Posts Tagged ‘change’

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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.

Played a couple rounds so far this week and I’m pleased to say that I’ve been playing well.  With exactly 1 week left before I leave for my 3-day tournament in Palm Springs, I’m started to find my game.  Just been trying to trust my full swing and I changed my putting grip and it has given me more stability and the putts are coming off the face flush and straight down my target line.  I was pulling my shorter putts and I think it was because my left hand was shutting down the face… I have now regained my confidence from the 10ft and in range…and it’s starting to show, making a lot of them this week.

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Encinitas Ranch Golf Course 6,178 Par 70 Slope 129

Yesterday my buddy and I decided to head up north and play a different course than we normally do.  We both had played up here once before, but it had been like 10 years for me, so I only remembered 1 of the holes.  We played up at the Par 70 Encinitas Ranch Golf Course…a really nice track and we had a lot of fun.  They were doing some construction on the bunkers of #8 so they told us to skip that hole and that they had created a new short par 3 hole on the back.  So we skipped #8, but played a #11a and #11b….never seen this before, but it worked out well.   I shot even par on the front 9 and then we headed to the makeshift #11a, a short par 3 of 112 yards.  Hit a poor wedge that caught the bunker, lots of sand in the bunker and I couldn’t get it out on my first attempt.  Ended up making a horrible double bogey 5 on this short par 3.  For this round, I hit the ball relatively well except for about 3 or 4 shots that were really poor and cost me strokes, missed a few greens, with only wedges in my hand from the middle of the fairway….bogeyed both.  I finished the back 9 at +5, missed a great shot at birdie on 18, only about 7 ft, but all in all, I’m satisfied with this round…a solid 75 (+5).  Here is the scorecard….

Final Stats for round: Score: 75 (+5) Fairways Hit (FW) 6/13 46% Green in Regulation (GIR) 10/18 55% Up/Downs 2/6 33%. Sand Saves 0/2 0% Penalties: 0 Putts: 30

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Encinitas Ranch
Front 9 Scorecard

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Encinitas Ranch
Back 9 Scorecard

Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club 6,252 Par 72 Slope 128

Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club 6,252 Par 72 Slope 128

Today, I decided to get up early (6:00am) and try to get on Carmel Mountain for a quick round. I’m so glad that I did….was able to out by myself at 7:20 and played all alone until 15 when I linked up with a 3-some for our last 3 holes.  Played amazing today and tied my career low round of +1!  Carmel Mountain is a really difficult course, no doubt harder in my opinion than Vineyard, where I shot my other low round of +1 about a month ago.  Today was my best ball striking round ever and if it wasn’t for three 3-putts, I would have shot my under par round!!  I hit 9 fairways today and 2 were a foot away from the short stuff, my best driving performance.  I also and more importantly hit 15 greens in regulation and the three that I did miss were no more than 10 yards from the green.  I did however have three 3 putts and they cost me my lowest round ever, but overall I feel I putted well compared to how I have been and I’m certainly improving tremendously in that department.   My final two 3 putts were a result of rushing myself, the first because a group was waiting behind me and I rushed my 2nd putt.

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View From 10th Hole Par 5 Fairway at Carmel Mountain Ranch

The final was bad, it was on the Par 5 15th….I crushed my tee shot down the middle and the group in front was just hitting up to the green, they yelled at me to just join them, so I went for the green in 2.  Hit a perfect hybrid to just 15 ft for eagle!  When I went to putt for my eagle, I kind of started to think negative thoughts about how I didn’t want to mess it up with these new people watching me and after they just watched me hit a great shot….my putt burned the edge, but I gave it way too much juice and it ran about 6 ft by, where I promptly missed the comebacker to 3 putt the Par 5 for par…ouch.
So yea I let some opportunities slip by today, but I’m not going to dwell on those, I know now that I truly do have the ability to shoot under par, it’s just a matter of time.  If I keep giving myself these chances, it will happen.  I’m really excited that I was able to shoot my career low today and only a week before the tournament I’ve been thinking about for a year now.  I’m going to head to Palm Springs with a positive mindset, relaxed and looking to have a great time and play some great golf.  My goal is to break 80 each day, but I’m really hoping to score low and make a run at winning it.

Will hopefully be playing this weekend and Monday/Wednesday before leaving on Thursday….let’s keep this momentum rolling!

Final Stats for round: Score: 73 (+1) Fairways Hit (FW) 9/14 64% Green in Regulation (GIR) 15/18 83% Up/Downs 3/3 100%. Sand Saves 0/1 0% Penalties: 0 Putts: 35

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Front 9 Scorecard

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Back 9 Scorecard

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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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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.

Went to get a lesson today, decided to keep working on my long game and try and gain more confidence in the things I’m doing.  Lesson went well, overall my teacher thinks that I’m improving and I can feel that as well.  I’m still struggling with shifting my hips forward instead of around and it’s causing me to get too steep and open.  In those positions my timing has to be perfect to make it work, so it breeds inconsistency.  Was also setting up a little open with my shoulders and hips, so we worked on that for a bit getting the feeling down of what it feels like to be set up square.  After the lesson I finished off my basket of range balls and by the end I was really started to get it.  Hit about my last 8 drivers, pretty straight and with solid distance.  Hit a few 6irons and wedges also to make sure that it translated over to those clubs also and it did.  I really needed to get my confidence back after my terrible range session on Friday when I felt like I lost it, so today was a good day for that.

I’m playing on Monday this week after work and then hopefully again on Wednesday, so at least 2 rounds this next week, I look to keep improving my ball striking and lowering my scores.  I’m at the point right now that I should not be shooting anything in the 80’s, it should be all 70’s from here on out or I will be extremely disappointed.  As long as my short game keeps improving, I don’t think this should be a problem.  My goals for tomorrows round are to keep the ball in play off the tee, have an up and down percentage of no worse than 50% and make 2 or more birdies.  If I do those things, the score will take care of itself.  Will be my 3rd round over at the Vineyard course since starting this blog….have scores of 74 (+4) and 76 (+6) on the books, 75 or lower would be ideal.

Here is a video recap of my lesson today, the audio is a little tough because of the wind and his video froze near the end, but he basically was just showing me using my left hand in the downswing more than my right.

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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!