Thursday, December 08, 2011

Playing out of my comfort zone

7/12/11 Wednesday. It has been a gradual revealing of the following, that golf is a game of playing outside your comfort zone. As a person who does the best I can to be comfortable, to be able to make the effort and accept not staying comfortable as the better way to play golf surprised me a little. It was not a eureka moment reached with a coalescing of a lightbulb over my head. This had been mentioned to me by others in the past and taken on board to be reviewed at a later date.

A few things had to happen before playing golf outside of my comfort zone could be considered worthwhile. My own capability as a golfer had to reach a standard that would give confidence and consistency to allow playing a more attacking game. For the past three seasons, playing bogie golf was good enough for me to win and slowly improve most of the time. More times than before in 2011 I had blow out scores into the 90’s, coming in with scores 10 strokes or more over my handicap of 12. To come in 10 strokes over my handicap rarely would happen when in the 15 to 20+ handicap range. Getting the right club set up has taken a couple of years to establish also.

After watching the play off videos of the Robe Open and Village Classic it was glaringly obvious that my setup of small head drivers had to change. This worked in club golf and competition golf well enough this season. It is not going to have me in the hunt for success in Open A grade fields. That extra 20-40 metres less off the tee is a millstone, no matter how accurate and consistent my small head driver shots are. The change has not been a major problem, at the minute I am playing 9 holes each day and no range practise. The injury is still healing and I enjoy the walking and hitting 40-43 shots using all the clubs. Last week, an enjoyable 9 holes in the club “Chicken Run” put all of the changes into the round. Sticking to not having set club selection for any shots, doing the setup routine before each shot and playing off a 9 handicap in this comp. and not my actual 12hcp. Managed 15 Stableford points after the nine, did not drop any of the birdie puts and missed a couple of close ones as well.

Then relaxed over a few cold bevies in the club house, which included a first hand observations of the Presidents Cup from a former club champion. The consistent tempo of the various golfers was one topic of conversation and then something that I have already been out and used in practise this week. Putting has been a targeted game improvement that I must get proficient with in the near future. The particular drill that was discussed was from watching the USA Team on the green. They were all doing the same putting drill, hitting at a single tee as the target. This morning I set up on the practise green for 30 minutes with a single tee as the target with 6 balls and putted out with each one until the tee was hit. Best I got was 4 hits from six balls, from 3 metres. Either side of that distance varied from 2-3 hits. I will keep at this for the next three months and establish better results in my rounds from it.

“Drive for show and putt for dough” a golf adage we are all familiar with. For me in the past week it has been turned on it’s head. Tee shots have become as calculated and well thought as setting up for putting strokes. The setup routine is the same, the clubs can be anything from irons, hybrid, 3 metal and... back in the bag the 460cc Cobra Driver. The summer weather has helped to a certain extent. Even so I am hitting the 3 metal (Cobra also) easily 200 to 220m with the accuracy of the 380cc - 400 cc drivers. The 460cc Driver though gets 3-4 hits each nine, off the tee. That is delivering 230-270 m without any shaping, just straight and long. The best I can do and it is good enough. This has brought that much needed increase in GIR results on holes. Birdie putts occur regularly in the past week where as previously they were oddities. It is fantastic to stand on the tee and see the ball soar across a dogleg creating a 100m shot at the green. No more less enjoyable than hitting functional straight drives along the fairway and leaving the ball just as well placed.

Still a lot of practise to go that is nothing unexpected in golf. With the elbow injury still hampering my stroke play and general daily use of the arm, I can see the needed 2-3 strokes less on each nine as a reality. This mornings 9 hole hit finished with a 41, included one double bogie with an OB from a bad drive and a three putt for a bogie on a par three hole.

2011 has been a successful and enjoyable season on and off the golf course, with the following results. Southern Ports Competition in March. Following runner up placing in 2010 in “C” Grade. “B” Grade delivered second place this time after a playoff at the end of the 3 rounds during the Tournament. Played in the Masters Games at Naracoorte Golf Club, came away with a Silver and Bronze medal at the end of the weekend. Managed to win one monthly medal, Caledonian Inn Trophy that I tied for in 2010 my goal was defending the title. I pulled that off with my last round getting over the line in the best 2 out of 3 stableford scores. Club Championship Runner-Up, hung in there for 32 of the 36 hole match play final and thoroughly enjoyed the surprise appearance in this finals event.
Thankyou for your time and attention, “Hit ‘em straight all” Geoff

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