11/05/2013

Reflections:

The leaves blow in the cold wind. The kids need rides to their activities.

Introspection:

Golf courses close with the early darkness. This blog isn’t going to write itself.

Pondering:

A career best 78 this year. Is that a story?

Muse:

I can’t stop thinking of those two rounds in Yankton. A 98 and a 92. These are important to remember?! Really?

Yes, you read that right. Without my weekend in Yankton this year, my search continues for sub-80 golf. However, the significance of my Yankton golf experience lies not in the final scores. If just a number they are forgettable. Their impact unfolds only after careful thought.

I played these rounds in August with my wife and dear friends of ours, members at Hillcrest. Hillcrest inspires me. Beautifully manicured, it’s challenging and enjoyable layout invites me to play my best. The par-5, 17th might be the best hole in the state.

Unfortunately, the invitation remains unanswered. I always put too much pressure on myself and become score focused. This year was no different. Heading into that weekend, I was full of confidence with several good rounds of golf under my belt during league play. Hillcrest was in my crosshairs.

Thus, with a stubborn focus on score, I was naturally disappointed at the end of both days. In full confession, I’d be lying if I claimed my disappointment didn’t also affect both my playing experience as well as that of my group. It did. I know I shouldn’t let that happen. It is just a game! Hillcrest!!

Fortunately, I kept a few statistics during the rounds. I sure didn’t feel like it at the time, but am I glad I did. Those statistics help me put these rounds into perspective. They made a 78 possible a few weeks later. Here are two insights:

  1. I hit 60 percent of fairways but only 4 greens in regulation.

Each day I was frustrated with my swing, focusing on its “disappearance” rather than on my target.  Fact is, it hadn’t “disappeared” – I hit 60 percent of the fairways, above average for me. The weather was nice but the fairways were wet from recent rains. I am in the process of the swing change to, essentially, encourage me to hit the ball first and then turf rather than clipping the ball. In this transition I occasionally struggle with fat shots and, so, with wet fairways, I unconsciously reverted back to old habits to protect. Clipping the ball then led to my comfortable outside-in swing and thus a lot of missed greens. However, with the ball on a tee – down the middle! I simply needed to adapt and be confident.

  1. 39 and 40 putts.

This is seven to eight more, each day, then my historic, consistent average. The greens at Hillcrest are always challenging. My wife played earlier in the month and remarked about green speed. So my mindset was fast while recent rains slowed them down. I just didn’t adapt.  If I considered nothing else, this statistic alone puts me closer to the 80’s and well within my expected range, even with all of those missed greens.

Statistics might seem like too much effort, but they do help! They turned a sudden frustration into understanding.

Thinking!

Hillcrest, I’ll be back.

Steve Zahn