June 10, 2013

It’s 104 degrees on a late Sunday morning – so hot that the dark blue finish on the Saturn would burn your hands if you left them there long enough. So hot that the jet-black head on my Ping Scottsdale putter is too hot to touch. The driving range at Superstition Springs is virtually empty; the only ones there are familiar faces: the young Asian guy with the big swing who seems to always be there whenever I am, and the older guy with a white mullet hair who always seems to be on his cell phone or chatting it up with whomever happens to be hitting balls near him. He looks edgy there all by himself with no one to talk to and no phone calls to make.

Just as I was yesterday, I’m here today with a purpose: 1) cultivate a reliable and consistent 3-hybrid I can hit on tight holes during Goodboys weekend; 2) sharpen my chipping game; 3) get comfortable with my new putter. Since my new graphite woods with the senior flex shafts aren’t due until Monday at the earliest, I’m using this weekend to sharpen the skills I will need to rely upon when the pressure is really on at Goodboys. I’m also practicing swinging my clubs harder than I have been: that day last week at the PGA Superstore fitting center really opened my eyes. As both Chad the fitting specialist and my swing coach Alex Black told me, I’ve been giving away yardage and consistency by not taking a full and more aggressive swing with all of my clubs. As a result, I’ve allowed my hands to either be too active or not active enough in the hitting zone, creating shanks or big pushes to the left or ugly duck hooks to the right.

The 3-hybrid is an important club for me to get comfy with, and two days of letting it fly after being sure to set up square is paying some real dividends: the duck hook and that gnarly push to the left have both become less frequent, and I can see the difference in both my ball trajectory and distance from getting some real compression on the ball. Today in front of my familar make-believe fairway on the far left side of the range I’m pulverizing one ball after another, not only seeing the difference but hearing it in the way the ball jumps off the clubface. This is Alex Black’s “power move” realized to its fullest extent. I think he’d be proud of me.

I’ve also been working extremely hard on my pitching wedge, to the point where I can now use it as my 100-yard club. Prior to my last Alex lesson, the best I could do was hit it 85 yards, but swinging a little bit harder and taking a divot has added at least 15 yards to the club. Today as I did yesterday, I’m effortlessly raining balls one after another down around the 100 yard marker without over-swinging, really compressing the ball in my follow through.

I down a few cups of water from the cooler and see the chipping/putting green is empty. The heat is really beginning to build but I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I grab four orange Wilson 50s out of my bag and toss them at various locations around the green. I pick out a pin and chip each one, then try and make no more than two putts (preferably only one) from where they land. I do this forty times today. For whatever reason, my chipping is less than stellar – OK for now because it means I get the chance to putt from longer distances. Whereas yesterday’s session was awful – couldn’t get the feel of the new Ping at all – today I’m starting to learn what this putter does best and begin to make the necessary adjustments in my swing and stance. I especially like the way you can hit it “dead” (without virtually any swing) and drain three-footers. I don’t do it often enough, but at least I know the potential is there. Now it’s all about repetition and gaining confidence.

I’ve been out in the heat for two hours and the Asian guy is still banging balls. The guy with the mullet is long gone – I guess the fact he had no company or calls to make made hitting balls seem like too much work on a blazing hot day.

I’ve put in some good and really significant work this weekend, and feel more confident about the kind of game I can take to the course the next time I’m out here. At my next session – hopefully Tuesday – I’ll be introducing those new graphite woods with the flex shafts to golf Great White Shank style. I sure hope they’re up to it, because six weeks from today Goodboys weekend will be over with and The Great Golf Immersion Experiment of 2013 will be history. Six weeks from today it will be back to the more mundane tasks of paying down the debt and watching the monsoon season turn into Arizona winter.

While enjoying a cold Sam Summer at the clubhouse grill I can’t help but think about all the practice sessions I’ve put in and how fast this year has gone by. I’ve worked so hard on my game – harder than I ever thought I’d ever want to, harder than any other Goodboy by a long shot, I’ll bet, yet have precious little to show for it in terms of scoring. Which, in the end, is all that matters. Still, it has been a great deal of fun and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of seeing my former swing smashed into a thousand pieces and slowly, gradually put back together again.

Whether or not it all comes together in time for Goodboys weekend is anyone’s guess: that’s something we’ll all know in six weeks.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. […] kid wasn’t fooling, I’ve never seen a driving range so void of life. Just like last time, except this time there’s no one else out here – not even the Asian guy who’s […]

    Pingback by GoodBoys Nation - Archives » The Range Rat Says Adios — June 20, 2013 @ 3:54 am

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