90 days to scratch.
You read that right.
In an effort to accelerate my progress, I’m going to take on my most ambitious challenge to date: 90 days to scratch golf. From July 13 until October 10, 2020, my training will be hyper-focused and far more extensive than it’s been since I started the blog.
Before I get into the details, I want to address any skepticism toward this “crash diet” approach.
It’s easy to dismiss these kinds of disruptive attempts. In reality, the unprecedented time we’re in offers possibly the only opportunity to dive as deep as I can into the game. Unrestricted by outside obligations, not beholden to children, and even without little things like the commute to work, there is probably no point in my life after this where I can selfishly structure my time and effort to the magnitude required for significant change.
So part of the reason why I’m not calling this a disruption is how I’m going to organize this improvement. My efforts will be structured to learn, build, adapt, and improve as I go along. I’m not burning down the house and starting new. I’m going to be adjusting my habits, creating momentum, and taking percentages where I can get them.
The principle behind a compressed learning environment is the ability to focus on what is truly impactful and disregard distractions. Although subjects that require physical training may not fit this model particularly well, the benefits of a holistic effort still stand.
And when I say holistic, I mean the WHOLE of my efforts.
I’m not quitting my day job and I’m not going to be a neglectful roommate and partner. In fact part of the holistic approach means making time to finish my work and staying connected in my relationships to (apart from the intrinsic value in each, duh) keep my mind free from worry and anxiety.
For the time being, I’m tossing out the procedural, “scientific” method and instead throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. For 90 days I will attack every aspect of my life and game to see if I can get to scratch golf. I’m putting the blog in hyperdrive.
Sure the idea is fun and challenging, and with all reasonable considerations likely to be an utterly hilarious failure, but I still need some incentive to upend my lifestyle.
I’m a bit of stingy bastard when it comes to upgrading equipment or buying new things. From my perspective, if something is still working then it shouldn’t be sent to pasture. That being said, my GAME GOLF, GolfBuddy Voice GPS, and Bushnell V3 Jolt are all on their last leg. So I’m going to replace those pieces of technology with every accomplishment in a sort of a “level up” reward system.
If I’m able to shoot a round at even par, I’ll update my GPS. If I’m able to shoot a round under par, I’ll update my shot tracking tags. And If somehow I’m able to bring my entire handicap down to scratch, I’ll purchase a brand new, state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line rangefinder.
And if I don’t make it to scratch? I’ll retire from golf forever.
Just kidding. There are no serious consequences for not reaching my goal other than potentially a publicly bruised ego and a few “I told you so”s. Not reaching such a momentous goal will still be accompanied by scores of lessons so nobody goes home empty-handed, especially me since I’m getting a Sonic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup blast at the end regardless of the outcome. Not to incentivize followers but I’ve considered doing some sort of contest over on my social channels or put some of that prize money to positive golf charities.
After all in the scope of a lifetime, three months is a drop in the hat. I’m not losing that time, it will instead serve as a concentrated opportunity for incredible improvement. Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that this experiment will be fun and a real test of my true potential.
So now let’s get into the details.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the most important part of this challenge will be practice.
Over the last two months, I’ve been collecting performance data and figuring out the really weak parts of my game. Here is the breakdown since my return:
Fortunately my game has been trending in the right direction at the right time, and I can’t mistake temporary improvements for lasting change. What I do know, is that my performance off the tee and approaches to the green will contribute to a significant lowering of my score. Equally as important will be improving my putting to make sure I can capitalize on opportunities created from improved ball-striking.
There is room to grow around the greens, but for the initial push I will focus on full swing and putting.
My practice schedule will include focused sessions at home with my hitting net every single day. Feedback from recording and drills guiding practices. For the first month, I will go to the range every Tuesday and Thursday. Our typical rounds occur every Saturday and Sunday morning. Additional rounds may be included during the week if I’m coming up short on entries for my handicap.
During the first week I’m going to take the putting assessment from James Sieckmann’s Your Putting Solution to start to address my putting issues. I’ll need the practice greens at my course to give me good information on my reading and speed control. Although I can work on my putting technique at home, I have a feeling most of my putting concerns will only be addressed on the green.
Because of the importance of distance, I’ll also use my range session to utilize overspeed training with the SuperSpeed Golf set. Unfortunately I won’t be able to provide an accurate assessment as I’m adding too many variables to my plan. I’ve had success before with the system, but it also coincided with me working out more.
Which brings me to my next improvement process: peak physical fitness.
Overall fitness improvements will require changes in my workout routine, nutrition, recovery, and personal health.
To begin with workouts, I will follow a golf-specific program three days a week. The other two weekdays will consist of moderate cardio training. What I will be working on is building the muscles associated with the golf swing and stability while adding aerobic exercises for stamina on the course. Weekends will be built around rounds of golf and recovery.
Although there is some debate about stretching, I’ve found it personally increases performance in my own game. I have always been flexible, so I will need to maintain my elasticity to make sure my body keeps up. Static stretching will occur daily, only after I’ve concluded my workouts and training. The nature of static stretching is harmful to do prior to an activity. Timing my stretches after sessions is more beneficial to sustained effort, allowing for ample recovery. Fridays will be reserved for relaxation poses to prepare for the weekend. Dynamic stretches and warm-ups will precede all exercises.
Foam rolling protocols will be included everyday, as well. Self-massaging muscles and myofascial tissue increases range of motion and promotes blood flow. Getting the muscles loosened up daily makes sure I don’t recruit unwanted compensations and aids in recovery.
Recovery is really the name of the game. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but learning and building muscle takes place in the time between sessions. As an example, taking steroids doesn’t give you superhuman strength. Steroids reduce the time it takes to rebuild muscles, which means getting back to the gym to lift heavier weights sooner.
In order to maximize my recovery, I’ll be referring to my Whoop strap to monitor my heart rate variability, a correlated marker to how well your body is recovered. Every behavior has an effect on our recovery, and I’ll be using the data I’ve collected for months to pinpoint which behaviors score highest.
Nutrition will be necessary to facilitate wellness. My first goal will be to build muscle, but not at the expense of longevity. After years of dieting and studying the benefits associated with different programs, I will be utilizing full nutritional ketosis for the first month. Slowly I will reintroduce increased carbohydrates to maintain.
Diets seem to be a point of concern for most people. Everyone has an opinion about everyone else’s. I’ll be loud and clear: nutritional ketosis is fine FOR ME. I’ve cycled in and out of nutritional ketosis for the past year and have seen incredible improvements in my overall health and body composition.
Ketosis is not a crash diet, it is a difficult state to reach in which your body burns stored and accessible fat as energy instead of glucose. Ketones, which are created by your body, are reported to burn slower and cleaner. For me that means steadier energy and the ability to focus for longer.
I am not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I am not recommending you follow any specific diet without checking with your physician. Everybody responds differently to different diets. What I can tell you is over the course of several years, I’ve experimented with different diets and have lost nearly 80lbs (36kg). More importantly I have kept the unnecessary weight off. Shedding the weight has given me more energy and makes something like walking 18 holes much easier. Regardless of the program you choose, sticking to it is the most critical step.
In regards to recovery, a couple weeks testing the waters of ketosis in June showed my recovery improved 18%. That ability to recover quicker means getting back to training faster, which means more training and expedited growth.
As we get into the heat of a Texas summer, hydration and sun protection play vital roles in continuing my progress. I can’t afford to waste time healing from sunburns or seeing diminished performance from dehydration. The liberal use of sunblock, umbrellas, sun sleeves, and sunglasses will keep me protected.
During a round, I typically drink at least 64oz (2L) of water. Since community water stations are still prohibited during the pandemic, I need to make sure I bring enough water with me to the course. I’ll be avoiding sports drinks for the first month, but will need to include electrolytes due to excessive sweating on those +100℉ (38℃) days. There are electrolyte options that I will be exploring to make sure I don’t sweat out too much good stuff.
Often eye protection is neglected by golfers. Although we like to poke fun at Justin Rose’s oversized specs or Phil Mikelson’s stylish aviators, the truth is we need to be careful with our eyes. This includes on and off the course.
My hours spent in front of a computer screen will include blue-blockers to reduce eye strain. On the course I will make sure to protect my eyes from the elements with sunglasses. Goofy-looking or not, it’s important I keep my vision clear.
An interesting point of focus during the current situation is avoiding unnecessary dangers.
As much as I like hanging out with friends or tackling projects for clients, every exposure is a calculated risk. You may understand that the good ole’ U.S. of A. is not fairing particularly well, and my state specifically is seeing a severe increase in cases as we try to convince the general population to participate in even the most basic efforts of public health.
Frustrating as it is, all I can do is protect myself and my family with my own personal decisions. That means limiting my time outside the house and being careful when I do venture out to the grocery store and golf course (about the only two places I’ve been for months).
Although I’m fearful of getting the disease myself, what I’m more terrified of is giving it to someone with less defense. Every weekend I play with an 89-year-old. He’s survived war, cancer, car accidents, and countless surgeries. Protecting him is my duty as a fellow citizen, as a friend, and as a decent human being. It’s a simple ask: wear a mask.
Another vital asset to recovery is meditation. The benefits seem to be endless with new discoveries every year. Although I have cycled on my meditation routine, last month alone I saw a 16% improvement in recovery on the days I practiced. In addition I saw increases in REM and deep cycle sleep (the beneficial cycles for mental and physical recovery, respectively).
Meditation also helps me to control my emotions on the golf course. Focused breathing techniques can decrease heart rate in stressful situations and improve chances of staying level headed on the course.
One area that I have not properly addressed in recent years is my sleep hygiene.
Typical of this day and age, I have my face buried in screens most of the evening, but sleep is going to be paramount to my success. Every morning I need to wake up with a fresh mind and body to make the most of it. So that means abstaining from alcohol, late night snacks, artificial light, and other activities that hurt my chances of a good night’s rest.
Finally I’ll need to expand my comprehensive learning of the sport. Deep studying and reading with dedicated time each day will help me to better understand the intricacies of the game. Although I want to absorb as much as possible, I’ll be carefully vetting my information for accuracy. That means no YouTube videos, no magazine tips, and certainly no influencer commentary.
So there you have it. My 90-day challenge.
Along the way I’ll share the products that are helping me through this experiment, practice routines that are showing promise, and what life is like when you prioritize the game.
Last week I enjoyed my last run of moderate debauchery in anticipation of my self-inflicted restrictions. This week I get started on a brand new chapter and can’t wait to share with you what happens!
I hope you’ll follow along with me as I work hard to squeeze every ounce of performance from my game for the next three months. Let the process… begin.