Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I holed out from the fairway for an eagle-two on a par 4 for the first time in my life tonight. I was playing by myself in a light rain (did it really happen?) as I drove wildly to the left of the fairway on the short par 4 13th hole at my home course. Thinking I could do better, I drove again and watched as my ball sailed well to the right this time. I walked to my first ball and saw that I'd gotten a nice carom off the trees, leaving myself with a side-hill lie in light rough approximately 150 yards from the center of the green. Unsure of where the pin actually was, I decided to hit a 6-iron and hope for the best. The shot came off pretty well and I watched as it bounced on the front of the green and started rolling towards the flag. Unfortunately, I decided to go and locate my second ball before the first one stopped rolling and when I got to my second tee shot I looked at the green and could no longer see my ball. It was at this moment that I realized I must have holed my approach and couldn't wait to get my second ball to the green. Sure enough, some three shots later, I found myself on the surface and went and looked in the cup and there she was, my first ball! What fun--I sure am glad I didn't quit after making my first birdie of the young season on the 9th hole some hour or so earlier.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Maybe the single greatest thing I've ever done for my golf game is make a net I can hit balls into in my own backyard. I've looked at ones at retail outlets in the past but they seemed too expensive to really think about buying them. Then I tried to win one for a while by cashing in a bunch of MyCokeRewards points and putting them towards said contest, but when that didn't happen I decided to just try and make one myself. So I bought some military grade netting at the local surplus store and made a 4'x8' frame out of PVC to hold it. I propped it up in my backyard against some large, annoying bushes we have against the north side of our house and voila! Ball-striking satisfaction just outside my sliding glass door! I can take full swings and hit REAL balls into the net, grooving the positions and feelings in the swing that I need to make some real hay on the golf course. Practice makes permanent, after all, and since my game was recently rejuvenated by a very eye-opening lesson I took from my club's teaching pro, everything seems to be coming together. Now my weekly trip to the course will not be all about a panicky practice session before teeing off and spending the first six or so holes figuring out which swing I have that day, maybe enjoying the last twelve holes if I like the one I got. Instead it will be all about taking confident, aggressive swings at the ball and watching it fly high and far towards my intended target. Eureka!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I took a lesson last weekend and it was another eye-opening experience. Every lesson I've ever taken has been just that so I don't know why I should sound so surprised by it happening again. We changed my grip, my takeaway, my ball-position and the posture of my stance during the backswing/downswing transition. We then focused on my approach angle into the ball and learning how to turn and release the clubhead through the ball and beyond. I was able to play with my buddies yesterday without hurting anyone or embarrassing myself too badly so that was definitely a step in the right direction. Now if I could just get a few more practice sessions on the range under my belt, perhaps my confidence could begin to repair itself and I might be able to really enjoy a decent round of golf again in the near future.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Let the record show that I'm pulling for Angel Cabrera to win the Masters come Sunday evening. The power and passion with which he plays the game is so inspiring that I can't help but pull for him. Aside from the last two years of Death Marches around Augusta, in equal part due to brutal course set-ups and the weather, the Masters generally rewards players who play like Angel Cabrera does. They are technically sound, sure, but they also play with their hearts and great feeling. Perhaps this is why so many Europeans have won this finest of majors over the years. And the way he steps into the ball and pulls the trigger before he has a chance to think about anything other then where he wants the ball to go is something most of us amateurs could learn from too. He appears happy-go-lucky all the while, like the Opee Taylor of Argentina I guess. You win some (the '07 U.S. Open, for example) and you lose some--just have fun while you're out there. I know I'll be having fun watching him perform his craft on the golf course all weekend long.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Good Friday might be my favorite day of the year. My wife and I shared our first kiss some ten years ago on Good Friday. And nine years ago I made my first birdie on Good Friday, at the par-3 seventh hole at Manitou Ridge golf course in White Bear Lake, MN. Spring has usually sprung by this time every year so Good Friday is often a symbol for the beginning of the golf season. And oh yeah, the Masters is almost always on TV on Good Friday. What could be better? I'll be taking a swing lesson this morning for the first time in some four years then I'm heading back home to color Easter eggs with the girls and hole up for the afternoon to watch the first major of year unfold before my very eyes. A little slice of heaven, if you ask me. I hope everyone else enjoys their Good Friday as much as I'll be enjoying mine. Cheers!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
My buddy Matt noticed my struggles on the course the other day and said plainly as we pulled up my ball in the fairway, "Dude, we gotta do something about your (lack of) distance. I'm sixty yards past you." Though not the first time I'd heard something similar from one of my playing companions, the tone in which Matt imparted the phrase struck me as being constructive and not derisive, perking up my ears more then they otherwise would've been. Matt worked some time ago on the retail side of the golf business and said he could tell from watching me play that the shaft in my driver was too stiff. Indeed, what once was a low, going draw has since morphed into a high, short "fade", landing like a loaf of bread on the soggy fairways of springtime in Minnesota. He said this was because my swing wasn't fast enough to close the clubface with my stiff shaft and that I'd likely be more happy with the shape and distance of my drives if I switched to a regular flex in my "play" club. Appreciating his suggestion, I dug out an old, regular flex-shafted driver from the basement when I got home and went out back and hit some wiffle balls into the night air, feeling more control of the clubhead then I have in some time. I followed that with a week of non-golf reflection and then braved the driving range this afternoon and enjoyed watching the ball jump off the clubface of my new (old) driver. Thank you Matt, my Golf Sensei. You have imparted a breath of life into my almost-dead golf game. Now, can you help me get rid of those nasty (and hilarious?!) shanks too?