2015 mid-year lessons learned

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Luckily I was playing quite a bit lately, not too much, but I managed to get at least one round of golf scheduled in a week—which is quite an achievement for me. Anyway, I played often, practiced more than usual on both range and the putting green and I do see some improvement. Yes, I still do some stupid shots like anyone else but I feel more confident with my swing, get back to the touch and feel around greens I once had and my long play becomes more predictable.

One lesson learned is definitely that it was a good thing to decrease swing speed. This helped me a lot swinging on the right plane, creating a repeatable rhythm and a way to get the club to the ball always in the same horizontal and vertical axis. As well has this created a possibility for me to synchronise the upper, lower body and arms a bit better. Now I can swing easier from the outside to the inside in order to create straight shots where in the past particularly woods went way left. And in terms of distance, I might lose some metres here and there, but I’m still long enough, longer than average and I really prefer 200m straight like an arrow over 230m but 50m off line into the next water hazard. Smart course management, keep it in play, that’s what counts!

Furthermore I started to use a laser rangefinder which definitely helps on the range a lot to practice with a certain goal. Instead of just hitting bucket after bucket trying to shoot as straight as possible, I pick special targets, get the exact distance, pick the club I would have taken on the course, align and shoot. Three or four balls max, probably play around with different trajectory and backswings and then look for another target and do the same thing again.

Many more rounds to come! Surely have to do some severe putting sessions: (1) sloping and (2) distance control are on the agenda. Sometimes I struggle with wrong green reading in combination with wrong speed. Especially on very contoured greens this becomes an issue, and 3-putts are the result. In the second half of the year I try not to leave my putts short to give each and every one of them a chance. This in combination with better green reading should bring down my putting average of 36 down to something more like 30 over the next weeks.

Given the above, I’ve written down my main factors or goals I’d like to achieve over the next, say, 12 weeks:

  • No triple-bogeys anymore, safety first, no snowmen on par-5s, play such a hole with one stroke more in mind, this releases pressure for the third shot into the green
  • Not more than three 3-putts in one round
  • Try to make at least five 1-putts
  • Less than 36 putts on average per round, e.g. five 1-putts, ten 2-putts, three 3-putts (=34)
  • Aim for 50% GIR, easier for par-3s and par-5s but in my case pretty tricky with par-4s
  • Break 90 on every round, sounds high but actually is not easy to achieve every single round. Obviously depends on the course, but with my handicap on my home course taking into account the course rating, it’s exactly 90 what I would be allowed to score.
  • Less than four strokes penalty, as well highly dependent on the course but we have water everywhere and four balls lost to water is pretty normal. But penalties kill the score and therefore should be avoided at all times.

Keep your fingers crossed!

A new laser rangefinder to further improve the game

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Today I hit the range with a goal. The initial idea was to just go 18 holes today and then head back home. But I reconsidered and thought I do some very useful stuff for a change.

So I packed my clubs, left my trolley at home and made my way to the club in order to do some serious training. Usually I combine a quick range session and some chipping/putting with a common round of golf. No question I look forward to the round and need the range session just for a warm-up. I think it’s fair to say that I rarely just go practicing rather than playing.

Today was one of these days though!

Very recently I got a new golf toy in my hands. And to give you a quick background, usually I use a Garmin GPS watch on the course for my measurements. I’m playing a 15 handicap so the accuracy was absolutely fine for me. Goal is to get the ball on the green, 2 metres or 5 metres next to the pin, I didn’t care.

Well, I should! Putting is currently not my strength and every stroke that I can save is well played. More and more players these days use these golf lasers, or DMDs (Distance Measurement Devices) as you call them. Some of my golf mates use them for nearly every shot. I don’t think that’s necessary but I started to understand why DMDs can in some cases really be much better than GPS devices like my watch.

(1) is the accuracy: once the device tells you the flag is 148 metres away, you most likely use another club than if your GPS tells you the green centre is at 140.

(2) is the flexibility as you not only have the chance to measure the distance to the (front and back of the) green or a layup distance but also measure the distance to a bunker, a water hazard, a tree, a dogleg, etc. You just get so many more options to play save, because you can trust the yardage and then the only thing is to trust your swing too.

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Laser rangefinders are not new to the market, brands like Bushnell have sold their products for quite a while now but as I said I never saw any value in it as I was pretty happy with my GPS watch. What I learned today is that a laser rangefinder can really benefit the game.

On the range, I was able to precisely choose my targets, pins for example, and then practice on hitting clean shots to come up as close as possible. Usually I just focus on being straight but since earlier today I might change my range behaviour because I felt this really makes sense: you act the same being on the course, why should we practice different from what we need.

So, if you ask me, I’m sold. I’ll now carry my new toy with me on all rounds to come. And by the way, the device is super easy to use. It just needs two buttons and some minutes to get used to it. It features a pin seeker system which automatically detects that you’re trying to measure a pin and gives exact distances.

I have to admit that I have very little comparison but I can absolutely recommend the GolfLaser brand. Design is slick, it’s not super heavy, works correct and the price is much less than most of the big brands as you just order via their website. Give it a try.

By the way, just yesterday I saw an article on the internet that the pro tours might think about allowing DMDs during pro tournaments. Currently they are just allowed in private rounds, amateur tournaments or the practice days of pro tourneys. This might change soon and we potentially see Rory, Tiger and Bubba use their tool during whole of Thursday through Sunday. The Senior Tours will start making a move already this year.

More information:

That feeling when you put your clubs away for the winter

November is almost over and the mercury is falling. I’m a nice weather weekend golfer I have to admit and playing in 0°C is just not right in my opinion. On those days I wish I had a golf trip planned and would play beautiful courses in bright sunshine. I just need summer to be happy!

Unfortunately usually winter hits us hard here in central Europe and it’s time pack away the clubs for some months… and I don’t like it!

I might hit the driving range from time to time though. Switch on the heating, the light, get my winter gloves on and then rip it!

How are you tackling the winter season?

Everybody should practise on grass only

I was astonished today by a TrackMan tweet which showed the comparison between hits from the ground (grass turf) and a mat (artificial turf). I’m sure everyone has own experiences but we all stood on the driving ranges where players were forced to use either the one or the other alternative. And there are people who prefer the one over the other–probably without good reason, most of the time I would assume it’s just a question of feeling or personal habit. Effectively playing from a mat comes with less effort and burden; no tees needed, no divots, same ground condition every single time. Sounds quite good to me…

Looking at the stats, you see that golfers gain much more consistency and accuracy when playing from the grass. And in the end, from a round preparation session standpoint, all this is very obvious. When you play from the grass on the regular course (as you do), why should someone practise from artificial turf only? Doesn’t make sense.

What’s your opinion? Are you the mat guy/gal or do you prefer real grass, even on the range? Curious to see!

lessons learned: part 1

time to make it serious! second training session for the year and this time it was driving, chipping, pitching and putting. so a little bit of everything on a cold winter morning (and after being at the dentist).

i feel my swing is coming back; awakening from the winter break. i learned from last time’s training session and made quite some adjustments on stance, grip and swing rythym with my new nike clubs and the result was a lot of beautiful shots right into the wind. what a nice feeling! it’s really worth it to stand in the cold winter breeze and enjoy yourself practising the most beautiful sport in the world! can’t wait to get on the course!!

hope you are confident with your results so far! let me know!

personal season 2011 officially started

hi guys! it’s mid-january and i’ve started my season this morning. can’t remember that i did this before that early in the year. however, it was nice. not only because i enjoyed being out there again after a 3-month-break, but i could as well try out my new nike irons and could make first experiences.

truth be told, i began with the 9-iron and the difference between these and my old irons (taylor made steel 200) was not as big as expected. but when it came to the 6-, 5- and 4-iron you can feel the bigger moment of inertia and it really smashes the ball like a rocket! amazing feeling. when i additionally can get precision to my iron play like i had before, then i’m a lucky guy!

as i already said, the support by the perimeter weighted irons ceases on shorter irons, so i think about removing the sand wedge and sticking with my beloved titleist vokey wedges (52.08, 56.08, 60.04) which are only played once actually. these are feeling great and are – due to their slick drop shape with exact bounce – much more workable and universally usable around the greens. and that’s where the points are lying; you know what i’m saying!

i fired roughly 150 balls this morning and had some nice shots. pretty confident that i can achieve my personal goals for 2011 quite quickly. first would be getting used to the new irons, getting expertise in wedge play and around the greens in general and then shooting my woods as straight as i wish… which leads to the plan of breaking 90, lowering my handicap to smth like 15 or so and to play as often and as many courses as i can by the end of 2011. this year’s gonna be huge!!

i will keep you updated for sure and wish you everybody good luck for your personal start into the new year!