So I wanted to do something a little fun. I've been a golfer on and off now for the last seven years. Three years ago, I had my best season (I started off averaging about 120, and by the end of the season, managed to start breaking 100 on a regular basis). Last year, due to financial limitations, I only played four rounds. This year, I'm going to be out there at least once a week!
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep this thread going, and after each round at a course, or practice at the range, give everyone who wants to read it, an update with some thoughts, or ramblings about golf in general. So let's get this thing started:
It's been close to year since I've been out to the range or a course. The weather was a nice 42 F with little rain, but some winds. I called my favorite little executive course and found out they're opening on Monday should the weather be good enough. I NEED to see if I can even remember how to swing a club. I grab my 7 iron, 4 iron, and driver and hit up the Royal Oak Golf Center.
I get the balls, stretch, and give a few practice swings with my 7 iron. I'm playing the same irons I bought 3 years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a "serious" golfer (whatever that means!). They're these Wilson Reflex Irons Dicks Sporting Goods sold me for about $250. I almost bought a set of Strata's that year, but decided I liked the way the Wilson's looked, and I was vaguely aware of the history of Wilson Staff irons, so it felt like a cool thing to get. They have this mat black polish around the head, with red offsetting the black.
I take five balls and line up for the first swing. It feels really awkward. I'm looking around at all the other golfers who seem to have flawless swings, and I'm nervous because I just know this isn't going to go well. There's this woman three or four lanes away from me and she's obviously just taken up the game, because she keeps topping the shots. Her boyfriend is trying to help her out, but she's just doing her thing. I smile and feel a little better about myself.
I focus on the ball and take my first swing. I top it and it flies like 30 yards down in front of everyone else's lane. It's like that scene in Tin Cup when he's first arriving at the driving range for the US Open and he can't seem to get rid of the shanks. I shank three, maybe ten more.
I step away and look around. Nobody cares, and then I remember I'm all alone. It doesn't matter at all. I need to find my swing, because I really want to start playing again. I line up behind another ball, take a deep breath, and have my first really good swing of the club. I can feel when it's a good swing, because it feels natural, and the ball seems to float up in the air, before landing and taking a bounce. I hit a few more with mixed results. I switch to the 4 iron.
The 4 iron I'm hitting really well; 165 yards! I'm not understanding what the difference between why my swing is working with a 4 iron, but is hit or miss with the 7 iron. I switch to the driver (an old Olimar Tri Metal from the 90s), start off with huge slices. Switch back to the 4 iron; no issue. I'm really starting to wonder what's going on. I slow things down, and then make a discovery: right before the club contacts the ball, I'm breaking eye contact with every shot that's not using the 4 iron. With the 4 iron, I'm concentrating so much that I'm allowing myself to access swing mechanics appropriately. I go back to the 7 iron, remember to keep good eye contact, and every single one of the next 15 balls I hit end up at 130 yards and right at the spot I'm aiming. I go to the driver, repeat the same process, and I'm mostly hitting straight and at about 220 yards (still a slice on a few shots here and there, but overall much more consistent and a better feeling).
The end of the practice session was good, but the struggle was real for a while. Finding the swing was really hard because of the lack of practice in the last year or so. I had to constantly remind myself that this is a simple game; it's a simple thing. I think we tend to overthink the game, and the swing, too much. It's also helpful, I think, to remember that at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter all that much, because we're out there to have fun and enjoy life. I went to a few stores afterwards and looked at some nice things (bought some Wilson Staff Duo balls for the season and am looking for a Sunday bag because I want to walk courses not ride) and I'm really looking forward to the season. That first round is going to be a nightmare, but I don't care. I probably won't even keep score!
So, here's the three main takeaways:
1. The swing should feel natural. If it doesn't feel natural, you're doing it wrong.
2. This is a really simple game and it's helpful to remind oneself of that simplicity; keeping calm and cool is better than getting frustrated and upset. I don't think I understood that when I first starting playing. This is meant to be fun, not frustrating.
3. Keep you eye on the ball at all times and do not anticipate the contact between the club and the ball, otherwise you will pull, slice, top, shank, etc. Eye contact will certainly almost always give you a good and consistent result if your swing feels natural.
Trucker, you are good enough to use one. Every shot requires a goal, not that you attain perfection.
If the pin is 5 from the back and long is bad, then my club choice (depending on wind....) would be, if I pured that club, it would just reach the pin.
If you think you are not good enough, chances are high the right mental approach can move you index 5 or more quickly.