Season goal overachieved

Currently being over the moon with my weekend round, I can report that my (long-time) season goal no. 1, namely #Project12, now finally is accomplished.

Overachieved I have to say. I wanted to reach a handicap of 12.X by year’s end. Two weekends ago I managed to come down to 13.1, which actually was already great news. Then yesterday, in wet and cold conditions, I scored 40 net points, which brought me further down to 11.9.

Dark, cold and wet conditions at Golf Club Domtal Mommenheim. 

During my round at Golf Club Domtal Mommenheim, south of Mainz, Germany, I shot 7 pars, 10 bogeys and unfortunately had to pick one up on the easy 18th. That’s 24 gross points and the mentioned 40 net points. And all that without using any woods, teeing off with a 3-iron only.

Since #Project12 is now in the books, it’s all about #Project9 and #Break80 for the coming weeks and of course next season. Wish me luck!

41 net points at GC Main-Taunus and a new handicap for me. A good weekend.

Not easy to pad yourself on the shoulder without showing off or sounding too pretentious. But my game is finally starting to go the right direction and you can imagine I like that!

On the weekend I played a tournament at Golf Club Main-Taunus in Wiesbaden and had a great day with good company, good weather and good scores.

As reminder: I’m currently avoiding my woods and hybrid and instead only use my 2- and 3-iron off the tee. Still scored an 83 and even had three or four lip-outs on the green. In the end I carded 25 gross points and 41 net points which brought me down to a 13.1 handicap. Not far off my season goal of 12.X. And I had no double-bogeys at all, just bogeys, pars and one birdie. Good news that.

I had to leave early and missed the winning ceremony, so I’m not even sure how I ranked in the comp; dont’t think too shabby though.

Still there’s a lot of work to be done, much practice necessary in order to finally make some progress with my woods also. I just feel that I need professional help here unfortunately.

[UPDATE. I actually won the tournament. Who would have thought!! Came up 1st in the gross and 2nd in the net stableford calculation. What great news!]

Up-and-down at Licher Golf Club

Or better: down and back up again.

On the weekend I played a tournament at Licher Golf Club. This was my second round I played with my new Titleist CBs and I’m still in the process to familiarize myself with the club, the shaft, the distance and the feel in general.

So far, so good. I know Lich being a track in excellent condition throughout the year. It’s not an easy course and can be tricky here and there so a little experience is helpful.

The start is brutal: First hole, over water, dogleg right par-5! Never played par here as far as I remember. Stroke index 1. I wouldn’t say I was starting cold but my score was kind of freezy on Saturday. At least on the first nine.

After the turn I had scored 51 shots which for me equals 12 net points (5 gross). Oh my! On the second half I needed only 40 shots that translate to 22 net points (14 gross). You can imagine I liked the second half better.

So in hindsight I’m quite OK with 34 total net points, having in mind my weak start and that I’m only playing with my irons. I carried my 5-wood but refrained from using it as I feared the dispersion. What’s needed now is to create a bit more consistency with my new irons and then maybe get some training sessions in with my woods in order to get them in play more often.

My 2-iron usually has a distance of up to 200 meters. So I’m not much shorter than my fellow bogey golfers with their drivers. Often I’m farther even (and silently enjoy the moment having somebody out-driven with an iron).

I’m still a bit disappointed with my handicap direction this year though. Instead of going down to single digits I’m up by 0.4. Not a drama but still not the desired outcome so far. But I’m on it, promise to practice more and will card another great round this year to get me down a little (hopefully).

Wish me luck.

[UPDATE. I finally received the full results of the tournament. Actually came out 2nd place… Who would have thought!]

Top 5 at Nahetal

The title of this post sounds better than it actually was. Yes I was 5th in my last tournament, but with 14 gross points only. There you have it. All the others must have been rubbish, too.

Truth been told, I played some lousy round of golf. Really embarrassing.

The course was great, Golf Club Nahetal, an hour south-west of Frankfurt, Germany. The weather was superb, conditions have been excellent, all set for a fantastic round of golf. The warm-up on range was fine, then we were told there was a 30 minutes delay, so I chatted along with some people before I headed off.

I realized right from the start, the positive image of my current golf game, which I had from the last training session and the warm-up wasn’t really transitioning onto the course. I had some great iron shots, short game and putting was OK, but the long game, oh my gosh, just wasn’t there.

After many embarrassing tee shots, one of my playing partners said on the 17th hole something along the lines of “I can’t believe you still use that club to tee off!” He was right, I wasn’t quitting, I knew I can play metal woods and I proved it often, it’s just that it seems gone now. But I wasn’t giving up, I always took out the hybrid, the 5-wood or sometimes even the 3-wood to tee off. The driver I left at home in the garage, that thing isn’t working at all nowadays.

Anyway, the course is a beauty and I would recommend to play it if you are in the area. It’s tree-lined throughout, there’s water on quite some holes but fair to most golfers. As said, the conditions have been excellent and I actually have no idea what caused my fallout. Those balls in the water, those thinned shots, that lady, all those lost balls… a disgrace.

There is no excuse, it’s just me to blame—or my clubs, which I did.

Just kidding of course, but I will try out some new stuff with my old (long) irons, in order to keep the ball in play more often. Not saying this will bring down my handicap or will make me happier in the long run, but it will hopefully calm the waves a bit, and my nerves. That’s useful and frankly necessary since yesterday.

You can imagine I was quite astonished when I saw I ended up 5th place in the gross Stableford list. Nothing to be proud of unfortunately.

Practice in the right direction

The start of the year has been really slow and unusually quiet in regards to golf for me. As a dad it’s tricky to carve out hours and hours on the course and be as competitive as possible at the same time.

Time is more precious for me, so golf has to be even more efficient. German efficiency, you know what I’m talking about.

I have some range sessions in the books now, not a single golf hole played unfortunately and already cancelled a tournament due to lack of playing experience in this young season.

Yesterday I spent some time out on the range to make some progress.

  • Chipping went very smooth and I went from lob wedge all the way up to 7 iron to spec out my preferred feel and distance. Pretty sure pitching wedge and 9 iron are the ones I will play around greens this year for standard lies.
  • For pitching I was playing around with some different ball positions in standard stance. Really happy with one new position I found which made the ball go up in the air quicker and still get the pace I wanted.
  • Short irons were straight and crisp.
  • Long irons were doing better due to multiple little changes.
  • OK, now to the problematic part of my bag: The hybrid and woods. For years I struggled with rather low ball flight and a tendency to the left. The right-to-left ball flight I could live with for years but still wanted to sport other curves as well. I practiced a more outside-inside swing characteristic and was able to play high fades as well. In terms of ball position I’m still not sure but what I successfully managed was to create a new grip that seems to work very well. Balls have the tendency to go much straighter and much higher now as my address to the ball is different, too. Fingers crossed that wasn’t a one hit wonder.

The handicap is supposed to go down this year. Wish me luck! I keep you posted.
#project12 #break80

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.