Sunday, 26 February 2017

First Ever On Course Video Log - It Was A Bit Breezy

Today I decided to venture out and play a few holes at Royal Ascot and see a) how I felt physically and b) how I played and decided to film my first ever on course vlog. Conditions were really hard and as you can tell when you watch it, the wind was howling and it was very hard going.

I won't spoil it for you but all things considered it went better than I hoped on all counts although it has yet again highlighted my short game woes and it remains a whole facet of the game that's holding me back and is in my head now as well as technically inept. I need to find someone in the Berkshire area who can help as I want a separate pair of eyes on this facet so if anyone knows a short game specialist please post in the comments section of the video. Also, if you like the video don't forget to give it a thumbs up and don't forget to subscribe as well to see more video content.

For now though here's the link to the video and I hope you enjoy my humble offering of a first ever on course vlog in difficult conditions (Royal Ascot Golf Club Vlog). I've learnt a few things doing it, apart from it's hard on your own and you really need a partner to help hold the camera and so I hope the future ones begin to improve in quality. Enjoy

Saturday, 25 February 2017

New Youtube Video

If you are a regular follower, you'll know that there is now a youtube channel that runs in conjunction with this blog which you can find here (Three Off The Tee Website). Please feel free to visit it and if you like what you see don't forget to hit the subscribe button.

There's a new video today. As you'll know from my last blog post, I've had a few health issues recently that necessitated a stay in hospital and I'm struggling now with post viral fatigue. My immune system and body is shot and I'm struggling with tiredness and exhaustion which has laid me low and meant no golf and no practice. I did try to hit balls at the range but I was tired after only a few balls and was forced to give up as there was no way I could have a constructive practice session. The good news is I'm getting better and stronger and so will hopefully be hitting the range again soon. Indeed I've got a lesson booked with Andy Piper at Lavender Golf Centre in Ascot on Wednesday and so hopefully I can get my swing on track and can then crack on and work on my game and get back on the course.

Anyway, I digress (as is the norm) and back the video. I've done a "what's in the bag" but not the standard version, looking at what clubs I use. This features my practice bag. As a regular reader (as you should be by now!) you'll know I love my lessons and then getting out and working on my game. Some may say I do too much work on my game. They may have a point but it's what I like and I feel it still benefits me when I get on the course so for now I'm sticking with it. Over the years I've accumulated many training aids and gadgets hoping they'd help improve my game. Sadly, many have been a waste of time and not given what the blurb promised and so have been quickly discarded. However there are some that have stood the test of time and have been in the practice bag for a while and there are one or two recent additions.

What's In The Practice Bag?
This video explains what they are, how they work and what they've done for my game and includes a few links to other websites or youtube videos to give you further information. I hope you find it useful and informative and that there may be one or two things in the bag that may hope your own practice. The video can be found here (What's In The Bag). Enjoy it and don't forget to click the subscribe button to view my future video content and if you have any comments about the video (or any of the other ones already there) please feel free to put them in the box below the video.

Hopefully with the better weather (in the UK at least) on the way and the start of the season imminent, along with the Masters being around the corner, I can get out and play and practice again soon and make up for lost time. I'll be recording my progress here and on youtube for your entertainment (the road to single figures has already had many, many ups and downs to date and there's sure to be more). In the meantime, watch the video.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Quest For Single Figures 2017 - Update

This is the third (or is it fourth) time I've sat down to compose my latest blog to update you on "The Quest For Single Figures" but life has had more twists lately than the latest John Grisham thriller. It's been a real roller coaster and sadly news is not good. If you read my trials and tribulations on a regular basis you'll know that last February I was hospitalised ( which totally put back a fine Winter of work on my game, and with which, if I suffered the lingering effects all season, I wrote last year off as a result, but which was acting as an inspiration going forward in 2017, doubly determined to get back to a starting point of 12 and then crashing through to single figures.

I even played last weekend (Saturday 4th February) in my first competition of the year, on a fully open course. More of which in the reams to follow. It was actually looking rather positive. The bad news is I was then hospitalised on Sunday, and kept in for two days with what was initially thought to be pneumonia but was thankfully diagnosed as severe influenza. Not your man flu variety. This was the real thing and not something I'd wish on anyone, anywhere. It's knocked me sideways and then some. On the upside, I'm now recuperating at home. On the negative, there will be no golf or practice in the foreseeable future. Yet again, as last year, all forward momentum has stopped dead in its tracks. That isn't to say the "Quest For Single Figures" is dead in the water. No chance. Not for a single moment. It may take a tad longer in 2017 to kick back to 12 and then down again, but once fully recuperated  and fighting fit, I'm going to be chomping at the bit, to get out and work on my game and play again, and SO fired up to get going. It could be a potent mix

Aside from all of the above, it's been a funny old time lately. We've experienced some wet conditions and some sub-zero temperatures recently which has done little to entice me onto a golf course. As you may be aware, I am now live on Youtube on a channel also called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel link) which has received some rather pleasing comments and already opened one or two doors for some future content and opportunities. It's also taken more time to get sorted than I thought being something of technical luddite but now it's up and running with some decent content to peruse, please avail yourself and don't forget to click the subscribe button while you are there.

As you will know from my post on here (and the live lesson video -  Live Lesson) I had a swing MOT recently with Andy Piper at Lavender Golf Centre. It was a productive session with one or two points to go away and work on, particularly with the driver which hasn't been behaving as well as I'd have liked. Also, there had been issues with my irons and in particular a lack of hip rotation and more of a slide. I had such cunning plans in my head to diligently hit the local range and work on these issues, but having braved the elements on the way home from work, there was no way I was standing on a freezing cold range, "Quest For Single Figures" or not. That said, I managed to finally summon the enthusiasm, as I knew I had to get out and playing more, having only played once in 2017 and not particularly successfully. As practice sessions go, this one was rather pleasing and there was a lot of good stuff, both with my irons and also the driver and I was looking forward to playing in the Saturday roll up.

Royal Ascot Golf Club has been on temporary greens for a while as the daily frosts have done their work and the greens had been frozen, not just on the surface but deep into the root. It was thus on Saturday too and as a rule I hate, no loathe, playing on temporary greens and would rather practice elsewhere than traipse around a course to tiny greens cut on the edges of fairways. Even more so when there is rain forecast. However I rocked up as planned and despite a rogue shower, predictably as I stood on the first tee to play my opening shot, we got away with it. The rain didn't last long and all in all the conditions were rather agreeable for the time of year.

I actually played okay for my 34 points. Nothing too spectacular but the driver was very good for me, hitting 8/12 fairways. I had two really bad drives on the tenth and eighteenth but other than that it was working well and my distances for the time of year were quite pleasing. On the down side, and as you'll know if you're a regular reader, there is normally a down side, my irons weren't as good. In fact they were rather disappointing and I couldn't replicate what I'd done the night before in practice in any shape or form. I got it round with them, but maybe only a couple of my iron shots left a satisfying feeling after I hit them. Akin to that I was trying to battle on with a more conventional pitching technique which is something I've dallied with over the winter period. It wasn't functional. It didn't work.

All that being said, I had one horror hole, the seventeenth where I hooked a tee shot out of bounds but other than that, and bearing in mind firing to temporary greens is always far more fiddly than a normal approach, I moved the ball round. I didn't have too many swing thoughts in my head, a step forward in itself and really enjoyed the company of my playing partners. That bodes well for the season and I just need to have clarity of thought in the next competition.

So far so good then. Progress being made, even if the chance to get handicap cuts have yet to materialise. I didn't have a chance to play on the Sunday (Jan 29th) but took myself to the practice ground early with the intention of working on my irons and in particular the takeaway which is still to far outside the line and disconnected as you'll see in the early shots on the live lesson footage.

This is when I find golf such a frustrating, nay gut clenching annoying game. I know what I am trying to do. I can do it in rehearsal and take the practice swing back nicely. Stick club behind the ball, stick a camera on to capture it and lo, old habits manifest and I'm constantly fighting the club to get it back and through in a way to propel the ball somewhere near target. It was not a good session as you'll see from the latest upload on the Youtube channel. Get over and see what you think. Better still comment below the video and let me know what you think.

I had two goals for the practice session, to work on the stuff from the lesson and also do some work on my pitching. This had been excruciatingly bad the day before and has been a constant theme on here. I've tried, heavens know I've tried, to pitch conventionally. My efforts though are so poor and I look like a volt of electricity is passing through me with each one. So out of sync, so poor technically, especially in terms of arms and body rotating together and if I am being brutally honest, I have zero confidence with it on the course.

I prefer the linear method (search on the blog and you'll see plenty on this) and as you can see from the practice footage, I reverted to this part way through. Now bearing in mind I haven't tried this for several months and taking out the first effort which was fat and horrid, you'll see the difference in the quality of strike and distance control between this and my "normal" efforts which is the proverbial chalk and cheese.

All in all it wasn't my greatest session. With heavy rain forecast, I always felt I was on a deadline and feel that everything I did felt rushed. My tempo in the long swing was much quicker than my lesson and even quicker than it had been on the course the day before. That's always an issue for me and along with the club initially travelling away from my body and the target line is a bad start to any swing.

As I mentioned what will have seemed hours ago, I managed to play in the monthly stableford which was last weekend (February 4th). I was already feeling unwell, having struggled in work on the Friday with what I assumed was a simple cold. How wrong I was. Anyway, that aside, I managed a solid 34 points which gave me a 6th place finish in division two. I haven't played much as I've said and practice hadn't been going as well as I'd hoped since my swing MOT lesson. Some range sessions had given tantalising moments of hope and others, especially on camera, clearly highlighted there is much to work on.

The driver worked a treat. Surprising but what a difference the game is playing from short grass regularly. I wasn't swinging well and the warm up hadn't gone well. I started with an ugly double, an outrageous putt to salvage par after a dodgy pitch, using the linear method at the second and repeated the feat at the fourth having gone over the green with an approach from 105 yards. There were hiccups including a nasty three putt at the eighth having hit the green on the 139 yard par three. I found the fairway on the ninth, blocked my approach right and left a downhill lie, off a bare muddy lie over a bunker to a short sided flag. It was fraught with danger and I panicked and thinned it over the green for a book-end double bogey to match the one at the opening hole.

February 2017 statistics

For the second weekend running I missed the 10th hole well to the right. I was fortunate to find a lie, get it forward and make a net par. I was missing a lot of greens but found one at the 186 yard 13th for a solid par and my back nine was ticking over nicely. I was finding a way to score which is something I've been harping on about for ages. Not swinging well (driver aside) and still scoring. Progress!!!!!

Alas dear reader there always seems to be a sting in the tail and today would be no different. Many of you will know that I've struggled in the last few seasons with killer holes, real horror shows from nowhere to blight otherwise acceptable rounds. I stood on the last, knowing that a par five would give me solid 36 points. I hit another fairway. Step one completed. The second was uphill but I was hitting directly into the sun. I thought I actually made a good swing, but never saw it leave the club face. Sadly my playing partners did and all said it had gone straight right into territory where nasty creatures may lie. I never found it and ended the back nine with a double bogey. At least there was a degree of symmetry. Had I made 36 points I would perhaps squeezed into a top three spot, not bad for an opening salvo, especially given how I felt. On the day, I was always going to be short of the division winner on 40 points and second place on 38. I'll take my top six though and no handicap damage, but no cut either.

I'm feeling an air of urgency. Time is passing me by and I've played such little golf, only twice on a full course. I've only had one lesson all winter. The work I do on the range IS showing some forward movement but I've simply not had a chance to play and translate this to the course often enough. I have started to do some NLP work to get the sub-conscious mind working better for me but again I've not had a chance to test this with card and pencil in hand often enough..

And so dear reader there you have it. As always, nothing is straightforward and it's another roller coaster ride. Sadly, at the moment I am under strict doctors orders to remain in the warm, rest and recuperate and have been warned it could be another 3-4 weeks before I am fully recovered. That means for now, absolutely no playing and no range time. To be honest as I sit here typing, I have zero energy anyway. As I get better, I have some plans to utilise some of my putting aids and at least work on my stroke. I will also be doing an unusual "what's in the bag" once I can talk into a camera without constant coughing, which will be up on my Youtube channel in the next week or so. Please take pity on this poor invalid and check it out when it arrives.

It wasn't quite the blog I wanted to be writing, and having to have redo several parts, several times, but it is what it is and it's something I have to deal with and come back from fitter and stronger. I'll learn the lessons from my issues last year and ensure I am playing and working on my game from a stronger staring point in terms of my health. On the plus side, at least the warmer weather and longer nights will be close to hand. I'll be back and this "Quest For Single Figures" ain't over my a long chalk