Updated stats, handicap, press and travel plans

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but I finally had a chance to update some of the info on the stats page.  I posted a current list of my handicap trend, new graphs breaking down the last 15 rounds, a scorecard from the best round to date and also updated the stopwatch with the most recent number of hours remaining.  All things that I would like to upload more often, but at times these have to take a back seat to practice and the rest of life’s mini-journeys.

A couple more of those journeys are coming up this week.  This time they are all interview oriented; two where I am the subject and two where I am asking the questions.  First off, NPR is finishing up a story.  I’ve been speaking with a sports correspondent there for some time and we finally managed to meet last week.  He has a few other audio pieces to get before the story if finished and hopefully we can do that while I practice or play this week.  Also, CNN is doing a longer piece and are flying to Portland to follow me around both Wednesday eve and all day Thursday.  I have a lesson on Thursday they might film and a round Wednesday.  It’s always fun to hit balls and play with the added pressure of it being captured for TV.  Reminds me of the first TV interview early on in The Dan Plan.  At the time I was pretty new to the full swing and was so nervous that I might actually miss the ball on camera.   I didn’t miss, but did have a bit of the shanks going on.  Three years later and my set of concerns has drastically changed.  Now I sit here wondering if I can eagle the first par 5 and capture it on tape :)

After that interview I am going to NYC for two days to meet with David Epstein and Gary Marcus. Both Gary and David have written wonderful books on learning and I have been hoping to meet up with them for some time.  They will both be available this weekend so it’s a good time to make the trek east.  There may be a free day so if anyone is around and wants to meet up let me know.  Hard to say what the exact schedule will be right now, but it should be a good trip and a fast one.  If all goes as planned both of their interviews will be up on the site one day soon.

In other news, I had not checked on my handicap in a while and was pleasantly surprised to see it had dropped below a 4 to a new record low.  Today it is a 3.3, which is great from a progress point and just means I need to start playing the game even better to get it to continue to drop.  I’ve had a couple of rounds that posted under a 2 and one that was my first negative number: the round two under par posted as -1.7.  I have also had a couple of high rounds recently, but that’s the way of golf.  Even the pros go from shooting a 63 one day to 76 the next, a-la Phil Mickelson last weekend.  It’s so interesting how at any level and on any given day such a wild variety of outcomes is possible.  To me, that’s what makes this game so special.

The good news is that I have been shooting decent scores lately without making any putts.  Not sure if it’s the fact that a lot of greens around here are punched and bumpy or if my putting is just off or if my irons are not tight enough, but I’ve been having rounds where I shoot between 75-80 with way too many putts. A year ago if I shot in the 70s it was because I had less than 28 putts and made everything.  Lately I’ve been hitting the ball well and chipping well then lipping a lot of close ones out.  The next progress leap will be from both hitting the driver better and making putts like I know I can.  Just a matter of time, as everything is.

To make that next leap, though, I need to really focus on making sure I am actually improving.  I spoke with Dr. K Anders Ericsson yesterday and he reminded me just how important keeping track of performance is.  In particular, he wanted me to find a new way to measure my current driver ability so that I can be certain that I am moving in the right direction.  He said that just noting how often I miss left, right or hit the fairway is not enough and that I need to figure out a system that measures my current level (base level as of today) and allows for regular updates as I progress.  Having the ability to measure progress is a huge part of deliberate practice.  I just need to figure out what that looks like when working with the driver in particular.

No matter what system I create for keeping tabs on the driver, a very large part of that progress will be made by working more with Bruce Furman.  Bruce just returned from Palm Springs and will be here throughout the summer.  We met last week and after just one lesson I had a much better feel for what I need to work on and exactly how to improve my game.  I’m not exactly sure how I progressed (or if I really did) while he was away, but now that he is back I will see him once a week to make sure I am moving in the right direction.  Without good eyes on you it’s so easy to revert.  In an ideal world, I would be able to afford about 4 hours of lessons a week as well as a 9 hole round once a week for some on course playing lessons.  However, this isn’t an ideal world and I will make due with one lesson a week.  It’s so much better than zero a week and I love going down there to see Bruce so am happy that he’s back in town.  Langdon might be my home every Thursday.

Onward and upward.  Time to step it up to get to the next level of play.  My current goal is to dramatically improve my tee shot game while getting my putting back.  Everything between the driver and the putter is also in for some major practice time.  Lesson of the day is that in order to improve you need to know where you are at and then make sure you are moving in the correct direction.

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