After about 1 month off, I finally was able to hit the links. On Thursday past, I was able to get out after a charity tournament and had the course to myself. Arriving early, I hit a large bucket of balls, then chipped and putted for about 30 minutes. I had thought about how I would play this round trying to manage my expectations! You know exactly what I mean, knowing that your game is a bit rusty, you down play the end result as not to be frustrated while enjoying your time on the links!
As I walked to the first tee, a 150 yard par 3, a friend of mine was getting ready to play. Steve asked if I wanted to join them for their last hole. Of course, I said yes and waited my turn. Pulling my 7-iron, all I kept saying to myself was to keep my head down and swing easy. Well, to my surprise the ball ended up in the middle of the green. After an easy two-putt, I started with a par.
On par 5 second hole, I hit my third shot to 1 foot from 100 yards. A quick tap in and I was 1 under! Well, no one was more surprised than me! The par 3, third hole, par, and so on and so on! This was one of my best front nines of the year. If I missed the green, I chipped to within 2 feet. If I hit a tree (which I did twice) the ball bounced into the middle of the fairway. I even hit a bunker once and the ball bounce out onto the green! It seemed that I could do nothing wrong. I finished the front nine with a 1 under 35!
As I walked to the 10th hole, I started to think. Yup, I know, that was a big mistake! The last thing I should have done was to start thinking. I was starting to play out the back nine in my mind and I envisioned shooting under par for the second time this year!
Opening with two bogies, I started to worry about my swing. Instead of swinging slow and controlled like the front nine, I tried to hit the ball a bit farther and to shape the ball. This strategic error was the start of a different outcome.
As the back nine unfolded, I tried several times to regroup and was successful for the most part. The one technique I relied on the most was my pre-shot routine. During the front nine, I relied on my pre-shot routine to keep focused and steady. The first two holes of the back-nine I change what worked and it cost me immediately. So, back to what works and presto – I was back on track.
As the back nine continued, I struggled with my swing more and more. Mostly, I was getting tired and as you know, your swing starts to breakdown when you are tired. Trying to stay focused, I started to really work at my game. The last 6 holes was all about course management. Instead of trying to crush the ball, I started to play to distances. This approached worked well and I played the last 6 holes 1 over (2 bogies and a birdie)!
At the end of the round, I shot a 74 from the tips! It was one of my best rounds of golf of the year. After a month off, my round exceeded all of my expectations! Now I have a dilemma, trying to remember how I played on the front nine and duplicate it the next time I play! The biggest test will be to keep my brain out-of-the-way and let my body naturally play as it knows how!
I have never taken this long of a break during golf season and been so successful upon my return. I am a bit out of my league, grateful golfers, I need some help. How do you propose I keep focused on the positives from my last round of golf and incorporated them in my next round? Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!