Welcome along to the latest update on the Quest For Single Figures. In truth the whole project has been in hiatus for the last month or so and aside from nine holes I managed to play on my own at Royal Ascot (and captured on film here Royal Ascot vlog) I've not managed to set foot on a golf course.
That isn't to say the project has ground to a complete halt. Granted, recuperating from my illness has taken longer than I thought and the virus took far more out of me than anticipated, but I have had another lesson recently again captured in full glory which has proven a valuable reference tool (Live Lesson). My swing is a million miles from where I want it and where it needs to be and despite the changes from the lesson, I am still struggling. Granted, range time has been at a premium and sessions have been few and far between, and coupled with a lack of playing means my swing has lacked tempo and consistency. I've been working hard on the changes from the last lesson and in particular the changes to the back swing and the tighter coil but there still seems to be issues when I start my transition and in particular the shaft seems very upright coming into impact. I can see this producing a number of issues and it's something I've acutely aware of not only in the full swing but in my pitching as well and I need to find a way to shallow everything out and get the club coming in on a flatter angle and more on plane
Again, having said that, at recent range sessions, I've found a "feel" of rotating my hips faster and swinging far more as I did when I was having lessons under a teaching teaching professional, Rhys Ap Iolo and we were working on the Plane Truth swing (Plane Truth) which had a much flatter takeaway and swing and required the club to exit lower and left. Now it's been a long while since I've been down that road but to be honest this "one plane" swing alleviated a lot of the persistent takeaway issues I've been having as it requires a lower and more inside start. Align this to a quicker rotation and it has "felt" much better and ball striking, direction and dispersion seems to have been better.
Again this isn't something I've had a chance to work on fully or take out onto a course and really try other than a game last Saturday with my best friend, Rob Dickman and his mate Yan, who I've had the pleasure of playing with several times before and is a great golfing companion. We played at Kingswood Golf Club, near Banstead in Surrey and it was purely a social round.
It was really an opportunity to get out on the course and playing, with no expectations and no stress, although I did throw an extra ingredient in the mix by deciding to film all of it. Part one of "The Jolly Boys Golfing" is already on my Youtube channel, also called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel). Please get yourself over there, and while you are there, click the subscribe button and hit the notification icon to see all of my video content as it becomes live. Don't forget to give the video a thumbs up and please post any comments you have. Be warned both Rob and Yan have a bit of a potty mouth so it may be advisable to keep away from impressionable children. I've posted a link to part one here (The Jolly Boys "Play Golf - Part One") so go ahead and enjoy. If you are a connoisseur of fine golf swings and expect to see dazzling golf I'm afraid you're in for a huge disappointment. If you want to three guys having a laugh, playing some golf and not taking it or life too seriously, it's a fun way to spend a few minutes of your time.
What I learnt from my Kingswood experience is that my game is so out of sorts. I managed to get it round and indeed managed to cobble something like 34 or 35 points including a lost ball on the seventeenth but in overall terms there were a lot of iffy shots in there and it was more to do with the fact that my handicap currently sits at 14 and so I've plenty of shots to play with. I did manage to course manage my way round well and where I hit poor shots, especially off the tee, I managed to get the ball back in play and by and large get it round functionally. I certainly didn't think it was a good ball striking round and as I've alluded to already, there is much, much work still to be done on my swing to get it somewhere that I can trust on the course and more importantly is repeatable enough to transport my handicap downwards.
All things short game also remain areas requiring huge remedial work and again its something I've simply not been well enough to address in recent weeks. On the positive, the clocks change in a few weeks and light evenings are here and I can be at the club each night after work grinding this away, especially the chipping and pitching. I can also get a few holes in regularly and playing is where it's at for 2017 as I move away from trying to work too much on technical things but simply work on what I've been shown in lessons, work that in on the range and then get out and trust it when I play. If I can spend more time on the course and less time on the range or practice ground I think that I'll be more confident of my game when it comes to qualifying competitions and there shouldn't be any hidden surprises lurking that I've not encountered in the sanctuary of a range mat or practice ground.
I had a road map of what I was going to be working on, what I needed to do and how I was going to make serious changes to my game in preparation for the season and beyond to hit the ground running and get that handicap down from 14 to 12 and achieve my first goal for the year. That has take something of a battering and I didn't plan on spending time in hospital sampling the state of the NHS in the UK in 2017 or for it to take so long to recover. I really feel my game is at least a month behind the others at my club who've been able to play on a fully open course for the last six weeks or so (even if the ground conditions have been wet) and that my short game and everything I needed to be ready has stagnated.
That said, dear reader. it is not all doom and gloom. As mentioned, I feel I've a light bulb moment to work with on the range that I can then take into my next lesson and get that firmed up or tweaked (or written off it it's way off the mark, although it doesn't seem to be). I can get back to my short game work with a clear head. I was beginning to get a head full of chocolate frogs, especially with my pitching and practice was dragged down by technical thoughts and a fear of failure fed and developed by a series of fat, heavy strikes, a steep angle of attack and a sense of frustration. That can be wiped away and the slate is clean once more. I have neglected bunker play and chipping (and that showed at Kingswood) and can start afresh on these areas. My putting seems to be holding firm, although I'm not as consistent on the 2-3 feet putts as I was. This can all be rectified. I do have my eye on a new putter, a Ping Sigma Wolverine although this is on hold for now but is something I feel is really right for me. More on that to follow soon
And there you have the latest update. It's a case of a baby steps forward in terms of practical work in practice and on the course, but with shoots of recovery now in full view. There is an air of optimism in my game once more, galvanised by a game on Saturday that turned out far better than it could have done. I am in a happy and more importantly health place. I have a qualifier this coming Saturday (18th) and while I have no expectations, especially as it's a medal round, it's good to have the season upon me.
I'm not ready. Not by a long way. I am even prepared for the handicap to go out further to 15 in the coming weeks as I get my game in order but I have a steadfast, nay dogmatic, belief in what I can do, what I can produce and what I can achieve. If that means I have to go from 15-12 first then so be it. I can do that. I WILL do that. Once I get back to my 2016 level of 12, I can reassess, see what is that isn't working, take action to improve my weak areas and bolster my strengths and go again. I've always said The Quest For Single Figures is a long term project and may and may not be achieved this year. If not 2017 then maybe next year or the year after. Fear not reader, it is going to happen.
I hope you've enjoyed the latest update and you'll follow me as the season progresses. I hope you managed to view the Youtube offerings and that you enjoyed these as well. Please subscribe to both this blog and the Youtube channel and don't forget to thumbs up the videos and comment on both the blog and the videos. In the meantime, as Spring is upon us and the Masters is on the horizon, let me wish you all well for your own golfing exploits in 2017 and I hope you achieve whatever golfing goals you've set and that you play well, have fun and that the golfing gods treat you well.