Hello once again and welcome to another humble blog. Hopefully it has looked a lot like summer where you have been golfing and you've been able to take advantage of the good weather we've been enjoying and have got out an played and hopefully posted a few good scores. Did you remember the sun cream?
You may recall from a recent blog (Doctor Golf To The Rescue which you can read here) I had been for a golf lesson as my game had regressed. The fixes themselves were relatively simple and after a few range sessions to bed them in I took them to the course and had been seeing some forward progress. With competitions coming thick and fast I managed a third place in my division in the Centenary Medal (an honours board event I've managed to win back in 2017) and had a respectable 8th place in a monthly stableford.
Reading this you'd assume I was ticking along nicely and all in my golfing world was tickety boo. Up to a point it was but then I had a few poor rounds where I didn't hit the ball well and scored poorly and a few where I hit it badly but cobbled a score (of sorts). It wasn't right. My driving in particular had gone off the boil and I was hitting weak cuts that went nowhere and even when I caught one I was still behind my playing partners and distance was way down to even my average 215 yards.
I had a lesson in the diary with my very own Doctor Golf - Andrew Piper, the teaching professional I have been using for many years, based out of Lavender Park Golf Centre in Ascot and a man I trust and who has made a real difference to my golf swing. He has a really good reputation and there are a lot of players at my club (including several single figure players) that use him for their own games.
I had planned to use the session to work on the changes from the previous lesson and refine what we'd changed. However, the driver had been mis-behaving and so plans were changed and we use the lesson to work on the "Big Dog". Andrew watched me hit a few (as he always does) and then set to work. As with the previous fix (and is his way in general, the changes and fixes were simple - he doesn't try and reinvent the wheel). He asked what shape of shot my eye preferred and I wanted to hit. I have to confess although the good ones (which had become fewer in nature on the course) were a soft fade, my preference, even as a junior has always been to hit a draw. The good news was Andrew said he could help with that.
If you have read my previous blogs on here (if not, please take the time to do so) and more especially if you have read (or indeed never seen) the previous blog incarnation, also called Three Off The Tee (which you can go to here) you'll know that in most cases when I go to see Andrew the problem stems back to some basic set up issues. Naturally this proved to be the case again with the driver. The ball position was a tad too far forward and the shoulders were pointing way left. We tweaked both and Andrew then set about getting me to hit a draw. We were using Toptracer in the range bay so able to get some instant feedback and slowly the ball flight went from a ten yard fade to a tiny draw. Distance also increased as a result of a better set up and the ball flight and I eeked out around seven yards of extra distance (based on the range balls so arguably around ten yards with a "normal" ball).
I left the lesson a very happy golfer. I hit some balls the following day and all through the bag was hitting a soft draw. Halcyon days not known since those days at Wimbledon Common Golf Club in the late 70's and early 80's. With competitions coming thick and fast I was feeling it and ready for a storming few rounds.
I am sure you know what happened next. It is that inexplicable transition that happens with lessons. You hit the ball like a golfing god while the teaching professional is watching you and that usually extends to hitting a few after the lesson and the next range session. You then get on the course and it is almost worse than before you had the lesson and no matter what you try you can't get into the positions you could when that magic golf dust was being sprinkled over your game in the teaching bay and the swing feels so out of sync and timing is so far out. That pretty much summed up my golf for a number of weeks after the lesson. There were moments of mediocrity amongst a plethora of golfing misery. The company throughout (and especially in the 19th) was fantastic and we managed a few laughs along the way (and more so as the beers flowed).
Those that know me well (especially my golfing friends at Royal Ascot), will know that "The Quest" is fast becoming a never ending story but I remain stubbornly dogmatic in my ability to turn my ever erratic form around enough to reach my goal. I trust the work Andrew and I have done and are doing ongoing and as a self-confessed "golfaholic" I'll continue to work hard on my game and try and move forward. Annoyingly I took advantage of the recent "good" weather (well it wasn't hosing with rain) to hit some balls and work on what had gone wrong in the competitions and it'll come as no surprise to you dear reader, it went well. What a frustratingly stupid game this is.
Since my initial post lesson struggles form had started to pick up and my handicap began to drop. Was "The Quest" back on? Well having tumbled down to 11.6 having begun the world handicap system (WGS) at 13.6 it had climbed after those bad competition rounds and I finally clicked over to 12.5 to get a shot back.
Despite being the epitome of being consistently inconsistent since seeing Andrew I knew I was turning a corner and the last few rounds in practice in particular it felt frustratingly close even if I couldn't quite get it to show when it mattered on the course. One thing about me and my golf is a) I always have to work hard at the game as there is precious little "natural talent" these days to work with (maybe back in the 80's but like my hair they've gone) and b) I have always enjoyed working on my game and chasing my goal of single figures and so won't let any form slumps get in the way.
The upward trend is starting to appear. I had a net 70 (level par) in the monthly medal at Royal Ascot on Saturday. That included a cacophony of mistakes including a treble bogey on our shortest hole (139 yards), two double bogies on our 13th (another par three of 186 yards) and the last (a par 5 of 531) having bottled out of taking the pond guarding the green for my third and trying to play safe. There were some moments of competency including birdies on the 5th and 15th, both par fives and managing to salvage a double bogey six on our 16th. This hole (see it here) is by far the tightest driving hole and I hit both drives well but the first was a fraction too tight to the tree line and it went out of bounds. I made a great up and down with the second ball from 30 yards short of the flag followed by a good ten foot putt which was pleasing.
Yesterday I played in a Jamega Tour pro-am (a detailed blog coming soon) and the good form continued. In both rounds this weekend I hit the driver much better and everything Andrew and I worked on clicked. It has taken longer than I wanted to get here but I now need to kick on again and ensure the handicap cut my net 70 gave me (I'm back to 12.2) is the first of many.
For now though I'll bid you adieu for now and hope your own game is faring well. Onwards and upwards though. Let me know in the comments below or via my social media how your game is faring and in particular what you do when the driver isn't behaving. Thanks as always for taking the time to read my exploits. It means a lot and it is always cathartic to get it out on the screen when it doesn't go so well and enjoyable to be able to share it on those rare instances when I exceed expectations and do well.