miss in my golf swing tends to be that I become too “stuck” from the inside.  Getting stuck on the downswing produces inconsistent contact, mostly off the toe or thin and produces a block or pull ball flight.  I have known that this is my problem for a few months now and I have been working intently to correct it, but was not able to find a consistent fix.  I would analyze pro golfer swings on TV and the internet and then cross reference it with my own swing in the mirror and video.  I looked up numerous videos on how to fix getting too steep on the downswing, but nothing seemed to work.  It became a constant game of trial and error at the driving range…continually trying one fix and if it did not work, finding a new one in a few days and repeat.  Some would work for a few days or a week, hell I even won a large field tournament doing this a few months ago, but I knew that I was not comfortable with my swing.  I knew my mechanics were not sound and that I was relying solely on timing alone and that was not going to help me produce the consistent results I wanted.   If my timing was on for that day, I could hit the ball great, but ultimately my bad mechanics would catch up with me, cause inconsistent contact and then before you know it frustration sets in and I lose my swing all over again and feel lost.

Then a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a new video that was recently posted on YouTube called “how to stop getting stuck” I watched it and it all just clicked for me.   I have known the positions I was supposed to get into for months now, but just could not find a way to get the feeling.  This video broke down the downswing in the simplest way possible, basically just talking about feeling as though your back elbow stays in front of your shirt seam on the downswing.  It made a lot of sense to me and I noticed when going back and looking at pro golfers swings they all were doing the same.  I worked on the feeling in the mirror for a bit and then went to test it at the range…..haven’t hit the ball better in my whole life!  I even had groups of people at the range come up and stand behind me to watch.  Not only was my contact more consistent, but more importantly the quality of strikes was drastically better.  My accuracy improved tremendously and my swing felt free flowing and repeatable.  My new swing has held up so far over these past 2 weeks, some of my best range sessions ever and finally got to take my swing to the course yesterday where I shot a 76, hitting 7/14 FW’s (missed 3 by just a yard) and hit 11/18 greens.  My ball striking was great and my confidence is now riding at an all time high.  I should have shot better than 76, but my short game was terrible…haven’t been putting in the time needed on that front recently so that is expected to be a little rusty.  The great thing is that I do not have to worry about getting my elbow in front of my shirt seam or anything mechanical while I’m swinging; it is starting to get ingrained in my swing now from practice, almost second nature already.  It’s a great feeling when you can just go out and truly trust your swing when playing, not having to think about mechanics at all.  I have never really had that feeling of true trust on the course until yesterday and it felt great.

I’m still a long ways out from being scratch and in no way am I saying that I have solved the golf swing, but for me, I feel like I have made a major breakthrough and discovered a key to MY golf swing that I can go back to if needed to get consistent results.  I’m excited to keep fine tuning my swing over the next few months with my teacher, who I plan to see again in the next few weeks, as it’s been a good couple months.  Ultimately, I know that my short game is going to be the key to get me down to scratch and I intend to rededicate myself to more hours of practice on that front.  I’m still hopeful that I can reach my goal of shooting an under par round of golf by the end of this year and I know improving my short game is the only way I’m going to get there.  Also I’ll be updated this blog on a more consistent basis, no more 1 month breaks I promise!

EDIT: 11/11/13 I have been getting multiple requests to post the video where I saw the tip that helped me, so I will post it here, but please note like I said in the previous post and the reason why I really avoided posting it originally is that it helped me in finding a key feeling to MY swing that I had been searching for and it probably won’t apply to everyone.  Obviously there is no one golf swing fix, every swing is different and as others are at different stages of developing there own swings you need to see a PGA Professional to help diagnose the keys to your swing that you are missing.  These videos were free clips posted on a YouTube channel that I stumbled upon from the instructor Clay Ballard over at RotarySwing.com, so if you find it useful go check out his YouTube channel or website.

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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

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Played at Oaks North on Monday, the executive course that plays at a Par 6…shot a 63 (+3) with 2 penalties off the tee.  Like I stated in my previous post, I have been spending this week focusing on my swing plane and trying to get it into the correct position to help produce more consistent shots.  I really feel like I am starting to figure it out, I hit 13 of 18 greens.  On Wednesday, played over at the Vineyard and shot a disappointing 79 (+9).  I actually continued to strike the ball very well and accurate, I only hit 7 greens, but had about 5 that were just on the fringes.  I shot a 79 because of my short game, missed 4 putts from 3 feet and did not make a single birdie.  Putting continues to be my achilles heel, just don’t feel confident.  My lag putting is improving, but the shorter putts I’m just not hitting them with the confidence needed to make them right now.

Went to the range last night to keep working on my swing plane and I hit the ball great, I’m starting to get to that point that I have been working towards where I can just swing confidently and not have to think about my mechanics.  I finally found the correct feeling you need to have to get the club coming down on the correct plane and not too steep and I’m starting to groove the ball.  I hope to play again on Saturday or Sunday, trying to get that set up right now, but if not, then I’ll just keep practicing my short game for my upcoming rounds on Monday and Wednesday.  2 weeks until the Palm Springs Tournament, I’m so happy that I’m starting to get my game in order to compete there, if I can find my putting, watch out.

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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.