2021 mid-year status report

Hi there, I’m still alive. Sorry for all the silence here. As far as my golf progress goes this year, I can report the following:

Tournaments played: 0
Rounds of golf played: 0
Driving range sessions: 6
Putting green sessions: 4
Pitching range sessions: 0

Also, no club update, no equipment change, no major difference whatsoever. Just very little golf in total…

Do I have an excuse? Well I do believe I have one but it’s of course relative and rather subjective, but indeed I became father for the second time, and the baby boy (a future golfer, naturally) was born in early June.

April, May was still quite COVID-restricted and from June onwards everything apart from baby, family and job was obviously of reduced priority. Even golf—who would have thought.

Instead, my 4-year old daughter began to go to a bambini golf camp and had weekly practice lessons. That was the time when I got my range sessions scheduled in while my daughter, in sight, was practicing on her own. Well, “practicing” is a strong word — 4-year olds just try to whack the ball no matter what. It looked more like a field hockey stroke; by the way another sport my dear daughter started, tried out and lost interest in quite quickly.

After several weeks, she lost interest in golf too, and I therefore my chance to get to the course myself. Poor me.

But for some reason I was hooked and I booked a session with a local pro here at Hof Hausen, where I live. I said I needed some help with my woods as I only play irons in competitions. And as I almost always play comps instead of just recreational weekend rounds, I barely touched my woods as I have been too inconsistent for my liking and therefore refrained from getting my score (and mood) ruined each time.

I had my pro lesson, he assessed my swing, was astonished about the fact that I don’t use woods at all and video-diagnosed my swing thoroughly. Apparently I was playing too arm-heavy with too little shoulder and hip rotation and with that created a rather steep down swing from the top before impact. Once that was fixed in two minutes or so, the balls were flying like arrows through the air and I was hooked even more. Couldn’t get the grin out of my face really.

What also got me were his comments how he sees my (long) game in general. Depending on the short game obviously, he could see my handicap go down to mid-single digits easily. Well, it wasn’t so easy in the past years, but granted, that was irons-only what I played then.

You can imagine what such comment does to your self-confidence while you’re hitting pure rockets from the tee box. I was high and wanted more.

Reality bites the dust, so I didn’t manage to get to the course the weeks after but last night I enrolled not for three tournaments, not for four but for not less than five tournaments in the coming weeks. And I can’t wait to get the big sticks to the even bigger test. Future (and the handicap) will tell if that was a good idea!

The comps include rounds at Spessart, Domtal Mommenheim, Groß-Zimmern, Lich and Rheinhessen. Bring it on! Pray for sunshine though… it’s really miserable outside nowadays. What a summer!

A chilly and damp comp day 2020

Last weekend I played my first and only tournament of the 2020 season. This year truly is remarkable I have to say.

It feels weird. Usually I play around 10 to 15 tournaments a year. Actually almost every round I play is a tournament. And as I’m playing a comp series that is not connected to a certain club, I tend to get around pretty much in a radius of a 90 minutes ride by car.

This year is different. I had no season prep at all, played and practiced very irregularly only and as a consequence didn’t play much at all. As a matter of fact the comp I played last Saturday was the first one this year, and I’m pretty sure it will remain my only one of 2020.

What crazy months this have been…!

Anyway, I wanted to at least get in one official score in 2020 which is why I enrolled for a tournament at Golfclub Rheinhessen Hofgut Wissberg St. Johann, pretty mouthful indeed.

I knew the course from two years ago and while I can’t say I remembered the holes, there were passages which indeed came back to mind. Not to puzzle with local knowledge but it was good to at least have a feeling of “I played here before, I know the course, there are no surprises”.

Continue reading A chilly and damp comp day 2020

The new World Handicap System

What it is, what it does, what’s great about it and what not – probably.

To many golfers around the globe it came as a shock when it was announced that the respective golf regulative body in their part of the world decided to hop on the band wagon to change the way how to calculate the handicap of every individual golfer.

Some were so accustomed with their way to calculate things for years, others still didn’t understand the Stableford system thoroughly and thought: “even another complexity now?”.

Well, my feelings were two-fold, too. I belong to those having understood the Stableford system inside out and truth be told really appreciate it. And even when things get a bit technical and mathematical in terms of handicap changes after a comp, it was all very transparent and understandable.

Continue reading The new World Handicap System

Standing up for the modern Stableford system

In preparation for an article on the new world handicap system I reflected a bit on the current predominant handicap system we’re used to in Europe. I realized that despite all the critique, it actually is a good system nonetheless.

So here, cheers to the current handicap system, which will be replaced by the world handicap system by tomorrow in many countries, of which Germany is not included. I have an idea why but please don’t get me started…

For those who need some refreshing:

Continue reading Standing up for the modern Stableford system

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