Updated: Aug 23
Welcome one and all to my latest blog. I trust I find you in good health and enjoying the fact we are starting to see a resemblance of normality (in the UK) and that we are allowed back out to play golf. I hope you've taken advantage and have enjoyed seeing your golfing pals.
At my own club, Royal Ascot, (check the website here) we started off being able to book only nine holes (you could choose to play front or back nine) to allow everyone to get a tee time and so cope with an inevitable rush. I am happy to say we are now back to booking a full eighteen holes and last weekend was my first opportunity to play a full round since 30th December. I had played every day over Easter, flitting between nine holes on the front or nine on the back and it was good to be out and seeing some of my good golfing friends again.
If you have been following my blog (and thank you for your support) or even if this is your first visit (welcome along and I hope you enjoy what you see) then you will know that I struggled in this lockdown in terms of missing golf and the benefits it gave me from a mental health perspective. I did a blog on the subject (read it here) which really seemed to touch a nerve with so many and caught the zeitgeist of frustration we were feeling. It got a massive response and the follow up I did (which you can read here) was also well supported.
I was no different to each and every one of you and waiting for that moment I stepped back onto the course. Having not hit a ball in 2021 I had set my expectations really low and given the fact we were only playing nine holes didn't think too much of it and that the first few rounds would be iffy at best but I'd be able to start practicing and things would improve. How wrong I would be.
The golf over Easter was ropey at best and enormously frustrating. There were some good shots in there including a rare (for me) birdie on our 178 yard par 3 eleventh hole (stroke index 7) but so much rubbish as well. I couldn't string two consecutive shots of a decent standard together. I kept telling myself most of the other members were in the same boat and to stay patient but it never really got any better. If you ever read by previous bog incarnation (also creatively called Three Off The Tee) you will be aware I am on "The Quest For Single Figures" or "The Quest" as I refer to it. Take the time to read my first blog on this site and it will give you all the details. I digress! Given the way I had played "The Quest" seemed a forlorn dream.
The previous blog also charted my obsession with golf and my partiality to practicing. I make no bones about it, I enjoy working on my game. I have never had any natural talent at any of the sports I have had a modicum of success in, and golf is no different. I have really had to work hard to get the most out of my game. Given how abjectly poor I had played I ventured to the range once they reopened and spent several evenings trying to find the missing link in my swing.
I actually began to hit the ball a little better with distances returning to something resembling normality and dispersion was becoming tighter. Indeed I seemed to have lost the right hand side of the range completely although the left side was definitely in play! The driver was behaving and I was cautiously optimistic come last weekend, and my first full eighteen holes of the year that I had turned a corner.
What was all that about pride coming before a fall? I was booked in with two relatively new members for the Saturday round I had never met before and it all started reasonably enough with a net par at the 200+ yard par three opening hole. From there the wheels came off. And how. I was embarrassed to be out there at times but somehow managed to keep smiling through the apology of my golf game. Not to worry thought I, trying to tap in to my positive golf thinking, Sunday would be better. Sadly not and more of the same.
The driver was weak and fading (at best, mainly a slice) and all the iron shots despite feeling well struck lacked any sort of distance. As an example I had 105 yards down wind to the 12th green. That would be my pitching wedge all day long and I actually put one of the rare solid strikes of the day on it. In the air it looked good but it came down on top of the bunker and had travelled 89 yards. What can you do when you can't get it in play off the tee (and when you do the drives were only going 180 yards flat out) and your irons aren't going as they should?
I am already fed up with my golf again. Actually that may be a little white lie. As an obsessive it will take more than that to quell my love for all things golf but I am pretty frustrated about where my game is at. On the plus side I have a lesson booked with a great teaching professional I have used for a number of years called Andrew Piper
I am sure he'll get me back on my game. The most annoying thing of all throughout this golfing purgatory I have being going through is it doesn't feel far off being good. Clearly there is something not working in my swing, or something I am not doing often enough but Andrew is excellent at getting straight to the source of the problem and giving me simple fixes and drills. He never reinvents the wheel and works with what I bring (after forty odd years of playing the swing won't change much now) but always finds a way to sort it. We have worked together for five years now during which time my handicap has come down (14 to 11) and I have picked up several wins in various competitions so I trust him totally.
However, do you know what, despite not playing as I wanted, losing more balls than I'd have liked, and simply not hitting the ball as I can, it mattered not a jot. I was back out playing the game I love at a club I am proud to be a member of, alongside people I consider friends. If you take the banter, usually fierce and sharp and then add in the environment what isn't to love no matter how you play? I've already seen muntjac and roe deer, red kites, buzzards, green woodpeckers and a host of other wildlife. Given where my mental health was working on an intensive care ward during a tsunami of Covid in the second wave, it has been a godsend to be back out chatting and playing. We have competitions on the horizon as we return to normal but for now playing for fun is all that matters.
It is good to be back (despite the title). I hope you have all enjoyed your own golf now we can play again and hopefully your own game is in far better shape than mine. I am sure once I see "Dr Golf" aka Andrew for my lesson and work on the changes I'll be back on track.
I'll leave you with a gentle nudge towards my Three Off The Tee youtube channel which you can go to from here. Now the longer days are here and I can get back onto the course to film there is a host of content coming your way soon. Check out my videos to date, including numerous product reviews as well as unusual features including exclusive access to four Ryder Cup players including 2006 captain Ian Woosnam. There is also a number of videos from the British Par 3 Championship, held annually at Nailcote Hall near Coventry (covid permitting of course) which is a great event and well worth a trip if you are in the area. Check out the 2021 details on their website
In the same way, now we are back and I start work on "The Quest" and playing as much golf on as many courses as I can, the blogs will be coming much more frequently (stop moaning at the back!). I hope they provide some light relief and you enjoy them. If you do (even if you don't) please leave a comment either on here or on my social media. As someone once said it's great to talk!. Thanks for reading and I'll see you again soon a slightly more competent golfer.....hopefully!