Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Look Back, Review, and Learn...

Tenth Month at Green Caye…

I recently completed my tenth one-month membership at Green Caye. I did good in some areas and worse in others. I’m learning that like the ball, you chase your problems. By the time you have one problem worked out, another flares up.

In terms of loops played I did pretty good especially considering February is a short month. I managed 28 loops in 14 trips. Several trips where I played only one loop were offset by a couple of times where I played three or more loops.

In terms of score I averaged one stroke more than the last month (which was my best) due mainly to several loops with really big numbers. I had eight loops greater than 36 with two 40s at the end of the month that really put an end to keeping my 34 average. I have to look back to Nov 2006 to see a score over 39.

Average Pars/month, GIRs/month, Up and Downs/month, and Birdies/month all went down slightly which is not too bad considering I was using a flatter swing.

Average putts went up to 17 from 16 and average 3 putts went up to 1.0 from 0.60.

So, what happened to my putting? The past month was very wet and soggy. I adapted a very flat swing to help pick the ball without taking a divot. My thought was that ”picking the ball” was the best way to deal with soggy conditions, and a flat swing was the best way to “pick” the ball. Somewhere along the line, I started to putt with the toe of the putter way up in the air. I made some good putts, and I liked the change. However, there is truth in the numbers – this method has got to go (and now that the courses are drying up, I need to steepen the swing and start taking divots, and fix the putting style).

Changing It Up…

I had a semi-golfless weekend. I mean I didn’t expect that I would be playing any golf at all. So, I did a little swinging in the living room and in the backyard with a SW and a 3 iron to try and get a good feel for the steeper swing.

By Sunday afternoon my wife had decided that she was canceling her girls night out which provided me with an opportunity to golf. I went down to Green Caye and got a bucket of balls. The wind was blowing at 10-20 left to right across the range. After about 30 balls I was comfortable with the steeper swing and I had made a few observations.

DISCLAIMER – These are my observations. I have never taken a lesson and I am not claiming that I do anything “correctly”. My purpose here is to document my experiences in learning the game.

With a steeper swing:

  1. Working the ball requires less club face manipulation at address
  2. I tend to pull my shorter irons
  3. Distance may be greater than with a flatter swing

I was hitting the last few balls when Martin called; time to put the new swing to the test! Like the last couple weeks, my first two loops for this month’s membership period were hot and cold. I started out pretty good with a 34 on the first nine. On the third hole, with the wind blowing right to left I hit a fade 7 iron over the green on the left. That was about 175 yard carry on a fade and I normally would use a 6 iron for a fade on this hole. On the fourth, and considering better distance with the steeper swing, I tried to draw an 8 iron from a back tee position to a back left pin (about 165 yards) and landed on the back right fringe. After practicing some techniques suggested by The Wedge Guy, I holed my first short chip for birdie using his “gravity” method – Thanks for the tip Wedge Guy!! I picked the right club for the next two holes and made pars. I flew the green again on the seventh but made a nice flop shot and bogied. Then I started to fall apart…

Learn From My Mistakes…

I looked up on my next couple shots. It took three shots to get on the green on the 139 yard eighth and luckily I drained the putt for bogey. So, now I’m concentrating on keeping my head down and I try to rip a 3 iron straight into the wind and I fade the ball badly off to the right. Then I chunk a chip, skull a flop and three putts later (with triple bogey on number nine) I’m out with a 34. My putting for the loop was pretty good with a more standard upright putting stance. I pulled one putt and hit one off center, but I felt pretty good overall.

My problems continued on the second loop (where I carded a 40 – arrgh!!!). These problems are like the chorus of my golf game, they keep coming back over and over. I recognized that I was looking up and in focusing on keeping my head down, I neglected open the club face back and close the club face through which leads me to a fourth observation about a steeper swing:

  1. A solid release needs to be more deliberate

This observation brings me way back to when I started to use A. J. Bonar’s Power Move. I sort of stumbled onto this move when I was learning to draw the ball. I observed that a flatter swing helped to promote a draw. I realized that this is because a full release is more natural feeling with a flatter swing, which is mostly because opening the face on the backswing is a more natural motion.

While it’s not obvious by what I’ve written here, I think a big lesson here is that I need to make a more focused practice swing. I think I may have made some practice swings where I was not keeping my head down. In fact, many of my living room and back yard swings probably have little focus on the impact spot because I’m often trying to feel the release, or slow the transition, or work on shoulder turn, or whatever. My home practice swings rarely focus on keeping my head down.

Have I been developing muscle memory of a look up?

I think making a practice swing without focusing on a specific spot may be a big contributor as to why I struggle with looking up. I’m thinking this may be a huge breakthrough. I need to commit to keeping my head down on every swing I make.

I need to focus on a spot when making every practice swing to help guard against looking up.

The final thought of the day is that it’s good to look back and consider what you did after you play or practice. Consider what you did well and what you didn’t do well and ask yourself why.

One of my all time favorite verses:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

-Rudyard Kipling

Another big congrats if you made it this far, my wife tells me I’m long winded!


NOTE - Charts added


At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Dezz said...

cool tracking you have on your rounds... I never have the patience or time to do this.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Golfnick said...

Now I know why after playing for 4 years, I realize why my handicap is still at 18. Whew! the statistic will put Dave Petz to shame.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for reading! I showed the charts because I felt that during the past month my putting was pretty good. The data tells a different story - the truth!!


At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Sean @ Deep Rough said...


Nice site, love the 'diary' of your game's progress, similar to what I had wanted to do on my blog, though you certainly go into more detail! :)

In the past I tried to maintain all my scoring details myself in excel/etc, but then I found this site:www.oobgolf.com makes it a heck of a lot easier!

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Sean @ Deep Rough said...

oops...though I managed to screw up the link..heh



Also, I'll add your site to my blogroll!

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Rob said...

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The Hireko blog is located here:

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Rob Altomonte
VP Marketing


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