Entries Tagged as ''

Five iron and putter

After consecutive three putts from under five feet left its mark on my psyche. Errant drives with at least five “chip-outs” was actually more costly.  With these two things in mind two clubs were taken to the course – a five iron and putter.

A hundred balls on the practice fairway with the five iron was a step towards embedding my swing changes.  Playing four or five holes (including the tragic 7th) was a way of dealing with the putting demons.

On the practice fairway the use of my right hand began to sink in. For years the left side has been dominant. Hitting twenty shots in a row along my aim line suggests that the changes are settling in. This consistency is something that has not been part of my previous experience.

On the course the tragic 7th was revisited. Saturday this 339 metre par 4 included a hooked drive, a pitch for position, a 70 meter pitch to within 1.5 meters and 3 putts. Monday night a five iron of the tee, a five iron to the green, and then out came the putter. Two balls were on in regulation – followed by a 3 putt bogey from 18 metres and a birdie from 2 metres.

The lesson: Keeping the ball in play (on or close to the fairway) is more important than distance.

The challenge: Leave the driver in the bag on this short dogleg.

Related posts:

Facts vs. Feelings

At the end of the day the ball striking was pleasing. Off the club so many shots felt good, and I was generally happy with my swing.  At least two birdie opportunities were from under ten feet. The score card told another story – 28 points!

Statistics: FIR 21%  GIR 27%  Putts 34. None of them were good!

After 5 holes I was two over, but on handicap. The next four holes included one penalty drop (unplayable lie) and 10 putts, 9 of those putts came from within 6 feet of the hole.  A downhill birdie putt from 4 foot on the 6th kicked off an appalling sequence which ended with a missed 2 foot bogey putt on the 9th. Six shots dropped in four holes. 

Looking beyond the putting lapses there were 5 drives where it was not possible to go for the green. The fnal score was not helped by two penalty strokes – my one hooked tee shot ended in water on 14, and a sliced 2 hybrid on 9 (after a  magnificent drive that was on the fairway) ended in an impossible lie in the tea tree.

In summary, the good is very good, but the bad was horrid.  It was one of those days. All golfers live for the day when it is all good. Roll on that day!

Practice or play?

You have two hours or less of daylight left. What do you do – practice or play?

To relax and enjoy the evening – play nine holes or more.  To instill swing changes – practice!

For me Tuesday was time on the range.  After hitting full iron shots it was great to strike all 15 drives well – consistent and long. I’m not sure if the measure was right but with a slight tail breeze they all ended up around or past the 250 metre mark. From there it was time spent chipping and putting.  While it is good to practice full shots  over half the game is played around the green. That’s where over half the practice should be spent.

This Saturday’s regular competition is the next test of swing changes and work on the short game.

Putting – the eyes have it!

There is a lot of free information on how to improve your game on the internet. Sometimes its a reminder of stuff you already know, other times you glean something new.

Check out this link about putting, eyesight, images and memory. http://www.docsgolftips.com/v2/pirateputting.php

Something to think about in terms of pre-shot routines.

Three by three, and another 0.1

Back at Royal Hobart for the Monthly medal this weekend. Conditions were cool and the sky was overcast. There was little breeze. In other words, it was a perfect day for golf.

In preparation I was at the course at least 30 minutes before tee off.  About 30 shots on the practice fairway, a few chips and a few putts and I was ready to go.  During the week I had managed to get out on the course once, and spent time most days indoors on putting and chipping technique.

At the end of the day I signed for a 78, net 73. CCR  was 71 (Par 72), and the handicap went out to and exact 5.0.

Statistically:  FIR  64%   GIR 50% Putts 32 = PPH 1.77

Practically 4 errant drives meant playing for position rather than going for the green, and three three-putt greens were costly. Of five realistic birdie attempts (putts of 3 metres or less) on one was converted. A little improvement in any of these areas and lower scores should result.

The plan this week:  practice twice working to embed changes to my set up and swing. More time needs to be spent on the driver, and on the putting green.

Tiger back?

The announcement has been made. Tiger Woods is to return to the PGA Tour at the Masters. Click here for detailed report.

It is not surprising that Woods would choose the Masters to return.  Whenever he returned the media circus will be enormous, and public interest extremely high.  Whenever it happened it was going to be chaos for media and public.

The Masters is the most controlled and controllable of tournaments. Tickets are limited and crowds are well controlled. Security is high – and you  can expect it to be ramped up a notch this year.  It is the perfect time for Woods to return.

Thus far Woods has refused to respond to questions. He has dealt with the media on his terms. Press statements have been issued, and his one public performance was a pre-prepared statement that he read leave. No questions thanks!

He may be the greatest golfer in the world at present. His swing and statistics can be analysed at length, but don’t expect frank, open and honest discussion about the issues that he continues to face.  Tiger will be under scrutiny in areas of his life that he has kept hidden for many years.

Tiger will continue his efforts to keep the media out of his life, and the golfing part of the media will respect that. They need him on the golf course. The tabloid press and the entertainment media will not be so accommodating.  Watching the media scrum may be more interesting that watching the Masters!

One step forward?

A visit to a different course was not a good thing for my handicap, but was a good way to spend the morning.  “Woodrising” a.k.a. Devonport Golf Club was my home course over 20 years ago, and it was good to return to the course on the weekend. While the course has not changed a great deal I was impressed with the quality of the greens. Fast and true,  they were well prepared for my visit and a delight to play on. The visitors from clubs around Tassie who were visiting for the Clarment Shield were fortunate that their competition coincided with my visit!

So how was the round?   12 over the card doesn’t sound too great, especially when it is seven over the handicap you are on and 10 over the one you are working for, and adds .1 to the actual handicap.

FIR: 14%         GIR: 39%       Putts:35 or 1.944 per green

These are not impressive, and if we add in some poor chips and bad bunker play the overall result was bad news.

Yet I came away happy that progress is being made. Only three drives were in difficult positions, the rest were within a few metres of the fairway. Most were straight and close to the linbe I chose.  My game fell away at the next hurdle, approaches to the green.

On reflection I concentrated hard on my set up and swing off the tee, but had been hitting my iron so straight and well that there was little thought about swing and more about result. On most holes I was within range of the green with my second shot, yet only hit 39% of the greens. 7 of my 18 shots to the green went right.  There is one area to work on. Around the greens is another. Perhaps it was the pace of the greens after two weeks on recently scarified putting surfaces but on Saturday my short game was not up top the mark.

Hope remains. The driving has shown great steps forward, the next step is to get the rest of the game up to the mark.

Stableford

The most player friendly individual competition is stableford.  Today I learned how it originated.

According to Pacific Golfer March 2010 stableford was introduced by Dr. Frank Barney Gordon Stableford.  Introduced because many golfers did not enjoy the game after playing the first few holes badly.  The first Stableford competition was played at the Wallasley Golf Club on May 16, 1932.  It seems that the usual bogey method of scoring (a.k.a. par) was a bit frustrating when he could not reach long par 4’s into the breeze. After experimenting with  alternatives Frank Stableford settled on the system we use today.

Frank Stableford was a low handicap golfer. Records show that he played of 2 in 1922, and at age 58 was playing was on 8.  Among his golfing accomplishments was the establishment of the Robin Hood Golf Club near Birmingham. He paced out the holes, placing a pole where the tee and the green were to be.  The grounds staff were then  ordered to cut the grass. Two hours later the golf course architects arrived to touhgen up the course.  Today it takes years to go from concept to competition.

Pacific Golfer magazine is available by subscription – and is distributed free through many golf clubs.  It is an informative read, with lots of adverts as well.

Watch out for April

The Australian Handicapping system is about to change.

If all things are on schedule April 9 will see a change to the way handicaps are calculated. Click here for details.  Since my 2010 goal is to reduce my handicap to 2 a check of the impact of the changes seemed in order.

Under the current system  my handicap is 4.8, a playing handicap of 5.

Reveiwing my scores for the past 20 competition rounds gives the following results (based on ACR)

Average of Best 10 scores = 4.9. When multiplied by the ‘bonus for excellence’ factor of 0.96 the actual handicap becomes 4.7.   For me it means little change in the short term.

Where it will make a major difference is when the best of my scores drop off the ‘last 20 rounds’.  Fortunately the first ones to go are shockers.  Since my best rounds were in December I have some breathing space before the pressure starts to build.

What do I need to get my handicap down to 2?   Four par rounds in a row – and I AM THERE!

It’s easy on the spreadsheet, but since my last three round have been 7, 11 and 6 over ACR respectively it might be a bit harder on the course.

Is there hope? Absolutely.

Two weeks on from the lesson. Another competition round played.

With a forecast of 26 degress and clearing showers the drive to the  course was made in persistent rain.  In conditons like this even getting the clubs out of the car was a trial.  A rain jacket helped.  Gathered with a dozen or so others I waited near the gloom of the pro shop. Even though is was nearing 8 a.m. the pro shop was dark. A power drop out meant that a candle was used to read the hit off sheet and normal log in procedures were changed.

With rain falling groups were made according to those present and a few of us headed to the tees.  Fortunately the weather was mild and the drops were big, but the rain was not heavy.   In the rain the aim is to keep clubs and hands  dry, and try to make solid contact. Two holes later I was one under par and the rain stopped.  I did not cope  well with the change.  Another four holes later and something of the right rhythm returned.

By the end of the round it was nearing 26 degrees and I walked off reasonably happy.

My score: 34 stableford points.  Handicap: now 4.8.

I finished 53 out of 115 competitors. A wild slice on 13 and three 3 putt greens were costly.  Poor putting on the last 6 holes (5 makeable birdie putts of 5-15 feet) didn’t help either.  Some might attribute ‘blame’  to the recently scarified and slightly bumpy greens, but the errors were all my own. You should not leave birdie putts short.  Nor should you miss from 18 inches.  At least two of the three putts on the last went past the hole !

My stats:

Driving Accuracy: 43%  (Only two drives were in positions where I could not go for the green.  Most were within a metre or so of the fairway.)

GIR:61%

PPH:1.883

Why am I satisfied?

It wasn’t the statistics so much as the way my round finished. On the last six holes tee shots put me in position to go for the pin, and 5 good birdie/eagle opportunities resulted.  As the round progressed confidence in my set up and swing increased. The future is looking brighter.

BTW: Well done to Jacques and Gordon, two of my playing partners. They shared the spoils for the day with 41 stableford points each.