I "invented" this putting drill at the course today. I like it because I feel it focuses on the 3 elements of putting: Lag Putting, Making Makable Putts and Pressure (at least that's the elements of putting that I think about). On a practice green, pull out 4 balls (or more if you want to make it harder) and find about a 40 foot lag put. The goal is to two putt all of the balls. If you don't two putt one, then find another 40ish foot lag putt. Putt to make each each ball before you move to the next lag. I like to keep moving around so I am practicing my feel for the greens and don't get comfortable with one put. Obviously this drill is a good practice for your lag putting since you'll be doing it a bunch. It's also a chance to make practice the mid-range makable putts since you'll attempt to make each putt. There will be times where you have a chance to redeem a bad lag and gain confidence. Lastly, this drill replicates pressure which is probably the hardest component to practice. Since any one missed put forces you to start the lags over. It may not sound like a big deal, but when you have a chance to end the drill you will be feeling the pressure.
I hope this is one that helps you on your way to better putting.
I have now played four rounds in 2011 and three of those rounds would be in my top five differentials for my handicap. The differential is basically how scores are normalized across courses to determine handicaps and there is much more on it here. I'm getting confidence that this will be a year where my scores improve dramatically. Before today's round, I added more protein to my breakfast and cut out the coffee. This has me feeling much better over the course of the round and left me with coffee as a reward once the round is over. My pre-game breakfast now consists of:
3/4 Cup of rolled Oats with:
1/8 Cup of Dried Cranberries
1 Tablespoon Flax Meal
1 Tablespoon Barley Wheat Germ
2 Eggs Scrambled with some cheese
20 Ounces of Water
Forcing myself to drink 20 ounces of water before the round really helped with my energy level as well as I felt really good throughout the round.
Perhaps just eating healthy gets me feeling better mentally, but either way it lead to a much more positive round then I sometimes and I even felt good enough to treat myself to sugar and cream in my coffee and not just black coffee like I normally force myself to drink.
Once April hits, I expect a big jump in my handicap. I'm playing much better and I'm finally playing enough to move it quickly.
As I try to improve at golf, I realize that my focus has historically been completely on the technical components to have a better golf swing. This has proven to be difficult, I believe in large part due to my fitness and flexibility. This winter, I have focused on improving these components. One easy drill I do is a core strengthener in the video below. I try to do the "Par" version of this at least twice a day. As my strength, fitness and flexibility improve I feel this will make swing changes significantly easier.
I played a lot of bad golf last summer and ended up not writing about most of it. It's safe to say that I didn't hit my goals, but I did practice more than ever. I think I've learned that I am not practicing effectively.
I still expect to lower my handicap below 20 by the end of 2011 so here is my plan.
Play at least 1 round week per week
1 range session that includes
15 minutes full swing
15 short game
15 minutes putting
Repetition of fundamentals without a ball - 15 minutes daily
Yoga 3 times per week
Cardio 3 times per week
Once I have some more light in the spring - I will do 2 range sessions per week
I've played a lot of golf this summer but haven't really made time for the blog. I have put more practice time in than I ever have before and I feel like I am getting close to figuring things out. This hasn't really translated over to my scoring. My handicap jumped to over 30. Clearly I am not hitting my target of a 20 handicap this summer. I'm not a defeatist here as I am more excited about golf than ever. I even broke 100 in my last two rounds for the first time in over 10 years. I think I'm on the right path.
Thinking about my lack of posts here, I have realized that just reporting what I have done isn't even interesting to me. I want to write posts that I find insightful and hopefully add to some sort of community that I am building. Therefore, I hope to transition this blog to focus more on drills that I hope to work on. Here’s to big ideas…
I have been traveling for the last week and enjoyed some time away from doing golf related activities. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to get out there and play, but I think taking some time off after my last two rounds helped to reset myself. Today I hit a large bucket at my local Super Range. At 128 balls, it's just slightly more than an actual round.
I took my new ideas from the debacle of last week and hoped to have a leisurely session. My focus today:
Outside club takeaway to avoid bringing the club down too steeply
Weight on the balls of my feet to allow me to easily transfer my weight through impact
Divot after contact with the ball - no more trying to pick the ball cleanly to allow more consistent contact
I'm not going to pretend that I am anywhere close to making these a natural part of my swing, but at the end of this huge bucket I hit more than 50% of my balls well using all three techniques. This is a big jump from last week. My swing felt uncomfortable and mechanical, but I truly think I made some progress as I didn't really toe hook anything. By the end of the bucket, it was getting ever so close to feeling natural. I actually hit my driver really well. It was mostly straight and some of my best distance I have ever seen. I'm excited to try it on the course. The only down side to this practice was focusing on taking a divot for so many swings on a mat. My wrists are really sore as I am sure my emphasis was grounding the club much more than I will ultimately need to. One more practice round should make me feel ready for a course.
I am heading out on a golf trip this weekend and I am not very sure how this mechanical, thinking swing will translate to the course. Something that has always been communicated to me is to not think on the course, just swing. I am nowhere near being able to do that. However, as usual with golf - I have risen from my deepest low to the highest level of excitement in a matter of days. Golf truly is the most fun game to struggle with.
Since my last post I've had several golf related activities. I have had multiple practice sessions and have felt pretty confident after each one. This past weekend I played two rounds of golf as well. On Friday, I was fortunate enough to play The Plateau Club with my brother, who is a pro there. Saturday, I was in the Tri-Cities with my family and played Horn Rapids. Both of these courses were great and I had an enjoyable time at each course, my golf game however has come to a screeching halt.
First, I will start with the positive component of my game. I easily putted the best I have putted in the last 10 years. My scorecard at Plateau shows 2 3 putts which is a definite improvement over everything I have down recently. I can see this really helping my score in the long run. I feel really confident with my distance putting and I am really excited to putt. This is a dramatic change in my outlook as before I viewed putting as just an annoying way to lose strokes. My scorecard at Horn Rapids shows a similar trend and really has me energized to play some more (and even practice).
Anything positive about my golf game stops there as somewhere over the past few weeks my swing has completely stopped working. I am toe hooking everything that I hit with a wood or hybrid. I am toe pushing everything I hit with my irons for no distance. I am chipping most shots through the green requiring two chips on most holes. It's taking multiple shots to get out of bunkers. Lastly, I have a problem with penalty strokes. I am accruing them at an alarming rate. I took 11 penalty strokes at Plateau. I couldn't stay out of the sand at Horn Rapids. I shot the two of the three worst scores of my life this weekend (and I don't count the other worst score as all that bad since I was playing the PGA West Stadium Course from the championship tees). I worsened my handicap to a 29! I am heading in the wrong direction.
I titled this post rock bottom because I truly believe I will head up after these rounds. A couple of years ago, I probably would have quit after these rounds potentially for as long as the summer. Now I am truly determined to improve. Luckily, my brother played both round and gave me a quick summary of what I am doing wrong. I am swinging very circular rather than on a straight plane. Additionally, I am trying to pick the ball clean which is causing inconsistent contact. The ultimate manifestation of this swing is that I am standing up during my downswing which is essentially sapping all my power.
Armed with this knowledge, I have never been more determined to overcome my current issues. I am excited to hit the range knowing that I have even more ground to make up than what I had at the beginning of this golf season.
Putter, Practice Hole, 3 Balls, 3 Tees, some sense of distance
Make a lot of puts, build confidence, stop thinking, simulate pressure puts
Set up each tee as a marker at 3, 6, and 9 feet from the hole. Put each ball from the 3 foot tee. If you make all 3, you move to 6 feet and continue. When you make 9 putts in a row you are done. Each time you miss a putt, you have to start over at 3 feet.
This is the best putting drill I have come across. For starters, it really replicates pressure putt situations from real golf. When you are trying to close out this drill, you'll have plenty of adrenaline pumping through your veins. Also, given the nature of the drill, you'll be making a lot more putts than you miss so it really works well for your confidence. Lastly, when you get into the flow, you will stop thinking about your putts. You will be dialed in and just have a fluid putting motion. I think that not thinking is the key to putting well and this really helps to accomplish that.
A wonderful way to enjoy a nice lunch break at work is to sneak out to a driving range to hit a bucket of balls (make sure to stuff the BlackBerry into the golf bag while you hit ). I worked on my full swing at Kaddy Shack Golf Center in Lynnwood, WA. While the ambience of Kaddy Shack leaves something to be desired as it overlooks the business of the I5 freeway, it meets my basic needs: open mats and cheap balls. I went up to practice with my main practice partner, Sean.
The purpose of this practice was to work on my tee shots. I have been snap hooking my woods and hybrids for most of this spring. I hit about 15 balls warming up to my hybrids and spent the bulk of my time hitting my TaylorMade 3 Rescue. I focused on two components today. My primary focus was on my wrist **** during my backswing. I'm not sure why I really tried this, but it really seems to help. I was cocking my wrists in my back swing similar to how you might hold a baseball bat and I just tried cocking my wrists towards the sky. This made a huge differences as suddenly I was hitting the ball significantly straighter and what I would classify as relatively far. One thing you will probably notice as I continue to blog about my swing is that I am always one fix away from being really great. Once I had the wrist **** perfected, I hit about 20 great shots.
As soon as I felt real comfortable with my swing, I started to top the ball a bit. I quickly figured out what I was doing. When I start to swing a little harder, I tend to straighten my legs on my downswing causing me to kind of "stand up" on contact and missing the sweet spot of the ball. The really nice thing about the range is that you can focus on a couple of thing and drive out any uncomfortable motions through repetition. For this bucket of balls, my entire concentration was devoted to this line of thought on each swing: "Big back turn, wrist **** up, stay down on ball, contact!" We'll see if I can make that a little more natural so I don't have to think while I hit the ball on the course.
Went to my local range for practice. I feel pretty luck to have the Columbia Super Range as a local practice facility. It has plenty of stalls and the mats always seem to be new and in good condition. Most importantly, it has a great putting green and chipping facility and that is where I hope to spend most of my time at this facility. Unfortunately, as is the case frequently in the Seattle area, there was a nice morning drizzle coming down. It was really reminiscent of my childhood soccer matches, but on this morning I felt it was quite fitting as a test to my commitment to improvement.
The rain started coming down pretty heavy right when I got there so I decided to get a bucket and work on my short game. 68 balls in total today - I hit about 60 of them between my 3 wedges (46, 51 and 56 degrees) across several targets and saw some consistency putting it within a few yards of my target. The range has some cool Hard Drive computer tracking system that works every few shots, but for the shots it did work on, it kept showing me within a couple of yards of my target. This really felt great - my chipping motion was very consistent, so I am excited by this progress. I tried hitting about 5 balls with my driver and snap hooked every single one of them. I am buying a new driver this week!
I was most looking forward to putting, but the rain kept up the entire time I was there and by the time I finished my bucket there was standing water on the green. I felt that would not be beneficial to work on putting, so I will have to make this session up. I am already behind!
The easiest way I can see myself improving is to commit to a training schedule. I need to balance this between my patient and loving family, so my time is limited and I'll need to work smart. I hope to not limit this to just time at actual practice facilities. There are two categories I plan to focus on: Physical and Mental. For physical practice, I plan to split my time up across three categories: Full Swing, Short Game, and Putting. For the mental approach, I plan to focus on Routine and Confidence.
I plan to invest two 2 hours sessions at minimum to this per week. One session devoted to the full swing and one session devoted to the short game and putting. Of note, I plan to devote a majority of my full swing training to the tee shot. I feel that my iron play is not as significant to my scoring as my tee shot and short game/putting will be. I do not plan to enroll in formal classes; I plan to self help myself on the internet and in the library, as well as relying on my family to offer advice. I think they know enough to help me.
Tentatively Wednesday will be devoted to full swing and Saturday will be devoted to short game.
I plan to spend 2 hours per week focusing on the mental aspect of the game. I plan to focus on pre-shot routines for both full swings and the putter. I also plan to spend time reading about golf. I'd like to keep this focus on the mental component and not necessarily swing mechanics, but I may adjust my swing some and will do some research.
My goal is to report back after each training to make sure I am accountable for this schedule.
Golf has a lot of different stats you can keep and thanks to easier access to technology, I keep a lot of stats - Putts, GIR, Fairways Hit, Driving Accuracy per Club - that ultimately, I can't tell you what the numbers should be and ultimately, I don't think they matter all that much. Being a better golfer is about improving your handicap, not about hitting fairways 7% more frequently. My current handicap is unofficially a 27.9 (I used OOBGolf for this calculation) and my goal is to be below 20 by the end of summer 2010. I'll still keep track of all the other stats as I think they do point me in directions of where I should be improving.
So now I'm on record - My goal is to be a sub 20 handicap by the end of October 2010.
I have a golf background. I use to play almost every day. You might be wondering what the big deal is about someone who used to play golf starting to write about it. I don't think I can really answer that in one post (if I can at all), but I can tell you that I am, after having been away from golf for almost 10 years, extremely excited to start playing and finally ready to commit myself to improve at the game.
I used to live on a golf course. My family played golf a lot. My brother practiced all the time has become quite good. I never practiced. I had a horrible slice growing up and I just thought I could will myself into hitting perfect shots on the course. I would frequently lose 15+ balls in a round. I normally am a mild-mannered, laid-back kind of guy, but the golf course has always brought out the worse in me. I have broken multiple clubs on course over anger and at my worse, I have walked off the course leaving my clubs on hole #5 (sorry dad).
In the late 90s, I played enough to start to hit the ball a bit more consistently and I have a few mid 90s scorecards to show for it. After that, I had to start paying for golf myself and as a young adult I essentially stopped playing. I was able to rationalize my bad play for the few rounds I did play with my new golf mantra, "I'm not good enough to get mad." Now for the average person that plays a round every couple of years - this is a great mindset. It will make your round very enjoyable.
I want to be more that that. I am competitive by nature and I aspire to be the best. My goals with this blog is to chronicle my journey to improve (both training and actual rounds), share my tips and drills, review and gadgets and (countless) books and maybe find a few golfing partners.
I am an inconsistent, low-confidence golfer that has not played much golf in the last 10 years. My goal for 2010 is to have a sub 20 handicap. My ultimate golf goal is to be a single digit handicap. http://oobgolf.com/golfers/wanamaker
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