Tuesday, 22 November 2011

No guarantee.

I may have mentioned this previously so apologies if I'm repeating myself (a common habit of mine), repeating myself.

That last bit was a joke.


I had a great season of golf in 2009, at the time it felt like I was on a one way journey to a single figure handicap. I made it to an 11.2 handicap but ran out of competitive opportunities towards the end of season to get down any further. At the time I had what I would now call a natural swing. It wasn't textbook but it was mine. It was quite short and flat with a strong(ish) grip. As a result, on a good day I was hitting a nice controlled draw and was averaging about 275 / 285 with my driver. Chipping and putting was going well too. Usually I would be on or around the green in regulation.

For one reason or another, I decided that if I was to improve any more the following season, a complete game rebuild was required. I set about making the following changes to my game :

1. I had lessons to help me build a more 'textbook' 'on plane' swing. This involved: 
  • adopting a neutral grip
  • an 'L shaped swing'
  • a bigger shoulder turn, 
  • a backswing that started with my lower half shifting towards the target.
2. I started practicing a new pitching technique, left foot slightly open, more 'armsy' swing.
3. I changed my putter from a blade to a two-ball styled model.
4. I changed my clubs from cavity backs to muscle backs.
5. Bought a new stiff shafted Nike VR driver and ditched my regular shafted TM burner
6. I switched from AD333 balls to Pro V1's.

Having set all the above changes in motion, I was sure that I was now on a path to becoming a 'proper' golfer on the way to a 7, 8 or 9 handicap. I practiced all through the winter, not as much as I would have liked, but still more than the average golfer I'm sure. 

In the spirit of keeping this post short and (not so) sweet, let's cut to the chase. In the interim since I started making the above changes, here's a brief summary of the impact all of the above has had on my game, both positive and negative :) :

  • The new rotation / swing change caused me to injure my back and I needed 3 months of physio, I guess I started using muscles I hadn't used before by introducing a bigger shoulder turn!
  • My putting worsened, right now the two ball is on eBay and I've gone back to the blade!
  • It's given me a general feeling of wonderment about whether I enjoy playing as much as I used to.
  • I get more spin on the ball around the greens, sometimes to my detriment.
  • I have a huge overswing with my driver, John Daly style!
  • I hit it further but my draw is gone and I now have a fade / lethal slice at times.
  • My mental approach to the game worsened, instead of staying in the moment, I became more results orientated.
  • I won a few minor events and have come very close to winning club major events (lost in a playoff this year).
  • No improvement in handicap, I'm pretty much at the same level although I trust my game a lot less than I used to and can be quite erratic to say the least.
  • On the upside, I've shot lower scores than ever before but only in friendly games, never in a competition. (My best round is 74, prior to lessons it was 76).
Personally I feel I've had a hellish time of it since making all these changes. But I'm going to persevere, I have to. I can't go back to that old swing, can I? Sometimes I'm tempted! I'm not happy that my handicap hasn't improved in two years but hopefully one day I'll see it was all worth it. 

Maybe next year.

That's what I said last year. Can anybody offer me a guarantee? :)

See you around! (Until further notice, I'll be in the right hand copse of trees about 200 yards up).

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Two way traffic (a common theme)

Well, what a strange year I've had on the golf course. Lately I've been thinking back over all the competitive events I played in this year (of which there were many!), with a view to evaluating what went wrong, what went right (if anything), and what I've learnt.

Sadly there's an overriding sense that I didn't enjoy playing golf as much as I should have. I think I was trying too hard to win, and in the process putting myself under too much pressure. I don't think my new swing was 'ingrained' enough for me to trust it in pressure situations. In a friendly game I would shoot 6 to 8 under my handicap, whilst in a competition I was shooting 6 to 8 shots over! Very frustrating indeed.

Results wise, perhaps from the outside looking in, one might think I did pretty well. I won the June monthly medal at the golf club, made it to the semi-final of the club matchplay knockout and lost a playoff for the final major trophy of the year. But for me, it wasn't good enough. I'm asking myself what I need to do to get my head across that finishing line first the next time! I don't want to finish second, I want to win!

I found a quote on the internet last week, it's given me a boost;

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” 

― BC Forbes

So here's to learning from the past, and not letting our setbacks define who we are. We accept defeat, learn from it, work hard on the areas that need addressing and come out fighting fit the next time round! 

I'm hoping to recommence regular posting from this point onwards. I've quite a few stories to blog about from this years golfing activities, you'll be hearing from me again soon!

See you around....