One year ago, my handicap was a 7. Today it is a 12, and rapidly moving north. To provide some perspective, I have not been a 12 handicap in over 12 years. I generally float between a 7 and 10, with scores ranging from a 77 on a good day to an 84 on a bad day. For those of you who understand the handicap system, the type of meteoric rise that I am experiencing can only happen if your registered scores far exceeds the published handicap. This means I am not playing to a 12 – it just says that on my Colorado Golf Association GHIN card.
I am not certain where it all went wrong. In 2010, I played pretty well throughout the season. My accomplishments ranged from my first hole-in-one (May 31st, Colorado Golf Club, hole #6, 5 iron, 205 yards) to scoring in the low 70s on two occasions (including 6 birdies in one round). I do not possess an elegant or balanced swing, and generally succeed with a bit of guile and a decent short-game. For years I tried to improve my swing through lessons, practice, swing-aids and more practice. The results are mixed, but the effort and financial investment deserve an A+. In 2010 I was experiencing longer distances throughout all clubs in my bag. I attribute these advances to better equipment (TaylorMade Burner 1.0 Irons and a Ping G-15 Driver), more solid ball contact and of course more confidence.
Until recently, I have not regularly recorded my swing, due to the fact that I do not want to question why a swing as ghastly as mine can occasionally produce decent results. Through multiple lessons in 2011, I concluded that my club is so off plane that making any contact with the ball should be deemed a colossal success. At address, the body club and ball position look fine. As the club rotates back, my hands and shoulders suck the shaft/club head inside. At the top of the swing (which has become disturbingly short), the club face is closed and very flat. On the transition, the club maintains an inside position, while my right elbow flails aimlessly away from my body. For those non-golfers reading this piece, what I have described is not what you should do when attempting to compress a golf ball. The unfortunate result of this uncoordinated move has the golf ball snapping wildly left or ballooning to the right. On the rare occasion when the ball does fly straight, I have no idea what I did to execute the shot.
Those who have the patience to play with me these days, tell me that my mind is “mush” and I should stop trying to be “mechanical” and just “swing the club”. Of course my mind is mush; I stand over every shot hoping to get the ball airborne and in the direction of the green. In conjunction with my lack of confidence, I have started to throw clubs and launch into bouts of uncontrollable swearing (turrets has not been diagnosed). Childish temper tantrums resulting from poor execution will not continue, but it sure feels pretty cathartic to toss a 9 iron farther than you have hit your ball. Unfortunately I am in the midst of a deep golf depression. Diagnosing golf depression is easy, here are the symptoms:
• At the first sign of trouble during the round you say “here we go again”
• After your ball enters a hazard you strongly consider sending your club then the bag in after it
• You apologize to your partner more than 10 times in a round
• Your best friend asks you to play in a member/guest and you have to figure out a really good lie why you can’t join him
• You would rather watch TV with your wife than play golf with your buddies
• You fail to recognize how lucky you are to be outside playing golf with friends
My Pet Peeve
In the August issue of Golf Digest, the cover reads “Get More Distance”, “Pick up 17+ Yards with a New Driver Fitted for you…It gave our guy 44 yards – Wow”. The multiple articles in the magazine stress the importance of upgrading to new technology, and getting properly fitted for golf clubs. Obviously, it is advantageous to swing a club with the most appropriate shaft, loft and length. That said; please do not tell me that a custom fitting will result in a 23% increase in distance. I have played golf for just over 20 years, and there has been some improvement in my length over that timeframe. During a club fitting at a local retailer last year, the cocky sales rep told me that he could “get me hitting the driver 270+.” After cycling through a plethora of drivers, he insisted that a stiff shafted (stock) Ping G-15 was the answer. I told him that I felt more comfortable swinging the regular shafted G-15. “The numbers on the computer don’t lie”, he told with a smug voice. After two days on the range staring at hundreds of balls landing right of target, I returned the club to the store the following Monday. The regular shafted Ping G15 still remains in my bag and I hit it between 235 and 255 yards. If you are still playing the TaylorMade Bubble Burner, I guarantee you will pick up some distance when you upgrade to a club manufactured in the new millennium. As for Golf Digest, I will not be renewing my subscription in 2012.
I admit to being anxious when I think about playing golf. I am even more apprehensive about committing to playing in a tournament with a partner; something that I relished not more than one year ago. I try to make it to the range two nights a week in a concerted attempt to try to pull off a golf-swing 180. These are not ball-beating sessions; there is whole-hearted attempt to incorporate professional instruction while mentally simulating game conditions. Yes I will continue to utilize swing aids (Tally MIND set, alignment sticks, Momentus, Swing Glove, Power Angle Pro) to try to put me in the right position and obtain the proper feel. I will also reengage my PGA teaching professional. Other than that, I am not certain what more I can do.
It is not my nature to sulk around looking for sympathy. My wife is praying for Divine Intervention as she is tired of looking at a face full of desperation and angst at the conclusion of every round. Eventually, I will construct a swing that produces the results I expect. Hopefully it is sooner rather than later.