Good signs abound, but never make assumptions

A few days ago, my coach, Bruce Furman, and I played a round together for the first time.  In retrospect, I am kind of surprised that it has taken us this long to tee it up together, but we both have a bust schedule and plans for rounds in the past were shelved as something came up on one of our ends.  Regardless, it was great to get out there with him and play some golf.

His brother was visiting from Texas and I met them on the 7th hole as I had to bring the kids to school and couldn’t make it down to Langdon until about 10.  Teeing it on the 8th I pushed the drive into the weeks and then teed it again and pulled the drive to the 9th fairway.  It’s about how the driver has been going and it was good for Bruce to see the real state of my game.  On the next hole I pulled it again then on 10 I managed to top the ball.  The rest of my game was playable, but the driver was holding me back as always.  On 11 he had me grip down and keep my whole turn more “one piece” and I hit it down the middle.  Same thing on 12, 13 was a par 3 that we all hit and then on 14 I managed to hit another fairway.  It was like some sort of miracle and I realized how impressive a good coach is.  He could watch a few drives and know exactly what I needed to hear to get them going straight again.  Really amazing.

The next day I played a match play round with Country Club and started down 4 holes with a string of bogeys.  I remembered what Bruce told me and started hitting some fairways and greens and before I knew it we were on the 18th tee box and I was just one hole down. It’s been ages since our match play rounds have come down to the 18th hole as I have been playing erratic and he has had a solid summer as a sub-2 handicap.  On 18 we both hit the fairway then I pushed my 6-iron a bit into a trap and he landed his shot short of the green, spinning it back down a slope ending up 35 yards short of the pin.  Seeing as he was out, he hit first.  I knew that I had to win the hole to push it to a playoff and was completely ready to hole out my bunker shot.  As fate would have it, Eric holed out for a birdie closing the door on my chances to push the playoff.

I didn’t win the match, but at least made it a match for the first time in countless weeks.  It felt good to be able to put some pressure on him and I could tell my game was moving in the right direction.  I just need to play more G as he says.

The next day I headed out to Heron Lakes to play as there was a tourney at Riverside.  I walked on and played with some strangers and hit the ball better than I have since January.  I hit 9 fairways and 11 greens in regulation.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make a putt all day, ending up with 33 putts (including one hole that I chipped in) and shot a 77 with one double bogey on a 187 yard par 3 that I pushed into the water.  It was a solid round that made me very happy.  I am pretty sure that it is the first official “new swing” sub-80 round which is awesome.  The past couple of months have been a scoring struggle, so it’s good to see a decent number on the board once again.

Today I met with a man who is helping me redesign in the morning and then headed to Riverside to play a Riverside match play match.  The match started on the same note as yesterday’s round:  I was 3 up through 4 holes with solid shots and good short game shots, but then hit an errant drive on the 5th hole.  I lost that one and then on 6 I was still 2 up and my playing partner hit his tee shot OB.  I thought “I have this” and tried to hit a slight fade to suite the hole, but strangely topped the ball into the water.  I teed it up again and topped it again.  The third ball I sent hard left into the water.  It was as if something had un-clicked and all of a sudden I felt like I wasn’t sure how to hit a drive again.  Easy come-easy go.  I lost the next two holes to go one down and then pushed the 9th.  After the turn my driving struggles remained and I lost the 10th and 11th.  I hit a decent one on 12 and won that hole to get back to 2 down, but hooked and sliced the next two to go back to 3 down.  On 15 I simply tried to hit the ball solid and pushed it into a tree which dropped the ball just 100 yards from the tee, leaving me with 400 to the hole (par 5).  I layed up and then hit the green, but my opponent made a birdie shutting the door on the round.

It was very disappointing to lose after starting with such a great feeling about the game, but it reminded me of why I have decided to play more golf and spend less time on the range right now:  because I need to learn how to find it while out there.  On the range you can drop another ball and figure out what you are doing wrong, on the course you do not have that luxury, nor do you have a coach standing behind you telling you what you are doing wrong, rather you have to be able to self-adjust accordingly.

These are great experiences and I am excited for this next stage of the project.  The new swing still needs some tweaks, but it is finally good enough to bring to the course and when I remember to do it correctly, and make some putts, I can truly push to the next level in my game.

This weekend I am playing in a two-day tourney for the first time since April of this year.  It’s been far too long since I competed in a stroke play event and I am excited to get after it again.  Last year I totally butchered this event, which is the Forest Hills Am.  This year my goal is to beat my two-day total from last year by at least 15 strokes.

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