I hit the range again last night. The work is beginning to pay off. It may not be the finished article yet and there is a long way to go but at the moment the ball striking and direction are very solid and pleasing. The cunning plan was to hit the balls at Blue Mountain Driving Range, keep everything ticking over and make my grand return this morning at Royal Ascot in the normal Saturday roll up.
A cunning plan indeed but there was one small flaw. It lashed it down with rain overnight and as I wearily opened the curtains this morning it was still throwing it down. In normal circumstances, particularly if I'm in a competition or match then I'd grit my teeth, get ready and go out. However with an untried swing I wasn't really that keen to be out in wet conditions worrying about the elements and the state of my game. Yes it was a wimp out but I prefer to look on it as a pragmatic opportunity.
The rain eventually died away and by lunchtime the sun was out. My cunning plan had changed. There is another roll up on a Sunday morning and with the weather set fair tomorrow, that would be the time to launch my comeback. What it did do was give me a chance to wander up to the practice ground at the club and actually hit balls off grass. Range mats serve a purpose but they can mask a poor strike. With the ground very wet from the overnight rain, hitting off grass would require nothing but a proper strike to make solid contact. Ideal to really test how the swing was going.
As a final preparation before hitting the course for the first time in several months it couldn't have gone any better. Plenty of good shots off difficult muddy turf that flew on a good trajectory with a decent dispersal. I even hit a few with the driver which isn't a strength normally but even these were solid and would have all been on the mown grass. That is the key to winter golf, finding the fairway and bodes well.
The short game and putting have been ignored and I fear these will cancel out a good ball striking round tomorrow but one step at a time. My teaching pro and I have already discussed working on this next and with a lesson booked for November 23rd I won't have long to wait to begin the hard work on this facet. To be honest even with my old swing I was capable of getting it round but I couldn't score around the greens. Homer's Odyssey would have reached home port of single figures a long time ago if I could have chipped and putted better. It is now part psychological and part technical and I don't know what we tackle first, the demons in my head over every chip or the flaky stroke.
What I do know is that my golf is going to be a two prong attack in terms of practice after the short game lesson. The full game still has a lot of work to do and old habits will creep back with alarming speed without due diligence to the changes I've been making. On the flip side, there is a need to get to grips with the short game and winter is the ideal time to do this. I'm happy to substitute playing from time to time to get the short game up to scratch in time for the new season. I just need to be sensible with my time and make sure my practice is done with clear targets and goals.
For now thought I'm like a kid at Christmas. My clubs have been cleaned top and bottom, the bag is packed and I've got my clothes out for the morning. I can't wait to get out there again and even if it goes horribly wrong it is a good barometer as to where I am and what needs looking at. I've done as much preparation as I can and now its time to go out and put it into practice. I'm ready to rock. Bring it on, good bad or indifferent. Apart from anything else it will be good to see the familiar old faces and get involved in the banter again. Tomorrow can't come quickly enough.