Asking For Advice On the Golf Course Is Okay or Is It?

A great deal of business is conducted on the golf course and asking business advice would be completely acceptable. I mean, it is the perfect place to talk shop and I am sure many million dollar deals are closed on the links. However, asking advice about golf while playing is a complete no-no! Yet, most of us still do!

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How Often Do You Replace Your Golf Ball?

This is an often talked about subject with no right answer. It struck me as an interesting topic for today because my friend at 36aday is have a Snell Golf Ball give away. Don’t ask me why or how I connected the dots between these two topics, but somehow I did. Anyway, back to the discussion at hand. If I was to answer the question, my answer would be: “that depends”. Continue reading

A Defining Moment in My Golf Game

Golf is the most frustrating, yet rewarding activity known to man! This is a bit of an exaggeration, however if you talk to a golfer, it may be more real than you would expect. But, now and then something special happens and our enthusiasm for golf grows exponentially.

This moment for me came in 1992. It was my second year of making the CFB Borden Base golf team and another chance to play at the Ontario Golf Regional Competition. It was an exciting opportunity to take my game to the next level. But, I did not know how. In walks my old mentor Bob Fortune! Continue reading

Golf Report Card From 2014

Back in April, I reaffirmed a plan for my 2014 golf season. The intent was to improve my overall game to help achieve my goal of being a scratch golfer. My plan was met with varying success; so I thought I would share the goods, bads and uglies with you.

I have four main focus areas that help guide every golf season. With a plan in place, I am usually ready for anything on the links. Here is my plan:

  • get fit – focus on exercises designed to improve my golf game;
  • research – the drills and techniques required to improve my game;
  • practice – dedicate time to practice to improve my game; and
  • compete – either formally or informally compete every time I hit the links.

The Grateful Golfer in 2014!

The Grateful Golfer in 2014!

Well I can say that my overall fitness for the golf season was pretty good. I felt strong during most rounds and rarely waned heading down the home stretch. I could have improved on my physical strength, but that is what this off-season is for. I would rate my fitness a B+.

My research on drills and techniques continued all season. I improved my chipping, widened my stance, and found better methods to score low. I have shared these tips and drills through the year in my blog, and they might be worth taking a look at. Interestingly, I improved more in the last two months of the season because I started hitting the ball farther off the tee. I will continue researching better ways to improve this area this winter. I would rate my research as a solid A.

Practicing was up and down this year. I started off extremely strong, but slowed during various times in the season. When I did practice, I felt rushed and unfocused. I write about practicing with intent all the time and should heed my own advice. I would rate my practice as a C+.

I did compete a bit this year, but mostly in fun tournaments. This type of competition is not good for my competitive edge, but it is competition. I played in 2 stroke events and was underwhelming. My competitive edge was not as sharp as in years past, but keep in mind that my criticism is relative to my handicap. I would rate my competitive edge as a B.

So overall, my season was about average for sticking to my plan. It is amazing how quickly the season passed and by not staying focused, I think that I missed some opportunities to improve. However, the most surprising aspect of my entire 2014 golf season is that I dropped my handicap from 4.7 to 2.8!

Wait, before you say not nice things to me, I cannot believe it either. I had a 4 week period where I could do nothing wrong and I actually broke par once. From a pure handicap perspective, 2014 was a fantastic season.

Hopefully, I will build on my successes from this year and achieve my overall goal of being a scratch golfer.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

 

 

The Duck Stays in Canada!

Match-play is the most equitable competition in golf. If players have honestly built their handicap, it provides a fair means to compete . Among friends, as I found out yesterday, it provides endless entertainment, chances to rib your opponent, and light-hearted competition.

A match-play match consists of one side playing against another over a stipulated round unless otherwise decreed by the Committee. In match play the game is played by holes. Except as otherwise provided in the Rules, a hole is won by the side that holes its ball in the fewer strokes. In a handicap match, the lower net score wins the hole. The state of the match is expressed by the terms: so many “holes up” or “all square”, and so many “to play”. A side is “dormie’’ when it is as many holes up as there are holes remaining to be played. (if you want all the official rules governing match-play competitions go to RCGA.org)

This weekend was a perfect way to rebound from my poor showing at last-weeks Regional competition. Not playing well during the last two days of Regionals was quite disappointing, but that is golf! Immediately after the last round of Regionals, I headed to the airport to pick up my friend and his wife who had  just arrived from the UK. They graciously planned to visit us for three  days, so Kirk and I took advantage of the time and hit the links all three days.

Jim and Kirk before "Duck Match"

Jim and Kirk before “Duck Match”

The last day was the competition for the “Duck”. This year we decided to have a match-play competition because stroke-play was too intense and not suited for a friendly! The negotiations about how many strokes a-side he would receive was hammered out in a two-hour discussion. The guiding factors used were his handicap – he is a 10 and I am a 4, his play over the previous two days, it was my home course, his jet lag and maybe a bit too many libations. Ultimately, we decided on four strokes a-side. It may seem a bit much considering his handicap, but I figure it was the right number for each of us to enjoy the round and keep the competition close.

Hitting to the second green from 150 yards out!

Hitting to the second green from 150 yards out!

We were fortunate to have one of my regular playing partners, Jean, join us. His steady play and ability to arbitrate disagreements was a great addition to our group! As we started, I quickly jumped out up 2. I thought that this was going very well and if I could get through his four-stroke holes on the front, I could hold a commanding lead going into the back. Well something happened that I was not ready for – his short game. That was by far the best part of his game! He always chipped close and never 3-putted. Each putt was either in or a tap-in on the second shot! It definitely was a clinic on how to put pressure on your opponent during a match-play competition.

His second strength was his ability to get the ball back in play! He did hit a few wayward shots, but scrambled perfectly. Of the four situations where he had to play out of trouble, he played it safe by chipping expertly out from the woods or sand; Kirk made three pars and a bogey from trouble!

Out of the Cabbage on to the green. Another par!

Out of the Cabbage on to the green. Another par!

Kirk out of the sand for par!

Kirk out of the sand for par!

His ability to scramble was really hard to compete against. In a match-play event, the ability to recover can be demoralizing to your competitor! And in our match, he gave back as much as he received. He never bent to the pressure and kept firing back great shot after great shot!

I was not to be out done. My game was steady and relentless. I did nothing flashy, yet nothing disastrous. I figured that if I played my normal game (with a couple breaks) Kirk would not be able to stay with me over 18 holes. This strategy had worked very well in our stroke-play competitions, but not during our match-play event!

Approach on 8 to 1 footAfter seven holes, I was still one up. This was the last hole on the front nine that Kirk received a stroke. My plan was to tie the hole and head to the par 5 ninth hole, one up. Since the par 5, ninth hole was played straight up, I figured I had a good chance to be 2 up starting the back nine!

Well, in a movie, this is where the slow motion scene would start! After hitting a 260 yard drive, Kirk had 120 yards to the pin. He confidently stepped over the ball and hit a 5 iron (okay it was a wedge) and hit his ball to 1 foot! He sunk his putt and evened the match. He looked and smiled at me as if to say…’you’re in trouble my friend’!

The back-nine was a slug fest. Every time I would put the pressure on, Kirk would counter with pressure of his own. During his four holes where he received a stroke, his play was excellent. He won three of the holes and put me in a pickle being 2 down with three to go! Teeing off on the 16th hole, solved nothing. We were both in play. After hitting our approach shots, he was 30 feet away and I was 45 feet away. It was not looking good for The Grateful Golfer! Undaunted, I stepped up and drained my putt for birdie! No one was more surprised than me, but with some unexpected pressure, Kirk left his putt just short and putted in for par. I was now 1 down with two to go!

17th Hole at Roundel Glen Golf Course!

17th Hole at Roundel Glen Golf Course!

The 17th hole was a 120-yard par 3. There is a sand trap to the right protecting three-quarters of the green which usually comes into play during pressure matches. The pin was up front. Kirk hit to the middle of the green about 25 feet away. I was off to the left about 15 feet away. After Kirk made his second putt; the pressure was on to win the hole and push the match to the 18th. As I stepped over the putt, I felt confident that his putt was going in! After a smooth stroke, I came up six inches short! Yup, short! The match was over and Kirk defended the title of not having to carry ‘The Duck’

Jim keeping 'The Duck' for another year!

Jim keeping ‘The Duck’ for another year!

After the match, Kirk and I both agreed that match-play was the best competition for ‘The Duck’. It allows the higher handicapper more chances to be competitive. Overall, it was an awesome day and we are looking forward to the rematch in the UK on his home course or maybe The Old Course in St Andrews!

In case you were wondering, I shot a 73 and Kirk shot a 78. Next time he is giving me strokes! This was truly a fantastic match!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!