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 Reflections 4 years into the game

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Derek
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Join date : 2009-10-20

PostSubject: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:35 pm

4 years ago I picked up golf after finally hanging up my football boots (injuries were taking too long to recover). At that time, I recall thinking "How hard can this game be?" and like many other beginners, secretly harboured a hope of becoming as good as a professional golfer. Scoring Pars did not look that hard on TV, and if I could cross the football precisely while running or break and run out the table in a nine ball game pretty often, how hard could it be to send a small white ball that is not moving to within 10m of the target? Especially when you had all the time in the world to set up the shot.

I could not have been more wrong ...

I did not realise that because:
1) The golf ball is smaller than a cue ball and much smaller than a football
2) Even a short Par 3 is going to be longer than a football field (most of the time) and any decent green is going to be a LOT bigger than a pool table
3) The speed and subsequent distance generated with golf balls are in excess of any other racquet/club/bat sport I have played

the margin for error for golf is miniscule ... even the slightest twitch that shifts the clubface a couple of degrees is going to send it off target by approx 1.75m - 2.62m PER degree at a range of 100m to 150m. Not to mention what can happen if sidespin is factored. On top of that, a few millimeters in the vertical height of the club coming into contact can make a big difference in the ball flight and total distance, the variation is even greater if using a muscle back or bladed iron designed for minimal forgiveness (aka tour level workability).

You would think that any sane individual would realise the above pretty quickly and move on to learning how to play the game instead of beating yourself up mentally for not hitting perfect shots all the time just because 1 out of every 10 (or 20 or 50 or 100) shots at the range turned out the way you wanted.

However, guess I am more stubborn (or stupid) than most, and for the first 18 months, I was a really ANGRY golfer. I practiced 5-6 times a week, couple of hours each time, worked on short game, putting, bunker play, in addition to stuff at the driving range and played at least once a week when I was not travelling. So while I could see my scores improving, I wasn't a pleasant flightmate. Temper tantrums and broken clubs were the order of the day.

It didn't help that I managed to break 80 relatively quickly, shooting a 79 at Palm Villa (white tee) 13 months after I started (looking back, I realise now I was very lucky that day with 2 chip ins and 2 long putts and 4 medium length 12-15 footers including the last putt all going in, and that my score was much better than my ability) and was not able to shoot anywhere near that for the next 6 months. I just got more and more frustrated, tried solving my problems by buying a whole bunch of equipment (which had the opposite effect), and was headed nowhere. This problem was compounded because I arrogantly thought that I was now ready for the blue tee and that with a little bit more practice, I could easily shoot the same scores as from the white tee.

Again, I could not have been more wrong ...

I had a pretty slow swing speed then (driver in the mid 80s), but it was straight. Drove it about 180m-190m on average, but almost always in play when playing from the white, cos I knew that most Par 4s would be at most a 5 Hybrid (150m) away, except for the occasional long Par 4s (which I treated as short Par 5s). From the blue tee, I was suddenly faced with 2nd shots which were 30-40m longer. Suddenly, my irons became redundant. Every Par 4 (except the really short ones) was the same; Driver, 3 Hybrid, wedge.

I got so frustrated about paying so much money for a set of custom made irons and hardly getting to use them because I was such a short hitter that I be came obsessed with driving the ball further. And instead of going to see my coach, I decided to pick up tips from the internet and golf magazines, another monumental mistake. From being short but straight, I was now short and all over the $%^$&#$ place. My rhythm and tempo, formerly part of my strengths, disappeared completely. Even the 5 hybrid was erratic, let alone the 3 hybrids. And without rhythm and tempo, forget about having a decent short game. From comfortably shooting in the mid 80s from white, I was now shooting high 90s from blue, and the low point was carding a score of 107 at a GR game at Horizon Hills.

I went back to see my coach (which I should have done in the first place) and got my rhythm and tempo, as well as my mindset, sorted out. And probably the biggest change was internal. I stopped trying so hard to become a good golfer, accepted that I am NOT a golfing prodigy, lowered my expectations and gave myself time to learn how to play this game. I relearned how to laugh on the golf course, and how to appreciate each shot and each hole. I also went back to playing from the white tee. And when I did play from the blue (or black), I tried my best to not to try to hard, swing smoothly and just enjoy myself.

Unexpectedly (but not really surprising if you think about it), the next 6 months marked my best period of golf. My best scores off the white, blue and black tees were all during this period. My swing speed increased slightly (high 80s) which meant I averaged about 190m-200m off the tee.

Fast forward to the present, and due to work committments, being newly married and moving to another country, my practice time is limited (maybe 2-3 times a month), likewise my time on the grees (once every 3-4 weeks). It is no surprise that my game is nowhere near as sharp or as consistent as that magical period 1.5 to 2 years ago. However, once in a while, with some luck, I can still pull out a mid 80s round, which to me, is a round under my personal par of 90 for each course I play.

The interesting thing is that I actually have a higher swing speed now than I did before (mid 90s) and in the last few months, I have finally managed to obtain a manageable level of dispersion with my driver. However, my scores are nowhere near what I was shooting during that 6 months which marked my best period. And the other day, sitting around in Charles and Keith on a Saturday morning wistfully dreaming of all you luckly pple on the golf course, I took some time to compare myself now against myself 2 years ago to see if there was anything I could learn.

Here is what comes to mind almost immediately:

Pitching (30m to 70m) - almost the first thing to disappear when you don't get to practice and play regularly. Used to hit it near enough for a chance to 1 putt, now happy if I just get it on the green.

Short Iron and Wedge accuracy (on full swings) - used to almost always put it within 30 ft of the flag, now missing 50% of the time both left/right as well as long/short (inconsistent contact)

Mid Irons - similar to above, but was never that accurate even when playing well, however instead of on the fringe or a long putt, now 15m -25m from the edge of the green

Hybrids and Woods - (then) pretty much straight but contact inconsistent at times, varying distance (10m-15m) but seldom in trouble, (now) occasional hook/pull hook with great contact then sends the ball a long way in the wrong direction, usually toward the OB or hazard on the left

Another interesting thing I noticed was that previously I intentionally made a shorter/smoother swing with my irons and accepted that it would go a shorter distance, i.e. I could hit my 7i 140m but I choose to use a swing that was about 132m but with much tighter dispersion. However, distance is addictive and right now I have a bad habit of swinging at 100% (or more) on my 7i for 150 - 155m shots. The distance isn't a problem, can get it pin high, just 30m left or right, not a good place to be. Am currently experimenting with making smoother swings and hitting my irons slightly shorter to see if I can get a bit more directional control.

All in all, I still dream of getting better, but I have to accept the reality that I do not have the time now to practise or play enough to improve. It has been almost 2 years since I came close to smelling a round in the 70s and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. It will be sad if my best days are behind me (I sincerely hope not) but in the meantime, I will just try my best to play to my personal par of 90 and enjoy each time I have the luxury of touching my clubs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I can't play golf or go to the driving range, so I have no other option but to write about it to salve my addiction.

_________________
========================================
What's in the Bag

Driver: Callway X-Hot 10.5 with Fubuki 50S (pulled from a TM Burner SuperFast)
Woods: 19 Deg Callaway X-hot Proj X Stock S Flex
Hybrid: 22 Deg TM SF i70R, Cobra Baffler 25 Deg NS950R
Irons 5-Pw:  Titleist 704 CB NSP950 (Flex Unknown - think it is R)
Wedges: Perry Gear 52 Deg DG S300 and BFG 55 Deg KBS Hi-Rev, Tourstage 60 Deg
Putter: RIFE Antigua Island with Champ Large Grip
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chien
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:48 pm

Just bring some beer and play with me... You will feel better... cheers
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blee67
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Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:56 pm

chien wrote:
Just bring some beer and play with me... You will feel better... cheers

Chien, he dont just bring some beer... it goes by cartons..... Very Happy
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chihheng
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Join date : 2012-04-09

PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:02 pm

Great write up bro... Almost self reflecting as I read it. Upz.
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chien
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:50 pm

blee wrote:
chien wrote:
Just bring some beer and play with me... You will feel better... cheers

Chien, he dont just bring some beer... it goes by cartons..... Very Happy

Wow...

I have great expectations now... Beer
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eiji
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Age : 35
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:54 pm

Sibei eng

_________________
Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme 10.5* Ahina 60 R
PRGR EGG Spoon 15* MRC Fubuki Alpha 70S
Adams Super Hybrid XTD 19* MRC Fubuki AH R
Adams A12 Pro 23* GD Tour AD UT85 R
Callaway X Hot Pro 5-PW PX95 5.5
Titleist SM4 50*, 54*, 58* DG Spinner
Scotty Studio Select 2012 Golo 33"
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asahi
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Age : 39

PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:33 pm

Great personal sharing!

But still........sibeh eng lah you!
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Duval_S
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:36 pm

got podcast version?
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dtan
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:38 pm

Derek bro i know how u feel lah.....me sama sama too....
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Duval_S
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Join date : 2009-06-19

PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:58 pm

After 8 years into the game, I am convinced that I suck in this game.....my play is getting worse every year.....my peak was 2010...and now its at all time low.....so low that I have only 4 handicapps #1 Driver, #2 Wedges, #3 Irons and #4 putting



Going hibernation till further notice
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PostSubject: Re: Reflections 4 years into the game   Today at 5:56 am

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Reflections 4 years into the game
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