Friday, 27 May 2011

First tee nerves - Incidence #1

A few years back, I was playing Golf near Ft.Lauderdale, Florida with a few friends. One of the guys in our group was not a regular golfer, and he was clearly very nervous.

On the first tee he stood over the ball and swung the club. He missed the ball completely and watched as the club left his hands, flew into the air, over his left shoulder and then out of his field of view. I followed the club as it careered through the air, flying directly towards a guy in the group behind us waiting to tee off. He heard me shout and leapt out of the way in time. It was just as well or he'd have been clobbered. After he'd gathered himself, the chap who'd almost been taken out by my friend had some choice words for him. I felt for my buddy, he was nervous - these things happen. It was hilarious though.

Needless to say, my friend gets a regular reminder of that day, but as you'll see if you keep reading the blog, he's not the only person to ever embarrass themselves on a golf course!

What about you? Do you have any funny or interesting first tee stories?

Monday, 23 May 2011

IBG Observation #2: 'ONE AND' - 'TWO!'.

This sign hangs above my front door on the inside. I put it up there in the hope that it would be the last thing I see every time I leave the house to go to the Golf course. It's been there for about 5 years. Sometimes I remember to look at it on the way out, but whether I see it or not, I'm not sure it helps. I've struggled with my swing tempo ever since I started playing Golf.

I think everyone has their natural tempo / rhythm or whatever, an internal clock if you will.  I've always tended to swing quickly and aggressively, I think it's my natural inclination to do so. It causes all sorts of problems for me on the course, usually manifesting in a mega slice or a disastrous hook.

Lately I've been working on this. I've had all kinds of advice, my favourite of which is 'your back swing should take twice as long as your throughswing'. As a result of this, recently I have just one swing thought when practicing or playing. I slowly take the club back from the ball saying (to myself) 'ONE AND' from beginning to end of the back swing. Then I say 'TWO' as I begin the down / through swing. It's a practical way to keep the back swing under control and on a consistent plane.

Very often my swing gets quicker as the round progresses, so I constantly have to remind myself of the 'ONE AND TWO' rhythm. Overall I find it helps.

If you are struggling a bit with control and accuracy, perhaps you try to 'swing easy and hit hard'?

Happy Golfing!

See you around.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dude, Where's My Electric Golf Trolley?

A funny thing happened at the golf course the other day. As we were walking off the 6th tee, a guy who was in a fourball coming down the 16th approached us. (The 6th and 16th fairways run parallel for a wee bit).

I overheard him say to one of my playing partners that he'd lost his electric golf trolley. As I processed what I'd just heard, my attention became focussed on the other three members of his group who had formed a search party and were scattered out left and right of the fairway, searching bushes, copses and yes, the pond on the 14th....

He spoke again, 'I didnt see it, it must have just taken off when I was concentrating on hitting my tee-shot!'

At this stage I was doing my best to hold in the laughter. The other players in my group were less dignified, one of them now belly-laughing loudly as the fiasco unfolded. I wondered how this could have happened as they were looking for the trolley 200 yards away from the 16th tee, so it must have been long gone before any of them realised it had gone 'walkies'. How does an electric golf trolley just wander off into the unknown without you noticing? I guess he must have been so much 'in the zone' that he'd blocked out all distractions.

We continued our round. Approximately 30 / 40 mins later we were walking up the 10th fairway at which point the guy who had lost his trolley was on the 18th tee with his group. (Again, the 10th and the 18th hole run parallel for about 150 yards in opposite directions). I noticed he hadn't found his trolley and was using one of his playing partners clubs to finish the round. They'd spent 40 mins + looking for it and still hadn't found it! By now I was convinced it had rolled into the pond and trundled the whole way to the bottom ( I'm told it's about 15ft deep in the middle).

A few minutes later, I looked up ahead to see a search party was now out. The club professional and his team of greenkeepers were whizzing by in golf carts and maintenance vehicles, hunting high and low and all bits in between for the rogue vehicle.

Eventually one of them found the elusive trolley in a ditch on the 11th hole. I've no idea how it got there from it's original starting point without ending up in a bush, copse or even worse - at the bottom of the pond.

Both times I saw the owner of the errant trolley he looked somewhat sheepish, something tells me that this was an event that neither he or any of his golfing buddies will forget for some time!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

IBG Observation #1: Put a little bit of yourself into everything you do.

About 9 months ago, I decided I wanted to become a better golfer. My handicap was 11 but I felt that I couldn't improve on that as I had an unorthodox swing. I decided to have lessons. I decided to learn the perfect golf swing.

4 lessons and possibly 100 or more hours of practice later, I'm worse off. My current handicap is 13. But hopefully all is not lost, the past few games I've had have suggested that the lessons are starting to pay off. It's been a long road, but we'll see whether my decision to completely change my whole game pays off or not. Stay tuned!

Somewhere on one of my many hard drives, I have a video of my swing throughout the years, starting from 2006 up to 2011. It's amazing how it has evolved over the years. I was a serious hacker back in 2006! Maybe I'll dig it out and post it on here at some point.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to get all introspective and tied up in swing mechanics. (Actually I'm fed up with swing mechanics.) It's to share my first pearl of wisdom. Let's call it an observation. I think I mentioned already that playing Golf has taught me a lot about life. From time to time I'll share these observations on here. Some may be philosophical, some humourous, some may be downright ridiculous. There's no particular order, this one just happens to be #1. It doesn't necessarily mean it's better than any of the ones that will follow. Actually you might find it boringly obvious. It certainly isn't rocket science!

Before I had lessons, I had a 'unique' swing. It was far from perfect but I felt it was mine. I sort of felt that I knew what I was doing from time to time. I think I've heard some of the Golf gurus on American TV refer to 'owning your swing'. Maybe that's what it was - I owned it. Results were pretty inconsistent, but on a good day I could pick a target and get reasonably close with any club. However my setup was wrong, as was my movement (and countless other things) which is why I decided to have lessons. I started working with the local pro and began to seek 'perfection.'

Weeks and months passed, I hit thousands of balls. Some of the movements I learnt from my lessons 'bedded in' quickly but others were more difficult to get used to. I struggled at the range and I struggled on the course. Everytime I stood over the ball, at least 8 things would go through my mind in relation to grip, stance, posture, swing etc. My swing looked great but the ball was going everywhere but where I was aiming. I'm not joking when I say I discovered new areas on my home course! One day, I joked on twitter that I'd hit my tee shot so far right of my target that I had to play my second shot from a neighbouring county. Secretly I was worried that my game was gone.

But then I had a mini breakthrough. One night whilst watching Jim Furyk hit a tee shot on TV, I pondered on the nature of perfection. I listened to the commentator describe how Jim used a combination of recommended techniques in conjunction with his own 'style'. I wondered if all the lessons had taken the 'me' out of my Golf swing. I considered that 'perfection' could be many different things to many different people.  I questioned if my lessons had washed 'me' out of my own swing.

The next day I drove to the course and on the way, I reminded myself of the new gameplan. I was going to take what I'd learnt in my lessons and combine it with my natural approach to the game. I wasn't going to maintain a 'robotic' swing anymore.  I was going to put a little bit of myself into my game. And the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I decided not to think about swing mechanics again (Well at least not until the end of this season, it's OK to rebuild a little then :). I think it's working. Lately I'm more relaxed. I have a more athletic swing than before (thanks to the lessons) but it's no Tiger Woods. It's more of a Furyk!

It doesn't just apply to Golf. No matter what you aspire to do, there will always be a guru, a book, or several books, or someone you know, or someone who knows someone, or a guy on TV, or ... well you get the point... there will always be something or someone out there that claims to be able to help you 'perfect' whatever it is you are trying to get better at. And whilst these sources of information can be very useful, remember that a healthy mix of objectivity and subjectivity can go a long way. Maybe even 300+ yards!

Don't become a robot.

Put a little bit of yourself into everything you do.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A fore letter word / go backwards to go forward.

If you think I spelt 'fore' wrong you definitely shouldn't be reading this blog.

My girlfriend, 7 year old daughter, friends, acquaintances, family and colleagues would all agree that Golf is at the very centre of my universe. If they could speak, I'm sure the squirrels at my local Golf club would testify to this also. Although if they could actually speak, the first thing they would probably say is 'Why does he always aim at us?', and maybe, 'Why does he swear so much?'

There's much more to Golf than hitting a teeny weeny little ball around a big field. As corny as it sounds, I've learnt a lot about life from playing the game. I've seen and heard some of the funniest things ever, I've experienced the highs and endured the lows (there tends to be more lows than highs in my experience). I've learnt to appreciate a lucky bounce because for every one of those there's 10 unlucky bounces. I've won a few small competitions and I've come 2nd way too many times in a few big competitions. I've played with nice folks and a few really frustrating people. More about the latter another time.

It's such a vast topic but it's one that's important to me. And I think it's about time I blogged about it. So what can you expect to find on this blog? I'd rather not commit to a program right now, so I think I'll just ramble on for a few weeks and we'll see what transpires. Bear with me, hopefully you'll find it worth reading!

Oh, by the way I'm 37 and my handicap is 13. I'm hoping to get down to single figures. I've been down to 11 but I've had some lessons over the Winter which have scuppered me temporarily. I'm still getting used to my new swing. Sometimes you have to go backwards for a while before you can go forward. Hopefully one day I'll be a bride and not a bridesmaid, or something like that.

Thanks for reading and hope you visit again soon!