Have fun w/life…it’s too short not to.
No one likes to make mistakes…especially me.
So much in the game of golf (as well as in life itself) revolves around positive input and forgiveness. I’ve been pushing myself rather hard lately to earn a USGA Handicap Index… but not just any Handicap Index … one that meets my expectations.
…and my expectations are high.
Here is where I’ve come to an important realization. I play golf. I don’t get “paid” to play golf…I “pay” to play golf. That certainly does not mean I don’t want to play well, I do, but my goals are a bit more realistic when I actually focus on them. I want to play amateur tournaments and I want to be a single handicap competitor. Keeping these goals in mind…here is the realization I’ve come to.
Comparing myself to the guys and gals on television every weekend can be a blessing and a curse. They exhibit exceptional talent and there is much to learn from observation of the games best but here is where the hidden gem lies.
They…just like me experience the dreaded 3 putt, they sometimes have accuracy and control problems, they slice the ball, and they hit the ball into the rough, the cart path, the water hazard, the bunker, and of course the woods. In this aspect, we are the same with the greatest difference being they don’t allow their mistakes to taint their entire days efforts where the amateur like me is more inclined to allow the bad shot to ruin a significant portion of our efforts if not our entire day.
I now allow myself to make mistakes, I accept them, I learn from them, I then put them out of my mind, refocus my efforts, and play on. I forgive myself for not being perfect as perfection in anything we wish to accomplish in life is a TALL order and in all honesty unobtainable.
This is my greatest mental game centric breakthrough to date…and I expect to make more as the game of golf is as mentally challenging as it is physically challenging. The continued drop in my scores is for me verification that I’m on the right track.
Simply put, plan your shot, rehearse your shot, make your shot, accept the outcome of your shot, and repeat the process.
Not all is lost when I make a bad shot…quite the opposite. There is much to gain.
…and don’t forget to “forgive” yourself when you make a mistake.
Today I reached a new personal milestone…breaking through the 50’s to score a 45 on the 9 hole course at Southern Meadows Golf Club.
I also managed to score par on the 115 yard Par 3 second hole and the 86 yard Par 3 fourth hole. I failed to cash in on 4 additional par opportunities by scoring a bogey on the 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th holes. This is the first time I’ve achieved par on more than one hole in a round of play.
My improvements have come primarily from my ability to get on the green in two and reducing my need to 3 putt to close out the hole. One of my proudest moments was my sinking a 35 ft putt on the 115 yard second hole to achieve par. It was by far the best combination of green reading and stroke control of any putting effort I’ve made thus far this season.
To say I’m “over the moon” with this performance is an understatement. To go from shooting high 50’s (with a high of 60) to a mid 40 in my 10th visit to my local 9 hole course exceeded my expectations proving that hard work, dedication, and quality instruction has begun to pay off.
This is no time to let down my guard….it’s time to work harder, play smarter, and continue to develop.
A combination of additional lessons, time spent at the driving range, and increased time on the course has begun to pay off.
My 9 hole scores have dropped from the high 50’s to the low.mid 50’s and I’ve even scored par on a few holes in the process. My Achilles heel remains “topping the ball” based upon my “desire” to break posture and “stand up” during the downswing. This condition usually rears its ugly head when I am in the taller grass just off the fairway, or in the rough with a buried lie. I’m working hard to rectify this condition…and on holes where I would normally score a 8-10 stroke score, I’ve reduced the “damage” to 6 to 7 strokes.
I’m also experimenting with club selection especially on short Par 3 holes and when chipping just off the green. I’m seeking to find a predictable club to shot distance ratio and utilizing a “bump and run” strategy to my advantage. I’ve reduced the number of shots that I power off the opposite side of the green significantly but I sometimes return to old habits. I’ve also struggled a bit with being “under powered” and coming up short but in my and my coaches estimation, these conditions will continue to improve as I develop my “feel” for making shots.
Putting is also improving as I am reducing the amount of 3 putts and I’ve become more accurate and dependable from inside 4 ft. from the hole. Green reading and of course “feel” continues to be a work in progress but my coach has communicated to me I’m mechanically sound…I just need continued practice and experience on the green in competition.
I’m improving…both technically and mentally and I’m enjoying the challenge tremendously. I look forward to my continued development.
2 months after taking possession of my new set of Wilson clubs, I am honored to report that I have earned my 1st USGA Handicap Index.
It was an absolute joy to print out my Handicap Cards issued by the NYS Golf Association and the Rochester District Golf Association.
As I began this undertaking, I expected a Handicap Index in the mid to high 30’s. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a 27.5 Handicap Index after submitting 8 scores. The mission for me now is to continue to practice, improve, and lower my Handicap Index into the low 20’s by years end. This will be a tall order as I have roughly 2 months left in my golfing season but as I continue to improve and work hard….I believe this goal can be achievable.
For now…I’m simply enjoying having earned my 1st USGA Handicap Index and the fact that I exceeded my expectations is quite frankly icing on the cake.
Onwards and upwards…
Tips on how to eliminate the slice ….