April 19, 2013

With thanks to Billy Joel for an awesome song by which to subject the post.

Scorecards don’t lie. There’s no question my golf game is improving with every outing, but the numbers are just not reflecting it yet. A 52 on the front and a 54 on the back has, and always will, equal 106 in the book of ages, but, as hard to believe as that number indicates, there was a lot of good to take away from today’s round at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, AZ. After all, when you’re playing from the 6,500-yard blue tees with a slope rating of 120 you know you’re not teeing it up at some local muni or executive track. Lone Tree was a stern test, featuring the toughest layout and fastest greens I’ve played all year, with a par 3 island green I had completely forgotten about (I scored a nine with two lost balls). It played fast and hard all day, rewarding fairways hits but penalizing strongly any tee ball that strayed even slightly off the mark.

It was a beautiful day to play golf – probably the last I’ll play while the temps are still in the ’80s. On the driving range before teeing off I had my best session of year – I was striking the ball so great that I was convinced I was in store for the round of my life. Heck, I could almost see that sugarplum fairy of a scorecard 44 + 46 = 90 dancing before my eyes. So what happened? Well, before I get back to Billy Joel’s lament, let’s take a look at today’s pros and cons, which I dutifully listed out over a frosty Sam Summer at the clubhouse grille:


* My Dynacraft putter continues to heat up. Even on very tough and very fast greens, “Mr. 3-Wiggle” was smooth and sweet all day, making only 30 putts, including seven one-putt greens. Frightening to think what my score might have been if I hadn’t putted so well. But that was all because of….

* …my chipping game, which also continues to improve with every outing. Still need to learn to relax a little more and improve my aim point, but those are just tweaks that can be worked out at the Superstition Springs chipping green.

* That $#@&! island green aside (why, BTW, do courses feel a need to create island greens? Those weren’t an invention of the Scots, that’s for sure), I’m playing with a lot of confidence with my irons. On several occasions – with five, six, and seven irons in my hand – the strikes were so pure it was almost breathtaking to behold.

* The 5-wood I’ve had so much trouble hitting on par 5 second shots finally showed up at the party today. And in Joe Boxers, no less. Didn’t hit it bad once.

* My mental discipline on the course continues to improve. No matter what happened on the previous hole I was very resilient today and kept coming out firing. I’m especially proud of the fact that after posting that nine on the island green hole I stepped up to the 12th tee (a long, tight par 4) and split the fairway dead-balls center with a three wood before walking away with a working-man’s bogey. My de facto sports psychologist Dr. Bob Winters would have been proud I stayed “in the moment” virtually all day long.

* From first tee to last shot I kept the same swing and form crafted at Superstition Springs the past two driving range sessions. The results may not have always been what I wanted, but I never deviated from the plan no matter what I was presented with. Alex Black would have been proud of that, I think.


* Only had seven holes at bogey or better today. Need to do a lot better than that.

* Since my Alex Black lesson I’ve hit balls OB or close to OB left on every first and tenth tee. It’s the weirdest thing, not sure why that is. Be nice to get that out of my system the next time I play.

* Hitting eight out of fourteen fairways isn’t going to cut it come Goodboys weekend. While it’s true I was barely off target on at least three or four holes, the way Lone Tree is designed I really paid the price. If I want to play bogey-.5 golf I’m simply going to have to hit more fairways. Not to mention greens in regulation – something I ought to be doing more frequently whenever the opportunity presents itself.

* I know I need a better, more consistent pre-shot routine. Cultivating one I’m comfortable with is next on the to-do list. Which brings me to the #1 song with a bullet on my own Billboard charts…

* …my aiming point was off all day, and it really cost me. And that’s where Billy Joel comes in.

Simply put, if I’m going to continue to improve, I have to learn to trust my swing. On every shot. After so many years of poor play, abysmal course management, and crappy technique I’ve cultivated a bad habit of always aiming right of target since most of my shots would drift (or not so drift) left – remember, I wasn’t called The Great White Shank for nothing! Since my lesson with Alex Black, however, I’m hitting the ball much straighter, yet still continue to aim right. And when I aim right and hit the ball straight, guess what? It goes right, sometimes mucho right.

Take the 9th hole, a long par five, dogleg left around a pond. While my drive wasn’t great (got a member bounce off a pile of rocks after aiming too far right), I did find the fairway and then eased a 5-wood to within 138 yards of the pin. So I’m in the go-zone. Aware of the pond and a sucker pin placement on the left side of the green, I want to play smart and plan to leave an 8-iron just short of the green right to chip up and two-putt for my par. But what do I do? I don’t trust my swing and, without even checking the fact I’m aimed so right as to nearly bring the pro shop and cart shed into play, I just wail away and over-cook the eight, which slams into the fringe and one hops the cart path before settling into the gravel lot right of the cart shed. I take my drop and make an amazing recovery chip to within six feet which I then two-putt for a double-bogey seven. Just like that, I’ve thrown a minimum of two shots away. You do that often enough – which I did all day – those strokes start adding up. Hence, a 106 which could (and should) have been a 98 or better.

Now let’s compare that to 18, another par 5 with water on the right to a green protected by water on the left. I’m fortunate my drive (again, aimed too far right but hit dead straight) stops within two feet of the pond. I then crush a 4 hybrid to 165 yards from the green. Egged on by my playing partner Chester (a dead-ringer for Barack Obama, BTW, and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever played golf with) who tells me I’m hitting the ball too good to be playing golf so defensively, I plan another 4 hybrid, but this time I’m aiming slightly right with an open stance to play a baby cut I hope will ride the right-to-left breeze and cozy it’s way up to the green. I pull the shot off magnificently, leaving myself twenty feet for birdie. Applause from all around. I smash my birdie putt twelve feet past the hole, but then calmly drain a downhill slider for par. That, my friends, is what The Great White Shank is now capable of doing.

Since I started playing with my new Callaways two and a half months ago, I’ve completely overhauled my golf swing and my overall game to a point where that initial round at Superstition Springs in early February seems like a decade ago, played by a completely different human being. The new swing and the improved mentality are all in place: I’m improving every time I go out and can now honestly say there are multiple holes where I’m playing (at least for me as far as my goals are concerned) not just decent, good enough golf that gets the job done, but well played golf. Golf that’s something to be proud of. Now it’s just a matter of doing it more often.

And that’s all just a matter of trust.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 22:08 | Comments (2)
  1. Keep it going!

    Comment by ExecComm — April 20, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

  2. Remember, play as if every shot is going to be a good shot.

    No more lining up in expectation of a slice or shank, and you’ll slay your next round.

    Comment by Dave Richard — April 22, 2013 @ 2:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Search The Site

Recent Items


September 2021
April 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006



4 Goodboys Only

Site Info