After two weeks of focused training, some changes are starting to take place.
Physically I’m becoming more svelte, though my mobility and flexibility are temporarily lacking. Since I’m not used to working out this much or pushing my body, soreness has become a daily tolerance. Which is a good thing knowing that I’m building something that hasn’t quite surfaced.
My game has been circling around high quality but still doesn’t know where to land. I’ve had two even nines in the last two weeks, which is a strong indicator of potential.
Saturday proved to be another marathon of a battle, struggling again with my driving and putting. One lost ball in a relatively findable location and a sloppy, sandy, watery par-3 buried my round on top of my usual 7+ HDCP round. Ending the day with a missed birdie opportunity was the icing on a +13 cake.
The one positive that I took from that day was my ability to control my emotions.
Frustration was around but anger was nowhere to be found. Difficult situations around the course and bad hops seemed to roll off me. There was a feeling that I was entirely disconnected from the poor performance. For the first time in a long time I was able to disassociate my deficiencies from my worth.
From what I understand in performance psychology, that ability to distance myself and appreciate the game from an observer’s perspective is important to developing skills. Instead of soaking in the problems, I see them as things to work on. I’m happy to find this shift so early in the process, as it means I have time to develop and react with a plan without the emotional tie.
To me it seems like meditation has started to give that angry part of my brain some room to run and settle down. I needed no more evidence than my green performance.
Sunday I decided to take a break from data collection. On top of my GAME GOLF clip breaking on Saturday, I wanted to take a moment to really enjoy the game without the weight of my 90-day challenge. Being invited to play a different course than usual was the perfect opportunity.
I almost missed the tee time after I forgot to fill up with gas and got lost on an interchange on the highway. Without any sort of warm-up, I was left with a 30-foot downhill putt for my first test.
As you’re aware by now, my putting is really holding me back. So the idea of a long downhill putt for birdie as the first putt of the day is an intimidating one. I had no idea of the speeds of the greens other than they seemed faster than my home course. A calm mind presented with a new puzzle and a week’s worth of focus, I felt ready.
I didn’t birdie that hole, but I did cozy up a little tap-in par. The tone was set.
No 3-putts and three birdies, I ended the day 4 putts fewer than my average per round and shot a fairly tidy +5. When I finished the day (with a bogey unfortunately), I really let the good putting wash over me. Obviously it’s nice to see quick results from my efforts, but it was more a regression to something I had forgotten from last year.
That adjustment helped me start putts on my line and historically I read faster greens better. If both pace and read are dependent on green speed, marrying the two is easier with my standard intuition. Two possibilities then exist if my game felt the same but my performance was seven strokes better on the green between days: either my home course’s greens are in bad shape (which they kind of are) or I need to adjust my speed reading. One of those I have control over.
Driving was better on Sunday, though the course was much shorter. Longer iron shots from the fairway highlighted some contact issues that I will be focusing on this week. One tricky uphill par-5 started off with a perfectly faded 240-yard hybrid from the tee. I promptly dumped my approach directly into a 60-foot tall creek bank after hitting the turf about 3 inches behind the ball. Downhill lie with a long iron, I should have seen the position and knew to lay up. A crisp wedge from the drop area and newly found confidence putting saved my par.
This week I’m mixing up my practices with a little more focused attention. Tackling some new assessments and doing more deliberate work on key skills will be a short sprint to see the effectiveness of a different strategy. Transitioning my range sessions to the course will require me to make practices more like the game. More importantly, changing my approach for a few weeks will give me comparative data for future learning.
We’re still trending in the right direction, so we must keep going!
One last note: I made a recent purchase to help me get more immediate feedback. I’m going to keep you in the dark for now, but I’m looking forward to sharing with you if it turns out to be a positive investment.
Until then, stay safe.