Archive for the ‘Short 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

{FB92BDB3-BAF4-4835-8600-54D48EF1F23A}mcilroy_abudhabi13_cameronputter_610_0Here is just a quick review of my latest golf rounds over the past 2 weeks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t play my best golf and my scores are a reflection of that…I had a lot of great shots over these 3 rounds, but couldn’t avoid sprinkling in some large numbers.  I had two triple bogey 6s on two different par 3s during these rounds, very uncharacteristic for how I’ve been playing lately, but I just left myself in some absolutely terrible spots on the holes and it cost me.

I’ve been working on the plane of my swing over the past couple weeks as I mentioned in my previous post and I’m still working on being able to repeat it consistently.  When I get it right, I hit the ball better than I ever have before, just perfect contact, height and ball flight, exactly what I’ve been searching for.  But in working on this change, I have a tendency to leave the face slightly open on impact, blocking shots to the left.  I’m not doing it too often, but often enough to seriously affect my scores right now.  My contact is a lot more consistent with this swing change, I’m just going to keep grinding and we’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks.

My putting continues to be a struggle however and it is the part of my game that is costing me the most strokes right now.  My short putting has been solid, but it is my lag putting that is just killing me.  I can’t get the long putt speed right with this heavier weight in my putter right now.  I had 3 3-putts at Riverwalk, 4 at Vineyard and 1 at Doubletree…this just can’t continue to happen.  31-35 putts a round is unacceptable in my opinion.  Shooting (+4) or (+5) with 35 putts is ridiculous…I’m hitting enough fairways and greens to be shooting under par consistently, if I could only get my putts to 27-30 a round.  I will get there eventually, it might feel impossible to me right now, but I know that it is possible to do it, so I’m just going to keep telling myself that it’s possible.  I’ll have to start spending more time on the putting green with longer putts…I can do this! 

So here are the round stats for these past 2 weeks, hopefully I’ll get out a few times this week.       

10/8/14 The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 75(+5) FW: 9/14 GIR: 13/18 Putts: 35 Up/Down: 1/2 Sand Save: 1/1 Penalties: 1

10/9/14 Carmel Highlands Doubletree: Par 72 71.4/129 6,428 Yards

Score: 81(+9) FW: 6/15 GIR: 8/19 Putts: 31 U/Down: 5/10 San Save: 0/1 Penalties: 1

10/1/14 Riverwalk Friars/Presidio 6,627yards 71.9 128

Score: 78 (+6) FW: 5/14 GIR: 12/18 Putts: 35 Up/Down: 3/5 Sand Saves: 0/2 Penalties: 1

10550821_10101246679486357_1570307122834162756_nWow!!  Almost had my first hole in one this past week! A 149yard 9iron, just hit a perfectly flush high shot right at the flag just about a half inch to the right!  You can see how close the pitch mark is from almost flying it in the hole.  I’ve had a lot of near misses over this past year, but the golfing Gods continue to deny me!  If I keep firing these darts at the flag sticks, one day, luck willing I’ll get one to fall.

Overall, I actually had a kind of a disappointing week in terms of scores.  Hit a few drives that found the out of bounds and a couple 3 putts sprinkled in here and there during the rounds.  I’ve actually made a big turnaround in my putting since Wednesdays round however.  I’m really excited as I’ve been reading Dave Stockton’s book on putting called “Unconscious Putting” and I have had a lot of success on the practice greens since.  I’m making a TON of putts right now, anywhere from 3-15 feet and even a few longer bombs.  I played an up and down game last night at the driving range:  I threw 3 balls toward a hole on the other side of the green and then when I got up there I pulled back the balls a full club length and tried to make the putts as if they were for par.  I did this 5 times with 3 balls, so 15 total attempts and all of them I pulled back anywhere from 3-15 ft…I only missed 2 putts!!  That’s just insane and I did that on Thursday and Wednesday after my round as well, it’s like a complete 180 turn around in my putting.  Stockton talks about just picking a spot about an inch in front of the ball and just trying to roll your putt over that spot.  Obviously there is some other stuff involved too, but this has helped me keep my putts online and they are all tracking at the hole now.  I’m really excited to see how it translates to scores this next week, I know that if I get confidence in my putting I have the ability to shoot some low scores.  I’m going to need great putting in the Palm Springs tournament coming up here in 2 weeks if I want to shoot an under par round there and defend my title.  I’m confident in what I’m doing with the putter now and confidence in putting is half the battle…I’ve been close to zero confidence for so long that it’s a huge turn around for me, let’s hope I can turn it into scores! We have some thunderstorms here right now for the next few days, so I won’t be able to play or practice unfortunately till Monday.

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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Over the past couple months I haven’t been able to play as many rounds as I want.  Heading to the course alone and walking on to play as a single has always been something I would try to avoid.  I much prefer going out to play with friends, but as a result I’ve only been able to play only once every week and a half, 2 weeks and if I’m serious about getting to scratch I need to get out and play.  I can go to the range all I want, but nothing beats on course experience/practice.  My usual playing partner has been busy lately and with the time changes it now getting dark at 5, so our usual rounds at 2 or 3 o’clock are just not going to work.  I’ve made a decision this week to start putting in a serious amount of rounds and that will mean going out often by myself.  We all know how expensive golf is and we know that twilight rates are the way to go for anybody trying to save a little money.  With the time change, getting in a full 18 holes at a regulation course at twilight times are just not going to happen right now, so for the time being I’m going to take full advantage of my local executive course.  Tuesday and Wednesday this week I headed over to my local executive course Oaks North and got in some great on course time.  The great thing is that right at about 1o’clock, the start of the twilight rate, there is almost nobody there and I’m able to just get on the course and play solo.  Was all alone out there, just me, my clubs and my iPod.  Got in a lot of great work these past 2 days, was able to play 2 balls on just about every hole and played really well.

20131119_151555On Tuesday, I was only able to complete 13 holes before I had to head back because of darkness, but after 13 I was at even par.  Shot +2 on the front 9 and then on #11 a 235 yard par 4, I hit an amazing 5-wood to just over a foot.  The tees were all the way in the back, so I had calculated to the hole it was playing about 260 yards and just crushed a perfect 5-wood that landed amazingly softly and stopped about 2 ft from its pitch mark.  It’s always a great feeling to have a tap in eagle on a par 4 and that shot I’ll remember for a long time; of course I had to take a picture for evidence!  So that eagle got me back to even par for the day and I had pars on the last 2 and called it a day due to darkness.

On Wednesday, I sort of accomplished one of my big goals and that was to shoot an under par round of golf.  I was able to play 2 balls and kept stats for both.  However, my score with the first ball after all 18 holes was 4-under par!!  I say “sort of” accomplished my goal because obviously it was only on a Par 60 executive course and my main goal is to shoot under par on a regulation 18 holes course, but still under par is under par and 4 under anywhere is solid, I mean come on!  Unfortunately, with my 2nd ball I was only able to complete 16 holes because at holes #2 and #3, a person was behind me so I just played my 1st ball to speed up play and then allowed him to pass on hole #4.  After he passed, I went back to playing 2 balls.  For the 16 holes completed with ball #2, I was +3 w/ two 3-putts that cost me. I’ll post a picture of the scorecard from today, but I’ll write out the stats for my 4-under round because it might be hard to see.

Ball #1: Score: 56 (-4) FW: 4/6 GIR: 14/18 Putts: 30 Up and Down: 4/4

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Ball #2: (16 holes) Score: +3 FW: 3/4 GIR: 11/16 Putts: 30 Up and Down: 3/6

My iron play these past 2 days has been really solid; in total I hit 36 of 54 greens in regulation, a solid 66%.  Changed a few things in my putting setup this week and I’m gaining more and more confidence.  I can tell the ball is rolling off the club face a lot better and maintaining its line.  I hope to keep that momentum rolling going forward.

Unfortunately it is going to rain here for the next few days, so looks like any practice will most likely have to be indoors.  My hope is that it clears up by Saturday and that my friend and I can play a round, will update soon.

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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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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.