Saturday, July 02, 2011

Attacking golf the way to win...

2/7/11 The 5am starts on Saturday and Sunday to drive around throwing out papers in the comfort of a Smart Car takes a bit of a kickstart in the winter weather. The hour and a half of uninterrupted thinking time while doing this pays for the effort tenfold. I do not think about work whilst doing the round that usually ends up with a lot of people complaining that their paper has not arrived. Which needs UN intervention to calm down the victim whose start to the whole day is ruined when the paper is not on the doorstep.

Fortunately this time is perfect for deep thought on important issues, stuff global warming, ending world hunger and refugee arrivals, I have a golf game to consider. The cerebral part of my game has been getting its weekly practise between 5 and 6 am for two seasons now and so far has worked well. Today was a review of the transition through “C” and “B” grades to the “A” Grade levels and the significant mental attitudes that I have held and altered at the various stages of the progress.

“C” Grade was focussed on just getting on the course and establishing some basic game consistency. Played more golf rounds then than now, usually 3x 9 hole and 1 or two 18 hole rounds each week not very much driving range practise at all mostly chipping and putting. Working on getting fit with all the walking and still lost 2 months with various golf related injuries. This all worked out well enough getting to 25 by December 2009 from the 36 hcp start in March. Only used irons in that first season, started hitting a Driver in November during practise. Strategy wise I looked at doing nothing more than trying to play handicap golf, with a particular focus on ‘percentage golf’ always playing the easiest low risk shot every time to make sure the next shot was sitting as best it could. Copped a fair bit of baiting over that and laughed it off. Winning the club handicap championship, and 3 monthly medals and many weekly comps was a great return for the season. Set me on the path to play the Southern Ports Tournament in March 2010, for second place in “C” grade on a 20 handicap.

“B” Grade was when the struggle side of golfing first affected my game. The adjustment to having to play bogey golf took a significant change to my established practise routine. By the end of 2010 it was more practise range work and less hole playing mostly 18 holes a week occasionally a second one if playing in an Open Competition with one or two 9 hole rounds more often playing 3-4 holes instead. The hole play was replaced with range practise 4-8 hours a week hitting drivers, irons and putting. I was now in the place other golfers on lower hcp. were to me previously in club competition. Being beaten for a win by higher handicappers, with the large number of golfers going out from the high teens to the mid twenties in the new system. Instead of seeing the negative of the handicap adjustment I took another path. During a comp. I generally know that my score is around the mark and on track for playing to handicap and that 3-4 under for any golfer on the day is a definite win. I could still get scores like that in rounds, happy to be on handicap though. In the move down the high teens my game was moving out of the established ability, increased range practise routines were the only way to improve. This set up my gradual change from always taking the easiest safe shot to having a more attacking shot with a greater chance of success due to the practise.

It was a major struggle to keep going at times with consecutive weeks of poor scores as I established the confidence and self belief that I could play attacking shots.Sticking to the new path was difficult, as the established mind set was to play much more conservative golf. Once December 2010 began it was into the Southern Ports tournament training. Following on from the previous seasons dedicated practise. This time though it was much more focussed on playing all clubs and with definite targets of improvement set. This worked again with another second place this time in a grade higher. Dropping 5 strokes off my handicap from December to March showed exactly what is possible with practise with a purpose.

“A” Grade In the highest portion of this handicap group at the minute and only a chance in the Nett section of graded competitions is the fact. This morning I decided on what is going to be the mentality to go with the physical practise toward the target of a 10 hcp. To quote RTL (Steve Bowditch) in a recent post that I have copied to my golf file, It all comes down to what you really want shoot.. ( your goal) once past that you have to use the great line.. Fuck it!!.... You have to want it and have to be prepared to crash… Do not ever let fear hold you back!!! Having played with several single digit golfers and gleaned some valuable knowledge of their approach to playing the game, I can put his words to faces I know and how they play golf.

It has been very gradual in becoming a part of my game and the round at Kingston last weekend had one of those moments that a goal has been reached. On the par 5 18th hole my drive finished resting on the side of one of the mounds put in as an obstacle for golfers. I chose to play the #3 metal and go long, instead of playing a shorter iron shot in deference to the lie. Hit the ball damn well but the angled lie influenced the flight to the left and the ball rolled out of bounds. Even so I did not change to an iron then but played the #3 again with a very average result. End result was an 8 on the hole for a nett 71 and playing to my handicap on the day. Attacking the hole was the choice made, a par would have made me the winner on the day, 3rd place was a satisfying failure.

Number wise most Opens are won by 6 or less handicap golfers in the region. On 14 at the minute and 8 strokes shy of even playing to that, never broken 80 in comp. yet with a 78 social round the best score. My mental attitude is to drop 4 strokes off my current 9 hole score, 38 instead of 42. The improved putting and chipping is all directed at this possibility, I go for the hole with both these strokes now. Doing this alone has delivered Par scores instead of bogies. The weakness is still the longer GIR shots from 140-170 m too often miss the green and are chip to the hole, not a putt. In all a very brief summary of the hour of thinking on the morning drive that has devised a golf strategy for the rest of the 2011 season. Thankyou for your time and attention “Hit ‘em straight all”Geoff