May 22, 2014

“Pretty swing, ugly golf – that’s what you ought to call a post on your blog”

“The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and I are having a farewell beer after our round at Green Meadow Golf Club’s “Jungle” course (the next time we would see each other would be Goodboys Invitational week), after I had just posted an embarrassing 105. I was bemoaning the fact I had taken 38 putts that day (three-putting the final three holes), complemented my eight holes at bogey or less with three quadruple bogeys and three triple bogeys, and how the “big number” had become almost pathological in the way it could seemingly jump up from out of nowhere at the first sign of golf adversity. Rather than improving off of where I had ended last year, I was retrogressing.

“You’re trying to be too fine out there”, TFG says. “Every golf course is going to be different, and you need to be able to recognize that and make the necessary adjustment. You can’t keep trying the same thing over and over again and hope for a different result – that’s the very definition of insanity. If you’re missing fairways with th driver, pull 3-wood. If you start three-putting your way around greens, try something different if only for the sake of changing things up. If you’re chipping poorly, try a different club. More than anything else, stop pin-hunting and just play to the larger part of the green.”

Course management. That’s what it all comes doesn’t it? On any given day, recognizing what you’re doing well and what you’re not, then make the necessary adjustments. If you’re out for a nice day and to get some sun, it doesn’t really matter. But when you’re in competition or trying to post a score, the ability to recognize and adjust – and quickly – becomes vitally important. It’s an aspect of the game that really isn’t taught much (at least to my knowledge), but one that I haven’t been able to do whether I’m hitting the ball well or not.

As I’ve mentioned before, if there is one thing I’ve finally learned this year is that hitting balls at the range is a totally different exercise than playing a round of golf. At the range you’re just trying to hone your swing and instill good habits. Out on the course, it’s all about getting around and doing whatever it takes to get that little ball in that little hole with as few strokes as possible. And that requires focus, a plan, and making the necessary adjustments as quickly as possible.

TFG again: “None of us are pros, we’re all going to hit bad shots out there. It’s what you do after you make that bad shot that separates the good players from the bad. Your swing is fine, stop worrying about technique and focus on the next shot. You make a bad shot and you’re not making the adjustment, you just turn bad shots into bad holes. You can’t do that.”

And how. Lately my cards have shown the same gruesome Jeckyll and Hyde quality about them. Pars sandwiched around quadruple bogeys. Stretches of brilliance pock-marked by ghastly crooked numbers. And rather than getting better, the problem seems to be getting worse, to the extent where it has become almost pathological. One shot goes off line and I’m already conceding the possibility of a big number on that hole. It’s easy to say, “stop pressing!”, or “stop thinking so much”, or, “forget about your score, just play!”, but it’s not that easy. As someone with a tendency to get all ADD out on the course to begin with, it’s really up to me to develop a pre-shot and post-shot routine that I can go to time and again. I doubt I’ll ever be able to fully erase the kind of mistakes I tend to make out there, but I can learn to mitigate them to a manageable level.

I guess what I’ve come to realize is that the whole idea of playing bogey-and-a-half or bogey golf or par golf or whatever is a fool’s errand, a pointless chase, an exercise in rhetoric. If one ends up improving their game to a certain desired level, they only realize they’re doing it or have done it after the fact, and through the way they’ve played over x number of rounds; it’s not something you set out to do like climbing Mt. Everest. The game simply doesn’t work that way. You end up putting too much pressure on yourself to post scores instead of simply playing the game to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t mean you just go out there without any plan and hope for the best; it does mean you go out there aware of your strengths and weaknesses and learn to deal with it.

So two months out from the 2014 Goodboys Invitational, The Great White Shank finds himself in kind of an amorphous place. After losing my swing completely after my last lesson with Alex Black (no fault on his part, I just realize the changes he was suggesting are things I’m just not capable of or comfortable trying), I’ve successfully dropped back to the changes we implemented in our prior lesson to that (call it Alex Black 2.1) and am back to hitting the ball as good as I think I’m capable of. And for now, I’m going to leave it that way. With a lot of work to do around the house and at work, I’m taking a few weeks off before I hit the range again and ramp up my preparation for Goodboys 2014 weekend.

When I resume my golf activities the only focus I plan on taking is making good swings and dealing with whatever outcomes that result. I need to get back to working on my short game – it’s the part of the game I enjoy most, and I just haven’t spent the same amount of time on it this year as I did last year. There are opportunities for strokes to be saved out there that I simply haven’t been taking. As TFG says, “a one-putt covers up a lot of sins.” I know I concede two many two-putts, content to just roll the ball up there and try to get it close without ever giving it the chance to go in the first time. So I plan on practicing getting a little more aggressive with my putting. But that’s not a cure-all. The cure-all is in taking a new approach to game and how I handle things out there on the course.

Which means, no big changes, no more pursuing “Possum” Shepter to see if I can garner that coveted tenth spot on the Goodboys handicapping chart. Just play the game and see where it takes me. Make good swings, exploit the opportunities when they present themselves and minimize the damage when things go awry. I think that’s the way to go.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 09:46 | Comments (2)
  1. You make some good points there.

    I got to hit the courses, and post at least
    2 outings. Probably won’t be till my vacation,
    a week before Goodboys.

    Hope all is well.


    Comment by Ron "Cubby" Myerow — May 22, 2014 @ 6:02 pm

  2. Good thought. Now let’s see you put them into action.

    Comment by Dave Richard — May 23, 2014 @ 5:50 am

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