Friday, 2 March 2012

Looking Forward

Well up until a few days ago it looked like Spring was knocking at the door. Not anymore. We've a forecast for showers for the monthly stableford tomorrow and Sunday is looking a real washout and definitely a day for heading to the range. It's a shame but it does act as a reminder that the new season is nearly upon us and it's perhaps time to look ahead and set some goals for the year ahead. It's Masters time next month and to me that really is the signal that the golfing year has started.

Royal Ascot is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and I'm looking forward to joining in the festivities and playing as much as I can in the celebratory events. I'm also hoping to get picked for a few of the club matches again this year as these are usually great fun to play, especially if you get to play away from home and to be honest after losing my unbeaten record and then my unbeaten home record at the end of last year I'm itching to get back to winning ways.

Of course these are really the side shows to the main target which is getting the handicap heading south again back towards single figures. The components are falling into place now with the new one plane swing beginning to fire and with the short game lesson I had this Monday getting my set up very much back on track. I guess the focus for the next month or so, certainly until I go to Woburn with the Golf Monthly Forum on March 29th, is to work and work on both the swing and the short game.

I've been reticent to set myself a particular handicap goal as historically these have been a millstone more than an incentive but talking with Rhys ap Iolo (Downshire Golf Centre) who has been guiding me through the swing changes I'm making, he thinks single figures is a realistic target. My take is that as long as I play well the handicap will take care of itself. Focus on doing the simple things right and work hard on keeping the short game and swing in place and keeping demons and old habits firmly in check and I'm confident I can move forward. At the end of the day, is the handicap really that important? if you are playing well and more importantly, enjoying your golf, then does the number you play off become a distraction. Food for thought and maybe I'm coming at this from the wrong angle.

That said, I've been fortunate enough to have picked up a win in a medal, stableford or honours board event in each of the last three years and this is a run I'm determined to continue. Again, a lot of the issues I've had are probably mental and not technical and I've probably put undue pressure on myself to perform, often when not playing well. This puts more stress on my game, I perform poorly and the cycle repeats. Rhys is very good at the mental side of things and works with a company called Target Orientated Golf. They run a course that looks at taking the good work done in practise and how to take it onto the course and it is definitely an area I can look at and is a course I will be signing up for as soon as dates are released.

I've got a number of Golf Monthly Forum events booked in throughout the year. These are very good fun, great value for money and the emphasis is about the day out rather than the result. I'm also going to take advantage of the reciprocal agreements Royal Ascot has and play as many different courses on 2012 as I can. I've also tentatively agreed to do the Macmillan Longest Day Challenge. This involves four rounds in one day. I've managed to get a four ball with fellow club members Mike Stannard, Matt Davis and Martin Davis but this year we're looking to really raise the anti and do four rounds on four separate courses. At the moment we'd like to start over at Bird Hills on the way to Maidenhead at sunrise and then slide over to the Downshire Golf Centre in Wokingham by about 8.00am. From there, it will be a dash across Bracknell to tee it up at Blue Mountain around 2.00pm and then the run for the line will see us come home to Royal Ascot for a triumphant conclusion teeing off around 6.30pm. It's probably a totally bonkers idea and at the moment I'm waiting for Bird Hills to give us the go ahead to start that early. If they don't then it'll be a case of substituting Downshire or Blue Mountain as the starting point and working the logistics from there. Macmillan is a cause very close to my heart with both my parents having been caught by this insidious disease and there will be details nearer the time if you'd like to make a contribution.

I guess it all starts tomorrow. The first monthly stableford of the year on the full course and that will count as a qualifier. If I'm honest, it has been a heck of a week in work and I'm dog tired and have only had one mediocre range session this week. That said, my round with my old mucker Paul Sweetman last weekend had some very good points about a lot of it and I can use that as a springboard to launch my season.

I often wonder if I'm alone in all of this. Does anyone else sit down and set themselves a handicap target of golfing goals and aspirations or is it a case of que sera sera and whatever the golfing gods give you'll take. Has anyone taken any lessons over the winter and chomping at the bit to get out and put their hard work to the test. I know I'm a golfaholic and can't get enough of this stupid game. I have to be honest and say since hooking up with Rhys as my teacher and working on the new swing my golfing mojo has been fired up again. I can't get enough range time (bloody work keeps getting in the way) and I am seeing more and more improvements to the plane, impact position and follow through. I've now got the tools to work on the short game which had filled my head full of chocolate frogs and to be honest has totally held back any work on the long game I've put in.

I have a feeling in my water that with hard work and a following wind, there is a very good chance I can have a great season. Either way, as long as I can play some good golf and enjoy it, perhaps do my bit for charity too, then come what may it'll have been a good one. All we need now is a summer full of golfing weather although I'll definitely be packing the waterproofs for the morning.

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