Thursday, September 14, 2006

Trust your swing and leave the "umph" at home...

I've identified a cycle that I seem to have been going through the last several months. Looking back, my trend has been to sign up at Green Caye about every other month. I would spend a month on the par three course, then venture out on to the regulation courses. I would always be driven back to Green Caye because my iron game would fall apart.

I can play Green Caye pretty well. I have likely made over 1000 strokes on that course. I know how to play in the prevailing wind, in no wind, in wet conditions, in dry conditions. I know the safe shot, I know the disastrous shot, and I know how the greens break. I am comfortable playing at Green Caye. I trust my swing at Green Caye.

After a month of play at Green Caye, I'm confident with my irons, my short game, and my putter, yet soon after I venture away and on to regulation courses, my game tends to fall apart. I think I have a good idea why this happens.

When I step away from Green Caye, I step out of my comfort zone. It's not that I'm uncomfortable playing other courses. I feel plenty familiar with Pasadena, The Battleground, San Jacinto, and the other courses I usually play, yet somehow I don't feel as comfortable as I do at Green Caye. Then doubt creeps into my mind and into my swing and I loose trust in my swing. I somehow come to the conclusion that I need to hit the ball harder, which leads to more fat shots, more thin shots, less accuracy, and less confidence. Sometimes this breakdown occurs over a series of rounds and sometimes within the span of a single round.

The solution is simple:

I must trust my swing.

This breakdown happened within a single round when I played Senic View in Wisconsin with my Father-in-Law. I started out on fire and then completely fell apart after the 8th hole.

Was I comfortable playing with my Father-in-Law and six of his buddies on an unfamiliar course with a loaner set of clubs? Not really.

Why did I do so well on the first eight holes?

I trusted my swing.

If you think about it, I really had no choice (initailly anyways). I was on an unfamiliar course with unfamiliar clubs. I had to pick a club and trust my swing. Even though I missed all but one green (and you may recall that the one I hit was because I got a good bounce out of a tree), I still managed to shoot 3 pars and 5 bogeys on the first eight holes. I trusted my swing. Then I tried to make things happen. I started to feel comfortable, so I tried to squeeze a few more yards out of a shot, tried to fade a shot around a tree, tried to hit a 3i 225 yards out of the rough... etc. You know where the round went from there - more fat shots, more thin shots, less accuracy, and less confidence.

So this was a case where I was definitely a little nervous, yet trusting my swing produced great results.

Another example came on the 45th hole (yes, I played 45 holes that day - 63 holes is my record) at San Jac a couple of weeks ago. I had posted some pretty good scores, but I was really strugling with my irons. The 9th at San Jac is a 175 yd par three that has you hitting down a narrow tree-lined chute. I was tired, so I decided to hit the 6i instead of the 7i that I would normally hit. Since I had clubbed up, I figured I'd just hit it and let fatigue take some distance off. Well, I hit it four feet left of the pin just off the back fringe where to rolled 30 feet down the hill aff the back of the green. I trusted my swing and the ball went where it should have. Had I chosen the 7i, I would have felt the need to put a little extra "umph" on it. That extra "umph" is a killer.

I'll have a good opportunity to test this theory out at Tour18 next Monday. This weeks' round was rained out and next week is my last chance to play out there during the week because I'll be training hard for STS-116 which is expected to launch in December.

I must trust my swing and save the extra "umph" for mowing the lawn,



At 1:23 AM, Blogger Scott said...

I've been telling myself to trust my swing and let the club do the work for years, but my infrequent play always left me so unstable and unpredictable. Ironically then my best holes during a round would be the par 3's, but now that I play golf once a week and learned more about the game my scores are improving.


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