Monday, 2 March 2015

What About Me?

Despite recent posts about Woods and testing the latest Titleist gear, there has been very little mention on here about my own golf and my pursuit of the golfing nirvana of a single figure handicap in 2015. In truth there hasn't been a whole lot going on, certainly in terms of individual performances and certainly no qualifying events to affect my handicap.

However fear not. There has been plenty of other activity. I've been playing in the Winter knockout at Royal Ascot Golf Club. I've got a new partner this year, as my previous partner inconveniently decided to move house and joined a club much closer to home. To be fair, the course he's at, Blackmoor in Hampshire is a gem. A heathland course it has some testing greens and is a tricky layout. If I lived closer, then I'd be considering it. However out with the old and in with the new and my new wing man Adam O'Neil playing off a dangerous fourteen handicap has been a revelation.

In our third round game we had a difficult looking game. In the end, our opposition were sorely out of touch and we managed to run out comfortable 4&2 winners to book a quarter final berth. In the end, that match was a bridge too far and we were trounced by a very efficient pairing. Truth be told we didn't really gel on the day and didn't make enough putts at crucial times. As I'd never progressed beyond round two before this was a new experience. We've definitely sown some healthy seeds and there is much potential in our partnership.

Away from that, I've been showing now healthy shoots of progress myself. I've been playing some nice golf in our usual weekend roll ups. I've managed to take some money from the Saturday crowd. Practice has been going well too and I've been focused more on tempo than anything too technical and it is paying dividends. It hasn't all been milk and honey and I'm still making errors on the course. In terms of the short game, I've reverted to the linear method (http://threeoffthetee.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/chipping-linear-method.html) and to be honest, I'm finding it consistent and reliable especially off the tricky, muddy wet ground around the greens. Winter golf.. Don't you love it.  It isn't how I'd like to chip and have always considered myself an orthodox player but I am struggling with conventional methods and seem to fill the head with too many thoughts. The linear way lets me make a bigger move and to be honest I can control it a lot easier. With my par scrambling figure for the season to date around 31% compared to 16% for the whole of 2014 and you can see my issue. Stick with something a little way out, not widely taught but clearly working or try and knuckle down and chip in a more conventional manner. The idea for my 2015 season is KISS (keep it simple stupid).

At the range I'm working much harder on the fundamentals, especially my address position. I was getting the shoulders too far forward over my shoes and not giving myself room to turn properly. Stand taller and I can make a fuller turn. So basic but so easy to slip into bad habits and so hard to spot if you aren't working on the basics all of the time. I'm happy with the work I'm doing in practice. There's much to do especially in the bunker, around the green and putting but with the facilities at the course sometimes being shut for frost, time has been short. We are officially in Spring now and so it won't be long before I can invest an hour a night after work. Nearly there.

I managed to get my ugly mug in the latest issue of Golf Monthly magazine. Sorry for those of a nervous disposition but it isn't a flattering shot! It was a piece following up the day I spent at The Grove in Watford working on New Golf Thinking (http://threeoffthetee.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-secret-is-out.html). It really has been a worthwhile exercise and is a great tool for helping clear my mind before a shot. It can also help stop the "downward spiral" where one bad shot leads to another and then another. In all there are seven techniques to utilise and it's available on Kindle or in paperback via Amazon. The piece in the magazine was a follow up to see if any of the test panel were still using the system and how had they found it. The author John O'Keeffe took to Twitter too (https://twitter.com/NewGolfThinking/status/571675619429355520). I have found it excellent. It has really cleared my mind on the course, given me clarity and the ability to cope with bad shots.

The new season is nearly upon us, certainly here in the UK. I've got a stableford event on Sunday, a day out at Blackmoor on the 11th with the Golf Monthly Forum, the Jack Jarrett Trophy (a pairs stableford event, combined scores, and I'm having to use another partner as Adam is away), and then the first medal of the year at Royal Ascot. Plenty to be getting my teeth into. That will show how much the Winter work has helped and I'm hoping for a fast start of the current 11.8 handicap and down to that elusive single figure mark.

I'm convinced I can do it and recent form has shown that it's in there. I've played well under pressure and made some good scores but have still thrown one or two bad holes in these rounds so that needs to be eradicated. It's a problem that blighted my game last year and is something New Golf Thinking will hopefully help stop. I need to. So many potential cuts or handicap buffer zones were tossed aside last season with bad shots at the wrong time. Not in 2015.

It might have seemed that it's been quiet but rest assured I'm working hard behind the scenes. Constructive practice, not just bashing balls and working hard on the building blocks of the swing. I've worked hard on path and keeping the club in front of me and not getting trapped and having seen it on video after a recent lesson, it is coming. There are still several idiosyncrasies that I don't think will ever go entirely but I've built a swing around those. I can trust it and it seems to be more robust and repeatable. Let the new season play out and see where it takes me!

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