Sunday, 13 August 2017

It's Been Manic

Welcome back to an update. I have to start with an humble apology. It's been far too long since my last blog post update. I've been working hard with my youtube channel (Three Off The Tee Channel). If you haven't already, go and check it out and don't forget to subscribe while you are there. It's also been a busy time personally. At work, we have been through a consultation process and I am on a ninety day notice period of redundancy. As you can understand a lot of my focus and spare time has gone into sourcing alternative roles both inside the organisation and out in the big wide world. After ten years in the role it definitely came as a shock!

However, it hasn't completed stopped my golf completely. In a recent video (Martin's Mouthpiece) I announced that the "Quest For Single Figures" was taken a necessary sabbatical following my job news. As I left it my handicap was back to 13.9 which had increased a little from my win in the Centenary Medal at Royal Ascot back in June. However as you'll discover later in this blog, there have been further developments.

If you are a regular follower to my blog, you'll have seen a post I put up last weekend regarding a competition I am running to give away two dozen golf balls of your choice. It doesn't matter where in the world you are, if you subscribe to the youtube channel, enter, give me details of what balls you'd like and are the winner, I'll make sure they get shipped out to you. If you missed it, the blog is here (Competition Time Blog) and there is also a video (naturally) that goes into a bit more detail (Competition Video). There is still time to enter. The final qualifying competition I'm playing is Captain's Day at my club on the 19th and I won't be announcing the winner until my youtube channel reaches 100 subscribers. This is crucial as once this milestone is reached Youtube offers more facilities to bring bigger and better content to you.

I was lucky enough to take part in the Golf Monthly Forum golf days to Sunningdale and New Zealand golf clubs. These are world famous and regularly feature in top 100 UK courses. They really are a different world and the New Zealand in particular is a throwback to a very different era and is a place that really does things their way and in their own time. I've done a taster video that I strongly encourage you to watch (A Sneak Preview - Sunningdale and New Zealand). This forum is a wonderful melting pot of golf related discussion and well worth a look in itself (The Golf Monthly Forum)

I have a full video capturing as much footage as I could obtain coming out soon on my youtube channel which I hope will capture just how magnificent these courses (we played both the Old and New at Sunningdale as well as two rounds at New Zealand) were, the feel of the place and in particular the splendour of both with the heather in full bloom. Each hole really was a photographic opportunity.

The magnificent Sunningdale clubhouse

If you have already watched the competition video (see above link) you'll know by now that things at the New Zealand Golf Club didn't quite go according to plan and I fell a painful victim to the deep and ferocious heather lining every hole. I managed to injure my arm to the point of being unable to swing a club and had to retire. However, I've managed to source a return visit and so I'm desperate to get back there and sample everything it has to offer and hopefully get round all eighteen holes without mishap.

A long time ago at the start of June, (is it really that long?) I was talking about a change in teaching professionals and going back to a guy I'd used a few years back who had got me from 14 to within touching sight of single figures (End Of The Road Blog). We've worked on a new wrist position which was working well while I worked on it in practice. With the job situation, practice has been limited and I have been aware of slipping back into old habits. I had a recent lesson where we worked more on club path, especially after impact and tried to eradicate a flip with the hands that had come into my swing and make sure the path exited better. Again with limited practice, this has been hard to repeat consistently but when it works it has made a big change to strike. I need to go back to Rhys ap Iolo at Downshire Golf Centre and follow this up further as I'm not convinced I've necessarily taken everything on board correctly. The issue I have is he's now booked up working on summer camps for the school holiday and his availability is severely limited.

I also received notification that I had outstanding lessons with the former teaching professional, Andy Piper at Lavender Park Golf Centre. As form has been patchy of late and distance and direction severely compromised in the last few rounds, especially throughout July, I decided to use one of the two remaining lessons. There were old issues with posture (too slumped), stance (too wide) that old chestnut we call tempo (too quick) and not managing to complete the back swing fully. It really is amazing what a quick thirty minute lesson can reveal and fix and it's a huge reason I'm a big advocate of getting regular tuition with a good PGA pro. It's so hard to see these errors for yourself, even at the range and the fixes are usually very simple and gets me hitting better again very quickly.

Are you still with me? Way back in the beginning of this hefty tome, I mentioned the "Martin's Mouthpiece" video and the fact that my "Quest For Single Figures" was being put temporarily out to grass pending my work situation.

Well guess what. There have been changes to that. I am currently enjoying a work trial in another post at the hospital I work at. It's a million miles from recruitment and HR and is more patient focused (in maternity of all areas). There are potentially several other options in the pipeline to consider after this trial concludes at the end of the month. This has meant there has been an air of stability (if short term) and I got back out in recent weeks to work on my game.

Focus has been on the work from my lessons and my strike and dispersion and it had been going well on the practice ground. However the old issue of transferring this to the course remained and July had been sketchy in terms of form. It seemed the decision to put "The Quest" on hold had been a sane one. I have been trying to get out on the course more often rather than ball bashing at a range or on the practice ground. This has really helped in terms of pitching and the work I invested (40 Yard Pitching Challenge) and with bunker play and putting. However getting it off the tee and hitting target when I found fairways has highlighted issues and room for improvement. I've been struggling a little with the injury I sustained in the heather at the New Zealand club and so have been careful not to play or practice too much and give my elbow time to heal properly.

Since my Centenary Medal in June, I had a horror in the June monthly stableford and only got 24 points. My club championship was one to forget with a net 81 only just surviving the halfway cut and the subsequent net 79 in the second round nothing to brighten the soul. As mentioned, I've had a lesson with Andy Piper since then.

Last weekend was the August monthly medal. With form patchy, practice limited and a niggly elbow injury the prognosis wasn't good. I'd played a few holes the night before and it was grim. Old issues meant ball striking and distance were woeful and accuracy, especially off the tee, was poor. Indeed my opening tee shot in the medal was a snap hook that did well to miss the pond, eight yards short and left on the opening par three. I did hit a decent pitch to fifteen feet and was then amazed to see the right to left putt from fifteen feet drop for a par.

Par was salvaged on the next, the par five and I managed to hit a decent drive down the third onto the fairway. In fairness, I felt comfortable and able to work within the limitations of recent form, striking and fitness. Although I put my approach at the third into a bunker right of the green, a bogey seemed the worse scenario. So how come I walked off with an eight? Easy. thin a bunker shot into deep rough, pitch through the green from a horror lie, chip on and take the obligatory three putt.

I may have felt comfortable but I was riding my luck like a frantic gambler on the last table in Vegas. My nemesis hole, the 6th threatened to bite me again big style and having hit two left off the tee, one definitely out of bounds and the first effort potentially suffering the same fate I was five off the tee. Imagine the relief when I walked up to the first one a foot or so inside the course. A decent pitch to ten feet and two putts for a bogey (net par) but it definitely felt like a birdie.

Top be honest the rest of the front nine was played reasonably well, certainly in terms of the scores on the card and a very respectable outward half of 42 saw me bang on handicap despite that eight on the third. I wasn't expecting to start the back nine with a double bogey but my errant drive went right into the deep stuff which is a cardinal error on this hole. I then managed to string some great holes together and played the next four in just two over gross.

I knew it was going better than of late and I did start to feel tight and was struggling not to try and steer the shot. A dropped shot on the par five 15th was a bad mistake and caused by another errant drive, this time hooking low and left. Coming to the penultimate hole, I wanted to just get in without any mistakes. I hit a safe tee shot at this 218 yard par three which finished about ten feet short of the putting surface. I opted to putt but made a woeful attempt and would walk off with a bogey when par was there for the taking.

The last hole is long par five that plays uphill and again I hit a very tight drive going right towards the out of bounds. It stayed in but I was forced to plot my way up the hole. I missed the green with an approach from 121 yards and went left into a bunker some twenty yards short of the green. I think it was a case of avoiding the pond lurking right!. Anyway, I was faced with a long bunker shot and after debating whether to take my 58 degree wedge or go up to the 52 degree, I went for the more lofted club. It came out perfectly, high and straight, pitched a foot beyond the hole and began to spin back. At one point it looked like dropping but left a simple tap in for bogey.

Back in 43 for a total of 85 gross (net 71) and second place in division 2, losing out by a shot. Damn that third hole. With CSS going up to 72 (+2) it was enough to give me a cheeky little 0.6 cut and the handicap is now back to 13 (13.3). The "Quest For Single Figures" is definitely back on. One very happy golfer.

August 2017 medal statistics

Hopefully that brings you fully up to date. Please try and click on the links I've given as I think you'll enjoy the content and I definitely won't leave it as long next time. Going forward, there is a lot of work coming up on my game, a match for the club away to Tylney Park, a Golf Monthly Forum Day in aid of the Help For Heroes charity, Captain's Day and I've qualified for the end of season finale at Royal Ascot, The Masters, a 36 hole medal event and the first time in four years I'll be in the field. Plenty then to be getting on with. Hopefully your own season is going to plan and you're playing well. If not, there is still time before the end of the summer and I'll see you for an update sooner rather than later. Happy golfing

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