June 22, 2014

It was 104 degrees by the time I made it over to Superstition Springs for a late Sunday afternoon range session. Less than four weeks out from Goodboys Invitational weekend I am, as they say, in earnest. Since the first of the year my short game, for lack of a better term, has sucked. No feel for chipping around the green, no feel for the putter, and no confidence in either. The fact that – and I counted them – I was 0 for 6 in putts less than ten feet when I played at Stonecreek Golf Club the other day was enough to see the red lights flasing and the Commander Riker in me yell, “Red Alert!”.

So that’s why I was there alone (or so I thought) at the SS range, limbering up with a large bucket and only my pitching wedge, sand wedge, and putter. Having the freedom of a driving range all to myself, I picked up the bucket and just tossed its contents in every direction, then, wherever the balls landed, try and hit the 75 yard sign with my pitching wedge or sand wedge. It was a great exercise for me, and I really enjoyed the challenge of it all. And, if I might say so myself, I think I learned a lot about my sand wedge and how far I can it if and when the occasion arises.

What was truly motivating was the segment on CBS’s Sunday golf coverage during the Travelers Championship where Peter Kostis showed how to hit a flop shot with the sand wedge around the green. At the time, I was enjoying a hot Italian sausage sandwich and a tall glass of lemonade and almost spit it out when Peter showed me that, rather than taking the club slightly outside the plane and then bringing it back underneath the ball, I had been taking my sand wedge straight back and trying to hit down on the ball. Hell, no wonder I was having trouble making consistent contact and ball flight! Putting Peter’s instructions to heart it took me only a few balls to get comfortable with my sand wedge to the point where I would definitely consider working it in, in competition.

Next stop was the chipping/putting area, where I continued to flail around looking for that particular feel I’d lost since last year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend. And today my chipping and putting was as awful at it has been this whole year. Twenty minutes in it was starting to get very frustrating, so I took a break, grabbed one of my blue Gatorades, and sat down in the shade, taking in the lovely late summer afternoon. There was a baby foo-foo bird badgering its mother for a treat, and a cottontail rabbit hopping across the driving range. I heard the rasps of a mourning dove and the rustling of the dusty trees all around – in the late afternoon sun it all seemed so peaceful, actually magical.

But I wasn’t as alone as I thought. For whatever reason, I hadn’t noticed a woman who had apparently been on the putting green in the shadows working on her own short game all the time I was there. She walked up to me and asked if I could do her a favor. Seems she lived about fifteen minutes away from the course, had taken the bus to Superstition Springs to work on her game, but the heat had gotten to her and was feeling dehydrated and wondering if I could drive her home when I was done. She’s African-American, around thirty, and very attractive, but I’m a gentleman, so I offered her my blue Gatorade and told her to get her stuff together. I wasn’t doing anything productive at the time, so why not help a lady in distress?

Thirty minutes later, I’ve dropped her off and about ready to take the turn towards home when I had this strange inner sense that I return to the Springs and resume my work. I looked at the time (5:45 PM) and the sky to see the sun still hot and heavy above, and figured if my wife and sister-in-law wanted to eat supper they could make it themselves – I had work left to do. So I drove straight back to the golf course and grabbed my clubs and hit the putting green a second time.

For whatever reason, everything then began to fall into place. After hitting a few flop shots with the sand wedge as Peter Kostis had instructed, I tried taking my pitching wedge back a similar way and found myself hitting the ball square and pure like I had been doing last year. At first I couldn’t believe it could be that simple, but I soon found myself feeling as if I could attack pin placements in a way I hadn’t felt in ages. Twenty minutes later, I’m playing around with various stances over my putter and suddenly found a set-up I had long forgotten about (feet and shoulders square, knees bent), and suddenly I’m not only chipping the ball close, but making pure strokes off the putter face. In the stretch of fifteen minutes I’ve gone from playing afraid and defensively to going on offense and confident, the way I prefer my short game to be.

It’s kind of weird to think about what would have happened if that lady’s situation hadn’t created the kind of diversion it did. Rather than dwell on what’s going on with my short game, I can go into next week’s planned practice session looking forward to being “on offense” as far as my short game is concerned.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:58 | Comments (2)
  1. It was the golf Fairy Godmother out there with you. Bibbety Bobbety Boo back the range with you.

    Comment by Jana — June 23, 2014 @ 4:31 am

  2. Hey, be careful about using that “fairy” word – the PC police will accuse you of being homophobic! 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 25, 2014 @ 9:55 am

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