Playing Poorly and Having An Awesome Time On The Golf Course

Many golfers lament about playing poor golf. It becomes all encompassing and they forget about the other aspects of hitting the links. Last Friday, my old golfing crew played at my home course of Mattawa Golf and Ski Resort. We played early in the day and were finished to by lunch. We are trying to play together at least once a month since I changed golf courses this year and so far we are hitting that goal. As we looped my home course, I can say that my golf was less than stellar, but he 3.5 hours on the links was the best round of the year.

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My Best Golf Start Ever!

What was your best start ever on the links? Recently, I was thinking about my best start and realized that it I have started at three under after three holes on 4 occasions; not bad considering I have played over thousands of rounds. Each of these rounds started with three birdies and continued on cruise control for most of the round. But more of that later!

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A Winning Mindset in Golf

GrowthI was having the round of my life! As I walked towards the par 5, 18th hole at Laurentide Golf Course (par 71), the realization that an eagle would help me shoot the lowest score of my life…a 68! Positioning ball on the tee box, to avoid the bunker 255 yards out to the right, put my mind in the proper state to execute the required shot. Going through my pre-shot routine, I hit the ball down the left side of the fairway into the first cut, but with a great lie. As I thought about my second shot, I decided the risk – reward is worth pulling my three-wood and going for the green. With a sand trap in the centre of the fairway 25 yards back from the green and a water hazard on the right about 75 yards from the green, the probability of me staying on the elevated green from 240 yards was remote. But, my short game was on fire that day, so I was confident that an up and down birdie was the worst that could happen! I went through my normal pre-shot routine, step of the ball and made solid contact.

The confidence from playing well on that day continued to grow. My ball landed just before trap, took a big bounce and stopped 10 yards from the green at the bottom of elevation. After realizing that my ball was lying in a good spot for my next shot, my thoughts turned to how to navigate the elevated green and sink that chip for my 68. I select my club (56 degree sand wedge) and went through my pre-shot routine. With confidence I hit the ball cleanly, landed it 15 feet from the pin, and watched it roll towards the hole.

As my ball continued to track towards the hole, my excitement started to rise. The ball took the proper break and what seemed like an eternity, everything looked awesome. As my ball struck the pin, I heard what I thought was a clap of thunder! My ball hit the pin, bounced back towards the lip of the hole, bounced forward and hit the pin again! I was yelling “GET IN, GET IN!” Well my ball stopped on the lip of the hole, disappointed and elated at the same time I tapped it for a birdie and a low score of the year a 69!

The ability to perform under pressure is a skill all golfers desire. As you can see from my adventure above, the pressure to hit a great shot on the last hole of an awesome round continued to mount! But, my ultimate success did not start on the 18th hole or even the first hole of that round. It actually started about three weeks before; when, after analysing my performance to date, I realized that I was not improving. I was just treading water!

I decided to change two things in my game. The first was the amount of time I spent chipping and putting. I decided to adopt the 80/20 rule. So I practiced my short game for 80 percent of my practice time. Of that, I divided my time 60/40 – 60 percent chipping and 40 percent putting. During my original 20 percent, I mixed up my clubs on the range with a majority of my focus on the 3, 4, and 5 hybrid. This practice regime significantly improved my up and down percentage and quickly increased my confidence around the green.

The other thing I changed was my attitude! I decided that ‘close’ was not good enough. I tried (and still struggle with from time to time) to eliminate all doubt when swinging a golf club. I decided that: a positive mental attitude, that I could hole every chip, and that all putts would drop, was the way forward. Combine this approach with my new expectation that any score over 75 was just not good enough help expand my winning mindset in golf! This approach helped shape my future successes and over the past 3 years, my handicap has continued to drop. Albeit slowly, it still continues to drop.

As I continue to prepare for the 2015 golf season, I will expand my winning mindset. I will increase my off course mental preparation through visualization, mental imagery, and a positive “I can do anything” attitude! This may sound silly, but everything I have read lately seems to point in this direction. Who am I to turn away from this message of success!

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

Golf Courses

Lamenting about not golf today only stoked my desire to hit the links.  Dreaming of the perfect golf swing, the sound of the ball going in the hole or the sweet melody of the driver off the tee are things missed during everyone’s off-season.  The fortunate aspect of being an avid golfer is the ability to play and dream of different courses.  Through the years, I have played tough courses, easy courses, beautiful courses and goat tracks!  I prefer not to think of the latter and to focus on the positive experiences while playing golf.

To banish my lamenting and focus on playing, the following are the easiest, most difficult, most beautiful and favorite courses I have ever played.

Laurentide Golf CourseThe easiest course I have every played is Laurentide Golf Club at Stugeon Falls, Ontario.  It was my home course for a few years mostly because the staff was awesome and Moe Mantha (famous hockey player) would talk to me every morning while I played early birds. However, after a few years I realized that it is a relatively flat track with few hazards.  I always scored well.  However, it is a great course for the average player who wants to have a great time on a fun course.

oysterbayThe most difficult course I ever played was Oyster Bay Golf Links, Myrtle Beach, North Carolina.  It was a tight course with 17 holes of playable water. When I played in February, the course was hard, the greens did not hold well and the water gobbled up my errant shots like my friend in the UK eats chicken wings.  Man it was tough.

hartlenpoint9GreenThe most beautiful course was Hartlen Point Forces Golf Club, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Established in 1962 as a facility for Canadian Armed Forces Personnel, Hartlen Point Forces Golf Club has grown to become one of the most challenging and skill testing golf courses in Nova Scotia.  This course is nestled along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The views are spectacular!  Well worth playing!

Before I share my most favorite course, check out the following links on the best of courses around the world:

My most favorite course has nothing to do with location and everything to do with the people.  I am grateful to have played many rounds of golf with some awesome people. Some are my closest friends and I am grateful every time we hit the links together!  Golf is a social sport and meeting new and old friends is definitely my favorite part of golfing.  I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!

What are your easiest, most difficult, most beautiful and favorite courses?

Fixing Ball Marks

First Tee at Laurentide

First Tee at Laurentide

This morning was fabulous!  As I walked to the first tee at my home course Laurentide, I was grateful for the warm, clear, and peaceful surroundings.  What a fantastic way to start your day!

Each day I try to set a goal to improve my over all game.  Today was fixing ball marks on the green.  I know, you are thinking fixing ball marks – what does that have to do with scoring well?  It is interesting you should ask.  I try to make a ball mark on the green every hole.  This tells me that I made a decent approach shot.  Sometimes I reach the green in regulation, others ….. well you know.  As a treat, I fix my ball mark (I know many people have a bad back and cannot bend over) plus one more.  When I do not leave a ball mark, I fix one anyway.  By setting the goal of leaving a ball mark on the green, it helps me focus on my approach shots and as a result a lower score.

The weather is going to be fantastic this weekend and I hope everyone enjoys their time on the links.