Thursday, 29 December 2011

Old Year - New Spirit

I've been very fortunate this year to have the entire festive period off work and I'm not due back at my desk until January 3rd which has meant plenty of time for golf, golf and more golf. Having eaten way too much on the big day itself, I took myself off to the practise ground at Royal Ascot on Boxing Day. Unsurprisingly, I had it to myself although the course itself was pretty busy.

It was one of those weird sessions again. Ball striking wise I couldn't have been happier and I was hitting a 6 iron about 150 yards into a stiffish breeze. However it was the height, shape and dispersion that were the most pleasing. No more weak fades right, and the bad shot was a pull or hook left. For the most part it was because I was hitting the outside of the ball although some were down to timing issues and just swinging too fast and too long. Old habits die hard. The point was I'm pretty certain the club wasn't getting in the position I've been striding for and certainly not quite as it should be according to the Plane Truth website ( I've been using with my teaching professional Rhys ap Iolo. Style over substance? Maybe. It doesn't have to be pretty to work and I'll take whatever it was I was doing as it certainly produced the desired end product.

I played on Tuesday with Colin Osborne and Anthony Ayres (aka Kerching) from the normal Saturday gang. It wasn't a great round and the consistency wasn't there. However it did yield three birdies including back to back at 13 and 14. I hit a beautifully controlled wedge from 82 yards at the 4th to within six feet for the first. On the 186 yard par 3 13th, I took my 3 hybrid. If I was being critical the shot shape was a bit of a hook, or at least a raking draw but it pitched within inches of a slam dunk ace and stopped four feet away. Again, its hard to be critical when you are getting results.

On the 14th I found the fairway off the tee but again it was more of a over done draw than a perfectly hit shot. I had 178 yards left and took a four iron, not usually a favourite club. However my new one plane swing has given me so much more confidence and I feel I can make a good swing with any club in the bag. In truth it was on the outer reaches of my range but it found the front edge of the green and my trust old Ping did the rest rolling in a nice left to right from fifteen feet. There was some good iron play throughout and the putting was rock solid but it was the tee shots that left a lot to be desired. Work in progress there I think and it meant I was never really in the right place to play attacking, nay even controlled golf

Hard to score when you can't get it in play off the tee
I played again today with Kerching. Conditions were testing with a gusty wind and the odd heavy shower to spice things up. Again if I'm being hard, I didn't feel as though I was getting the club in the right place from a technical perspective, certainly not where I've been working on putting it in practise. However if you discard the lost ball on the 5th (a lovely 6 iron but just pushed a fraction and only ten yards right of the green but into some heavy grass and never seen again) I played the other eight holes in one over gross.

There was much more rhythm to the driving, irons were crisp and wedges accurate.The only downside came when we caught a female three ball up on the 10th (they had snuck on the 10th while we were still on the 9th and still hadn't holed out time we were on the tee). The waiting around and the inevitable speeding up and rushing when we were finally let through on the 13th meant that the timing and tempo was shot and the last few holes of the back nine were ragged and didn't do justice to the way I had been playing.

It's definitely in there. Rhys has given me a solid foundation to work on and although we have a long road ahead to eradicate a lot of the basic errors that lead to so much inconsistency, the fact that the ball striking has improved beyond measure is a solid starting point. I need to persevere on trying to get the club in a better position at the back and make my turn through impact better as I've been shown but Rome wasn't built in a day and twenty plus years of bad habits can't be wiped out in one thirty minute lesson.

I'm due to play tomorrow with my regular partner Mike Stannard but the forecast isn't looking good. I think its a case of getting out there and seeing. If it gets too bad there's no mileage in flogging ourselves for the sake of a social game and we can always call it a day after nine. I am positively bubbling with renewed enthusiasm for the game and can't wait for my next lesson (mental note to self - must get that in the diary) to build on the work done so far. I enter 2012 with a new spirit. Homer's Odyssey is back on course.

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