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a new golfers journey through the first two months so far....... - Page 7

post #109 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lihu View Post
 

Great job on the 77.

 

You need to add a swing thread, and if you have previous videos of your swing put them on so we can see the progression.

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

 

Thanks.  Unfortunately I do not have any updated videos of my swing but I will try to have one of my friends take one during one of my rounds this weekend so I can upload it.  Something that has really helped my ball striking lately and has really helped my accuracy of my iron shots have been an adjustment I make at setup.  That change has been to make sure that my spine angle is straight with my butt out and most importantly that my spine angle is angled slightly away from the target.  What this does is makes my left shoulder a little higher than my right shoulder and in turn this allows me to stay much more connected in my swing and keeps my right arm tight up against my side instead of having a flying right elbow.  I have found that the ball goes much further and higher when I do this.  This has also stopped pretty much any casting at all as well.  I just make sure to swing slowly and make a full turn on the backswing and everything flows so much better.  Keeping a smooth tempo is key though as if you rush things like this then it's easy to mishit the ball.  It's amazing that when I properly set up and keep a smooth tempo, I am able to hit the ball longer, higher, and more accurately while swinging with much less power than I was say a year ago or so. 

 

I'm no expert but doing this has really helped me improve my ball striking.

post #110 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjwestner View Post
 

 

 

Thanks.  Unfortunately I do not have any updated videos of my swing but I will try to have one of my friends take one during one of my rounds this weekend so I can upload it.  Something that has really helped my ball striking lately and has really helped my accuracy of my iron shots have been an adjustment I make at setup.  That change has been to make sure that my spine angle is straight with my butt out and most importantly that my spine angle is angled slightly away from the target.  What this does is makes my left shoulder a little higher than my right shoulder and in turn this allows me to stay much more connected in my swing and keeps my right arm tight up against my side instead of having a flying right elbow.  I have found that the ball goes much further and higher when I do this.  This has also stopped pretty much any casting at all as well.  I just make sure to swing slowly and make a full turn on the backswing and everything flows so much better.  Keeping a smooth tempo is key though as if you rush things like this then it's easy to mishit the ball.  It's amazing that when I properly set up and keep a smooth tempo, I am able to hit the ball longer, higher, and more accurately while swinging with much less power than I was say a year ago or so. 

 

I'm no expert but doing this has really helped me improve my ball striking.

 

I noticed the same thing about slowing down my back swing, if only I could remember to do it all the time.

post #111 of 124
Thread Starter 

As stupid as it sounds, I find that I do not always end up setting up correctly.  By this I mean that I do not match the face of the club to exactly where I want to go with it.  I have lately started taking more time and making sure that the swing path and the face of my club is set up where I want it to be instead of just the "general direction".  I know this sounds really dumb but I guess I play really fast as do my regular playing partners and over time I've realized that I should take some more time before the shot to make sure that things are aligned the way I want. 

 

Too many times myself and my regular playing partners get into a rhythm and get too quick and not put enough time and focus into set up before the shot.  I guess for a while this was not an issue with me because I was not precise enough for this to be that much of an issue, especially when factoring what kind of lie I had and how I wanted to shape the ball......now that I have more control than I did before and am able to shape some shots and such, just quickly lining things up and hoping to hit it straight is not good enough, I need to take just a bit more time to make sure that I can execute on the shot I want to hit.

 

In other news, I purchased a new golf club.  I ordered the TM Mini Driver and it arrived last night.  I plan to replace my current 3 wood with the mini.  Previously I was hitting my 3W okay but not as good as I probably should off the tee as I only hit a few tee shots per round with it.  I also don't use it that much off the deck.  I liked the sound of having a 260cc wood instead of my 3W which was only like 170cc or something.  Anyways, it arrived yesterday and I went to the range last night.  I've purchased many golf clubs in my day and this mini driver was by far and away the best club I've ever first hit with.  I had immediate control and could shape shots right, left, and straight.  What amazed me the most was the distance that I was getting.  It was almost as long as my driver.  I did not do measurements but I'd say that on average there is maybe a 10-15 yard difference if that and sometimes I was hitting the mini just as far as my driver (my average drive is between 240-250).

 

While the mini is not adjustable, I am not upset by this at all.  As long as I continue to hit the way I did last night then I'm very pleased with it as it is so much easier to control versus my driver.  I drive the ball pretty well too, as my FIR for the YTD is almost 66.7%.  It's just that sometimes I end up in situations where I HAD to be in the fairway and instead I was just in the rough and that totally changes the hole.  It's too early for me to do a review of the mini but I will do one after I get a few rounds in. 

post #112 of 124
Thread Starter 

Sorry I have not posted in almost 5 weeks, have been busy at work.  My golf game is still progressing and I continue to improve.  Currently my official hc is 7.0 and it's 6.9L.  Over the last 20 rounds I have averaged 50% GIR which has been great, I continue to hit balls at least once during the week and as I continue to do that along with playing at least two rounds per week, ball striking is continuing to improve. 

 

My priority in 2014 was short game and I have come a long way since the start of the year.  I still have a long way to go though.  My scrambling percentage is around 25% and my up/down percentage is only marginally better at about 30-35%.  I know this is very low and that's why I am working on it as much as I can.  Amazingly I've already improved quite a bit in 2014 with my short game which is testament to how bad it was coming into the year. 

 

I'm at a point now where I am around virtually every green in regulation with a few expections here and there.  I'm hitting about 50% of the GIR so the other 50% of the time I am usually around the green in regulation but I'm only coverting a fourth of those as per my scrambling numbers.  All of this tells me that I have a lot of room to improve still and believe that I can.  It's just a matter of practice and repitition and to get the feel of certain shots down. 

 

The area that has been the slowest area of my game to improve has been those shots that you cannot really practice on the range and can only do during a round.  Odd lies, downhill, side-hill, things like that.  I've played 53 rounds of golf to date and that would be much higher but because of the terrible weather this winter, I was not able to play much at all at the beginning of the year.  Last year I got in 92 rounds and played probably closer to 100 when you include the various scrambles and things like those that I played in but did not count as a score for me.  I'm not sure if I will get to play quite as many this year because of last winter but we are getting to "peak season" so I may try to play an extra round during the week. 

post #113 of 124
Thread Starter 

Update - the last 20 rounds have easily been the best stretch of golf that I have every played.  From 6/8/14 through 8/3/14 I played those 20 rounds.  Currently my hc is officially 6.6 and is trending at 6.6L.  There was a point in time earlier in the season when I thought that I should be making more birdies than I was.  My friends told me that they would come as the weather improved and they were right.  Over the last 20 rounds I have had 14 birdies and 1 eagle while having 8 double bogeys.  I am getting par or better 56.4% of the time over that stretch.

 

I continue to work on my short game and it is improving.  Yesterday was the best example of it.  I had an off day with my ball striking in weather that was wet/rainy and hit just 5 GIR....I still ended up shooting 79 though because my scrambling % was 46.2%, a new record for me.

 

I recently realized that to improve on my scores in addition to continuous improvement on my short game, I needed to get closer to the hole with my approach shots.  I did not/do not think that the speedblade irons are getting me as close as I could be.  I wanted clubs that I had more control with as well since I am getting better and better at shaping shots.  So I obtained a set of Bridgestone J40 irons, the 4-6 are the dual pocket cavity while the 7-PW are cavity backs.  The lofts on the new irons are much weaker so I was/am losing distance but believe that I am much more accurate.  I find that the Speedblades tend to balloon a bit on me and I do not seem to have that problem with the new irons. 

 

I only have 3 rounds with the new irons though and had trouble this past weekend getting out of the wet rough with the new irons.  They do not have as much forgiveness as the Speedblades and definitely do not have as much distance.  I am about a club shorter with the new irons.  I talked to the PGA pro at my country club and he is going to make adjustments to them to give me a bit more distance.

 

So I was kind of disappointed with my ball striking with the new irons this past weekend but still managed to shoot 79 both days and it was because my short game compensated.  Yesterday I set a new record for myself with just 28 putts.  I'm sure that part of my struggles was that I am not used to the new irons yet.  Specifically I just had issues getting the ball out of the wet rough where as I did not have that problem with the speedblades.  When I played my first round with the new irons last Thursday it was in the afternoon and not wet out, thus there were no issues with the rough.  I never had so many birdie chances under 15 feet in a round then I did last Thursday afternoon.  The control was so much better with the new irons.

 

I've reached out to friends to get their opinion on whether I should make the iron change or not?  It was about a 50/50 split.  Some said I was stupid for switching to an iron that is harder to hit.  Some said that I would need to make that change at some point anyway and why not now?  I decided that I needed to at least try to change because I could tell that I hit the Bridgestones more accurately than the Speedblades.  I had much more control despite the fact that there was not as much forgiveness built in.  After playing with forged irons for a few rounds now it feels so much better.  I am hoping that strengthening the loft on the new irons a couple of degrees will make the loss of distance not quite as severe and hopefully I will get better and better at hitting them.  The way I see it is that I will likely have to make a change at some point so why not now?  I am told that the irons are made for single digit handicappers and I am in the mid single digits. 

 

Finally I was getting to a point where I could not hit that many more greens than I was.  That's not to say I cannot improve my ball strinking, I can and hope to, it's just that I looked at it as I needed to be in closer proximity, have better control, better accuracy, and have options to shape shots that I did not have with the Speedblades.  Yes it sucks losing distance but I'm willing to do that if I can be closer and it seems that it is the case as while my GIR are a bit down over the three rounds I've played with the J40's (7.3 GIR per round), my birdies are over one per round as I have 4 in the three rounds with the J40's and if not for playing on such a crappy course last Thursday with poor greens, may have had many more.

post #114 of 124
Thread Starter 

Update - played twice this past weekend, once on Sat and once on Sunday morning, both rounds at my country club.  I also made an appointment coming up this Thursday to meet with a former PGA golfer who works at a local golf park so I can get my Bridgestone irons bent/set to my optimal specs.  I do not know what those specs are but I guess we'll find out on Thursday night.

 

The greens at my club which are usually very well kept and fast had been a bit on the slow side for the last few weeks.  The Maryland Mid-Amateur is being held today and tomorrow at my country club so we could tell on Saturday that the greens were being sped back up to normal if not quicker for the tournament.  My putting has been very good lately especially with this new Bridgestone True Balance TD-02 putter with the steel shaft.  Over the last 5 rounds I've averaged under 31 putts per round.

 

I did not play that great nor that poor this weekend.  I shot 80 on Saturday and tied my best effort yesterday with a 77.  I was lucky though on the last hole a par 5, 18th I pitched in from about 30 yards out and under a tree with my 4th shot for birdie.  It was a lucky shot and as much as I'd like to try to say that it's because of my work on my short game which I have been working on a lot this year, it was mostly probably just a lucky shot. 

 

I'm hoping to figure out soon which irons will be in my bag moving forward.  Although the Bridgestones are harder to hit as a whole, the 7-PW which are cavity backs are not much harder at all.  I am thinking that I probably should have got the whole set in cavity backs instead of getting the 4-6 in dual pocket cavity backs because I think the cb's are easier to hit due to the wider sole even though they are supposed to be less forgiving.  I'm not that pleased with the 4-6 shot shape of the Bridgestones but am pleased with the 7-PW trajectory and accuracy over the speedblades. 

 

On Saturday there was a prime example of the lack of consistency that I've noticed sometimes with the SB's.  I was 115 out and was shooting from the fairway uphill to a green with a back flag.  I planned to fly the ball 120 uphill with a PW, not a problem for me with the SB's.  I took a 3/4 swing and the ball was an uphill hook lie.  My partners were near the green which is important because the ball ended up 30 yards past the back of the green.  I thought I must have hit a sprinkler but they confirmed that was not the case at all.  When I got to the range on Saturday morning the 9 iron on the range was flying 150 which was too much.  Part of it I'm sure was the contrast from hitting the SB's again where I had not done so in a while and part of it may be that I am hitting it further because I went from hitting a harder club to hit to an easier club to hit.  I noticed that the additional offset caused me to pull the ball a bit more and I had to make an adjustment Saturday morning but I was able to fix that before I tee'd off. 

 

I've flattened out my swing a bit this year and part of this was from my set up which has my spine angle away from the target and my left shoulder higher than my right.  This has caused me to not take heavy divits and become more of a picker of the ball.  I'm wondering if this is the issue I'm having with the longer Bridgestone irons?  I'm excited to go to this guy later in the week as I'll know for sure that the clubs will be at the best possible specs for my swing

post #115 of 124
Thread Starter 

After a round on Saturday and then a round on Sunday, both at my country club, my hc is officially at 6.4 and trending at 6.4L.  I shot 79 both rounds this past weekend.  I also made some changes to what is in the bag.  In an effort to better space out my wedges, I bought a 46 degree Cleveland 588 cb pitching wedge and a 52 degree too.  I then have a 58 degree Cleveland smart sole wedge and a 42 degree one that I really don't use that much but have kept in the bag for the one or two times per round I need to use it's versatility.  Those RTX wedges are awesome.  The spin that they put on the ball is the best of any wedge I've seen. 

 

I've been going back and forth between using the Bridgestone J40 irons and the Speedblades.  On Sat I used the J40's and yesterday I used the Speedblades.  On Saturday I did not have a birdie all day long but had 11 pars and just 7 bogeys.  Sunday was a more up and down type of round but ultimately the same score.  I had 1 double, 3 birdies, 8 bogeys, and 6 pars.  My putter has been on fire lately and this was especially the case yesterday where I had 17 putts on the front and just 13 on the back including 5 one putts on the back nine.  The putter is still the "Snedeker" putter, the Bridgestone True Balance TD-02.  The first birdie I had yesterday was under one foot out from the hole due to such a great shot with that new PW.  The other two birdies, on 13 and 14 were both 20 plus footers that I drained.  I made several other clutch putts with the putter yesterday on #11, a par 3 where I lost a ball (we all agreed it landed clearly in bounds but could not be found).  I took a penalty and hit my third shot to 15+ feet out where I drained the putt to save a bogey that could have been easily back to back double bogeys. 

 

I don't play matches often but agreed to play a fellow club member yesterday for breakfast.  I gave him 7 strokes (he's about a 13 hc and I'm a 6.4).  I ended up having to buy breakfast but did not mind as he played well, shooting an 84 while I shot 79. 

 

I continue to work on short game and it's improving but I still have a long way to go.  My scrambling percentage over the last 20 rounds is only at ~30% and my up and down percentage is only marginally higher than that.  I've been making more birdies which is good as that was a concern that I had not too long ago.  I'm still improving, although the handicap is dropping at a much slower rate than it was before but this was somewhat expected. 

 

I wish I could decide and stick with one set of irons instead of going back and forth like I am doing now between the J40's and the Speedblades.  I will get to a point where I'm confident with the J40's and then lose confidence that I am not good enough to play them consistently and go back to the SB's, only to eventually want more accuracy and go back to the J40's.  It does not seem to be affecting my scores at all so I guess that's good, but I'm sure it would be better to pick one set and just play that. 

 

My bag now looks like this:

 

driver:              Titleist 910 D2 - this club has been in my bag the longest and is not going anywhere anytime soon, unless it's because I buy a 913

3 wood:           Taylormade SLDR S Mini Driver, 16 degree loft

Hybrid:            3 hybrid, Taylormade R11, 18 degrees

Irons:              keep going back and forth between 4-9 with either Taylormade Speedblades or Bridgestone J40 combo dpc/cavity back with Project X 5.0 flighted shafts

PW:               Cleveland 588 rtx cb, 46 degree

UW:               Cleveland 42 degree smart sole (C)

GW:               Cleveland 588 rtx cb, 52 degree

LW:                Cleveland 58 degree smart sole (S)

putter:            Bridgestone True Balance TD-02

ball:               Bridgestone B330 RXS

bag:               Silver Bridgestone Mini-Staff

post #116 of 124
Thread Starter 

Update:  I've been continuing to hit balls twice during the week and then spending about two hours or so on Friday nights working on short game.  I was able to play quite a bit of golf in the last week as I played last Wednesday morning before work, and then played a round on Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday the holiday.  The greens at my country club were aerated about three weeks ago but they have been healing very quick which has been good.  They are not quite back to where they were but are getting better and better each day. 

 

After the most recent hc revision, my hc is officially at 6.3.  After 4 rounds in 6 days, my hc is trending at 6.1L.  I've felt for a while that I've had a "breakout" round somewhere in me that was about to come out and it may have been yesterday.  Previous to yesterday, my best score ever was 77 which I have shot a few times at my club (5 over).  Yesterday I shot a 3 over par 75.  I'm not being modest either when I say that nothing really spectacular happened.  I had only one birdie.  If anything I was a bit unlucky as there were several birdie putts that hit the lip of the cup and did not go in.  I started yesterday with 9 straight pars for a 36 on the front nine, then I went bogey, bogey, bogey before I played the final 6 holes in even par for a back nine of 39.  I had 9 FIR, 13 GIR, and 34 putts.  Of my four bogeys there was just one of them where my par putt did not at least hit the lip of the hole.  IT was definitely the best day of ball striking I can remember and my putting was pretty solid too.  Although I had so many putts that lipped out I thought my putting was very good as I was consistent throughout the day executed well with my putter.

 

I was only 1 out of 5 scrambling, but I played better than that number as I hit the hole so many times and could have easily been 4 out of 5.  So the short game work that I continue to work in seems to be improving still.  I've finally settled on wedges and spaced them out accordingly.....I got ride of the smart sole Cleveland Chipper as I was not using it that much at all.  I now have the 46 degree Cleveland 588 RTX CB PW, the same wedge in a 50 degree gap wedge, a 56 degree SW, and a 58 degree Cleveland Smart Sole "sand" wedge that I use as a lob wedge.  The 56 and 58 are close but not close in distance as I never hit the 58 degree more than 50 yards or so.

 

Obviously I'm pleased that I set a new personal best by two strokes but at the same time I'm hungry because I know that yesterday could have been much better if a few putts had dropped.  I was hitting the hole all day long and it was just a matter of some luck here or there by saving a few more pars or getting a few more birdie putts to drop.  I don't measure exact proximity to the hole but I felt that I left myself many good options for birdie putts to go and only one of them fell so I know that on a different day I could easily drop a few more.

 

We are basically in peak golf season now....less than 2 and a half months until the handicap season ends in Maryland.  The greens at my club should be back to 100% by next weekend.  I figure that there is probably about 20 rounds or so left in the handicap season for me.  I'm playing as good as I have ever and hopefully will get better still.  I'd like to set a goal of some sort to reach between now and November 15 but that's difficult because I'm getting to the point where a round like yesterday I can only play so good and the rest is just a matter of if putts drop or not.  I still work on my putting a few hours each week at home using the puttist and will continue, but there is less and less "fat" that can be chopped off my game so it's hard to know what is an appropriate goal.

 

Over the last 20 rounds, I've been 65.4% FIR, 52.2% GIR, 32.9 putts per round, 29.8% scrambling, and par or better 58.6% of the holes.

post #117 of 124

I was wondering where this thread went as I was following it awhile back. You have made tremendous progress. I skipped a few pages though to see where you were.

 

So a couple of questions I have.

 

Did you finally get lessons? If so with how and what changes were made?

 

When you started golfing - what struggles did you encounter and what was your biggest challenge. 

 

I am new to the game. Well not new but ;like you before you got serious just hacked around and never really played with a good swing. But now I am determined -  balls a days for the next months. I want to spend my winter honing my swing.

 

Thanks and keep up the work. You would break par at this rate :-D

post #118 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Loz View Post
 

I was wondering where this thread went as I was following it awhile back. You have made tremendous progress. I skipped a few pages though to see where you were.

 

So a couple of questions I have.

 

Did you finally get lessons? If so with how and what changes were made?

 

When you started golfing - what struggles did you encounter and what was your biggest challenge. 

 

I am new to the game. Well not new but ;like you before you got serious just hacked around and never really played with a good swing. But now I am determined -  balls a days for the next months. I want to spend my winter honing my swing.

 

Thanks and keep up the work. You would break par at this rate :-D

 

Thanks for the kind words Will....good luck with your game!  Golf is unlike many sports in that almost everyone can hit a shot that a pro would hit and does so from time to time.  The difference is that the pro's hit those shots consistently while amateurs hit those shots with less consistency.  It's not like basketball where everyone dunks at some point and the consistency of dunking improves in the pro's.  Even golfers that are 20+ handicaps hit holes in one every once in a while.

 

When I first started golfing I realized that the most important thing was to be able to have the hand/eye coordination to be able to put the sweet spot of the club on the back of the ball every time.  Many people told me to get lessons when I first started and some even "warned me" that I would get bad habits and not improve if I did not get lessons.  It seemed to me that the only way I was going to get the consistency to hit the ball first was via lots of practice and reading/learning as much as I could.  I could not understand how someone else could give me that coordination without me practicing and doing it myself.....an instructor cannot hit the ball for you, so my reasoning was if that is the case then I need to get that down first.

 

I have not received any lessons as of now.  I did read a lot of books and watched a lot of videos about ball flight dynamics along with hitting lots and lots of balls.  I would stress to anyone that you do not hit that many balls in any once session and to slow down your sessions at teh range as this will likely be counter-productive.  Consistently go to the range with a plan for a few times a week for a year or something like that but do not think you will help yourself by hitting balls quickly one right after another.  It's tempting to do but it does not work, I learned this the hard way.  What happens overtime is that by implementing various things here and there from reading books, watching videos, and seeing how subtle changes affect what your ball does, you can develop your own swing and after a while you understand your swing in a way that is impossible to describe or understand when you are a beginner.  Your muscle memory is built up to a point where you can repeat your swing over and over again.  I am still making changes here and there and have accepted that this will never end.  Even the pros are always making subtle changes here and there whether it be with their swing or their set up or their equipment. 

 

I remember in the first year or so, maybe even more of golfing that I would be at the range and have an "epiphany" of sorts where I thought I found THE thing in my swing.  I'd be so excited because I discovered something in my swing that made me hit the ball exactly the way I was looking for.  You will probably have a lot of these if you consistently practice like I did.  They don't usually last that long as by the next range session or two you are tinkering again.  I think that over time though as you figure these things out, they come together kind of like a puzzle. 

 

I started this thread and kept updating it because I remember when I first started how hungry I was to figure it out.  I was probably over-eager and annoying because I thought that someone out there on this message board could give me the answer.  Somewhere in the sea of comments/topics I'd find what I needed so that I could make that jump to a single digit handicap or something much sooner.  I also longed for approval.  This is obvious to me know when I go back sometimes and read some of my posts from the last 2 plus years.  Clearly it was me seeking approval or confidence.  Unfortunately I was looking for something that only I could give myself.  There is no secret piece of equipment or hidden teacher that can speed up the process.  No matter if you get lessons or not, there is no substitute for practice and playing golf.  The older that you start playing golf, the harder it is in my opinion to improve.  This is probably because as we age we lose that altheticism and flexibility that we had when we were teens or young 20 somethings. 

 

For many people the biggest hurdle or challenge is being able to practice or play.  Most people have families and there is no way that they would be able to play as many rounds as me or practice as much either.  It's been 27 months and 6 days since I first hit a golf ball.  I figure that I have probably logged somewhere around between 3,000 and 3,250 hours in that time of practicing or playing golf.  Apparently I have at least some level of "talent" or so I'm told.  Despite all those factors and with all that practice/play, my handicap is trending at 6.0L.  While many people would say that's awesome, my point is to show just how great the pros are on tv.  I mention this because you said in your post that I'll be at par soon.  I could probably already be at par if I played the right course.  That's another thing that will change as you practice/play....par is such an arbitrary number.  People can shoot par or even under and yet because they play on a short/easy course, couldn't beat a 10 handicap player that plays at a difficult course, week in and week out. 

 

Par is only relevant really as a measure of skill when you compare it to the course rating and slope.  It's great to say you shot under par, but if you did it on a municipal course that plays under 6k yards and has a slope of 115 then that person is nowhere near being a scratch golfer most likely. 

 

Good luck with your progress.  One more thing I'll say because I noticed you mentioned that you will spend your winter "honing you swing".  I tried to do this but found it to be not as much help as you would think.  The reason?  Because as someone that was new to the game it was all about contact along with the swing.  Making swings and hitting nothing did nothing for me.  Hit balls or a smash bag over just making practice swings into air.  Your swing could be identical to a pga players but unless you can consistently hit the ball first it will not mean anything for you out on the course. 

post #119 of 124
Thread Starter 

Update: have still been hitting balls at least twice per week and playing at least two rounds on the weekends for the past few weeks.  I continue to improve, although it's not as obvious as it was before and sometimes I don't necessarily notice it until a friend or playing partner points something out to me.  My handicap is officially at 6.0 and after this past weekends rounds I finally have it trending to less than 6 as it's at 5.9L!

 

I have kinda of gone through this whole golf season without really having a definitive plan.  I think that part of the reason was that I did not know what to expect after I went from 15.5 to the low 8's last year, I knew that I would not make that much of improvement and so I did not want to set myself up for failure either.  I know that it's impossible for me to continue to improve with what I am doing/playing forever and there is going to come some point where I not only need a coach but it would also probably be a better use of practice time as well. 

 

At the same time I know that I still have room to improve for the forseeable future.  I know this because while I've made lots of improvements with consistency, there is still room to be much more consistent.  I'm still gaining distance and still improving my ball striking and other parts of my game.  I have absolutely no idea how good I can be or how good I want to be.  At first I just wanted to be in the single digits and while I'm pleased, I'm not close to being satisfied with that.  I just know that I want to improve as much as I can, like a machine-head building a hot-rod in a garage, I want my game to be as good as it can be, not just for "bragging rights" but more so because I'm addicted and practicing and playing golf to get better is just what I do outside of working and watching my NY Giants lose football games.....

 

I've known for a while that I have a distant relative (not exactly sure how we are related) that won twice on the European PGA Tour and now apparently he runs a golf academy in South Africa.  I think that I'd like to push really hard for the next year or so, really amp up practice to three or four times a week and then maybe this time next year make a trip to his golf academy for some proper instruction/coaching/advice.

 

The one area of my game that I find the most frustrating is working on uneven/difficult lies.  I can go to the range all I want but it's hard to practice those kinds of shots and I know that I have a lot of room to improve.  I've gotta find some way to practice those kinds of shots regularly because I know that if I can that it will improve a lot.

post #120 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjwestner View Post
 

I remember in the first year or so, maybe even more of golfing that I would be at the range and have an "epiphany" of sorts where I thought I found THE thing in my swing.  I'd be so excited because I discovered something in my swing that made me hit the ball exactly the way I was looking for.  You will probably have a lot of these if you consistently practice like I did.  They don't usually last that long as by the next range session or two you are tinkering again.  I think that over time though as you figure these things out, they come together kind of like a puzzle. 

 

I started this thread and kept updating it because I remember when I first started how hungry I was to figure it out.  I was probably over-eager and annoying because I thought that someone out there on this message board could give me the answer.  Somewhere in the sea of comments/topics I'd find what I needed so that I could make that jump to a single digit handicap or something much sooner.  I also longed for approval.  This is obvious to me know when I go back sometimes and read some of my posts from the last 2 plus years.  Clearly it was me seeking approval or confidence.  Unfortunately I was looking for something that only I could give myself.  There is no secret piece of equipment or hidden teacher that can speed up the process.  No matter if you get lessons or not, there is no substitute for practice and playing golf.  The older that you start playing golf, the harder it is in my opinion to improve.  This is probably because as we age we lose that altheticism and flexibility that we had when we were teens or young 20 somethings. 

 

For many people the biggest hurdle or challenge is being able to practice or play.  Most people have families and there is no way that they would be able to play as many rounds as me or practice as much either.  It's been 27 months and 6 days since I first hit a golf ball.  I figure that I have probably logged somewhere around between 3,000 and 3,250 hours in that time of practicing or playing golf.  Apparently I have at least some level of "talent" or so I'm told.  Despite all those factors and with all that practice/play, my handicap is trending at 6.0L.  While many people would say that's awesome, my point is to show just how great the pros are on tv.  I mention this because you said in your post that I'll be at par soon.  I could probably already be at par if I played the right course.  That's another thing that will change as you practice/play....par is such an arbitrary number.  People can shoot par or even under and yet because they play on a short/easy course, couldn't beat a 10 handicap player that plays at a difficult course, week in and week out. 

 There's a lot of stuff in here I can relate to (well, except for the level of success of course) - thank you for sharing. It's pretty cool that all the hard work is paying off and I wish you luck as your game continues to improve.

post #121 of 124
Thread Starter 

It's been a while since I posted.  Glad people are enjoying.  I got a great question about something I posted in 2013 regarding extension of my arms with my driver and so I copied/pasted my answer along with what I've been working on lately with my irons below.  I've ramped up my practice and am going to the range at least 3 times per week now and I can really tell the difference versus going once per week.  Unfortunately it's been cold/rainy here lately so my scores have not been that great lately although I did shoot a 76 yesterday, my second best score ever and my handicap is officially at 5.8 and now trending to 5.7L.  Just over a month left in the Maryland golf season.  Hopefully the weather stays nice for a while as I think I have some low scores in me that I'd like to get out before November 15.  Yesterday was the first time that I have shot even par or better for 9 holes (shot even par on the back 9). 

 

Here is my response and what I've been working on lately:

 

Regarding my driver set up.  It is much different now and only somewhat recently did I learn why I thought I was on the right path by extending my arms as much as I could almost.  Let me preface what I'm about to say with the fact that this is just about driver set up, not irons.  The reason that I was having success with "super extension" of my arms with my driver was because my miss was when I got too quick and came over the top leading to a slice.  Extension of the arms slowed down the swing which made the swing flatter and allowed me to come from the inside on the downswing which led to a straighter ball flight.  Does that make sense?  My balance has improved so much and so has my understanding of my own swing.  It's amazing that even last year I thought I was on the right track only to know that a year or more later that I was not.  Because I have only been golfing for a short time it took a long time for me to be able to consistently and properly shift my weight and not reverse pivot. 

 

One part that is still true from the post is that I do focus on keeping my left arm (I'm a righty) straight and turn my shoulders with the left arm straight FIRST instead of just moving the arms back.  I had a habit of just racing my arms back without a proper shoulder turn which is obviously not good.  The "icing on the cake" that I discovered a few months ago and am still working on with driver and irons is working on keeping my angle of attack shallower.  Arm extension is a good band-aid if your miss is a slice but it resulted in me starting the downswing with the butt of the club INSIDE the ball, between my feet and the ball.  This is DISASTEROUS with your irons and one of the reasons you hear people say that they "came up" in their swing.  They did "come up" but it was because there was not enough room because the angle of attack was too steep.  By turning my wrists to my right after my swing has initiated (not too quick after the swing starts) this allows me downswing with the butt of the club OUTSIDE the ball.  At first I was topping some shots but after I got used to it I do not "pop up" in my swing anymore because there is enough room in your downswing and I do not hit it fat anymore.  This has increased my distance quite a bit with my driver and my irons.  Cupped wrists = fat shots.  Arching left wrist at top of swing = butt of club outside of golf ball = no fat shots.

 

The last part of the driver quote that you asked about you already have right which I did not when I posted that.  As counter-intuitive as it may seem (for me it was odd because my miss was a slice so why would I want to aim more right?  i.e. closed stance?) if you want to hit a draw with your driver then your stance should be closed with your right leg not level with your left.  I'm thick-headed at times and it took a while for this to set in but you seem to get this already.

 

Tilting the spine away from the target was something that I implemented earlier this year and have had success with it.  The reason it worked for me with my irons was because my angle of attack was too steep and by tilting my spine away from the target at set up this was giving me more room with my too steep angle of attack.  It did not always work but it worked a lot better than not doing it.  For the last few months I've been working on shallowing out the angle of attack which is the real issue and it's a work in progress but it's getting there.  Also by shallowing the angle my spine does not have to be so exagerratingly (probably not a word I know, but it sounded good) tilted away.  My right elbow is now not "chicken-winging" either which all in all is producing a straighter ball flight and more distance and more consistency. 

 

Hope this makes sense and helps.  I am a full believer that virtually anyone is capable of great golf...it's in the dirt available for anyone to dig out with learning and practice!

post #122 of 124

Holy long thread!  I wish I had done the same when I started back playing a few years ago to track my progress.  I may take a note out of your playbook moving forward.  I do think that all of the time you've spent playing has payed dividends in your progress.  I'm a range rat and generally practice more than I play.  I've not played in a month because life has gotten in the way, but reading this has inspired me to get back at it, if the weather cooperates.  Good luck with continued progress.

post #123 of 124
Thread Starter 

Made a change in my bag almost two weeks ago and it has been paying dividends immediately....I got rid of the 3h and ordered a used (practically brand new though) Titleist 913F 5 wood off Ebay.  Because I no longer have a 3 wood that I hit off the deck (I have the mini driver that I do not hit off the deck), the 3h was as far as I could hit a shot not on a tee.  I was getting pretty good distance but needed/wanted a bit more and also wanted more club.  I love this 5 wood and have been hitting it great, especially from the deck but also in some cases from the tee on short par 4's where even my mini driver is too much.  Case and point:  played a course in southern VA on Sunday and on a par 5 on the back, I hit mini driver and then 5 wood and got on the green in two!  We were playing with heavy winds and from tees that were 6600 yards.  This par 5 was not that long and it was a heavy dogleg left too but I had some help from the wind on my tee shot and was able to get on in two, something that does not happen often and something that I do not even try that often.  On the same day, a different par 5, I just missed getting on in two after hitting driver and 5 wood. 

 

I know I've been hitting a lot of balls because my hands hurt.  My left hand in particular was all red as I hit somewhere around 800 balls last week total and then played the weekend.  Thus I took yesterday off and may not hit balls tonight either.  It's interesting though that last night as I did not hit balls I really wanted to though.  I've built up a nice routine and found myself missing going to the range and hitting balls last night.

 

After this weekends rounds of 78 and 77, my hc is trending to 5.4L and is officially at 5.7.  Just got done reading, well listening actually, to a good book called The Pro by Butch Harmon.  I liked it, wish there was some more technical insights in it but overall worth the purchase and some of his stories about his early days with Tiger are hilarious, especially when Tiger did not know he had to activate a credit card. 

 

On Saturday I played at my club and for the first time, I was 14 of 14 FIR.  My driver and mini driver have been doing great lately but that was still the first time I managed to do that.  More confirmation that the time and practice is paying off! 

post #124 of 124
Thread Starter 

November 15 is the last day of handicap posting in Maryland until March 15 of 2015.  While I'm sure I'll play a few rounds in Virginia this winter where I'll have to post my scores, for all intensive purposes the season has come to a close for me as I do not believe that I will be able to play anymore rounds between now and 11/15.  The last few weeks have been very frustrating because the weather got very cold very quick and had an impact on scoring for certain.  I was hoping that I could drop a few more low scores and finish out the year on a high note but that really did not happen although my last round the other day when the weather was somewhat nicer, was a 76 which tied my second best round ever. 

 

My handicap had gotten down to 5.4 at one point but is now trending at 5.5L which is where it appears it will end for now.  I started the season in the low 8's and I knew coming into this year that there was no way that I was going to chop 7 more strokes off my handicap like I did in 2013.  There simply was not enough fat to slice off of my game like there was last year.  While I know that my game is in much better shape than it was this time last year, I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed.  I'm not totally sure why but I think that last year I saw my scores drop dramatically and this year while I improved a lot, and the scores dropped somewhat, there was many times when I played better than I scored and my game is getting to a point where there is less correlation between how good one's game is and the score.  What I mean is like what happened to me the other day, I shot 76 and hit 14 GIR, but three putted 4 times!  I just had a bad day of putting and had I had just an average day, I probably would have set a new personal best.  So what I mean is that I don't feel the same satisfaction that I did last year when I could just automatically look at the numbers and see the improvements. 

 

In 2013 I had concrete goals - i.e. getting to single digits.  I did not have such clear goals in 2014 and maybe that was part of the problem.  I knew I wanted to work on my short game and improve that in 2014 and I did work hard at that.  What shocked me the most was how poor my scrambling numbers still are despite putting considerable effort into that part of my game.  Coming into 2014 I was somewhere between 10 and 15% scrambling.  After working hard all year long I am now still under 33% scrambling (just above 30% actually).  I'm not sure what I had in mind but I thought that I could get it higher than where it currently is.  I know that I am significantly better if you watched me last year compared to this year which is maybe a sign that I sucked a lot more than I thought coming into this year!  It has definitely given me much more appreciation for how good those PGA tour guys are with their short game. 

 

I will still keep track of stats in the winter even though handicap posting is moot.....so while 2014 will still have more stats to it, here is a comparison of stats from 2013 versus 2014 year to date.  While my handicap only dropped 3, my 2014 consistency was much greater than the corresponding drop in handicap as you will see below:

 

2013

- averaged par or better 35.8% of the time

- 35.4% gir

- 44.4% fir

- 34.7 putts per round

- 10.2% scrambling

keep in mind that 2013 stats include the start of 2013 when I was not as good and had a hc as high as 15.5 to start the season

 

2014

- averaged par or better 53.6% of the time

- 47.7% gir

- 60.6% fir

- 33.1 putts per round

- 24.7% scrambling

 

 

What I've noticed is that as I continue to get better and better, the more important putting becomes.  Don't get me wrong, putting is important at all levels of golf, however, as my handicap goes down, the importance of making putts is correlated higher to my score.  My GIR is fairly constant along with FIR although I'm continue to improve.  So it really comes down to if I make the putts that I should make and converting on a higher percentage of birdie putts.  I don't have data for this but will start tracking in 2015 most likely because it's becoming more and more important.  I will continue to work on ball striking and my short game and will hopefully continue to improve in all areas of my game - however, it's clear that the biggest area of opportunity for me to make a greater improvement is to make a higher percentage of birdie putts which I believe is an area of opportunity for me.  Data that I do have is that I've played 87 rounds so far in 2014 and have made a total of 57 birdies/eagles which means that I am averaging .655 birdies per round in 2014.  In reality I'm better than that as I'm averaging about 1 or a little more per round.  Over the last 20 rounds I have 22 birdies which is 1.1 per round.  It's an improvement but I know there is a lot more that I can convert which is why I will work on that.

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