Archive for the ‘Short Game Practice’ Category

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Did not end up playing a golf round between Wednesday and tomorrow, but I did get in some practice.  Went to a little 18 holes putting course at a local driving range with my buddy Kyle on Friday.  The course was in horrible condition, the new ownership there has really let it get bad.  I remember playing the course a year and a half ago and it was in great condition, but we still had a really fun time and my buddy took some pictures of me to share on the blog.  Ended up being able to get to the range on Friday night as well after work, hit my driver very well, but was struggling a bit to feel comfortable with my irons.  I really don’t know what it was that I was doing differently that night compared to these past few weeks when I have played really well.  Did feel like my tempo was getting a little quick on the range, compared to how I have been swinging it, but I still hit the ball around my target line.  Nothing was too crazy, a little more of a draw than I have been playing and yeah that could have been the result of getting a little too quick.  I still feel very confident in the way I’m playing and look forward to my golf rounds this week, hoping to continue my solid play as of late.

 

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Playing at the Vineyard again on Monday where last week I shot my career low round of (+1) 71.  I’m trying to go in with no expectations, just the goal of focusing on every shot and playing them all with complete confidence, accepting of whatever happens.  My focus is to keep my emotions neutral and not to get down on myself if I hit a bad shot, just to accept any and all outcomes before I hit a shot and swing with true confidence.  I’m hoping for that under par round of golf tomorrow, I believe that I can do it, but realistically I will be truly satisfied with anything +5 or less.   After shooting a career low, especially one that is so close to par, it can be very easy for me to fall into the trap of expecting to shoot +1 or better every time from here on out.  I know my personality lends itself to this type of thinking, once I see how well I’m capable of playing, I start to expect to play like that all the time and I get frustrated if I drop back a little bit.  I think in a way it is healthy because it allows me to truly believe in my ability, I mean if I did not believe in my abilities and that I was capable of shooting an under par round of golf, no way I could have shot +1 only a week after shooting 81 (+11) on the same course.  I won’t let myself get trapped into that cycle of frustration, if I keep working hard and believing in myself, the low scores will continue to come and start to pile up and before I know it, those will be my reality.

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Tuesday

Decided to schedule a putting lesson today with my instructor, we worked for an hour on different putting drills, designed for me to better feel what I’m doing and be able to self correct.  We worked on drills that helped with range of vision and really taking in your entire surroundings, not just the distance of  you to the hole.  This includes everything behind the hole, from the edge of the green to the houses or street in the distance.  When you start to just focus on the distance from you to the hole, you start to get tunnel vision, to play the best golf we must start to expand our vision.  Tunnel vision can also have the effect of making the distance between two spaces look considerably closer because you are focused on a fixed point.    One of the drills you can do to test this is to set up to a straight putt of say 15-30 ft distance (don’t pace it off before) and then stand up, turn your club so that the grip is pointing to the ground.  Now close your eyes and start walking toward the cup.  When you feel like you are close to where you believe the hole is, set the putter grip down.  This might tell you something interesting about the way you perceive the distance between putts.

My coach wants me to learn how to better feel and understand the strokes I’m making.  I would hit a putt and then based on if it started left, right or down my intended line, I would describe to him the feelings of that particular swing, in as great detail as possible.  This is a great way to learn how to self correct.  Eventually we did a variation of this drill where I would putt with my eyes closed and then tell him what I felt and whether I thought the putt started left, right or down my target line.  My coach doesn’t want to start messing with my grip and set up for right now, maybe later down the line we might tweak a few things, but he believes that putting is more about feeling than mechanics.

We also talked about the idea of not lining up the lines on my ball toward my intended line.  I’m sure you guys have seen some pros do this, most famously Tiger Woods has done it before, where he lines up a line on his ball where we wants his putt to start.  I always do this when I’m playing a round, but ironically as we were chatting about this, I realized that when I practice on a putting green, I don’t.  So I’m going to work on playing with no line up and focus on just seeing my putts rather than get locked in to a particular line and narrowing my focus.

Wednesday

Went over to Oaks North again, a local executive course with three different 9 hole courses.  Last time we played the North/East combination, but this time we played the South/East (Par 60).  Each 9 contains 6 par 3’s and 3 par 4s.  It is a great test for your irons and short game and I played very well, shooting an even par round of 60!  I’m not going to do a round recap, but I will give you a few high and low lights.   Chipped in twice, once for eagle and once for birdie!  I hit 10 of the 18 greens, but missed about 4 that were on the fringe, really close.  I managed to only 3 putt once utilizing my new putting method and that was on the 3rd hole where I only had about a 12 ft putt for birdie.  A bad 3 putt, but it was early in my round and I was trying to get used to not lining up my putts with the arrows on the ball and forgot to think about speed on the downhill putt.  So a mistake that was quickly canceled out when I made eagle on the next hole, but other than that I lag putted fairly well.  Still did not make as many putts as I would have liked from 12 ft and in, missed a few par and birdie chances from inside 10 ft, but I was more aware of why I missed them.  My chipping game is continuing to be a strength of mine and I’m just so eager to keep playing and see what I can do.

Ended up heading down to the driving range later on in the night, hit the ball well, worked a lot of my wedges trying to better understand the exact distances of each wedge.  Hit my driver and woods at the end, found myself getting a little bit too quick and as a result I was hitting them off the toe or shifting extremely forward.  Realized that it could be my tempo and once I fixed that, I was back to hitting my driver in the middle of the club face and sending it deep down range toward my intended target.  I need to remember to keep my tempo, I tend to get quick a lot and it causes me to be an inconsistent ball striker.  Hopefully going to be playing a round this weekend on either Saturday or Sunday if it does not rain.  But if not, I’ll still be playing on Monday again at Vineyard and Wednesday for sure somewhere.

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Friday

I hit up the range after work and continued my solid play from this past week.  I know I’m swinging well when my swing thoughts are minimal, my body is relaxed and I’m just free flowing.  I remember last week, my range sessions were terrible, I was gripping the club in a death grip, thinking about where my arms should be in the back swing, the path of the club down, my hips, turning through….a dozen different swing thoughts clouding my mind.  As a result, I hit the ball like I was a 30 handicap, became more and more frustrated and less and less confident.  I know they say that playing well breeds confidence, but it is just as true that having confidence allows for playing well.  Hit my driver amazing on Friday night, focused mostly on my wedges, but I left about 15 balls for my driver at the end and hit 13 out of 15 down my target line.  Feeling confident in that club again, let’s hope I can keep that going this next week on the course.

Saturday

Went putting for about 2 hours before work trying to work on my lag putting which has been killing me lately.  Still seems like my tendency is to leave the longer putts short, I feel like I’m killing the ball, but it still comes up woefully short.  I’m going to go see my coach next week for a putting lesson, really need one badly.  I experimented with widen my feet near the end of my putting session and it seems to give me a more stable base and allowed for the club to swing more freely, we’ll see if it helps me putt better on the course Monday.

Sunday

Going to be playing another round on Monday, late afternoon after work at the Vineyard….will be my 5th round since starting the blog at the Par 70 Vineyard course and I’m looking to break my upward trend of scores.  Started off with a 74 here, but since have gone 76, 80, 81 consecutively since.  I’m finally feeling real confident in my driver, so I will really be disappointed with anything in the 80s on Monday.

Went to the range again tonight after work, hit the ball very well again.  Was hitting almost every club in the bag well, except the few 3 woods I hit.  My driver is coming around nicely, I am crushing the ball down my target line right now, I’m really starting to figure that out, excited to bring it to my round tomorrow.  On the last 4th of my range bucket tonight, I used the balls to visually play the first 6 or 7 holes of the course I’m playing tomorrow.  I went through my whole routine as if I was on the 1st hole and then based on my tee shot, I judged how far out I would be with my 2nd and played the type of shot needed (straight, draw, cut).  I did this for the remaining balls I had and made it through about the 7th hole.  I have a solid plan for how I’m going to play the first couple holes tomorrow and preparing like this can really help you gain a lot of confidence going into a round.  I’m expecting a mid to low 70s round tomorrow……now let’s make it happen!

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Oaks North Executive Course

Quick update about the last couple days for me….On Wednesday, my buddy and I decided not to go play a full regulation 18 hole course, but rather go to an nice executive course in my area called Oaks North to practice our iron and short game.  When I first started playing golf at 13 or 14, I used to go here almost every day after school.  My mom would drop my friends and I off and we’d play a 9 or just practice for a few hours, coming back here brought back a lot of good memories.  I haven’t been up here in probably 12 years and it’s funny how much smaller the holes feel.  I remember playing the junior tournaments here every week and have a lot of first and 2nd place trophy’s and ribbons from them still.  There are three 9 holes courses at Oaks North; (North, South and East) each contains three par 4’s and the rest par 3’s.  This is not a course where the par 3’s are only 100 yards, each is anywhere from 100-190, it really does test your wedge/mid iron game and the par 4’s are all about 250-300.  As a kid I remember playing these par 4’s and thinking they were so long, now I can reach them all with 3 and 5 woods or less.  Anyway, we walked the course and it was not too busy, so we hit multiple balls from different locations just to get some nice course practice in.  I putted horrible, missed 4 putts from inside of 6 ft, feels like my putting is starting to get away from me now, where as before, these past 4 weeks, I have been putting lights out from that distance.  I’ll get it back though, still getting the feel of the smaller, new putting grip I put on last week.  I’ll definitely be back to this executive course more often than I thought, because it really is a good test of your wedge/short iron and up and down  game, something that I need to perfect, as it is probably the most important factor in getting down to a scratch.  Later that night, I went to the range to work on a few things and hit the ball alright. I still feel like I’m not doing a great job of implementing the changes my coach wants me to make; I’m working really hard to get it however.

On Thursday, I did a lot of work in front a full length mirror in my house, working on getting into the positions my teacher wants me to get into.  It’s nice to be able to see yourself, like you would with a video and it gives you exponentially more feedback than just going off of feel.  I’m still struggling with what the correct flat, layed off position is supposed to look or feel like, and so I’m going to need to get another lesson to make sure I’m doing it correctly. Thursday night, after working in the mirror for a couple hours, I went to the range to see how the ball flight and contact would be.  I really worked on flattening my swing and it seemed to help a lot with the longer irons and woods.  Was hitting a lot of solid, straight shots.  Worked on the driver near the end and was hitting it a lot better than I have been in the past week.  My last ball, I really concentrated and focused as if I was on the first tee, going through my entire pre shot routine, and crushed it down my target line.  An older man, hitting next to me, who had been watching me for a bit, looked up and said “Well that’s about as perfect as you can hit it, you really took you’re time on that one, great looking swing.”  It’s always a good feeling when you get complements on your swing at the driving range, gives you a nice boost of confidence.

I’m hoping to be able to play this weekend, but if not then hopefully we will make it 3 weeks in a row on Monday with my buddy.  Will probably be playing on July 4th also, I did that a few years back and nobody was on the course.  For my international viewers who do not know, July 4th is the holiday here in the United States to celebrate the day of our nations independence from the British in 1776, basically Americas birthday. (Sorry my many U.K viewers) It’s a great day to play some golf, BBQ and enjoy fireworks!  Speaking of the U.K. I would love to go to the U.K. one day, the last name Tyson is English and I like watching the BBC and I think Karl Pilkington is a genius and one of the funniest men on earth, haha!  The rich history of the British intrigues me and it would be a great place to visit one day.

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Spent the past few days at the range working on my game, Thursday I hit the ball well, continuing my solid play as of late, but Friday was kind of a struggle.  On Thursday, worked a lot with my driver trying to figure out how to hit it more solid and found that I was getting too steep again.  Went flatter and hit about 10 drives in a row in the true center of the club face to end my night.  Hearing that sound that a flush driver makes, is just music to my ears, one of my favorite sounds on earth is the sound of a pure flush golf shot!  After the great ending to my range session on Thursday night, I decided to head back again on Friday night to keep working on it.  This is why golf is so frustrating!! I felt like I was doing the exact same thing I did the night before, but could not find a flush golf shot.  I hate feeling like you just took a few steps back after taking so many steps forward over these past few weeks, but I’m just going to forget about that range session and chalk it up to the difficulty of golf.  I felt myself getting frustrated again near the end of the practice session as I could tell I was hitting the ball below what I’m capable of.  I was just getting too mechanical again instead of just letting it flow and swinging with a target in mind.  So I’m throwing away this range session away in my mind, moving past it and keeping positive and focused on my end goal.

Been about 2 weeks since my last lesson from my instructor, was going to wait until Tuesday this week to go see him because I thought I would be playing a round this weekend, but plans fell through, so I might try and book one for tomorrow, Sunday.  Wanted to get a short game lesson in, but after last night’s range session, I think I need a tune up with the longer clubs.  Really confident in my short game right now, what I’m doing right now is working, so I’ll hold off on that until next lesson, need to figure out this long swing and get more consistent.

I did get a new putter grip installed and got my putter head re-glued as it was coming loose.  I forgot to take a picture of my original putter before I took it up, but I’ll show you a picture of how it looks now.  I put on a jumbo sized tiger shark grip probably about 6 months back, thinking it would help with my putter grip and be more comfortable.  I liked it and I putted well with it on, but I could just never really get into the feeling, it just did not fit my hands very well and was a little too big.  Been looking at midsize grips for the past few weeks and I love the feel, design and size of this white Winn midsize grip I found.  Has a very soft tacky feel, the midsize is a little bigger than standard, but not overly, just right for me.  I putted a little with it yesterday and absolutely love the way it looks and feels.  Here are some pictures of the new grip and the old grip I had for comparison (Yes I’m left handed!)

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Monday

Headed to the driving range tonight for about 3 hours to practice my long game, really took my time in between shots to analyze the feelings and position I was getting into and to work on the things my coach has been teaching me.  Needless to say I hit the ball extremely well, one of my most consistent and best range sessions of my life.  I’m showing those positive signs that my game is heading in the right direction and really am feeling more confident than I thought I would at this point in changing my swing. So pleased with the progress I’m making especially in my driver and woods, gaining my distance back and a lot more accuracy.  My misses are not big and every drive I hit tonight at the range would have stayed inbounds.  Will be heading to the short game area tomorrow for a few hours of practice and then probably back for some long game on Wednesday night like usual.  Hoping to continue my solid play and keep moving in the right direction.  I’m not sure when I’m going to play again, I’d like to get out and play as soon as possible, might try and go play by myself on Thursday or Friday if everything goes well on Wednesdays session, but at worst hopefully I’ll get a round in this weekend.  My buddy will be done with school after this week and he has told me he would love to start going a few times a week, so hopefully that will help me get a ton of rounds in this summer.

Today

Did some short game practice today over at the range I normally frequent; practiced chipping and bunker play for about 2 and half hours.  I feel extremely confident in my chipping game right now, with all range of distances.  They give you a sleeve of balls to practice at that contains about 22 golf balls I believe.  On the chipping range, I was hitting about 5 or 6 balls to a certain flag then switch my target to a different flag.  It’s important to go at different flags if you are going to hit about 20+ balls consecutively.  I like to change after about 5 or 6 just because anymore than that and you start to get a rhythm and feel for where the shot should land and it makes it easier.  On the course however, you only get one chance, so it’s important to keep it moving around so you’re testing yourself with every shot like you would when playing.  After awhile you start to “see” the shots easier and with enough practice that is going to translate to lower scores on the course.

 View from my chipping practice area today

One area I definitely need to put more focus on is my bunker play.  I have decided that I’m going to get a lesson from my instructor solely on bunker play because now that I think about it, I never have before.  I have only watched videos on bunker play and always gone purely through feel.  I do ok out of the bunkers, but have a lot of room to improve and a lesson from a PGA professional will certainly help me tremendously in that area.  I do a good job of avoiding green side bunkers on the course, but it is a weak aspect of my game I will need to tighten up if I’m going to become scratch.

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Wednesday/Thursday

Hit the ball fairly well on Wednesday night, am starting to get more comfortable with the new swing path and grip.  On Thursday, I decided to just work on chipping for the day, went over to Carmel Mountain Ranch Golf Club and chipped for 2 hours.  My chipping has been steadily improving over the past few months, really utilizing multiple clubs for certain situation and not solely relying on my 60 degree lob wedge for every chip and pitch.  I’ve known that the ideal way to chip is to just land the ball on the first 1/3rd of the green as quickly as possible and have it run out like a putt the rest of the way.  The chipping swing should almost be exactly the same every time, in terms of set up, length of swing and speed, the only difference should be the clubs for different distances.  It takes many hours of practice to really hone in on your chipping distances with every club, from lob wedge  all the way up to 5 or 6 irons.  The lowest lofted club I chip with right now has been a 7 iron.  I’m really going to try to practice chipping hard and learn the distance each club travels.  That is really going to help you lower your scores when you are on the course.  It gives you not only more options for shot types, but confidence to know that this certain club will go this certain distance and you can have a clear picture in your mind before performing the shot.  Short game is the most important aspect of scoring well, you must get up and down at least 70—80% of the time to shoot consistent low scores and right now according to my golf stats over the past year and a half am only at 22% successful saves.  Recently however over my last 4 rounds, I’m saving at a 42% clip so definitely improving as I get more comfortable with my distances and shot selection.

Friday

Did some more chipping today over at Carmel mountain for about 2 and a half hours.  Chipped amazing today, only was chipping 3 balls at a time and no exaggeration, I counted 8 times I chipped in and several more would be tap in putts.  8 chip-ins in 2 and half hours just hitting 3 balls at a time is a pretty awesome feat.  At a proper range they give you a sleeve of about 20-25 balls to hit and I have chipped those for 3 hours straight before and chipped in maybe once.  So to do it 8 times while hitting probably 80% fewer balls than I would normally in 2 and a half hours feels really good and means that my chipping is seriously improving.  I’m giving my chips chances of going in and that feels good, now I only wish I could take this over to the course!  After work on Friday night I went to the range for 2 hours to work on my long game.  I was hitting my wedges really crisp and nice, new grip and swing plane felt good, but once I got to the longer irons and driver I couldn’t seem hit it how I wanted.  Admittedly I got frustrated with myself after I hit the ball fairly well on Wednesday night with these clubs.  After getting frustrated, I started to lose focus and just started hitting balls and not really analyzing each swing and feel or thinking about what I was doing right or wrong.  I was just pounding balls for the last 40 minutes and that is not the way to improve in golf.  I’m not too concerned, but I do want to try to get a lesson either Sunday or Monday so that I can make sure that I’m implementing the correct changes to my swing that my teacher wants me to.  I need to remember that these changes are going to take some time and I’m not just going to hit the ball amazing over night, it’s going to take a lot of work, time and patience.  One of my biggest faults, like many in this day and age, is that I always want that instant gratification.  Golf is not the game for that type of thinking and I need to keep reminding myself that with time and constant practice, I can get to where I want in this game.  “Change is not a process for the impatient.” – Barbara Reinhold