More focus on training and the handicap this year

Couple of days ago I tidied up the basement and found old golf membership cards. I tend to collect them in one place but apparently I had a bunch of them in a different spot – like always when you are looking for something.

What I realized to my surprise was that my handicap, not that long ago, was much better than the one today. I play tournaments regularly and my handicap is adjusting to that, but it seems that for too long now my handicap only knew one direction: up.

So this is going to change now.

More focus on training, a more reliable swing, intelligent course management and ball striking with the longer woods. That’s my approach for this year.

Needless to say that most of the deficiencies have their origin in suboptimal striking, a non-consistent swing and too little training or play, but the equipment of course plays its role, too. So I’m happy to trust my PING G400 set: driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 19° hybrid, irons from 4 to 9, then W, U, S and L from the same set, plus my trusty Scotty Cameron California Del Mar putter.

Off to a new handicap in 2018, new personal records and a new small number on the 2019 membership card! #project12 #break80

A good day for golf… and for me!

Yesterday I met a colleague to play a nice and sunny round of golf. Nothing special about it. But two things I’d like to mention here. First, the guy I was playing with hasn’t played a round of golf for 9 years. He played quite regularly as a youngster, then focussed on a tough job and on family later. Golf was never possible these days.

We met over lunch couple of times and chatted after business meetings. We talked business and we talked golf, I don’t really know why. He told me he once played, I told him I’m absolutely crazy about the game and one led to the other. He thought about golf more and more and decided to get his clubs out of the basement. And so we played a great round yesterday. Of course his score wasn’t good but we had fun, he started to feel the golf-bug again and decided to start play golf more regularly now.

Another happy golfer back on the course!

And it showed something: usually I don’t talk about playing golf so much when I’m with others. But when I do see some interest in the topic I praise the sport big time and keep it rolling. He’s not the first I convinced to play more golf, probably to join a local club to play more often in order to fully enjoy this beautiful sport.

Let’s grow the sport again. Play with some you hardly know, meet up and talk about golf and how cool it is. Because it really is! Give those a little guidance, golf hand holding if you will. It doesn’t take much to spark the interest in those who already had contact to golf in the past. As yesterday showed it’s super easy if you are open and willing to help others get access, fun and ability again.

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And there was another reason yesterday was a good golf day, a good golf day for me at least. I shot an 81, a +9, my best round so far and even scored an eagle, my first ever! I was absolutely over the moon. On a par-4 with a 100m pitch onto the green, and it rolled, and it rolled and in it went. For a split second I wanted to do the Jimenez dance but I just threw away my wedge and the cap and screamed out loud. Golf is great! One step closer to #Break80 and #Project12. And you know what, I only hit irons, not a single driver, 3-wood or hybrid shot. I carried a 2- and 3-iron to be fair. 

I obviously played quite well (for my handicap) but could have saved even more shots, there were some nasty 3-putts on my card later and I’ve been in bunkers at least 5 times. Anyway, a good round. It had over 30°C all the time, we both were carrying our bags, the course is quite hilly in parts and the clubs I used yesterday are 15 years old, yes 1-5. Really interesting round… more of those please!

Wrong direction, dear handicap!

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In the beginning of the year I was pushing myself into as many tournaments as possible in order to gain some important tourney experience and to bring down my handicap to the level I was hoping for.

12 is the magic number for 2015, #project12 it was called, my pursuit for greatness. I’m practicing a lot, playing as often as I can (once a week) and try to get better in all aspects of the game.

In the early period of the year I slightly changed my swing rhythm. I’m swinging much slower now, earning much more consistency off the tee—and I was happy as it always has been the long game I was struggling with.

So from one day to the other I was dead straight and even single handicappers envied my consistency. Funnily enough this came with a complete loss of putting abilities. Don’t ask me why, but for years I had decent touch around and on the greens and now, I was just not able to execute accurate putts anymore. 3-putts and even 4-putts been the result.

Last week, first sight of a weird change. Not doing anything differently, I somehow couldn’t play long shots anymore (my driver doesn’t count, I can’t hit it anyway), no 3-wood, no hybrid, no 4- or 5-iron! But my putting became better I have to say…

Whatever that is, and whatever I have to do to get rid of it, it came at very unsuitable time; my tournament season. I was down to a handicap of 14.6, now 15.1 again, although 12 was the overall goal for this year. Seems like I have to practice bit harder.

Last week’s tournament has been no exception. OK, I had a little hangover and my hay-fever is killing me currently but after a stretch of good holes and 18 stableford points on the front 9, I broke down to, I don’t know exactly 9, 10 or 11 points for the second half. My game was completely wrecked, and I went home ready to cry.

Next steps to work on:

  1. Getting the long game back on track
  2. Do some fancy putting drills because standard putt training is so damn boring
  3. Never leave it short at putting again
  4. Not neglect chipping/pitching
  5. Try to get the holy 1-wood work again

Nothing stops me from #project12!

New Year’s (golf) resolutions

I don’t smoke, I don’t drink beer, I’m not fat, nor do I need excessive exercise. What I do need however is a decent golf swing in 2015. Therefore, fully official, black on white, my 2015 golf resolutions:

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  • Fit in golf as often as possible and play at least once a week, from April to October
  • Play some new courses in the area, such as Mainzer GC, St. Leon-Rot, Neuhof
  • Break 85
  • Come down to a handicap of 12—to be realistic. Ending up at single digit would be great but unlikely having my 2014 performance in mind.
  • Play golf in Dubai, Austria and try to fit in another golf break if possible
  • Make decent progress with the book project
  • Increase the global blog reach and the number of readers considerably
  • Provide live reports and maybe some player interviews from both Germany-based European Tour events, the BMW International Open and the European Open, which made it onto the tour schedule again after several years of absence

Happy New Year to all of you.

A tough round deserves a new handicap!

Last week I fortunately made a small step into the right direction, handicap-wise. I played the monthly club championship and somehow managed to withstand the windy and rainy conditions and carded down an 87 in the end.

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It’s been a while that I played a +15 round, especially on such tough course like the Nessie at Golfpark Bachgrund. It wasn’t just pouring down in between, the course has loads of water hazards to offer. That was basically the reason I left all my woods in the trunk of my car and played only irons, up to my 2-iron. That turned out to be a very conservative but smart idea. And I prefer smart over pretentious.

It was a Stableford tournament and I ended up 2nd net in my class and 6th gross overall—which is pretty cool I have to admit. I’m sure I never made it that high on the overall tournament leaderboard ever before.

The stretch of holes 5 to 11 I played even par, only one bogey with one birdie. After that I somehow fell back into my bogey habits and lost 7 strokes on the last 7 holes. That was definitely not because of bad putting. The putter was hot that day and for the last 7 holes I only needed 10 putts, 28 in total—which is not bad at all.

With this round I lowered my handicap down to 14.8 and am a bit closer now to the end-of-season goal of 12. Let’s see, I’m pretty confident that there is more to squeeze out, but obviously as well a lot of work to do.

Sometimes everything just comes together

That’s meant in a positive way, I have to add. Until last week I wasn’t really happy with my game lately. After a long time (more than two years) I really kick-started my golf again in April/May when I returned from the UK and joined a club near Frankfurt.

The idea was to play as often as possible and as a consequence, improve as much as possible. Obviously I was looking to decrease my handicap quite a bit this year. #Project12!

But it turned out to be much more complex. As the club fees around Frankfurt are quite expensive, I concentrated on playing many rounds on the weekend. I neglected practise and range sessions, never set my foot on a chipping green or practise bunker. Overall goal was to have fun on the course – which I really had. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed the year so far, the rounds, the people I met and tournaments I played. Just the numbers were not to come down unfortunately.

This had to change! I already mentioned in another post that I scheduled in a Trackman session with a pro in order to improve on details and get rid of that dirty hook. Currently I have absolutely no confidence playing with all my woods. On one day everything works fine, straight and long, the next day all balls end up in the rough or in the woods – be it driver, 3-wood or hybrid. And I have no idea what I did wrong, which is never good.

I was pretty mad about it over the last weeks and started to think about re-activating my 3- and 2-iron of my old set. A word and a blow, I’ve put these two clubs back in the bag, went to the course, had two lousy shots with them in the beginning and then everything was a pure pleasure, at least for my skill level.

On a short 9-hole course (5 par-3s, 4 par-4s) I shot a +4, four bogeys, rest pars. And guess what: I think about going back to my 2-iron on a permanent basis. It feels awesome and is much easier to hit than most would anticipate. In my case, I really can recommend giving it a try. Sure, not every set offers a 2-iron and usually the guys will tell you a hybrid is much easier to hit, but in my case this wasn’t true at all. A shot with a hybrid is much more comparable to a drive than an iron shot and as I’m pretty good in my iron play, the 2-iron was the easiest alternative, at least for tee shots.

So in case you’re playing well with irons, but you’re struggling with all woods in your bag, it might be a good idea to go with a 2-iron to get some length out of your shots, at least to try out!

I will re-activate and (re-grip) my whole set of old clubs now in order to have something in the background which could help my play and give confidence in case something goes wrong again with the woods. Long-term obviously I try to get rid of that nasty curve with the woods and will focus on shooting straight and long again – which is the reason I bought these bloody expensive Titleist clubs in the first place!

Maybe I should get myself a 1-iron… anybody with some experience?

Extensive Trackman session booked

Every tour player does it regularly and I couldn’t resist anymore. Just like Davis Love III in this picture, I booked some time with a pro for an extensive Trackman session.

For the ones who don’t know, Trackman is a radar device which analyses golf swings seconds after a shot. It instantly tells the user details about the swing speed, plane angle, club face angle at impact, spin rate and indicates the ball flight providing information on distance, trajectory and spin.

All very useful information for players to improve on details within the swing process. Be it hand rotation, level of the swing plane, speed or just overall coordination. Sure, these are just numbers and everybody has to interpret these for himself, but with the support of an experienced pro I believe players are able to adjust their swing for the better, with less trial and error, instead relying on numbers as a matter of fact. I’m really very excited about this!

As a frequent reader you might know that I’m playing a constant draw which from time to time (or more often unfortunately) comes out as a hook. To avoid this I booked two hours with Robert Schmalfuß today, a young PGA pro based in Friedberg, north of Frankfurt. Apparently he’s a Hank Haney Associate Pro (whatever that encompasses), Healthy Swing instructor, golf physio coach and generally knowledgeable in terms of using high-tech to support the practice sessions, be it the Trackman system for the long shots or the Zenio device for putting.

Something I’m looking forward to also is the video recording of my swing. Yes I could do that myself, but I want to rely more on a high-speed camera showing exactly my wrist action at impact, swing plane and a comparison to the “ideal swing”. I think I’m one of the visual learners and once I see my problems on screen I might be able to address them more properly.

Can’t wait for my high-tech golf practice session, have to wait until September though – this guy is pretty booked out! And I will let you know afterwards how it was and whether you should do it as well! #Project12

Continue reading Extensive Trackman session booked

First tournament for quite some time

Today I played my first tournament for a very long time, probably 1.5 years or so. During my time in England I managed to fit in one or two tournaments, but that was all. So as I’m now pretty much picking up pace with playing golf and my goal for this year is to get a handicap below 12, I thought it’s time to get in tournament mood again.

I played a 9-hole tournament in my new home club, on the 9-hole course. The weather was great and my playing partners, one 60-ish year old fella and two ladies, one early 30’s the other in her 60’s, have been a fun team. Two of them had high handicaps and were far from savvy in terms of basic golf rules but that was fine, nothing to worry about.

I had some beautiful shots, some very nice approaches, nice GIR figures but did some very stupid mistakes also. Result was a total of 34 stableford points with a buffer at 35-36. That meant that my handicap increased from 16.2 to 16.3 – definitely the wrong direction than hoped. But it was my first tournament, a quick 9-hole one and I’m confident to bring down my handicap this year quite extensively. It’s all a question of training and playing practice. End gross result was position 9 out of 51, so not bad at all.

Fingers crossed the next tournament will treat me better. The next on my list is a 18-holes tournament at the champions course, followed by a BBQ and football world cup viewing in the club house (or the terrace). Pretty excited about that one. #GoGermany

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi guys, I wish you all the best for the new year, may all your wishes come true, may you have success all year round, may you keep well and fit and may your handicap drop a lot during the next season! And you keep your fingers crossed for me too, OK?!

Any new year’s resolutions? Well I haven’t played much the last two years unfortunately, this should change dramatically. I have a feeling this year my handicap can come down a notch. Therefore to push myself I will use the hashtag #Project12 to cheer me up now and again. Let’s see what’s possible – I keep you posted!

Handicap statistics 12.2012

You might know, one of the main drivers of this blog is presenting you my progress in becoming a single digit handicap golfer, and to put some pressure onto myself. I know that I can do it but it might take some time, especially when I can’t get to the course as often as I wish I could.

Playing practice is key, I know, but currently it’s not really possible, living in London, traveling quite a bit, not owning a car… but none of this is an excuse really. I just have to force myself, but even more pressure on to get this thing started. This year I only played one single tournament! And guess what, I made it to 2nd in my class and didn’t even play really good golf. All that leads to my assumption that there is more in it… But for the moment I have to cope with my current situation.

On a more or less regular basis, I’d like to provide you with news on my current handicap and my progress to reduce it to 9.9 in the first place. I’d like to begin with the current status:

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As you can see, the statistics start early 2009 with my handicap at that time of 22.8. It dropped quite a bit mid-2010 and mid-2011 but hardly in 2012. Which is a shame because I have the feeling that my swing never was as smooth as now. No idea why. So stay tuned, I’ll let you know some improvement, you bet!