Blog Entries posted by CarlSpackler
Today is a momentous occasion my friends. 25 years ago, my wife and I got married. She mostly puts up with my insistence to play this silly game called golf. I guess that makes her a keeper. She only accompanied me once to the golf course and rode along watching me play. This was about 21 years ago when she was pregnant with my son and overdue. I convinced her that riding in the golf art might help to induce the delivery of the baby. I really wanted an excuse to play golf, and that was the best idea that I could come up with. I was wrong and quickly came to regret it. Several holes in she told me that I stunk. I have improved quite a bit since then, but it often takes a little honest reality to kick you in the arse and motivate you to get better. I'm not sure if that was her attempt at getting me to give up the game, or if she was trying to make sure that I never invited her out to the course again. All I can say is that the last 25 years have been anything but dull.
I was playing yesterday and putting into noodle filled cups, and it hit me out of the blue how much I miss the sound of a golf ball rattling to the bottom of the cup. It's such a distinct sound that marks the completion of "the hunt". It hit me when I "made" a 7' right breaking putt for par that tapped the flag stick and plopped lifeless onto the blue pool noodle. Normally I would give a little fist pump for saving a par like that, but it was almost depressing. I wonder if this is mentally killing my putting. I would normally walk to the flag while feeling the slope(s), pull the flag, and get into a hunting mode. It was a primal feeling like tracking a wild animal. The sound of the ball falling into the cup is like hitting your mark with an arrow or bullet. Without that, it's almost a "whatever" kind of feeling. Who cares if I make it or miss it.
I need figure out how to start hunting pool noodles. Maybe I should buy some and start shooting them with my pellet gun to develop the killer instinct. Maybe I am just being silly.
This has been discussed extensively in the Ohio Golf group the last few days, but the city of Dayton, OH decided to close 2 of its 3 golf facilities in light of budget cuts needed from the coronavirus pandemic. Kittyhawk is where I’ve played the most because it is close to my house and Madden GC is also closing. The city has been subsidizing these courses out of the general fund and they require significant capital investment over the next 5 years. The city will keep Community GC open since it turns a modest profit.
Jack Nicklaus played in the Ohio Open Championship at Madden in 1958. He didn’t win, and I wonder if Madden’s fate would be different if he had. Kittyhawk is home to Dayton Golf Hall of Fame. Hopefully they move it to Community GC. There are also many monuments to late golfers at Kittyhawk. There are 72 golf holes in our city that will no longer be played. Many people from our area learned to play at Kittyhawk’s Falcon (formerly Kitty) course. That’s where I took my kids when they were young.
There is a significant piece of Dayton history that is dying. It is unknown what will happen to the land. There are thousands of golfers that need to find new homes. I imagine neighboring courses will benefit from this, but this is a significant loss to our city.
I want to take a moment to talk about my uncle Don. He is the guy who gave me my first swing lesson at a very young age. We were having a family cookout, and I had grabbed one of my days irons and was swinging it in the yard. He came over and showed me some things. I don't think my mother was too happy with him when I started making divots in her well manicured turf. This led to taking a few of my dad's "smiled" golf balls to the park up the street and hitting them back and forth every day. I would occasionally get invited to tag along with my dad, grandpa, and uncle at the nearby goat track. I killed a lot of worms at that place, but the occasional great shot (relatively speaking) wet my appetite for the game like nothing else. I wanted more and more.
Uncle Don passed away yesterday. He was one of the calmest, coolest people I have ever know. I have never seen him get upset over anything. When he would hit a bad shot, which wasn't too often, he would simply say, "Hmmmm." and play his next shot. What I wouldn't give for another round at that goat track (now closed permanently) with those guys. I imagine he has already played a round or two with my grandpa on the great golf course in the sky.
It looks like I am out of commission for a while. I was playing in a Quota game yesterday, and my left foot started hurting me. By the time we made the turn, it REALLY started hurting. When I finished the 14th it was almost unbearable. I couldn't get any weight onto my front foot making it difficult to make a golf swing. I apologized to my partners and gracefully bowed out. I assumed that the neuroma on my left foot was acting up, but fortunately, that is not the case. Fortunately, I have a gigantic blister on the bottom of my left foot. I've walked many rounds, but I never got a blister let alone one this large. I will spare everyone and not post a picture. I am wondering if this is from walking, or if it's a sign that my weight is too much towards my toes when I'm swinging since the blister is beside the pad. Who knows, but I it doesn't look like I will be playing this week. 😥
I played in a quota game with @mcanadiens and Kittyhawk Men's Association Thursday 7/4, and did not make my quota by a long shot. I did get my second birdie of the year though. I had WAY too many blow up holes.
View this round on GAME GOLF My wife and I took a long weekend in Gatlinburg, TN. Here are a few highlight photos from the trip. I did not take my clubs, but I would love to take another trip down there with them and play some of their courses.
Unfortunately, it was not such a nice trip home due to a road closure on I-75N.
What an interesting [partial] round I had last night. It's becoming very typical that I only play 5-6 holes when I go out. The older I get, the less patience I have. I simply could not get off the tee. I only had 1 decent drive on #12 which led to an almost birdie. The interesting part is how often I saved bogey/par when I was basically wasting shots off the tee. The first hole started with a low screamer that went a whopping 71 yards. I followed it with a Hybrid that missed clearing the bunker by a foot or so. Too bad. It would have been pretty nice. I ended up saving a bogey from there. The next hole, I sprayed one way right off the toe of the driver then yanked my next shot into the bunker. I hit a nice shot out of the bunker and barley missed the par putt. Finally on 12, I had a nice drive followed by a decent 3W. I pulled my SW a tad and missed the birdie putt, but I love easy pars. One 13, I hit a pitiful worm killer that hit the red tee marker, popped into the air and landed in front of the tee boxes. From there, I hit a beautiful 7i to 5' and made the putt. At this point, the other players were shaking their heads, but I told them that I wanted to lay up to a comfortable distance. 14 had another pitiful drive followed by a 3w from the rough that went through a tree. Another nice 7i and lipped the par putt. I skipped over to 18 and played sprayed another drive to the right. I followed that with a beautiful 3w short of the green where I yanked a SW, but made a 16' par putt.
I am amazed at how well I scored giving how bad my tee shots were. Hopefully this means that my short game is coming around.
View this round on GAME GOLF
I thought last week was bizarre, but let me tell you about this week. I'm sure that many of you have heard about the tornado outbreak last Monday on Memorial Day. We now have 12 confirmed tornadoes in the Miami Valley. One was a strong EF-3 that did major damage. With all of this, there was only 1 fatality when a flying car crashed into a house killing an 81 year man who was sleeping. The most destructive of these was on a track to my neighborhood, but turned south a little about 5 miles west of us. We were hunkered down in our laundry room and heard a the freight train sound as it passed several miles to the south of us. We came out of our safe area and started watching the news again only to find another EF-2 heading straight for us. This one did not turn, but fortunately it stopped just short of our neighborhood about a quarter of a mile from our house. I have never heard hail pound our house like that. Fortunately, it only left a small ding on the top of my car and a few on my kids cars.
I drove through the war zone like area to make sure that everything was OK at work since we had 3rd shift people there. Our servers shut down nicely, but our firewall was throwing hard drive errors and needed to be replaced. Our Internet connections are down and look to be for a few more days as they repair massive damage to power poles. Where the tornado crossed the road less than a mile north of work, they were using snow plows to clear debris. Guard rails were twisted up like flimsy metal,. Trees and buildings were leveled. My former employer who is just up the road sustained no damage even though their neighbors buildings are almost rubble. Heavy equipment was upside down. Work is still without power and likely will be for a few more days. We rented a large generator trailer and are able to process parts for our customers, but our IT infrastructure is struggling as am I with lack of sleep.
In the midst of all this, I thought my home course, Kittyhawk, would be in horrible shape, but the larger tornado missed it by a half mile to the south while the other missed it by a quarter mile or so to the north. Other than having no power or water, they were open for business Tuesday evening, so I went out for golf league. You can see the [rotten] fruit of that effort on my Game Golf. The greens were exceptionally slow given the lack of maintenance, but that is quite understandable. The president of our golf league says that he is not going to count the round because of the conditions. I'm calling BS since the course was open with no pending weather that day. We have played in monsoon rain before because the course was open. The other leagues were playing and there was one other person from our league there as well. That is 2 out of the six of us. Thoughts on this?
This Memorial Day will be quite memorable, but unfortunately not what it is supposed to be memorable for.
This week sure has been interesting. Monday started off on a high note when my Game Golf Live finally showed up. I got it charged up and connected to my phone. I bought it used from eBay for $40. It was missing some tags, but my clubs already have tags from my older unit. My first round attempt did not go so well. More on that later. Later that evening, my wife and I are driving up the street when she yells that the store we were driving past was getting robbed. I look over, and 2 guys in masks were high tailing it (do people still say that?) out of a liquor store. They got in a car and flew past us. I followed them until they ran a red light to get on the interstate. My wife was on the phone with 911. The experience was quite surreal.
Now to the golf part. Rain and storms every night have limited golf to Tuesday night golf league. It was cloudy and brisk out, but I sucked it up and played. I started tagging my round with my new GG Live only to find out that I started the wrong course. I tried to start a new round, but soon gave up. I'll try again on the next round. I'm used to my old device that I just turned on and started tagging. I have to remember to start my round on my phone before the first tee. The round was a roller coaster. Good hole. Bad hole. Two good holes, Three awful holes. Then finished par - bogey. We were stuck behind a painfully slow 4-some that had no clue how to play ready golf. 2.5 hours for 9 is not my idea of a good time. I am still waiting to win the lottery so I can afford a decent club...
I am about to start a 4 day weekend. The weather does not look great, but hopefully I can get some golf in. Lord knows I need the exercise.
It's been a long time since I blogged on here. Life sure has a sick sense of humor. In October 2017, I was laid off from my job in FL and I moved back to Ohio begrudgingly. I spent most of the last year working on my house so that it will sell. There is still quite a bit to do, but it is getting there. My wife was diagnosed with cancer, but thankfully it had not spread. Working and taking care of a loved one can certainly suck the life out of you.
With that being said, I bought a membership to the city courses after playing only a handful of times last year. It's taking a while to shake the dust off, but it's slowly coming around.
I have struggled hitting my only FW metal from the deck for a while.The last few times I've played, I focused on contacting the ground at the point where the back of the meets the ground. It seems to have helped me make solid contact. I'm not sure why. Comments? Thoughts?
Yesterday was an excruciatingly long day on the golf course. It took nearly an hour to play the first 3 holes. My tee time was 12:18 PM. I looked at the clock as I left the course and noticed it was 6:17. O...M...G! To make matters worse, 2 women cut in front of the 3-some of men ahead of us on #10. I had enough and walked to the clubhouse and asked the guy where the starter was. He pointed to himself. When I told about the butt-in, he replied that he couldn't do anything because he was the only one in the clubhouse. Apparently he got the cart boy to drive out and tell them they had to go back to the first tee. They gave me a dirty look as they drove past us back to #1. I returned the dirty look and hoped that they would say something. Unfortunately they didn't. The cart boy came over and apologize. I told him that after it taking 3 hours to play the front with the entire course backed up, that was uncalled for. He responded that we were "only" 30 min. behind a typical round of 5 hours. I said, "If that's your typical round here, I certainly will not be coming back."
I am quickly coming to the conclusion that most public courses in Florida are pieces of sh**. So far, Eagle Creek, which I played with a bunch of TST members in December, is the best. It's further than I want to drive on a regular basis though. I have others to try, but I am less than impressed so far.
This past weekend, I won tickets to the Diamond Resorts International charity golf tournament. It is a celebrity/pro competition here in Orlando to benefit Florida Children's Hospital. It's an interesting event with competitors from the LPGA and PGA (senior tours) along with celebrities. Some of the the celebs were really good, while others (Larry The Cable Guy) were not. My son and I followed Larry for a while on Saturday and he made pars and bogeys. The wheels apparently came off on the back (front) nine. He certainly was entertaining though and a crowd favorite. Other celebrities included Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton from The Fresh Prince, Dancing With the Stars, and currently America's Funniest Videos), Blair o'Neil (TGC), Marcus Allen, Ray Allen (NBA), Jeremy Roenick (still looks mean as hell), and many others. You can see the full list of participants here.
One of the things that made this tournament interesting was to see LPGA stars playing the same course and tees as PGA players and amateurs. I stood on the tee of #12 while some of the big hitters like Lexi Thompson and John Daly teed off. I've witnessed Dustin Johnson and other PGA pros unload on par 5s too, and I can definitely say there is a difference. It's also different to see how a pro plays a hole vs. the celebrity. I saw several of the better celebs hit into the 15th green with close shots, but they were past the hole leaving a downhill slider. Nobody made it. Compare that to the wile old pro Ian Woosnam who played one to short of the green and bumped it uphill to a foot past and tapped in. One of the pros landed the ball on right side of the hole where it kicked left and trickled right over to the hole and made the birdie. I think you can do this when you have better control over where your ball goes.
It was a fun event that I hope to return to next year. I am actually entered for an opportunity to play in this next year. I'm not holding my breath, but how cool would it be to share my experience between the ropes. Who knows. Maybe I can Git R Done with Larry.
This post is dedicated to those shots that you desperately want back. Last Sunday, I crushed a drive to just short of the green. This is usually where I have a problem, but I hit a great pitch that rolled past the pin and left me with a 5-6’ birdie putt. It was downhill and I knew as soon as I pulled the putter back that it was too much and rolled it 5’ past. I lipped out the par putt and left myself with a tap in bogey. Why?!!! I didn’t care so much about making the birdie, but to take 4 strokes from 20 yards is completely inexcusable.
There seem to be at least 1 or 2 of these events in every round that are completely senseless mistakes that cost a stroke or 2. I don’t chalk it off to carelessness because I went through my routine. It’s almost like there is a momentary disconnect between my mind a body. So am I the only one that has the moments of cranial diversion? How can these situations be avoided?
I have been a pretty good boy this year and practicing really hard, but of course you know that already. I’m still a bit creeped out that you see me while I’m sleeping and know when I’m awake though. I hope all the reindeer are doing well and the elves are working hard. It can’t be easy living in such a cold climate. Hopefully you at least have a golf simulator up there. Tell Mrs. Santa hello for me.
I know it can be hard to find a good present for an adult, so I thought I would drop a few ideas. First and foremost, I could certainly use a different hybrid. The Adams one I have and I do not get along very well. Pro-V1’s always make good stocking stuffers, but I’ve been hearing good things about these Snell golf balls. A launch monitor would be really cool, but I’m afraid I would be watching the numbers instead of working on my swing. What would REALLY be handy would be a video system like the one they have at GolfTEC. I’m not sure where I would put that though. What I really want for Christmas is a membership to a golf club here in Florida.
Have a good Christmas everyone! I hope you get everything you want!
This showed up in my Facebook feed this afternoon, and like most things, it made me think of golf. In particular, it made me think of improving and swing changes.
I see it all too frequently. A new golfer hits a few good shots and thinks they have what it takes to play at a high level. I would be lying if said the same thoughts didn't go through my head almost 20 years ago when I started playing on a regular basis. I assumed that after a year or so of playing every weekend and hitting balls on the range once or twice a month, I would be ready to compete on tour. It didn't take long for me to figure out that it isn't that easy. I still figured that I could get to single digit handicap after a few years. Ummm... Nope. After many years and now only being a few years away from being able to play on the senior tour, I'm still not even close. It's OK. I still love to play, and I am a lot better than I was.
After many years, this is what I am learning the most. It takes a lot of dedication and many reps to change even a little something in my swing. I am not swinging until my hands bleed, but putting in a little time every day is definitely making a difference. For those of you who are REALLY interested in making a change and improving, take a look at what it takes to succeed. For many people, the winter months are almost here. Don't waste the next few months. Figure out a way to work on your priority piece inside and get to work.
I’ve been looking for a quick way to analyze a round of golf to make sure that I am working on the right things. I looked at the LSW worksheet, but it was a bit more involved than I care for. I just want a quick way to analyze a round to see where I am leaking strokes. Here is a summary of the round I played yesterday.
Split the fairway with the driver although not exceptionally long and played a PW to pin high. Missed the birdie putt from about 10’ and tapped in for par. Pulled driver left into hazard. Dropped and played LW to green and 2 putted for bogey. Hit driver high and only got 177. Pushed a 4i into the trees right and punched onto the green and 2 putted. A tree was blocking me, so I had to play for the front of the green with a back pin. 8i on par 3 came up short. Pitched on and 2 putted. Crushed a high draw with my driver 285 yards and played a PW to the green. Missed birdie and tapped in for par. I hit my driver a bit right (didn’t draw) and ended up behind trees. I had to punch to the left side of the FW. I hit my SW fat followed by a chunky 8i chip. 2 putt and walked away with a double. I hit a decent drive into the wind (238) followed by a decent 3w (high fade) to short of the green. A chunky SW pitch put me on the fringe where I 2 putted for par. The area in front of this green is usually very soggy and tough to pitch from. Pushed a 7i long and it plugged in the fringe. Lift, clean, place and played a short chip and 2 putted. Decent drive, but it didn’t roll out very much. I laid up with a 4i since there is a pond guarding the front of the green. I pitched on and 2 putted for par. Pulled my drive left and short (186 that may have hit a tree and came back) and then blocked a 6i into the hazard right of the green. Dropped, pitched on and almost holed it to save par, but made the bogey putt. Decent drive (225) followed by an excellent PW and made the birdie putt. Hit a decent 3w on to the front of the green and 2 putted for par. I hit a really good drive, but it only went about 200 yards. There was some mud on the ball, so I think it pretty much sat down close to where it landed. 8i came up short. Perhaps the wind was stronger than it felt. Pitched on with SW and made the par putt. Little pull with the 8i into bunker. Played an excellent shot out to the left of the hole. The spin on the ball made it roll to the right though and ended up about 6’ away. Missed the par putt short and tapped in. This is where things get ugly. I hit a horrible 3w with a ton of top spin that only went 110. I pulled a PW really bad that dropped out of a tree and landed just behind a tree root. I was able to get the club on it before it clanked into the root, but ended up thinning it across the green. From there I thinned another back past the hole and 2 putted for a triple. Hit a 9i short and right. Pitched on and 2 putted. Hit another horrible 3w short and right. I punched a soft 5i iron under a low hanging branch that landed short of the green and looked like it was going to roll to the hole very nicely, but kept rolling to the back fringe. I then bladed a SW to the other side of the green and bladed another SW back past the hole. Another 2 putt for triple. Pushed my driver to the right a little and had to hit another punch to keep it under tree branches. Punch shot pulled behind a bunker, but I finally got one up and down for par. I came up with a quick way to look at the execution of this round on a hole by hole basis. I broke each hole down to Drive, Approach, Short Game, and Putting. To me, driving is only on par 4 or 5 holes where I am teeing off with a driver or 3 wood. Par 3 holes I considered approach shots, but I could go either way. For each hole, I would add or subtract strokes in each area where I felt that area cost me a stroke or if I gained a stroke. The end score on each hole would be equivalent to my score in relation to par. For instance, if I bogeyed the hole, I would add a stroke for the area that caused me bogey it. If I birdied it (at least I got 1), then I would credit the area that contributed most. Sometimes it was a half a stroke in two different areas. In the end, I tallied it all up to see where I lost the most strokes. Here is what I ended up with.
On hole number 1, I hit the FW and followed it up with a GIR and easy par. On 2, I drove the ball into the hazard which cost me a stroke. If I had gotten up and down for par, I could have put a -1 in one of the other categories where I made up for it. The fourth hole cost me a stroke in the approach shot since I missed the green pretty short. Hole 5 is interesting. I hit a REALLY good drive, so I credited driving a half stroke. I scored par on the hole so I took away that half stroke in putting since it was a makeable first putt. This was kind of a judgement call, but I felt that my exceptional drive set me up for an easy PW on a longer hole. The approach was good, but not outstanding. On the next hole, my drive was right and blocked by some trees, but it wasn’t horrible. My punch recovery shot was decent. It was really a fat pitch and chunky chip that led to double, so I debited short game 1.5 strokes. The drive certainly set up the scenario that I had to deal with, but I didn’t capitalize on a decent recovery which is why I only charged my driver with a half stroke. At any rate, you get the picture. Different people can see these differently, but I hope over time, it will reveal trends that I can combine with Game Golf.
At the end of the day, my driving cost me 2.5 strokes, approach shots 7, and short game 4.5. My putting only cost me a half stroke that I made up on another hole for 0 net strokes lost. My approach shots cost me the most in total although my only birdie was attributed to a good approach. My driving only cost me 2.5 strokes, but my short game cost me 4.5. It would have been 6.5 if short game shots didn’t save me a half stroke on 4 holes. Another interesting fact is that all holes where I scored double bogey or worse were ones where I had more than 1 stroke lost in short game strokes. On one hand, I could say that the missed approach is what really lead to the lost short game strokes, but I tried to treat each shot on its own merit. Bad approach shots are going to happen, but compounding them by adding 1 or more strokes with a very easy skill is very harmful since short game shots are not nearly as difficult.
I went Game Golf to see what it had to say. Here is a link to the round. It seems to agree that my short game could use some work followed by my approach shots.
I am interested to see what everyone thinks about the system I used to analyze the round or how I scored myself against it. I am also interested to hear thoughts on where I can best shave some strokes. This was only one round, but it is very typical for me.
There is a lot of discussions on here about the impact of the mental game. Opinions range from it being the most important thing about golf to it having no importance whatsoever. Bobby Jones said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course... the space between your ears.” Ben Crenshaw said, “I'm about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That's the distance my left ear is from my right.” The movie Tin Cup is primarily about a psychologist who helps a driving range pro get his head straight to compete in the US Open. He does until he blows up at the end. There are numerous books about the mental game that promise to have you shooting better scores and many people swear by them. All of this seems like compelling evidence that working on your mental game can help you shoot lower scores, but can it?
Golf is a strange game. It costs you 2 strokes to advance the ball 350 yards onto a small patch of closely cut grass where it costs you another 2 to advance the ball another 30 feet doing this thing called “putting”. It seems an odd scoring system where a 3’ shot costs the same as a 280 yard shot. There are boundaries and hazards placed throughout the course that can cost you additional strokes, as well as other potential rules infractions like causing your ball to move. It’s quite mind boggling and takes near perfection to regularly score par. Even a novice player can occasionally attain a score of par which undoubtedly will plant a seed in their mind that they are getting better at the game, but reality often sinks in very soon.
Aside from playing the game of golf, you have practice sessions where you learn how to swing the club and hit the ball. There are different clubs with varying lofts and shaft lengths designed to make the ball go higher or lower and different lengths. Then you have a flat putter that is designed to make the ball roll across the ground on the green and into the hole. It’s possible that the ball will go into the hole from off the green, but that is a rare occurrence even for the most accomplished players. Conventional wisdom has taught us that putting is the most important skill to scoring since you use your putter on a majority of shots assuming that you reach the green in regulation. Harvey Penick used to say that the driver was the most important club because a good drive builds confidence. I tend to think that they are all important, but there is a lot of conflicting information out there.
Given that playing golf is a physical activity of swinging a club whether it’s a driver, wedge, or putter, how could anyone possibly think that your mind plays a significant role in moving the ball? Unless someone is telekinetic, their mind does nothing to move the ball, and the game is all about moving the ball closer to the hole. I played with a guy a month or so ago who kept saying out loud, “You suck!” before almost every shot. Dr. Bob Rotella is a proponent of the mental game who insists that playing with confidence is key to scoring to the best of your physical ability. Although that guy’s assessment of his swing was correct, he certainly wasn’t doing himself any favors with the constant reminders. The bottom line is that a bad swing full of compensations will produce inconsistent results, and no level of confidence will improve your swing. That takes education, preferably by a good instructor and dedicated practice. So again, why is the “mental game” such a big topic in golf?
I have read several books on managing the mental game. Even Dr. Rotella says that a player cannot become a winner simply by changing their thinking. Here is the way I look at this subject. Your physical ability to swing a club sets your potential score. Having a solid mental game cannot improve your potential, but it can help you shoot closer to it on a more consistent basis. One of the main benefits of a sound mental game is the reduction of tension. If I am not hitting the ball well, it is usually because I am tensed up for some reason. There are all sorts of things that can create tension whether it’s dealing with tough situations in life or perhaps a stressful situation on the course like hitting into an island green. Learning how to control your emotions on the course will not guarantee that you hit that green, but it will help you hit it more often. It will also help you deal with the situation better if you fail. How many times have you seen someone miss a tough shot like this and throw a tantrum? All too often I’m afraid. One of the key aspects of a sound mental game is focusing on the shot at hand and not the result. Whether you are facing a bogey or a birdie putt, each stroke counts as one. My best scores have happened when I played in a calm state where I didn’t have a care in the world. If only I could bottle that and sell it.
When I was teaching drum lessons, students would complain that they weren’t getting better. I would ask how much they practiced since the last lesson and then listen to the excuses. I would tell them that if they really want to get better, they need to spend 3-4 days a week practicing for at least 15 minutes. Just taking lessons from me was not going to make them improve. The purpose of the lesson is for me to teach them what they need to practice, but practice is where things happen. I would explain that they can’t do 60 minutes on 1 day and call it a week. They need to practice almost every day.
I would cover the principle of practice with students up front and they would agree. They would be dedicated for a week or so and then fizzle out. Just like golf, drumming is hard. If you take a second and try to make each arm and leg do something different, you will get what I mean. The basic rock beat is to have your right hand tap a repeating 4 count, your right foot tap on the 1 and 3, and your left hand taps on the 2 and 4. To add some spice with 4-way independence, have your left foot tap on every 1 count. Once you have that down, you need to double the times that your right hand is tapping counting, “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”. If you have never played drums before and was able do that with ease at a pretty fast pace, I would buy some drums today and rock out! People usually can't, BUT I can usually teach someone how to do that in less than 30 minutes. It’s very slow at first, and then slightly faster, then faster and faster. Now you have all had your first drum lesson for free.
I'm not a golf teacher (yet), but I believe the same principle applies. Sadly, most drum students give up after a month or so. This is why there are so many used drum sets for sale on Craig's List. It doesn’t make sense to take lessons unless you are willing to put in practice time on your own. “Why do I need an instructor if all I have to do is practice?” you might ask. The instructor is there to check up on you and make sure you are going the right direction much like an airplane pilot is monitoring the navigational instruments and making adjustments. Sometimes they have to make major adjustments and other times a small one, but they can only make one adjustment at a time. The plane will not change course if the rudder and ailerons do not respond. This would be like a student who doesn’t practice.
I think that most instructors teach something different on each lesson to make the student feel like they are getting value for their money, even if the student has not progressed from the last lesson. I think they are doing a major disservice to the student even though the student is more likely to stay engaged for more lessons. The student thinks that they are progressing when they really aren’t, and after a few months, their scorecard will confirm that. A math teacher does not progress to calculation before a student is competent with addition and subtraction. I hope not at least. If a student sees results from good teaching, they will be a student for life.
I went to a drum clinic with a famous drummer a few years ago. It was Todd Sucherman who is currently playing for Styx. This guy is really awesome! I arrived early and got a seat in the front row. He played for a while and blew everyone’s minds. Then he started taking questions. He picked me and I said, “Since you’re a drummer, you have to be working on something, so what are you working on now?” He first looked shocked that someone would ask that question. After all, he is a master at drumming and making a living doing it. He then cracked a smile, let his guard down, and said he was working on some stuff from Buddy Rich, and it was “totally kicking his butt”. Even masters who are proficient at their craft are always trying to improve and learn something new.
To apply that to golf, I think everyone needs a teacher if they want to get better. For someone who is content to play the game and enjoy doing it, that’s fine. For most of us, time is not in great supply, but trying to do the 5 Minutes Daily Practice Challenge has opened my eyes. I realized that I was like one of my students who wasn’t putting in the practice time needed to get better. I also learned that 5 minutes a day is not a lot of time. I hear a lot of people asking on TST how to find a good teacher, but I would say that first you need to commit to being a good student. Commit to a regular practice regimen, and then go find a good instructor. Anyone who is trying to improve should be posting in 5 Minutes Daily Practice threads regularly
A lot of people are questioning the rules of golf these days. Just like many are calling for a simpler tax code here in the US (myself included), people think the rules are too complex to understand. I’m guessing that it isn’t so much that they are too difficult to understand than it is hard follow when you have to penalize yourself. The world we live in seems to be migrating further towards a philosophy of “Do whatever you want”. People don’t think that laws apply to them. We are self-centered and spoiled and becoming more so as time goes on.
For years, I fought the notion in a golf league that we should adopt a different set of rules to “simplify the game”. I asked what was so hard to understand about hitting a 3rd from the tee if your tee shot goes out of bounds. It’s a simple notion that is easy to understand. When their argument about rule difficulty failed, they would quickly revert to a rational of speeding up the game to prevent the walk back to the tee. I then explained the concept of a provisional ball if you hit your ball towards OB and aren’t sure if it stayed in. It only takes a few minutes if that to tee up another. More resistance came and then people started calling me “Rules Nazi” and said that I was taking the fun out of the game. Tagging @missitnoonan.
The conclusion I finally came to was that they simply couldn’t face the reality that they were not as good as they believed they were and needed to take away some of the penalties involved in golf to shoot better scores. It stinks to have add 2 strokes to your score for one lousy shot. I’ve had to do this more often than I care to recall. I have had to take the “walk of shame” many of times when I couldn’t find my ball in the deep rough. After doing that a few times, you become familiar with the notion of a provisional ball. The funniest excuse I heard was that you shouldn’t be penalized for a lost ball because tour pros have marshals and galleries to find their ball and the common golfer does not. They didn’t like my response that they should go to Q-School and get their card if they need help finding their ball.
The rules are complex and there are a lot of grey areas. This is why there are so many debates and discussions after the fact. When the playing field varies from course to course and the randomness of nature is involved, bizarre circumstances are going to arise. What do you do if your ball hits a power line that crosses the fairway and pulverizes or hits a flying bird and drops straight down? What if a dog runs across the fairway and picks up your ball that already came to rest and runs off with it? I have actually witnessed those things happen. I am thankful that there are people that have studied the rules in depth, but they are not available during the casual Sunday round. Lord knows we don’t want people flipping through the ROG app to figure it out in the middle of a round either. Playing by the rules is a learning process. You have to start with the basics and move forward, but first you have to commit to following the rules no matter what the outcome or how fair it may seem.
After all this rambling on, what is my point? I suppose my point would be to man up, play by the rules, and stop whining about them. Don’t be like my older siblings who made up or changed rules of a game as they went along when they began to fear that they might lose to their younger brother. If you aren’t playing by the ROG as they are defined, you are not playing golf and need to come up with a different name for what you are doing. A coworker and friend who died of cancer said when I described the “rules” that were being proposed for golf league, “That’s not playing golf! That’s playing slap-and-tickle!” Rest in peace Mike. You always knew how to put things.
Several recent threads on the forum got me thinking, what is it that I really love about golf. Why do I spend precious time and money on a sport that I am decent at, but certainly can't call myself good. My (unofficial) handicap is now at 10.7. It is only that low because of some very good rounds that I played late last year, so it is probably a bit lower than it realistically should be. I would love to get down a bit more into the single digit range, but I'm not sure if I can make that happen. Perhaps moving to Florida and not having the 3-4 month winter break will keep me warm this year and prevent those higher springtime scores that raise my handicap. I love shooting good scores, but that is really not what excites me about the game.
I love walking the fairways and seeing the birds and other wildlife. Not too long ago, I was playing my home course in Ohio for the last time and noticed this guy swimming around in the water.
Then there was this guy hanging out in the grass last year.
I've seen bald eagles, hawks, deer, and yes, lots of groundhogs on that course. Thankfully I have yet to encounter alligators or venomous snakes here in Florida. I do love nature, but that isn't what gets me out on the course. Lord knows there are much less expensive ways to view wildlife.
I have fond memories of following my Dad and Grandpa around Penn Terra golf course (now closed) as a youngster. I had my own clubs and a cart and would whack my ball along as they played. My dad would have me pick up my ball after a few "worm burners" and drop it by his ball. That would infuriate me to no end. I wanted to hit it past them so bad it hurt. That is what leads me to what I love the most about golf. It's this guy.
That's right. It's the big dog. The annihilator. The Dig D. The Boss. I love hitting the driver. Approach shots, pitches, chips, putting are all things that I need to do to finish the hole and post a score, but this guy is what drives me (pun intended) to keep playing. I just want to hit it further and further. It will misbehave every now and then, but it is truly my BFF. If I were to get remarried today, this would be my best man.
Perhaps if I learned to love my other clubs as much, I could reach that single digit handicap.
I've struggled with what to blog, especially in a golf context. I know more about IT, programming, and databases than I do about golf. It finally hit me. I started writing a handicap tracking system. Knowing that I was moving to Florida this year, I didn't renew my membership to the golf association / GHIN, so I lost my official handicap. In my new job, they use the MySQL database system extensively, so I needed to learn it. I am a seasoned veteran in MS SQL Server, so I decided to dive in. Is there a better way to learn a database system than to write something golf related? I think not. Actually, calculating a handicap presents some interesting challenges, so it was a good project to put MySQL through its paces.
The system is pretty basic right now. Since this isn't a formal project, so I'm winging it as I go. Basically, it has four tables, course, course tees, player, and scores.
Course has basic information about a course like it's name, address, etc. Sadly, I added a field called "active" that will be set to false if a course shuts down. If a facility has multiple courses or rotations, they will be entered multiple times with the name of the facility followed by a dash and the course name (i.e. - Oakland Hills - South, Oakland Hills - North). Course tees has info about the tee boxes such as color, slope, rating. When I looked up some courses that I have played, I noticed the the USGA has different slope/rating information based on gender, so I added a gender field. Next there is the Player table which holds the players name, email, home course and whether they are active. It also has placeholders for handicap index, rounds used in the calculation, rounds posted. More on these in a minute. Finally, there is the Scores table. This holds players posted rounds by date, the course/tees played with copy of the slope and rating, score and adjusted (ESC) score. There is a calculated field showing the differential for the round. For now, I've combined nine hole rounds manually and entered, but I am thinking of adding a Score9H table to hold them with a relationship table where a player could link and submit 2 9 hole rounds into the scores table. I need to research any regulations that would impact this.
Next I wrote some basic stored procedures to insert courses/tees, players and scores. Then I wrote one to copy slope and rating from the course tee table to the scores table. The idea here is that scores will reflect the slope rating at the time the round was played. It's denormalizing the data, but if the slope/rating of the course changes, it will only impact future rounds, not ones that have already been played. I'm curious how GHIN handles this. I would think that you would need to calculate based on what the slope and rating were at the time the round was played.
Finally, there is the key to the system, the calculate handicap stored procedure. It is the most complex portion of the system to date. For the specified player, it grabs the last 20 rounds and puts them in a temp table ordered by calculated differential. I had a major issue here that I will describe later. It counts the rounds to see how many it needs to use for the calculation. I put the calculation for this into a function. I didn't need to since this is foreseeably the only place this would be done, but I wanted to use the function feature as part of my MySQL education. It did help clean up the stored proc though. At any rate, once it determines how many rounds to use based the number of rounds available, it uses a cursor to loop through that many times and creates a running total of the best N indexes that is then divided by the number of rounds processed times .96 to come up with the players index. It stores the calculated index in the players record along with the date it was calculated, how many rounds were used, etc. If there are less than five rounds posted, it assigns the default index (40.4 for women and 36.4 for men). Then a wrote another procedure that loops through active players in the system and calculates there handicap that can be scheduled to run on the 1st and 15th.
So that is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo that you may or may not find entertaining. I did that to hopefully inspire some comments on how I go about this as well get ideas for possible improvements. The next phase is to write a web app to maintain the data. I am hoping to make this mobile friendly, but I don't foresee (at this time at least) writing a mobile app. There are many many many apps out there already, so I really don't see a market for it. I may do it just for the hell of it. I might create a Github page and make this an open source project. I haven't done that, so it would be an interesting experience.
As far as my learning experience, I found MySQL to lack some of the features that I have become used to in SQL server. I guess I am spoiled. For instance, I discovered that you can't provide default values for input params in stored procs. Having this in SQL Server allows me call it without specifying a value for every param. I did a little work around where I set a default value for that parameter in the sp with an if statement. I also found out that when I read the calculated differential field in the scores table, it came back with a 0 value. It was working when I first started using it, but then it stopped working at some point along the way. It drove me crazy, but I ended up recalculating the differential in the sp that calculates handicap index. I found the intellisense (automatic command completion) feature to be very quirky. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. This exercise left me yearning to use SQL Server.
Feel free to comment on any issues you see with my logic or any other features that you think would be nice to add.