This isn't apart of my normal road to championship stuff, but just something I thought about a lot in the Kuchar caddy payment thread.
Part of the Kuchar issue is what role the caddy actually played, in his win. But, it begs the larger question of what does a caddy really do for a Tour player?
Besides the normal role of carrying a bag and raking bunkers, etc., a caddy is, imo, in essence a GPS for the player, a support person, and sometimes a coach. Not that the player can't get the info on their own or that they don't already. But, a player does not make it to the PGA Tour because of a caddy. Many of these guys played in college without caddies. They were already top athletes before they decided to hire an extra hand. They made or bought their own yardage books and marked them up with notes during practice rounds, they found their own yardages, they decided what shots to play throughout the round, they played through any emotional stress, etc, all without a caddy to get to where they are.
I said before that a caddy is like a GPS. Well, GPS's should be able to speed up pace of play. A player using a caddy should be able to make decisions faster, and I think this is true most of the time. But I'm sure there are cases where the caddy second guesses the player and then they sit there for 5min debating what idea is best. The real question, I think, is how many strokes is gained purely for a caddy helping by way of being a GPS? I'd say it's a pretty small number and definitely not a stroke per round, because all the info given is something the player can already do for themselves and pace of play is laughable on tour.
Another part that a caddy helps with is emotion / mental support. Especially for newer players on Tour who may have a lot of jitters, having a support person to keep the noise (distractions like all the bill boards with their name, pic and stats, all the people or audible noises, and then the typical noise like bunkers or hazards to try and ignore) in check can mean something. Keep you focused on the game when needed and not the emotions that come with the game. After a bad shot or maybe in between shots, distracting the player to make them feel more content. A player doesn't want to be on overdrive or pissed, there's a middle ground where the best golf can be played and having a caddy to help keep you there can save one from a stupid decision or rushed swing. Again, how many strokes can be gained from having a caddy for emotional / mental support? I'd say it's definitely higher than the GPS caddy, but still not a lot.
The last part a caddy could help with is by being a coach. This could go either way as for how helpful it is. No one should really be trying to change their swing or routine in the middle of a round as it usually creates more problems than it solves. But like in the case of Holmes in the final round this last weekend, the caddy actually helped adjust his set up with his driver in the middle of the round, and he seemed to hit the ball a bit better after that. It's hard to assign a value here to potential strokes gained, because I don't think it's very common. I could be wrong. Either way, most players, I'd assume, have some sort of back up plan should their swing go haywire, so having a caddy there for this purpose may not be needed.
As far as the local caddy vs normal caddy topic, from my own experience at Pinehurst #2, the caddy that was given to our group supposedly knew every crevasse and slope but routinely mis-read breaks on the greens. Maybe he was doing a half-assed job intentionally or maybe he really didn't know the course. Either way, he didn't help for being a GPS caddy (because of having a yardage book and rangefinder) and he definitely didn't help for being a support or mental help caddy. My experience is just one example but a local caddy is unlikely to provide any emotional support to anyone unless they know each other, but may help as far as a GPS caddy. For Kuchar's case, he played/walked the course before marking all his notes, etc. I doubt he needed the caddy for helping with GPS-like stuff, and because the two didn't know each other, the caddy wasn't really a support person. He definitely filled the role of carrying a bag and raking bunkers, but there likely wasn't more to it than that.
So, what is a caddy worth? Is it worth paying a few thousand dollars a round for the potential stroke(s) gained on the field? I doubt it's a physical issue because those guys could just as easily carry their own super light bag with a few balls, etc (or I assume push carts are acceptable, just frowned upon). Unless you hire a local caddy, you'd have to pay someone a livable wage for them to constantly travel with you. Or maybe it's not about the golf at all, it's about traveling with someone instead of being bored outside of playing. I don't know. Either way, I think caddies play a minimal role in the performance of the player.
Dr. Sasho Mackenzie had a quote in the March issue of Golf magazine that I liked.
Listen, there'll always be science-deniers and the belief that none of what I or other researchers do is necessary. They're going to be eroded away. There'll be fewer and fewer of these people once the community realizes that science and technology are simply about learning and understanding better ways to swing a golf club. I no longer feel bad for the instructors who fight it, because the information's out there. If they've got a theory that's different from mine, fine. I'm open-minded. I'll listen. Maybe I've made a mistake, but if they don't have an argument other than, "I believe in my method," then okay. I can't do anything else. We can't have a logical debate. I just feel bad for the golfers they're teaching.
Unfortunately, another quote applies: You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
mud·der | \ˈmədə(r)\
Definition of mudder
1 : a race horse that runs well on a wet or muddy track
2 : a player or a team (as in football) that performs well on a wet field
After my final round of 2018, I was thinking about the course conditions the past month or so. While we have had relatively mild weather, it has been wet. I don’t do particularly well in wet and muddy conditions. I play in all sorts of weather: hot, windy, cold, rainy. Of all the conditions, a wet course presents the greatest challenge for me. I am not a mudder.
For me, four factors create a mudder: distance, ball striking, patience and equipment
Distance: Wet & soggy courses result in no roll out. Unless one hits the ball for good distance off the tee, the course becomes too long to consistently score. If on average one loses 20 yards a tee shot (and 2nd shots on par 5’s), a 6,700 yard course becomes effectively 7,000+ yards. A 6,300 yarder plays to 6,660 yards. Further, that is figuring only 20 yards per shot are lost; often it is 30+ yards. Of course, moving up one or two tees is an option for casual play but tournament play typically offers no relief.
Ball Striking: Wet turf leaves one little margin for error. The slightest fat shot will be a disaster. And the effects of a wet club face and ball compromise distance and spin. One study on the subject supports the idea [ http://blog.tourspecgolf.com/wet-versus-dry-golf/ ]
Patience: Wet conditions often results in slower play. Cleaning clubs, fiddling with umbrellas, getting rulings for casual water all slow things down. If carts are being used, cart path only is a real time killer. Even the best players are going to find scoring difficult, so patience and a good attitude are crucial. As Bill Belichick recently said when the forecast was for cold and snow: “We aren’t playing against the weather.”
Equipment: A quality rain suit, waterproof shoes, rain gloves and dry towels go a long way toward making soggy conditions more playable. When one is wet and cold or spending extra time trying to avoid being wet and cold, one game often suffers. When one is equipped properly, one’s attention can go toward playing golf and not merely surviving.
I have the patience and equipment. My problems are distance and ball striking. On a good day I might carry a drive 200 yards. On a wet day, any hole 400 yards and over becomes a “par 5” for me. And even the shorter holes find me hitting hybrids and fairway woods for approaches. Hitting off wet turf is an issue too. My less than pure strikes result in an increased number of fat shots. Also, as the “TourSpecGolf” study shows, wet clubs and balls result in shorter carries.
Of course, I have never been one to give up when conditions get tough. Sometimes patience can overcome the other factors. My wife and I used to play in a mixed two-person scramble at a local course. We typically ended up in the middle of the pack. One year, on our 2nd hole, the skies opened up, sending a lot of couples back to the clubhouse. My wife asked whether we should go in. “Hell no”, I said, “over half the field is going to quit. That just improved the odds of our winning.” As it turned out, I was correct. We played on and won. Maybe my wife is a mudder!
I have found getting used to the new Rules of Golf to be a bit of a challenge. In time there is no doubt the revisions will become part of my golf process. A number of the changes, however, are not reflexive and I have to consciously think about them.
The easiest new rule to re-learn is having the option to leave the flag in or take it out. Since December I have been playing with the flag stick in. After six rounds, it still looks odd putting from 20 feet or less with the flag in the hole. In casual play I have often left the flag in for long putts but it is reflex to take the flag out on shorter ones. Over time I am confident the presence of the flag will fade into the background but currently it is a distraction.
Dropping from knee height is another one on which I need to re-educate myself. I took a few drops this past weekend (casual water) and I dropped from shoulder height without thinking. At least the USGA/R&A left the measurement for determining the area of relief as a “club length” rather than an inch/centimeter measurement.
Removing loose impediments in bunkers and grounding my club in “penalty areas”, among other new allowances, will just take some practice. At least there is no penalty for not doing either of those things.
Time will tell whether fixing damage to the green becomes a pace of play issue. I have no problem adding careless player’s scuff marks and deer tracks to things we can fix. I have never been meticulous in manicuring the line of my putt but some of my fellow players are. Players slowing to a glacial pace on the green has been an issue with our tournaments. We may need to hand out some pace-of-play penalties early in the season to make a point.
2019 will be my chance to prove that one can teach an old dog new tricks.
I got reading glasses, well, progressive lenses, put it off as long as I possibly could, can make due with regular glasses, but easier at the computer and duh, reading, with these. Turning my head from left to right and right to left and everything is warping. I guess sooner or later, I'm gonna be the guy with the glasses in the straps hanging from my neck, and tilting my head down, looking at people when I talk.
If the weather holds and I manage to play a round of golf in November, it will mark the 45th consecutive month that I have played golf in Michigan. The last month I did not manage to play 18 holes was February, 2015. Yes, I am one of those fools wandering around on the course when it is 35 degrees. While I can handle cold and wind, I do have some standards as far as conditions. I neither play when the greens are frozen solid as concrete nor if the course is mostly or entirely covered in snow & ice.
It is a rare winter in Ann Arbor when the weather is mild enough to eliminate the snow cover for an extended period; we average 60 inches of snow annually. Still, there are mild stretches when the sun, temperatures and rain will melt the snow cover. This past February, we had a two-week period where temperatures pushed 60 degrees and some hardy souls were wearing shorts. My guess is the streak will end in January or February of 2019. Despite the many signs that our climate may be warming, this isn’t Palm Beach; we are overdue for a hard winter.
Speaking of streaks, my “modern” holes-under-par-streak remains at 3. I had a few opportunities where I managed 2 consecutive birdies this year, but never succeeded in getting 3, much less 4. I call it my “modern” streak because I had an out-of-body experience back in the early 1980’s. Having never broken 100, I rattled off “eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie” while playing nine at a local course with some friends. Of course, I opened the round with a double but then found myself standing on the 6th tee at three under. Thoughts of a course record danced in my head. Reverting back to my normal game, the next four holes were not pretty. I did not even break 40 for the nine. Truthfully, that streak was a total fluke, like flipping a coin and coming up heads 20 times in a row.
A streak that will be coming to an end this year is my “100+ rounds a year” streak. About 10 years ago I began a flexible work schedule. Playing 100+ times a year was a no brainer. This year there just wasn’t the drive to go out and play like year’s past. If the weather stays relatively mild, I might hit 90 but 100 is out of the question.
Finally, in 2018, I continued the golf streak that means the most to me. My first Ann Arbor City Men’s Golf Championship was in 1990. Every year since then I have played, save 1995 when the course was closed for renovation and there was no tournament. I look at the field in 1990 versus 2017 and the only name they have in common is mine. I now play against the sons or grandsons of the guys who played in 1990. Sadly, I have always been a participant rather than a contender. In a field of 150, my best finish was a tie for 20th. Still, I have always enjoyed measuring myself against the course and my fellow hackers. Nowadays I finish in the middle of the pack with an average three-day total of around 255. When the day comes that I can’t walk the 54 holes and/or can’t keep my scores under 90, I will retire. At this point, the plan is to continue the streak to 29 in 2019.
What kind of streaks does everyone else have?
I like watching landings because I like experiencing the prop blast of wind. What can I say? Didn't stick around to see who came out. It looks like I'm holding the camera steady during high frame rate, but that wind is blowing around my arms pretty good.
I finally got around to playing 18 holes of golf with only 4 clubs this morning - something I've wanted to do since early in the season. My goal was to keep the score to within 5 of my average. The 4 hybrid and 9i were shoo-ins. The 4h because I seem to hit it well, and the 9i because I can use for a short bump-and-run all the way up to a 130 yard full swing. I then had to decide on two more. I decided to bench my gap wedge, which is the go-to club from 100 yards and in, and go with the sand wedge instead. The reason being too much roll on short sided flag locations seem to be costing me strokes. Perhaps forcing myself to use a more lofted wedge would be beneficial.
Last, I decided to go with the putter and disregard @boogielicious' advice to learn to putt with a wedge instead. This would have allowed another option for the full swing. I have to admit there was little chance the putter would be left behind. It's not that I'm at all good with the putter, but it's used from off the green a lot and it's better than trying to putt with any other club. That would turn out to be far from the truth.
The first 9
The first two holes were pretty typical, a couple of bogeys that resulted from less than perfect tee shots. Still, I felt pretty good about how the round was going. Then came the par 5 3rd.
Two beautiful 4-hybrid shots left me with a short approach of around 90 yards. Time to test the SW on a shot I'd have used the GW for all-day-long. Good contact, high, and right at the flag, 2 putt for par.
Nice, I thought. Not a bad start and everything felt good. Next up were three par 4's in a row followed by a par 5. The hybrid felt really good off the tee and whenever I needed less than a full swing, the club responded very well as did the SW and the 9i. I would hit GIR's on those next four holes. My full swing and partial swings were golden.
But the golf gods giveth and they taketh.
The first par 4 had a pin location to the front of a very fast downhill green and my partial hybrid approach had found the back. To be honest, I was ok with the 3-putt bogey in this situation. Besides, the way I was striking the ball, I'd make up for it with subsequent pars.
The pin location on the next par 4 was uphill with my SW approach landing about 25 feet below. The lag putt can only be politely described as wimpy. It wasn't a poor read, or a bad bead, I just didn't get anywhere near the speed I knew was needed to get it close. 3-putt number 2.
Despite temps in the 30's, I was starting to get warm under the collar. It was hard to enjoy one of my best ball striking rounds when I couldn't close the deal. But c'mon, that was only two holes. Surely the putting would get back on track.
The next par 4 included a beautiful partial hybrid, a flighted 9 iron below the pin... and three more putts including a miss from 18".
In all fairness, I shouldn't have hit the green on the next par 5. The 4h approach to the green started a bit right, but a tree branch deflected it to the green. There was no way the golf gods were going to let this bit of luck remain unpunished. Hence, a nice 4-putt and my first double of the day.
The second 9
Instead of describing each of the next 9 holes, I'll only say that the golf gods had a hard-on for me today. Sure, they'd allowed decent putting this second time through the 9 hole course, but as if to say "you didn't think we were just going to give good putting back to you" they made sure to take away the good ball striking. The hole where I got my only par on first 9 resulted in a 10 the second time through. The comedy of errors leading to that wonderful score included playing bloody knuckles (literally) with two oak trees when I tried to punch out an errant 4 hybrid shot from between them.
Eat $#!^ and die, golf gods!
As for the four-club "challenge", it should have been more fun than it was, but that's on me. There were positives...
• My goal was to keep the score within 5 of my average and I kept it to within 1.
• I not only hit the ball solidly on most shots, I was able to adjust and control distance, and even shape a couple of shots.
• In many situations, the SW is a better club than the GW around the green.
• The 7 GIRs is the highest I've had in some time - and there were several nGIR as well.
• The round didn't cause me to putt more poorly than usual, the GIRs only exposed my poor putting. High GIR = more putts unless you're good at both.
This round also backed up what I believe to be true. Using a safer, shorter club off the tee doesn't guarantee a better score for everyone. I hit 71% of my fairways today, did not get any penalties, and still failed to break 95.
Instead of leaving the driver at home, maybe I should become as skilled with that club as I am with the 4 hybrid.
I wanted to put together a series of golf tips and strategies to help the Average Joe better enjoy this crazy game we all love. A large part of this blog is going to be short tips like "How to Get Rid of Shanks" or "Stop Picking Your Head Up," but occasionally I will write some longer articles as well.
So to kick off this series, here's a tip that helps keep your score down that even I sometimes forget: don't take penalties. Generally speaking, penalties are strokes that inflate your score without helping you score any better. I know it may seem tempting to hit a big drive OOB and get another shot at it, but you're almost always better off just hitting a good shot the first time. The same goes for water hazards - stay out of them, no matter how dirty your ball may have gotten over the course of a round. Chances are, you're not going to be able to retrieve your newly washed ball anyway. Save yourself some extra strokes and wash your ball at the ball washer which many courses have at the tee box. Your scorecard and your wallet with thank you later.
That's my first tip, hopefully of many. Any comments or questions, please leave them below. And if you liked this post, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe.
Went to Montreal's two well known bagel shops a couple of times. St Viateur and Fairmount. Although I've had Montreal style bagels at Black Seed Bagels in NY, wanted the real thing. Not religious about which is better, they are different. Montreal bagels are crunchier on the outside, more dense on the inside, a bit smaller, a big plus for me, cheaper, and there are some interesting types - rosemary for one. I'm not sure what seedless was. Nonetheless, I really liked them, but they're different from NY bagels, which are chewier for one. One thing though, Montreal bagels don't keep as well. You have to eat them straight away, otherwise they dry up quickly, maybe I don't know the locals' clever methods to keep them fresh. Will stop by Black Seed one day just to gauge how they are compared to the real thing while the taste is fresh in my mind.
I was tempted to post "I doubt it," but I have this blog to use, so I'll use it for a quick discussion of this.
I've taught a few thousand people to putt. I've never seen someone with their finger down the shaft who I would consider a "good" putter. More often - far, far more often - those with their finger down the shaft have distance control issues. The pressure they apply with that finger leads to added loft and wrist flipping, while many good putting strokes have de-lofted putters (4° turned down to 1°) and lead wrists that are slightly more in flexion than they were at setup.
I understand what people think they're feeling - the pressure of the shaft/grip being applied to that finger - but again I've got SAM data and visual data (recorded) that leads me to these types of statements.
I'm not super picky about putting grips. I putt with a pretty standard/classic reverse double overlap. My daughter is a single overlap kinda gal. I've taught claw grippers, crosshanders, etc. I could put the finger down the shaft (at least for awhile), and remain a good putter… but part of the reason I might be a good putter is that I don't put the finger down the shaft, and I've learned to control the putter swing by having a better wrist action than the one that the finger down the shaft encourages.
Again, I've never seen a good putter who can actually control distance well with the finger down the shaft.
Take it for what it's worth.
P.S. If you try to putt without the finger down the shaft for awhile, don't judge the results immediately. Give it some time. And read this:
P.P.S. Just because I've never seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It only means I've never seen it…
There's a reason @david_wedzik and I trademarked the phrase "Golf is Hard"®.
Here's a par three that is often a 7- or 8-iron (but can be a 6-iron). A driver on a par five. And another par three that plays from 190-220 yards.
In all three cases, you have about +/- 2 or 3° in which to hit your shot, or else we deem the shot "a failure."
Set your expectations properly, and give yourselves the credit you deserve when you DO hit a fairway or a green. It's phenomenally difficult!
Rewatching Band of Brothers, there's this scene where a CO says "Channel is socked in. No jump tonight!". Having seen BoB so many times, never bothered to look up "socked in". In context, knowing the situation, Operation Overlord, you just easily guessed D-Day was postponed because weather. But this time, I actually looked up "socked in".
Now maybe if I were an amateur pilot or airplane enthusiast, would have known this, but I'm usually pretty diligent in looking up things I don't know, especially now with smartphones, have a good dictionary on the home screen, but language is a big thing, slang/idioms constantly changing and expanding. Makes me wonder all the slang I don't know, even though born and raised in the US and watch a lot of tv and movies. Thank the gods for Urban Dictionary, I say.
I have been silent for a bit on this blog. Time to start blathering again.
A new tournament season is rapidly approaching for our club-without-real estate. 2018 will be my first season as Handicap Chairman after serving a few years on the committee. We play a 15-event net tournament season so the Handicap Chairman is a somewhat thankless job. There is always a vocal group that believes every winner is a sandbagger and successful players yap about the downward handicap adjustments we dole out. One big happy family!
I just got off the phone with one of our members who has been quite vocal about all the sandbaggers shooting net 64 when he has the same index and can barely break 72 on a net basis. I pointed out to him that at our 3-day Club Championship in 2016, he shot a net 64, 79 and 63 and won his Flight. Yes, he had a tough 2017. It was, however, a result of his poor play rather than his fellow flight competitors consistently shooting net 64. Sometimes facts overcome emotions.
Our biggest challenge over the years has been to slow down members who, for whatever reason, become overly successful. No one wants to see the same handful of members at the top of every tournament and the final season standings. Generally, the use of handicaps should serve to level the playing field and no one should regularly beat their handicap, with a few exceptions (e.g. a rapidly improving player or a player who has been injured and now is healthy).
We have resorted to a number of modifications to our tournament handicapping. I have previously described our Knuth Tournament Point System. In addition to that we have begun to use solely “T” scores in the computation of our tournament handicaps. We do not adjust a member’s GHIN index, just his index for our events.
Unfortunately, our use of only “T” scores has its own set of problems. Some of our members only play 4-5 “T” rounds a year. A “T-only” index might use scores going back 4+ years. We are vigilant to members whose games have declined and give them an upward adjustment to keep them somewhat competitive.
This year we have 24 new members. Fortunately, only a handful have no scoring history with the Golf Association of Michigan. For those members who are a blank slate, we usually call them and discuss their game. Do they have a league handicap? What was their best round last year (where and what tee)? What is their average score and what score would usually make them happy? We occasionally make an error, like with “J.B.” a few years ago. J.B. was a self-estimated “8.0” index and he won the first event's A flight by 6 shots with a net 64 (74 gross; 71.1/140 rating; 2.3 differential). Of course, that could have been J.B.’s personal best round but it seemed a prudent idea to make an adjustment in his 8.0 tournament index going forward.
With a bit of luck this year, we will have a different group atop the flight leader boards each tournament. If we don’t, our committee is ready.
I think with a little work, just making sure I stay the course, with the previous part, I think the equipment change will help me become a more consistent driver.
Now on to the single most important part of my improvement. My approach shots. I was going to break this part of the blog up into a few different pieces, but I decided that one long blog was better than three or four kind-of short blogs. So, about my approach shots. At times, I can hit 8 or 9 greens in a round, some rounds I hit 3 or 4. I know @iacas will preach GamePlanning, Shot Zones and Decision Maps to me. So were going to go through what I need to do to become a better iron player, so good in fact, I can maybe eventually get to scratch. I'm going to break down for you pretty much distance by distance and almost club by club, shot by shot at my home course of what I honestly need to do... to get more royalty in my life.
A lot of the issues, I think I am having is, iI need to find that Smart Target, and just aim for the center of the green. The greens on my home course are relatively small at around 3,000 square feet. That still is a much bigger target than a 4¼ inch hole with a 6-foot stick with a piece of cloth attached to it… If I could just find that smart target in line with the center of the green that was even an intermediate target, I’d be halfway there. I still must execute. Golf is a game of imperfection, but if I’m 130 yards out for my second shot on the 13th Hole at Newman, if I aim at the center of the green my entire shot zone for my choked-down 9-iron, is on the green. Same for a stock pitching wedge. As far as I drive it, (which really isn’t that far, about 260 yards carry) and as short of irons as I have into most greens (on the front nine, if I don’t hit some hybrids, I’ll be hitting a bunch of shots with sand wedges all day.)
I may have figured out part of this with just the introduction, aim at the center of the green, jack-ass. (I’m talking to myself, no offense to anyone). There is a part of Lowest Score Wins where they took 90s, 80s, and 70s shooters from 50 to 130 yards and had them shoot at the flag and shoot at a Smart Target. The higher handicappers did better shooting away from the hole, and took fewer strokes to hole out, than shooting at the hole.
At the tale end of last summer, I started a thread which I should re-link, but I won’t. I said I wasn’t going to hit any full shots inside of 150 yards. I’m still not. Will there be a time and place when I do? Perhaps someday.
Ok I said I was going to go shot-by-shot, of some approaches I would hit in a round at my home course, which is Newman Municipal Golf Course here in Ithaca, New York.
Hole 1, Par 5, 490 Yards: Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t played with my new clubs yet or been out since October, but usually I have to lay-up short of the ditch because the tree or the right has a catcher’s mitt, the trees on the left you have to advance it toward the 3rd tee to have a chance to maybe make a 5, and the right side of the fairway though it leaves a longer third shot, is a better side to shoot from. So, I usually have about 120 yards, if I have this yardage, there are three trees behind the green, the one in the middle is almost dead in line with the center of the green. If I shoot the flag at 120 yards and it’s in the back, choked PW at the tree, in the front choked ¾ PW at the tree.
Hole 2, Par 3, 145 Yards: I like Par 3s they are measured to the center of the green. Now we have a variable on the 2nd, some days we play from the right tee, some days we play from the left. Depending on the day, it changes the smart target. I forgot to mention, the prevailing wind is usually from the North. The 7th Hole you’ll see is straight into the teeth of this wind. We had a fence behind the green that was basically the out of bounds marking for the hole. It’s gone. Now we use trees and the practice fire station windows. From the left tee, a choked 8-iron at the far left window of the practice fire station. From the right tee, there is a lone pine tree across Fall Creek that is a little off center, but it’s pretty darn close.
Hole 16 (also the 7th from a different angle), Par 3, 200 yards: This hole can play 220 yards if Mike decides to tip it out, but usually we don’t. There is a window on a boat house in the distance that is in the dead center of the green… if that doesn’t work the 8th tee marker (which is white, is usually a good line). You have Fall Creek on the right which is out-of-bounds. So I will take the penalty buffer into consideration and move your shot zone over to the left, there is also native grass to the left but it’s way left. There is a pine tree at the back-left corner of the green I will aim at because. It’s honestly the lightest shade. From the tee, if I get a nGIR most of the time and hit the green 1 out of 5… I’d be happy. 200-yard 4- or 5-iron shots are not easy for anyone.
I think, what I’ll do my first time out in 2018, is get all my smart targets in order. Draw out my shot zones on some of that graph paper, they have you do constructions on in high school. Continue to work on my full swing drills, that I am working on with Craig, and who knows by summer @iacas maybe giving me, the breaking par, no sixes, and tournament winner badges.
My last entry mentioned the Pro-Assistant, so I will start there. We played Willamette Valley CC in Canby, OR for the two-day Best Ball event. My boss and I played better than last year. We had a couple blemishes, but had several birdies drop to finish T-10th (out of 54 teams) at -8. Winning team was at -16 and won by 4 strokes. I struggled to hit the ball straight Day 1, but once I got my stance aligned correctly, I hit the ball good. My stance had been closed by quite a bit and I was hitting some sweeping draws that got annoying. Once I figured that out and re-aligned myself in the pre-shot routine, the ball started coming out straight. I played much better in Day 2, but approach shots weren't as close as I'd like. Putting was interesting, because my speed all day was really good but the ball kept dying off too much and I didn't play for it. So, I didn't make many birdies which we needed. Highlight of the two-days on my end was on a par 5 during day 2. We both lost our tee shots by trying to cut the corner. My provisional was a nice high cut to the middle of the FW, which left me with 250yds to the pin. There was room to run the ball up a little, but there is lost ball zone left and water right. I hit a 3-iron just about perfect. A lower trajectory draw that rolled up to 5ft from the hole, which I managed to sink to save par!
After adjusting my alignment, the swing felt more upright. (I haven't recorded a video yet of this, I'm working on it) After this adjustment, I also had to remember to keep my weight further right in the stance, at address, and to swing along my chest line. If I let myself think about swinging along my feet line, which felt far left-pointing, I'd swing flatter and start flipping again. Those were my swing thoughts for the WA Assistant's Championship. It was played at Overlake G&CC in Medina, WA. Weather had a big effect on play, as it was in mid 40's with 10-15mph winds and a steady light rain all day. Despite all the rain we had, the greens were still rolling around an 11. With my swing thoughts for the day, I hit the ball of the tee very well! Driver was on fire! Felt good to just aim and swing, trusting the ball would go straight. Course was playing on the shorter end, so I had a lot of wedges into greens. Unfortunately, I overthought how much the wind would influence the distance on those wedges. I hit the greens most of the time, but I left myself outside of reasonable birdie zone way too much which is not good. I think I said it on the last entry too, but I need to work on wedges. Despite leaving the ball far away from being worried about wind, I'm pretty sure I have the distance control part down, but now it's accuracy. I kept leaking it right, and I don't like not knowing how much. I'd prefer it keep fairly straight. Also, I putted well and not well. When I was within a reasonable distance to the hole, I put the 1st putt to within a few feet every time. But, the 3 times I was really far away, I left the 1st putt really short and 3-putted. Super annoying to do that. When the greens are quick, it's tough to judge those super long putts or maybe I was over-thinking again.
Driver was definitely a highlight, chipping and pitching were much better, and irons continued to perform well. So, despite the weather, wedges, and 3 putts, I shot a +3 74, which put me T-4th out of 45. Winner was at even. So, a couple things here and there will hopefully put me in that winner's circle. I had waited for a little while to apply for the US Open regional qualifying this year, but I decided to go for it after that round. I know what I need to practice and what I need to keep doing. My goal is to make it to sectionals. Obviously, I'd love to make it all the way, but I know what my chances are. My next events are at the end of April.
Remember my plan to get better at golf, that I wrote a few weeks back. Well I'm going to dissect it down to what I need to do in order to get my handicap down under 5...
For wanting to be an sub 5 handicap, My driving well stinks. Probably 240, if I was lucky, and not-so-straight, It was absolute shit in comparison, but when I drove it well I was driving 280-290 with no problems. But it was Tiger inconsistent.
You won't believe what led me to what happened with my new driver. But this is a blog, so I'll tell the story. I shot a 76, October and the only 6 I made was on a par-5 after a seemingly fine tee shot. But I was outside of 250, didn't have the lumber in the bag to go for it, so I laid up (bad Shane). I got home that night, and I pulled out my old Wilson 1200 GE Maple Laminate Drive that plays 43.5" long. (mind you actual "woods" can be difficult to hit, however after about ten shots that all went similar distances (not long maybe 220-230) I realized something. I don't need a 45.5" driver to hit it long. I probably should to my fitter and figure this out.
I started a thread linked above. Which I actually did this experiment today. We actually did a version of this when I was settling on my length in my new EX10 driver. We actually started at 45.5" which is where I was at. Then we worked down to 45".... Which was a little better. Then I went too short... he actually has a couple shafts that make the driver play 42 and 43" respectively... and the strikes were there, but the distance was too short. (I joked if Tour Edge had a 15° or 16° driver head, I might use that for a 6 or 7 club set) So we went from there to 43.5" which was actually really good... but the launch was a little high. So we stuck made the Driver 44", The launch was around 15°, spin around 2500 (which is a hell of a lot lower than I had), and I was flying it 260... Consistently... So we tried 44.5" and the inconsistency creeped in. I'm 6'5" I have average length, limbs, a long torso... And I have a Driver an inch shorter than most of the guys at my course... wait till they play with me... they are in trouble.
But as Dave and Erik say in LSW... 250 yards is plenty to be a scratch golfer (if you're playing from the proper tees, which I think I am, my course is 6,385 yards). I don't think I can get to scratch just by becoming an excellent driver of the golf ball, that is both long and reasonably straight. And I'm longer than 250 consistently... I'm probably going to be pushing a legit 270-280 yards once the season gets in full swing. If I can keep my shot zone in a nice 30 yard wide oval. I'll start gaining strokes. All I want to know from @iacas is trying to make your misses smaller, okay, if your only giving up say 5-10 yards of potential distance to do it?
At my home course you can join their "Player Development" program for $49 bucks a month. This includes unlimited range balls and unlimited play on their three practice holes. Too good a deal to pass up.
Success. It was software. I think maybe I upgraded 3 successive OSes. Normally I do a clean wipe but I got lazy. Or maybe it’s some confluence of settings. Whatever. I got a new keys, which have more rise than the old ones. Plus a new battery. I guess it was worth the trouble.