I stood on the first tee at my local golf club it was another Saturday and I said to my playing partners read my blog about golf. In fact, read my blog about missing short putts because when it comes down to it, it is all about making putts. Performance on the golf course and winning on the day really comes down to sinking those putts. Now, some unkind folks reckon that golfers don’t read much, not that they can’t read but it is not their main MO (modus operandi). We live in a world chock full of instructional golf videos on You Tube and many golfers choose to consume their media in this manner. On their phones and on their big screen TVs lots of dead keen golfer’s eye ball a bunch of footage featuring pros and teachers swinging their sticks in real time and slow mo. Words are spoken in audio, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Golfers seek the holy grail in the form of a repeating beautiful swing. Read my blog about golf and you will journey to that promised land.
Head Pro Receives a Reprieve to Welcome Acclaim
There was an air of excitement on that tee, as we were playing with a scratch marker in our Saturday four ball grouping. A golfer who can shoot par on a regular basis was thrust into our company. In addition, the head pro whose head had been on the chopping block had been given a reprieve. The faceless men on the club’s committee had been seeking the demise of the independent pro shop operator by not renewing his lease. Their economically inspired vision supported by financial experts from the AGU was to bring the pro shop in-house to be run by employees of the golf club. They had not factored in the huge backlash by the members who dealt with this chap and his family as the face of the club on a daily basis. Many members were moved by the success of people power in the save the pro campaign and it filtered down right around the golf club. My drive was a beauty that split the fairway and I hit my approach onto the green for a two-putt par. Life was good, golf is good.
Making Par Feels Pretty Good
A lot of things can bounce around inside your head as you stride down the fairway. Here is a sample.
“Walk slow, don’t rush, good players never rush. Gee I hit the best drive in the group that’s a rarity on this hole. Don’t stuff up this approach shot, as you have so many times before. Stop trying so hard when you swing. Begin the downswing with your weight shift.”
Well, I hit a beautiful shot onto the green. Tried too hard on the first putt and blew it past the hole. Made the next one downhill to secure the par. Life feels pretty good.
Playing Golf in Clubland
Playing competitive golf in clubland involves a level of balancing stuff. There is the camaraderie between your playing group. Four golfers of varying abilities and approaches to the game of golf. We are all victims of our daily moods to some degree. Although our primary focus is on our own game, we are duty bound to look for our partner’s lost ball when called upon by circumstance. Generally, we all ambulate down that first fairway with a hopeful gait. Life is good, golf is good – unless you have hit a stinker off the tee. Can the amateur golfer corral his or her movements into the correct sequence to manufacture a good golf shot? This poignant question hangs above us like the sword of Damocles. Some of us deliver the goods and others stuff it up big time. We must wait upon the golfer furthest from the hole to navigate his or her next shot. We must wait upon bunkers needing to be raked. We wait upon lost balls being found. The protocols of golf must be adhered to throughout the round.
It is a reassuring experience to watch up close the play of the better golfer. It can restore confidence in the belief that consistency in golf can be achieved. The scratch golfer can have a bad day, of course, but these are far fewer than those of most golfers doing battle with mother nature and their own ability. It is on the green that you really see the difference between the low marker and the bloke just having a day out. The scratch golfer unerringly rolls his rock to tap in length time and time again. He or she has a putting stroke honed to sink putts and lag them close from afar. The good golfer belongs on the green and you can see that in their stroke and body language. The higher handicapper, often, looks uncomfortable like an impostor on the dance floor. Golf is really all about making putts and if you doubt this read my blog about golf.
Changing Gears on the Golf Course
Playing good golf involves a lot of gear shifts over four plus hours. There is the athletic big drive to strike prodigiously off the tee on par 4s and 5s. Then, there is the mid iron to move left or right to a green. Next, could be a delicate chip to a flag on a fast green. Or perhaps a greenside bunker shot where you hit sand instead of the golf ball. You could be called upon to pitch a high shot toward the flag with a lofted wedge. What about a bump and run under the branch of a tree to the green? There are 14 different clubs in the golfer’s bag, each offering a range of shots if you have the skill and technique. Putting with the flat stick is, of course, a game within a game. How good are you at changing gears on the golf course?
People frequently tell me that golf is primarily a mental game and that the important stuff happens upstairs. Of course, if you cannot swing the club effectively for whatever reason this is a moot point. However, I do understand what they mean by this judgement upon the game of golf at the competitive level. There are a host of decisions to be made over many hours and a myriad of moods to be encountered during a round of golf. Golf performance coaches and psychologists advise equanimity wherever possible on the golf course. If you can remain composed and calm whilst going about your business on the links it will serve you best. Cruel twists of fate like hitting a perfect shot and landing in a substantial divot or hitting the flagstick and ending up twenty metres off the green can test your ability in this regard, however. The rub of the green and lady luck are very much a part of mother nature’s arsenal in the game of golf. I have tried meditation and forms of hypnotherapy to help maintain my sangfroid but going through left brain right brain visualisations started to do my head in I am afraid. In the end taking a few regular breaths whilst navigating the more challenging aspects of the game has been my way forward in this regard. Never rush is a wise thing to remember when dealing with difficult situations. Easier said than done of course in the heat of the moment on those closing holes.
On this particular Saturday I putted better than usual, after writing my blog on golf about missing short putts. In a run of three consecutive holes, I putted in from the fringe for an unlikely par 5, then duffed a short pitch to a raised green, which rolled back to my feet before I pitched/chipped it in for par. Finally, I followed that with a greenside bunker explosion into the hole for birdie. I was on fire for awhile it seems with a putt sunk for birdie on the par 3, a couple of holes later. However, I then proceeded to drop 5 shots over the last 3 holes to put me back in my box. Postscript I won my grade in the Saturday comp by 2 shots, as unlikely as that seemed when I was murdering my chances on the penultimate holes.