Monday, June 29, 2015

Winning round and back on target...

Satisfaction, justification, and flaming exhaustion all the good things which came from winning yesterdays club competition and playing to the new handicap for the first time since reaching it two weeks ago. Now sitting on GA 9.6 down .3 from Saturday, with a couple of weeks of hard dedicated effort in training, practise and competition to come and consolidate the number. There was one particular aspect of note from yesterdays result, my fitness is well off the required level needed to achieve my goals for this season. At the half way mark of 2015 and my handicap has dropped from GA 11.1 (Playing handicap 12) since January 4th which considering the injury affected playing condition until mid February is a fair effort. It is only now that I can practise 5 days a weeks and do it in comfort and no risk of a regression. What is noticed in the past 20 results is the regularity of breaking 80 has gone from once a year to every two to four weeks. In the past six weeks four sub 80 gross scores. The good scoring is from consistent golfing capability, not once every now and then results when the moon is aligned with Mars and Uranus. The satisfaction from this is great and so is the realisation that I am nearing my golfing goal. Way back in 2012 I was playing a social round and met up with a guy on holidays out having a whack whilst his wife was out shopping. Ambled around talking golf for a few holes and his story was one had an aspect relevant to my game now. He was once on 4 and playing golf with that driven dedication before love came along. He shared his experience to get from 10 to single figures and the workman like golfing to drop each of those digits off down to four. It was pure god fortune to meet up with an eloquent guy reveling in having a social whack when i was still playing off 18 handicap. That knowledge is part of why I am getting the results needed and I am geared to go lower myself. This is seen as a 100% obsession in some (non golfer) eyes and a 100% commitment to those of us who are golfers. My entire logic is that of a competition playing golfer who wants to win, certainly not an academic or technically opined golfer who may have a more varied golf focus. On my part there is a care factor of zero in how little grace or technically correct my swing is. As long as the ball gets in the hole with as few shots possible and less than my competition partners, I am in rapture. Yesterday it took a dedicated commitment to play. It was a sensational day weather wise to be out doors. Yet I sat at the desk working in the morning and seriously considering not playing. I was tired sore and feeling drained from the past fortnight of golfing. This was not a random musing there was a listing of the why's and why not's to playing. Even with the win there was the glorious observation that I can easliy drop two shots off the gross score and five less is not far off in total. Reaching a GA Handicap of 4-5 in 2015 would be great. My target is lower and is really stretching my capability, if I fail and only reach 4-5 that is a very good result. Again back to the chance meeting and the guys comments. Is was not about refining his swing or improving his stance or grip to play better. Getting his handicap down to 4 came from grinding away and playing competitions and knocking of 1-2 strokes a round week in week out. Thankyou for your time and attention Geoff

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Return to Keith GC Open 2015

A little sluggish at the minute. Completed the 300 km round trip to and from Keith and played 18 holes in their Open Event today. Finished in 5th place with 86 (33 points) not a great round but good enough. Was under a bit of self imposed pressure and was well aware of that. The three missed birdie putts and three duffed chip shots were the main problems to the score. Keith is a course not played in a couple of years and one that I set as a benchmark for my golf game. Could have very easily pulled out of this round in deference to playing at Kingston SE and the familiar surroundings. Which is the total antithesis of my golf ambition. If I was not feeling the pressure I would have charged a bit more instead of putting up the shutters and playing a controlled game. Would have been great to break my handicap at this track and I did have a fair dinkum crack at it too. Putting up the shutters is a tad excessive in truth to describe how I played. It was more a case of percentage shots and no stupid 1 in 100 efforts. The unfamiliar fairways ad lie of the land did create some problems but never did I feel the game was getting away from me. Tomorrow is the home club monthly medal round. This is a no holds barred round and the game is going to be played with every essence of my focus on low scoring. This is a very important game change on my part and is happening now as the target (single digit) handicap is based on this and the future of the season. The aggression is not unrestrained, it is all centered on the golf capability that has been developed through practise this season and competition playing. Thankyou for your time and attention Geoff

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Under double digit handicap again...

The past fortnight has been a disjointed golfing period. Winning the first matchplay on the Saturday then losing the next day to be out of the club championships. Not too perturbed played well enough and enjoyed the games. Was always a month underdone to play my best and no excuse except not good enough. Last weekend managed to get out on the Saturday and play comp and with 28 points the lowest score in more than six months. Still not bothered it was all about getting on a golf course and having a social hit and explore my golf game limits. Today after working on some physical problems with Bowen and clearing the head of baggage went out and played very well. Getting 40 points, 79 off the stick and now with a GA of 9.9. Almost back to the 9.8 GA of last September before the shoulder collapsed. On target for the goal of the season and all from never wavering and working consistently on my golf game. Thank you for your time and attention Geoff

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just get the Ball in the hole...

Just get the ball in the hole 22 May 2015 by Paul Skinner What do you think would happen if your club took the flags off its greens in Saturday’s competition? Not the holes, just the flags. Well, after the mayhem and initial confusion, I can tell you what would happen. You’d shoot a lower score. I almost guarantee it. The proof comes from statistical evidence – and from the wisdom of some of our game’s greatest players. Jack Nicklaus once said: “I only ever hit it close if I pushed or pulled it.” Greg Norman once said: “If I hit a great 5-iron, it goes to 25 feet.” Essentially, two legendary golfers were aiming away from the flag, often simply to the centre of the greens. Which goes right back to my club competition theory. If you aimed exclusively at the middle of greens, with no other target in mind, you’d find yourself putting a lot more than you otherwise might, especially if you regularly aim at “sucker pins”. Here’s how I know this. As an eight-year-old I was lucky enough to meet Peter Fowler, who quickly became a mentor and the reason I pursued golf as a career. I practised every day and in 2000 earned my Australasian Tour card – my dream achieved. Or was it? I battled for years with limited success. I hit more balls on the range than anyone, trying in vain to perfect my swing. During this time I would caddie for Peter during gaps in my limited schedule, even working on the European Tour for a while. Peter is known as one of the hardest workers on tour and for his meticulous preparation and course management skills. One of the sport’s greatest short-game exponents, he’d consistently amaze his peers with the scores he churned out, even while playing less than his best. In all this time watching Peter, you’d think I’d have learnt my lesson. He was trying to teach me how to play golf; I was trying to play golf swings. Golf is a game of misses. What defines golfers is the quality of their play when things aren’t going quite right; when their so-called “perfect swing” isn’t quite perfect. I once asked Peter to tell me of the better rounds he had through his career and without a moment’s thought, he answered: “I shot 74 in the third round of the Scandinavian Masters back in ’89. Mate, I could not have had one less!” And this from someone who has shot a 63 to win on the European Tour! So I finally learnt the lesson. Even now the best golfer in the world might win three times a year, so there are going to be a lot of weeks on tour that will be a battle. So it’s meticulous course management and preparation when things aren’t quite working that helps us to score. Three years ago, my good friend and Victorian Institute of Sport coach Marty Joyce asked me to present a talk on course management and preparation to Golf Australia’s national squad at a training camp. I’ve since had the privilege of working with Golf Australia as a coaching consultant and they’ve been some of the best times I have had in golf. The kids are incredibly talented and, trust me, are truly the best this country has to offer. And it’s incredibly fulfilling that they are now taking towards having that scoring focus, not just honing that perfect swing. We now have access to myriad statistical data. One we study religiously is proximity to hole – essentially how close Tour players hit the ball, on average, from any given distance. We are using this data to challenge our players to think more about clubs they’re hitting off the tee and, in particularly, approach shots. We use terms “in position” and “out of position” and hopefully getting them to understand that top tour professionals fire away from a lot of pins. One of the theories we pose is that if a top-10 player in the world hits a 7-iron to 25 feet (sorry, the data isn’t metric), if there is any trouble within that radius, we need to aim elsewhere. An example of this for those who know Royal Melbourne is a pin within eight feet of the back left of the second on the East Course. If you go just 10 feet past, you’re dead and cannot get up and down – an automatic bogey at best. Playing into that green with a 7-iron, knowing our likely proximity to the hole is 25 feet, the pin I am playing to is short right of and taking two putts all day long. To hit it close to that pin is a mistake -- which is why I am so determined to make these kids get it! Is this a conservative approach? A lot of people have challenged me on this in the past few years – and the answer is simple. No, it’s not. It’s simply playing to statistical data that cannot be argued. Bernhard Langer used to have a “seven out of 10” rule. He would say, “I need to know I can hit this shot seven out of 10 times today, else it’s a different shot or a different club”. Peter, when asked why his short game was so good, said “a lot of it has to do with where I am chipping and putting from”. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for repeatable technique. I coach it every day. But I think among our elite young athletes, we are starting to get the balance right between good technique and actually playing the imperfect game that is golf. That culture is starting to shift. To have kids the calibre of Ryan Ruffels and Lucas Herbert go to Japan spending nine hours creating their own yardage book; to start hearing them talk about “being in position” and “out of position”; to see them warming up on the range hitting all the required shots for the day; checking pin sheets and weather conditions pre-round; is really cool to me. And I’m pretty sure it will pay off for Australian golf. Paul Skinner is a member of GA’s high performance staff and consults to the VIS, Golf Victoria and state associations. He can be contacted at Martin Joyce Paul Skinner Golf, located at Spring Valley Golf Club. E: M: 0433 122437 Thankyou for your time and attention, Geoff