Just in case you are interested, I wanted to give you a short update on how my comp-season is going so far.
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!
Late 2020 season progress
Yesterday I went to the range with my clubs in the hunt for some answers to what’s wrong with my long game currently. As it turns out, there’s isn’t so much wrong after all.
I put my 9-year old driver, fairway wood and hybrid back in the bag, and truth be told, the balls were pretty much flying as desired. Yes, it was range only from artificial turf but the overall performance was very, very positive. Which is why I believe I neither have a club or swing problem, but more a shaft problem in my new metalwood clubs. A problem that needs some fixing in the off-season clearly.
So in the meantime my old woods are performing nicely and I also had one completely new club in the bag which I teased here very recently. No, it’s not a putter and yes, there will be more information about it very soon. But so far, I’m really happy with the purchase and the outcome in the first practice session.
So happy indeed that I enrolled for two competitions in October to get these two areas to real tournament-pressure numbers. We’ll see. #Project9 and #Break80 are back on the agenda. Not for 2020, but definitely for 2021.
My dilemma with my metal woods explained
Open and frank, my game with driver, woods and hybrids is very, very poor. Up to a point where I whiffed, shanked or topped balls. Pathetic, I know. I was better once, had lessons when it got worse, but it all was pretty obvious: irons yay, woods nay.
In the past years I made peace with my woods and as a consequence ignored them in my basement, literally leaving the long sticks at home when I left for a competition. I felt confident with my long irons, put a 2- and 3-iron in the bag and found the fairway very, very consistently.
While this was great for confidence, and shot shaping, and pace of play, it left me at a stage where with handicap 12 I figured it would be really difficult to drastically improve if I would’t be in a position to jack up my GIR rate and just be a little longer. Putting the ball in the fairway is nice, but it’s not ideal to attack the flag with another 200 meters to go.
Usually my 2-iron gets me to 180 meters effortlessly. Sometimes less, sometimes up to 200, depending on weather and turf condition. And I do appreciate that consistency, it’s just that in order to get to a single handicap, I’m urgently in need to improve with my woods and hybrids. I just need to be able to take out the driver to aim for an area of the hole that is more than 230 meters away. That was out of the question so far…
Very good decisions in 2019, so far
The 2019 season is far from over but I can’t help recapping already some very good decisions I made for this year. All golf related, all turned out to be quite positive from all angles.
Here’s what I mean:
Putting drills with mini cups
It’s been a while that I recommended something as practice drill or advised someone how to improve. Mostly because I find little time to practice myself, but today I have to tell you this:
Yesterday I played a tournament at Licher Golf Club. It’s an excellent course with great training facilities. What they do have as well is a large part of the putting green equipped with mini cups. What that means, you are not putting towards a normal-sized 4.25 inch hole but towards a much smaller target. The ball just barely fits into the cup as you see in this picture.
You will know from your own putting practice, you assess the break, imagine the speed and then align maybe like:
- “cup center”
- “right edge”
- “left third”, or for the more advanced player
- “second quarter to the right”
Of course with more break you align more outwards, but for shorter and straighter putts, you tend to use the metrics of the cup to target your ball.
With smaller cups you have to do the same thing, you just need to be even more accurate to have a chance to hole the putt. A ball aligned towards the cup center which is breaking unintentionally may have a chance to reach the outer part of the standard-sized hole and still drop, while with mini cups this is unlikely to happen.
What this knowledge does, it creates extra pressure in your head, you–intentionally or even unintentionally–adapt your aiming and execution, being aware of that narrower margin for error.
So taking that thought process as given, imagine you practice putting with mini cups for at least 20 minutes before a tournament and as you reach the first green of the course, the hole looks huge compared to the one that you just practiced with. If you stick to the same putting stroke and thoughts, it should be much easier to putt into these standard-sized holes.
So I’m a big fan of mini cups on putting practice greens! More clubs should follow the lead here, I propose!
Last remark: The complete opposite is the usage of these huge hole cups for beginners you might have seen. In my opinion this has nothing to do with golf anymore and should only be used on par-3 courses that are indeed intended for beginners to learn the game. It’s definitely appreciative there.
What do you think? Ever practiced putting with mini cups?
Just when you think you got it…
Last week I had such a great practice session, that I posted on Facebook that I was super happy where my game was heading. Small adjustments to grip and stance and the ball flight got much higher and—more importantly—much straighter.
That was one week ago. Yesterday I played a tournament at Golf Club Nahetal in central Germany. That was the first round after my little adjustments. On the range everything went pretty well, one or two shots off, but the vast majority was straight as I wanted them to be.
Then on the course, I don’t know why, I fell back to old habits I guess. Hooks, thins and really bad shots had been the outcome throughout the whole rubbish round. Some nice pars, one birdie but dozens of stupid shots as well. Still came out at 5th in the tournament but I hated the round nonetheless.
I’m not saying it’s my clubs’ fault but for some reason I’m really bad with metal woods of all sorts. I play PING’s G400 driver, 3-wood, 5-wood and hybrid. And all are making problems. Again, not the clubs’ fault but apparently I just can’t adjust to the swing necessary for woods shots.
Which is why I’m seriously considering to bring my old 2001 Taylor Made set back to the game!
Why, you will ask. I really liked this set, once re-gripped it and the good thing about it: it features a 3- and even a 2-iron. This may sound intimidating to some of you but as a driving iron, I really can recommend it if you struggle with woods. For me it worked perfectly in the past. Got down to a 16 handicap just using irons. That I’m still at 14 says it all I guess…
With (long) irons shot shaping is easier, getting the ball airborne in the first place is much easier and with a good swing you have decent length as well. Sure, no driver length, but putting the ball in the fairway on every damn hole really makes the difference in the long run. As least when you count strokes.
I will let you know how that goes. I’m still curious myself. Wish me luck. Or I might just get some pro sessions in.
Practice round for the company scramble
Every year there is a big trophy to win and I have to say, I really like winning that. I managed to put my name on the trophy already but there should be many more years we’d be able to take that home with us as a team, if you’d ask me.
The company invites for an annual golf tournament which is played in the Texas Scramble format, a real fun team format to enjoy every minute on the course. And boy, has this been fun in the last years.
In order to really make a move and get our hands on the (rather cheap) trophy, taking into consideration that we have a +0.8 hcp colleague (not in my team), we decided to practice early to increase chances. We penciled in at least two sessions, one serious range session with chip and putt, and another on-course session, pretty much play along each other, maybe talk tactics here and there how to tackle the course in the scamble.
Needless to say that some couldn’t make it to both sessions, and also needless to say that, once you’re on-site, you somehow lose the concentration, the focus on winning the trophy. Therefore I have to admit that the putting session was really short, chipping was short also, range session was OK, the round of golf actually was just 12 short holes only to be frank and we played quite poorly. The other blokes had golf clubs in their hands the first time since like September 2018 or so.
What indeed has been quite good these days, has been the food and the drinks in the clubhouse after our stressful, exhaustive training in preparation to reclaim the Deutsche Börse Golf Trophy.
Wish us luck! We might need it!
UPDATE (on tournament day):
Tournament has been cancelled due to inclement weather—heavy rain and thunderstorms… I live not even 10 minutes from the course, I haven’t seen a single rain drop today. That gives us more time to practice though. Yay!
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.
Good start into 2019
Finally I managed to kick off my 2019 season. It’s late March, weather has been nice at times but in the mornings I still have to free my car from ice due to minus degrees overnight.
Until I own a property in the Mediterranean some day and could golf all year round, I guess I’m forced to start my season not earlier than March. Temperatures still are quite fluctuating and hence the weather is a bit unpredictable and therefore not optimal for a start into the year.
This may sound a bit whiny, but… yeah, it does sound whiny, doesn’t it. Point taken.
Anyway, on the weekend I kicked off with my first range session of 2019. And I have to report that I was pretty happy about the performance. Not that I expected that I lost it all, but generally everything was working pretty much, similar to last year.
Short game touch was there, mid-irons were on point, fades and draws were identifiable, and even my ever problematic long game was not too shabby.
Long story short, I’m looking forward to a successful new season. Can’t wait to get 18 holes in soon and pick my game up from there.
Wish me luck.