Entries Tagged as 'Goals'

What has changed?

With my handicap increasing with every round there are golfing matters to be addressed.  How do I identify the major factors in my golfing demise?

A number of things have changed…

First there is the change in the handicapping system. Averaging the best ten of the last twenty scores instead of adjusting by +0.1 if the nett score was over CCR or -0.2 per shot under CCR has made a difference. Under the old system I would be off 6.7 rather than 7.8.  This tells me it is not the handicapping system that has caused the problem.

Second there have been planned changes in set up and swing. A couple of lessons and a lot of practice, and I am generally happy with the result.  I am playing and practicing more consistently that I have for years, but not scoring anywhere near as well.

Perhaps the biggest factor is my change of course! For six years I played on a course that has four bunkers, and three of them are fairway bunkers.  Miss a green, and it was a chip.  Miss a fairway and there you could generally make good distance towards the green. While water was in play on twelve holes, it was only a major factor in risk factor on one.  Now there are close to 90 bunkers on my home course.  Only four of the driving holes DO NOT have fairway bunkers, and all but  six of the greens have bunkers LEFT and RIGHT. The rest of the holes only have bunkers to ONE side of the green. Miss a fairway and there is a good chance you will be hacking out on to the fairway.

Is my course the reason for my golfing struggles, or are there other factors that are more significant?

Do we let goals go OR defer them?

At the end of August my handicap went out to 8 for the first time since 1995.  Now it is exactly 7.8.

Then it was over eight because I resumed competition after a six year lay off. Now I have just changed my home course.

Then I had good reason to be 2 or 3 shots over my previous playing mark. Now there are other factors, but none of them add up to the difference  (or at least I don’t think so).

Then I wanted to get my handicap below 8. Now I have a goal to reduce my handicap from 5 to 2.

Do I give up that idea entirely, or just shelve it for now?

Still going the wrong way…

For the first time in weeks my Fairways in  Regulation hit 50%.  Unfortunately the statistic that didn’t move forward was Greens in Regulation, a mere 30%.  Alongside these numbers were 29 putts, an overall result that was passable but included two three-putts on my back nine.

The bald statistics only tell part of the story, and three holes blew my stroke score out of the water.  I did not think that the cold I was struggling with was a factor, especially after being only 4 over at the turn. Two double bogeys, two three putts, and a shanked chip conributed to bogey golf over the last nine holes, and a final score of 85.  It is not a score that satsifies, and the impact on my handicap was severe. Another 0.6 was added and at 6.8 the handicap is as high as it has been for over 7 years.  A combination of new handicapping system and a new (and tougher) course has all contributed to this dose of reality.

At the turn  things were was positive. A front nine of 4 over (including two penalties) was not disastrous, and I had been playing fairly consistently.  What followed was a litany of bad luck and poor golf that did not reflect the first nine holes, nor my ball striking.  As always, it’s not how – it’s how many.  How many? Too many!

Memorable moments:

On the par 3 15th a pushed tee shot ended in the tea tree. With an unplayable lie I oicked the ball up and retreated about 30 metres – there were no alternatives as the ball was deep in the  scrub. Faced with a 50 metre pitch my aim was to get the ball on the green.  Unfortunately I came off the shot a touch, and hit it low and straight into the tea tree again. I found it 10 centimetres from where I had picked it up just moments before.  Another drop, a pitch and a 10 metre putt had me marking a 6 on the card. It was a good six!

Shots to remember:

  • A pure 8 iron on 4 that covered the pin, and settled 8 metres past the hole and directly on line.
  • A chip from the rough on 18. In the rough and fifteen metres from the hole the chip landed neatly over ridge and stopped just over one metre below the hole.
  • My focus on the 6th tee was good. I selected my line, established my key swing thoughts and swung through the ball. despite hitting into a slight headwind from the back tee the ball started just right of centre and drew slightly into the left half of the fairway. With just over 200 metres left to the green the 230 metre drive was one of my best for the day.

Related posts:

Revising Goals…

Six months after declaring a goal it is time to revisit.

At the start of the exercise my handicap was 4.9, it is now 5.5.

At the start of the exercise I was without a golf club, I now play at one of the top 100 courses in the country.

Before this year I had two lessons in 6 years, I have now had two in 6 months.

So where is my golf heading?

The statistics tell me my handicap could soon be closer to 7 than 5. In the next few weeks two of my best rounds will drop of my ‘last 20’. My last five rounds have not been in my best ten!

Familiarity with the course has made me more aware of the hazards, more confident in my putting, and more strategic in my approach to each hole.

Early season swing changes have settled in, and my ball striking is more consistent.

What is missing are low scores.

Where to now?

210 metres to the bunker...I made it easily!

My handicap goals have not changed, but getting there is tougher.

Continuing to work on aspects of my game that are off the mark – driving accuracy (<50%) and greens in regulation (<50%) – will eventually bring results.  Attention to ‘the mental game’ has already increased my enjoyment and reduced my stress, but is yet to end in lower scores.

My current emphasis?

Timothy Gallwey identifies the Performance, Enjoyment, Learning triangle.  No matter how I perform enjoyment remains, and learning can take place.

Golf is a great game.  There are no excuses, no-one to blame if things go wrong. I will continue to enjoy the challenge and strive to achieve my goals.

Achieving Goals

After four and a half months my 2010 golfing goal is still unrealised. My handicap is 4.9,  a long way from the 2.4 that will mark achievement.

What have I been doing to move toward the goal?

Lessons:

Two of a three lesson series have been completed, with a third not too far away. My set up has changed signficantly.  I have changed from a left side focus to a right side focus, trying to hit through the ball with my right hand rather than my lef t arm pulling the swing. Slowly my finish is becoming more upright and square to the target.

Results thus far: the straight hits are straighter and the default error seems to be a fade

Practice:

During the summer a weekly after work visit to the course was easy. Daylight saving is fantastic.  With sunrise after 7.00 a.m. and sunset at about 5.30 p.m. that is now much harder. Work pressures don’t help either. Where possible I will spend a little time hitting balls during the week, and ‘in house’ chipping and putting is the norm. 

Results thus far:Putting with more confidence and constency, but this is not being seen on the score card.

Thinking

Tips are not on my agenda, but the mental game has been a focus of my reading.  A sound pre-shot routine before every stroke as well as thinking positively about every shot are a couple of foundational aspects that need to be developed further.  Everything I have read about the mental game encourages me to take the final score out of my thinking, and to concentrate on each shot without mentally keeping score. For someone who is striving to reduce his handicap, and can talk through a round a week after, that is difficult.  I’m working on it.

Results thus far:  Pre-shot routine is Ok, but not totally consistent. Being totally confident about swing and shot is difficult after letting a couple of drives slide right of the fairway.

Course Management

For years I have used a course book, and know where the major markers are on the courses I play regularly. Course management takes this a step further. Planning the way you play the course – including which clubs to use for particular tee shots – is another step that needs to be taken. The aim is to step up to the ball with confidence, using the club you know will give the best chance of success, and put the ball in the best area for the next shot.  This means using a 3 wood or hybrid off a couple of tees, and a change in my approach to the game.

Results thus far: This is the latest step, and after one week I can see the sense in it, but am yet to hold back at times when it might be the wisest course.

Summary

This is my approach to golf improvement, with the aim of getting my handicap down. As yet there has been no major step forward in my score.

The best advice has come from W. Timothy Gallwey “The Inner Game of Golf”.  He suggests that the PEL triangle is a key. If the score is all that counts golf will be regularly frustrating. Even the best rounds can be better. Perfection is a round of 18 shots! So we need to think about Performance, Enjoyment, and Learning. If performance is not up to our hopes the game can still be enjoyed, and learning can still take place. 

I am enjoying my golf, and learning.

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:

Achieving Goals

Statistically it doesn’t sound hard to reduce a handicap by two strokes, or to drop an average score from 77 to 75.  On the other hand  reducing  my handicap by 50% seems a little more difficult.  Added into that mix are a few extra hurdles – moving house and finding a new golf club are one part of that hurdle, going back to full time work is another.

My plan for 2010 is as follows:

  • play golf once a week, hopefully be in a competition
  • analyze my scores to monitor weaknesses and note areas of work
  • practice golf once a week – at a driving range or practice fairway
  • practice at home using appropriate drills .

As John “Hannibal” Smith (the A-team) was fond of saying “I love it when a plan comes together.”

We will wait and see.

Goal for 2010

In previous years I have set some goals for my golf , mainly relating to my handicap.  This year is no different.

In previous years I have been content to be conservative, knowing that time is limited and my own skills somewhat lacking.

This year I  have raised my sights. In 2010 I  aim to halve my handicap.

A little history. At the start of 2009 my playing handicap was 5.   Travel, playing spasmodically on a variety of courses, and doing little practice saw that move out  6.  Over the last month my golf has been much more frequent, and has included time on the practice fairway. Added to this has been some careful thought about my swing and my game.   Three good competition rounds have seen my handicap reduced to 4.4 – and a new playing handicap of 4. The lowest handicap I have ever had is 3.9 – a mark set in 2008. Considering that I played off a handicap of 5 in 1987  it is time for a step up.

In 2010 my aim is to reduce my handicap to 2.

Stay tuned for weekly updates of the state of play.