The Tee Box

Been getting colder but I’m still playing
November 4, 2011, 5:49 pm
Filed under: golf, miscellaneous

In the last month I’ve been trying to get out once a week. I haven’t always made it. A couple of weeks ago I got out to Piedmont and shot 83. Not every shot was great but I really felt I had some measure of control over the ball. The next week I played in a four-person scramble at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club. I played with my brother and his wife and a friend of his. My brother and his wife don’t play very often but they still contributed some quality shots now and then. I’m probably a little better than his friend, but it worked out that when I would hit a bad shot he hit a good one, and the reverse was true too. We ended up taking 2nd in the B flight. That’s where my brother and his wife really helped, as their handicaps lowered our expected performance. Today I got out to Piedmont before heading off to play some ice hockey. It was chilly and windy but I decided to play the tips. Don’t ask me why. I hit the ball fairly well but the wind really affected me. I ended with an 88, which isn’t horrible, but not exactly what I was trying to shoot. That’s ok. With the weather changing I’m going to have these days. At least I was playing.

Hitting well doesn’t equal scoring well
October 9, 2011, 6:58 pm
Filed under: golf

I’ve been working with the new swing in the last week. I really feel like I’m getting the hang of it and I’m striking the ball as well as I have been recently. I’m not scoring however. I could blame the greens at my club because everyone thinks they are way fast. But I’m usually two putting. The speed might affect the distance of the first putt and maybe that is why the scores aren’t where they should be. Hard to say. I do feel I’m on the right track. If the greens are really that difficult then hopefully I’ll be able to play well this coming weekend. I’m have two tournaments scheduled for Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. It would be nice if I play well on what could be an easier setup. Next week’s blog entry should tell you how that goes.

Needed Help
October 1, 2011, 12:50 pm
Filed under: golf

For the entire months of August and September my game has been terrible. I usually keep my scores in the 80’s. I’ve been pretty reliable in that. Something happened where I began losing my driver. It was usually a severe hook. I was confused but eventually worked it out. Just as I fixed that I lost my irons. As good as my driver became my irons were bad. I began to hook the ball sometimes 40 yards. I began to hate par 3’s because I could hit the green for anything. In addition I started shanking the ball. I could hit a perfect drive into the middle of the fairway, leave myself 135 yards to the green and then hit the ball at a 90 degree angle out of bounds. I started to be afraid of hitting houses. I had zero confidence.

After a frustrating hour on the range last Monday I’d had enough. My last shot up there was a gap wedge that cleared the net to the right and headed towards traffic on the adjacent road. Fortunately it landed in the median, but I was finished. I packed up my bag and headed to the pro shop. I talked to my pro and just said “I need help”. We set up a lesson for Wednesday. He said he’d straighten me out, but I had my doubts.

On Wednesday I warmed up on the range and was hitting ok, but still with the hook. When my pro arrived I immediately began shanking the ball. He watched a little and had me stop (I think because he was afraid I might rub off on him or kill someone on the range). He told me what I’d been doing wrong and how to fix it. What he said to do felt foreign and awkward but I hit the ball straight as could be. After awhile it even started feeling easier to hit the ball. I was amazed and relieved. I couldn’t wait to get out on the course to try it.

I got that chance on Friday. Now, my pro had said I should make the same correction throughout my bag but I hadn’t had a chance to practice it with my woods. There was a little doubt as to how I would do. My first few holes were ok. I hit some fairways and I missed some as I made my corrections. When I missed I had trouble from the rough (4″ deep and thick). My approach shots were way better though. The greens that day were super fast thanks to the upcoming three day tournament, so putting was interesting. My score was where I’d usually be upset, but I felt like I was making great progress and the round wasn’t a struggle. I’ve shot better before the change but I had to work for every stroke. This time, although my score was higher, I could see where practice will improve me. I feel like there’s room to improve and I’m excited about it. A few more session on the range and I think I can be back where I should be.

I can’t thank my pro enough. I needed a second set of eyes to see what I couldn’t feel. It made all the difference in the world. I only wish I’d done this a month ago. The handicap is trending up but I know now that I can get it back down. More importantly I can enjoy playing again. I truly missed that.

Out of the habit
September 23, 2011, 3:17 pm
Filed under: golf, miscellaneous

I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting after each round. I’ll try to do better.

Since the last post on August 7th, I’ve played several rounds and a few tournaments. My scores have ranged from 85-93, which is higher than I like. I’ve hit a rough patch where I don’t trust my swing. For awhile I couldn’t hit a driver into the fairway for anything. I fixed that but then I lost my irons. Lately I still have a bad case of the shanks. I know it’s mental and I’m trying to work through it. I did play very well in a scramble last Friday. We used my drives, irons and putts several times. I felt great and I thought I’d gotten past the trouble, but on Monday I was as bad as ever. Today I got in nine in the rain and I think I worked through some of it. Only time will tell.

My eyes have been doing great. I received my new lenses for the Oakleys that I bought. I swapped them and used them back in August for the first time. It was cloudy that day at first but it started to brighten during the round. I put them on at the beginning of the fifth hole but propped them on my hat since the clouds were alternating between thick and thin. On the sixth hole I was driving to the green when I took off my hat to cool off a little but I forgot that the sunglasses were on it. I dropped them onto the cart path and put a nice scratch in the center of the right lens. Perfect. I got 1.5 holes with them before damaging them. I was pissed at myself but by the back nine I’d already planned to purchase another set. Unfortunately that afternoon when trying to do just that I saw that the lenses were no longer in stock. A quick search of Amazon found me another pair of frames with those lenses for only $30 more than the lenses alone direct from Oakley. So now I have my original dark lenses in the original frames and the new frames with the new lenses. Those I keep in my bag and I’m very careful with them now. Live and learn.

Some days I don’t understand
August 7, 2011, 6:41 pm
Filed under: golf, miscellaneous

I played today with a group of golfers that I’ve never played with before. I was included in a regular group so I was somewhat nervous because I wanted to play well. We were sent off the back which was a good thing because we never waited on a single shot and were never pushed by anyone. The round was over in a little under 4 hours.

I started with a lucky bounce. I pulled my drive left but the tree it hit sent it back to the middle. It was short of the fairway but playable. After laying up on my second, I put my third about 15 feet from the hole and made the putt for a par. Great start. Unfortunately that was as good as it was going to get for awhile. I then proceeded to bogey the 11th and it got worse from there. I had five double-bogeys on the back nine alone. Worse than that I acquired the shanks. I know you’re not supposed to say the word but it couldn’t get any worse.

After making the turn with a score of 48 I began to relax a little. I knew I was playing as bad as I could so it could only get better from there. While I had two more double on the front, I also had five pars. My score for the front was a more typical 43. That gave me 91 for the round but it felt like 101.

I really enjoyed playing with the guys and hanging around for a couple of drinks afterwards. If they keep me on the email list I’ll play with them again. At the very least I was good for the donation to their wallets. That alone could bring me back. Hopefully next time my real game will return.

First Round with 20/20 vision
August 6, 2011, 7:26 am
Filed under: golf, miscellaneous

I had my one week followup with my eye doctor yesterday. My vision is currently 20/20. It might still get a little better or a little worse as my eye heal, but I’m happy. To celebrate I bought a new pair of sunglasses with golf in mind. I already have a pair of Ray Ban’s which I love. But sometimes on the golf course I don’t want the sunglasses on. I like to put them on my hat but these will fall off. They’re great for seeing and driving but they’re not really sporting sunglasses. I decided on a pair of Oakley Half Jackets. While the standard lens is too dark for golf, these sunglasses allow you to swap the lenses. I ordered a set of their G30 lenses, which are specifically designed for golfing. I saw they shipped today so hopefully by next weekend I can try them out.

I spent the first few holes wearing the Oakleys but I switched to the Ray Bans when I realized that the Oakleys were just too dark at this point. The Ray Bans have an amber lens so they were better. I didn’t play too bad and had some really great shots. But I was very inconsistent and my score showed it. I ended with an 87 with three double bogeys and two three putts. I also had a 300 yard drive and several pars. It had been a week and a half since I played and this was the first with new vision so I’m not too unhappy. As I get used to it I hope to improve.

One round since vacation
July 29, 2011, 3:13 pm
Filed under: golf, technology, tiger

Since returning from vacation and going back to work, I’ve only been able to play once. The weather has been unbearably hot and humid. In addition, I’ve been preparing for another LASIK procedure, so Fridays have been for office visits. Once the heat broke, even temporarily, I did get out on Wednesday for 18. The LASIK was scheduled for Thursday so I wanted to get in one more round before, just in case. I was up and down during the round. I had three birdies but also two double-bogeys. The final result was an 82, so I wasn’t too unhappy. Ten days between rounds was tough and it took a little to get in a groove.

On Thursday I went back to Dr. Whitten at TLC in Rockville, Maryland. He’s the guy who did Tiger’s LASIK as well as close to 60 players from the PGA, LPGA and senior tours. He’s also done a ton of other athletes and entertainers. My first procedure was back in February. At the time my vision was 20/900 or worse. I was legally blind without glasses. I had the procedure and walked out with my vision about 20/40 to 20/50. It was way better than I was but not as good as I was with glasses. I could drive without them but only if I didn’t need to read things. I ended up with glasses for driving and golfing. With regard to the golfing I could see the ball starting out but I never saw it land. Fast forward five months and my vision had stabilized so we could talk about the enhancement. I was told that I might not noticed much improvement at first, and it might get worse for a couple of days. After the amazingly quick session I could tell from the start that things were better.

I had my one day follow-up appointment today and left there for the driving range. On the range I could wear sunglasses for the first time and still see the ball land. I’m pretty happy at this point. I’m looking forward to my first full round with sunglasses. Hopefully that happens this weekend.