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iggywriter

Seventh Year Rookie: Season in Review

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Hi folks,

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:

DAY 1:

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. 

Edited by iggywriter

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14 hours ago, iggywriter said:

1. The swing should feel natural. If it doesn't feel natural, you're doing it wrong. 

Meh. I don't know about that one.

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14 hours ago, iggywriter said:

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. 

I disagree with 1 and 3.

1.The golf swing isnt a natural motion. What feels like a natural golf swing to me isn't the correct golf swing. What feels natural to me is a swing that has very little body rotation, extremely steep, over the top, hands flipping through impact, etc. That is what feels natural to me, but there are many flaws in that swing, and as I have taken a lesson and been practicing, what feels like an unnatural swing to me is actually producing better shots and putting myself in the proper positions.'

3. I can keep my eye on the ball and still pull, slice, top, and shank it. 

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1 hour ago, klineka said:

I disagree with 1 and 3.

3. I can keep my eye on the ball and still pull, slice, top, and shank it. 

Feel free to disagree all you want 🙂 . I'm talking more I think about what's working for me. I still obviously need to test it out on the course, but in practice there was a HUGE difference. 

That's interesting you're still pulling, slicing, topping, etc. Heck, I don't know what causes it, but mine seemed to resolve with this little change. Maybe it's something else with the back swing? I took lessons with a PGA coach a few years (during the season my score starting to drop, and by the end, the last three rounds all broke 100; first time I did that) so I would totally recommend seeing a coach if you want; video of the swing helps a lot and gives some good insights, though I'm starting to become convinced that 90 percent of the game is overthinking it all and getting frustrated, which leads to even more mistakes. That was a takeaway at the end of my season that I was breaking 100. 

Anyway, thanks for reading, I appreciate the thoughts and would love to hear more 🙂

3 hours ago, Bo the Golfer said:

Cool thread and I look forward to the updates. I actually thought I read somewhere that golf is hard :-D

That's what they say, right? 

I don't know. My first two seasons or so were miserable and I couldn't figure out how to hit an iron to save my life (I was playing some worn out, hand me down Hogan Apex irons at the time, so switching to a SGI significantly helped me out on the course. I'm thinking about picking up an old Wilson Staff FG 53 6 or 7 iron just for working on mechanics of the swing) 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share some of your experiences and results here as well! 🙂 

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

Meh. I don't know about that one.

No worries! It's different with everyone, right? 

I think more of what I'm trying to say is that the body movement shouldn't feel all out of wack. When I was hitting yesterday, that was how I started. I could feel the ting roll down my arms and into my hands with every mishit, and my back was contorting in the wrong way, so it felt painful. 

A little while later I noticed when I wasn't so much thinking about it, everything seemed effortless. It felt like my body was just moving the way it naturally would, with the motion. I had to remember to pivot, but that was about it. The result felt really good, and when I focused my attention on keeping eye contact, the results just drastically changed. Things seemed to flow naturally. Anyway, it took about 100 - 125 balls for me to figure this out, and it's something I'm going to half to work at on the range and on the course. We'll see if the results turn out better! 

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44 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

No worries! It's different with everyone, right?

Sure, but you said "you're doing it wrong" to other people.

And @klineka is a better golfer than you, so I wouldn't dismiss him out of hand.

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7 hours ago, iacas said:

Meh. I don't know about that one.

Yeah, I’ve been swinging a golf club for over 50 years, and it still doesn’t feel natural...

I’ve been told that my swing doesn’t look natural either!  :8)

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5 hours ago, iacas said:

Sure, but you said "you're doing it wrong" to other people.

And @klineka is a better golfer than you, so I wouldn't dismiss him out of hand.

Totally understand. My apologizes. I'm not trying to offend anyone here. This is again more of my own sorta understanding that I'm finding out as I go along this season (I will refrain from specifically using terms like "you" when I'm referring to myself). 

 

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2 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Totally understand. My apologizes. I'm not trying to offend anyone here. This is again more of my own sorta understanding that I'm finding out as I go along this season (I will refrain from specifically using terms like "you" when I'm referring to myself). 

That's fine.

But that's the source of the misunderstanding… and disagreement.

Ben Hogan even said to reverse every natural instinct and you'd probably end up with a pretty good golf swing.

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42 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Totally understand. My apologizes. I'm not trying to offend anyone here. This is again more of my own sorta understanding that I'm finding out as I go along this season (I will refrain from specifically using terms like "you" when I'm referring to myself). 

 

You’re not offending anyone. I would like to mention that although feels can vary among individuals there is a lot of commonality with beginning golfers regarding mistakes. @iacas has probably seen what you call a a-ha moment thousands of times and understands what the prognosis is. This site is very dedicated to teaching golf. Mechanics, rules, you name it. So when you say ‘ this is my own sorta understanding that I’m finding out as I go along’ don’t take constructive criticism as negativity. I have tons of work to do on my swing. I can hit 200 golf balls and well into that session I’m striping everything. But when I go to video the same mistakes are being made. 

Hitting a great shot doesn’t mean you’re performing a mechanically sound swing that will increase your chances of good, repeatable ball striking. And sometimes a lousy shot may result from doing a much better swing. Hitting a slew of good 4i’s can be because you’re grooving a feel that is giving good results, feels natural and simple. But it won’t last because you’re not performing the 5 keys.

I like your post and what you’re doing. Golf isn’t simple. It isn’t natural. And that’s not being pessimistic. Just realistic. Enjoy and have fun as you said. I agree. But you might as well make progress in the correct manner and don’t con yourself into thinking that ‘one thing’ that got you striping the ball is gonna happen on your next outing. Keep it real and film your swing. Set small goals and take it slowly and specifically. Cheers and thanks for posting this. It’ll be interesting to follow. 

Edited by Vinsk
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8 hours ago, David in FL said:

Yeah, I’ve been swinging a golf club for over 50 years, and it still doesn’t feel natural...

I’ve been told that my swing doesn’t look natural either!  :8)

It can feel normal because we are used to it, but it never feels natural to me either.

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Rd 1 in Review:

I felt like hitting the course today, even though I knew it wasn't going to be the best conditions. It's been rainy the last few days, and the course of course was rather muddy. I decided to play the Royal Oak Golf Course because Rackham, my go to course, was kinda busy and I really only wanted to play the back nine (Rackham is a Donald Ross design, though the front 9 were significantly altered due to the creation of I 696; so if you want a real Donald Ross feel, the back 9 still remains mostly unchanged). The fourth hole at ROGC is it's real treasure. I'm pretty sure the course was designed by Jerry Matthews; it has the feel of a Matthews Natural Design course. 

The Greens were in pretty good shape, though playing slow today. About the only part of my game that felt rather good today was putting; I mostly two putted, though had a few single putts, and one three put. Off the tee, my driver was pretty horrible for the first three holes; I kept hitting really far to the right. I corrected by aiming more to the left, and from 4 on, my drives were mostly consistent (I managed to make the fairway on 3 of the last 5 holes off the tee). 

Iron play was hit or miss. I hit my 8 iron three times with really good results. My 4 iron was my go to club today because I walked with my Sunday Bag and decided against carrying the 3 wood. I did pretty well with the 4, though I did manage a few bad tops, and one or two slices. 

The real issue today was wedges. I just couldn't hit a wedge to save my life. I had one good recovery with my sand wedge of out a trap that resulted in a single putt, but otherwise it was really bad. I'm going to be spending some time in the backyard and at the range this week really focusing on my short game. In all fairness, I haven't practiced with a wedge in about two years, and it really showed. It used to be the best part of my game. 

I didn't keep score today because that really wasn't something I wanted to deal with, but I mostly doubled and triple boogied from memory. I had a chance at a birdie on #4, but made a really stupid call. #4 plays slightly uphill and over water. I had about 120 yards from the pin to go, and because I was carrying my Sunday bag, I had decided not to carry my 9 iron, which I really thought was the right club for the shot. I decided to hit my trusty 8 iron (my favorite club and the one I usually hit the best), because I figured it'd be safer than working with the pitching wedge due to the water hazard. I over shot the green, and ended up boogieing the hole (this ended up being the best hole for me on the day). 

 

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1 hour ago, iggywriter said:

Off the tee, my driver was pretty horrible for the first three holes; I kept hitting really far to the right. I corrected by aiming more to the left

This would be great reading for you.

1 hour ago, iggywriter said:

The real issue today was wedges.

I know it probably felt that way. But this most likely wasn't the case.

1 hour ago, iggywriter said:

I'm going to be spending some time in the backyard and at the range this week really focusing on my short game.

And this is not the best approach if you're really wanting to improve your game. This may help you quickly save some strokes but for your overall improvement it's ball striking you need to focus on.

If you're just wanting to have some fun and post your experience that's just fine. I'm only saying this if you're really wanting to become a better golfer. There's a lot of great information here to get you on the right track for true and lasting improvement. If you're really not looking to do this then I'll shut up..lol.

 

Edited by Vinsk

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43 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

If you're just wanting to have some fun and post your experience that's just fine. I'm only saying this if you're really wanting to become a better golfer. There's a lot of great information here to get you on the right track for true and lasting improvement. If you're really not looking to do this then I'll shut up..lol.

 

No, thank you so much for the thoughts and the links! I will certainly be checking them out, and working on my game. I want to get back down to at least the mid 90's for a season goal. I'm always wanting to improve! 

The game today was certainly enjoyable, despite the lack of success I felt on the course (I'm still kicking myself for over shooting on #4 because getting a birdie this early in the season would have been awesome!). If there's anything else you want to send my way, feel free to do so! 

Vinsk, 

Can I ask a really stupid question? 

Why does it seem like I can really just hit the 8 iron better than my 7 and get consistently better results, and almost the same amount of distance (I think I actually hit the 8 further than the 7 today; in past seasons, it also always seemed the case that the 8 iron would be my mid - short game go to choice). 

Is there any benefit to learning how to chip and run with the 8 or a traditional wedge? Again, I'm asking because historically, I've had better success with the 8 at the fringe than with my L or SW (I used to be really good with the SW out of traps, but that was about it). 

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It would be very beneficial if you posted a video of your swing on the ‘My Swing’ thread. You just film a swing (your phone is fine) then upload it to YouTube. Then you copy the link and post it to your thread and we can all view it. Seeing your swing is really the only way to get any sound advice. 

That being said, you’re hitting your 8i the same or better than your 7i probably because you’re not compressing the ball. You’re flipping the club through impact thus actually increasing the loft of the club. It varies in amount of fault. In one swing you may be ‘scooping’ the 7i thus increasing the loft at impact turning your 7i into an 8i. You may, for several reasons simply hit your 8i with less ‘scooping’ thus the loss isn’t as severe. Pros and good golfers do the opposite. They actually decrease the loft by having their hands past the ball at impact thus de-lofting the club. Add that to excellent swing speed and they hit their 9i’s 160-170yds.

I really recommend you post a video. There are much more qualified people here than me to offer swing advice. But to start it would be very helpful to go over the ‘5 Simple Keys.’ These are 5 components of the golf swing that every pro golfer has in common. You can find these keys in the ‘Info’ section at the top. Hope this helps some. Cheers! 

Edited by Vinsk

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I think what the OP means by "keeping my eye on the ball" is not letting his head lunge toward the target on the downswing! I know this causes me horrible problems when it sneaks into my swing. I can't get a ball off the ground! 

But, as you said, there's nothing like a video. It's interesting reading a golfer's description of what they think their swing is like, and actually seeing it on video! They are rarely the same!

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On Vinsk's recommendation, I have looked over the links he has sent me. I'm going to be trying to incorporate some of the stuff into my game moving forward. Today, I went out and played rd 2 on the season, and had much better overall results.

RD 2 in Review:

I played this little executive course near my house (Red Oaks) that was designed by Jerry Matthews. It's a short 9 hole course, but has some nice elevation changes, and the 7th hole is a very long Par 4 that might border on being a Par 5. Par for the course is 31, and I shot a 46 ( +15) which is certainly better than the 120 + I shot during my opening round of the season (I'm feeling like this round would have played like a 104 on a traditional, Par 72 course). The big difference today was that the short game played well, and I did manage to get some more distance off the tee when I took out my driver. I still sliced from time to time on the driver, and my 4 iron, but overall I played much more consistent and felt better about things. My putting was on point today, as I two putted every hole except the last hole (I ended up three putting it for a horrible 6. This after I missed a very makeable putt for par due to a miscue; the second putt lipped off the side of the cup.)

Outside of the last hole, I think I played fairly decent considering my lack of experience with the game. I had a nice stretch of four holes where I boogied every one (I know that doesn't sound all that good, but I was pleased with the results after mostly double and triple boogying everything in my first round). 

The first hole at the course is one that I always struggle with. When I was playing it twice a week (about three years ago) I never shot better than a 7 on it. Today, I shot a 6! That felt good, and it would have been better if I didn't have that horrible slice off the tee. I need to really work on the driver at the range. 

This might become the course I play the most. The things that I like about it really outweighs the things I like about most other courses in the area. First, it has elevation changes; most courses in Southeastern Michigan are very, very flat. This one has nice, rolling hills. The third hole (par 3) has a water hazard (the only one on the course). Hole 5 has a beautiful dogleg right (same with the last hole). Depending on where your ball ends up, trees become a major factor on this course. On the fifth, I had a blind shot with my 8 over two trees and landed just off the green. 

The other major benefits of this course are: It's cheap ( $12 to walk; $22 with a cart), it usually isn't overbooked for tee times, it's well maintained (the Greens play beautifully), and the staff is generally very friendly. I've never had to worry about rangers in the past (though there is one guy who rides around the course). This is also a course I'm not all that embarrassed about with my poor play. The group of guys ahead of me were playing much worse than me! I felt pretty good, about that, actually (which probably sounds really bad; It was just nice to know that I wasn't the worse person out there!). 

Anyway, I might play again tomorrow or Friday, depending on work and if the weather stays beautiful. Here's the results from the score card:

6 4 4 4 5 5 7 5 6 ( #1, #5, #7, #9 are the Par 4's. The rest are Par 3's.)  

Also, on a side note: 

I'm really loving the Wilson Staff Duo Soft Balls. They play just incredibly well, and for the price, I don't think there's anything that can beat them ($18 for a dozen). I used to play the Callaway Chrome Soft, but I'm getting better results out of these Wilson's. 

Edited by iggywriter

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