Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Best Golf Lesson

After having another great day of practice on my own yesterday, I got together with my long-time coach, Bobbo, today. For thirty minutes or so of him watching me, I didn't miss a shot. My question to him was, "Does it look as good as it feels?" The answer was yes.

I'm excited about the way I'm hitting the ball, but I know I've got to work to ingrain these good feelings. I'm confident that I can keep it going.

I'm continuing to work hard to keep my short game sharp. One good thing about being home in Tennessee is the opportunity to practice from Bermuda rough--something I'm sure will be the norm at Callaway Gardens during the upcoming second stage. It is an unpredictable grass from which to play, but with practice I am developing a good feel for how the ball will react from various lies.

I'm still spending a lot of time on the practice green, too. I have days where I feel absolutely brilliant putting the ball and days that remind me I still have work to do, but overall I am still seeing steady improvement in the way I'm rolling the ball and in my confidence on the greens.

Tomorrow I'll get in a short workout at home and a small practice session at Dandridge Golf Course before hitting the road for a trip back up to Missouri. It looks like the weather there is going to allow some good practice, so I'm looking forward to a couple weeks back in the Midwest. All the while I'll have my sights set on the second stage of Q-school, which is just three short weeks away. I'm ready to go right now, but I'll be even more ready when it rolls around!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Staying Sharp

It has been business as usual the three days since winning the first stage of Q-school. This is not time to start feeling complacent. I got in a short afternoon of practice on Sunday after the event and have gotten back into the normal routine these last two days.

One thing that is a little out of the ordinary for the past three weeks is that I have gone for a run each of the last two mornings. The combination of east Tennessee hills and my current poor conditioning has me feeling sore this evening! That's a good thing, though. I'll be back in good shape in no time.

I had a good session on the driving range yesterday where I worked on my alignment and practiced hitting "shots." I was hitting shots high and low and curving them both directions at will. It was a fun practice session. I also got a lot of good work in around the chipping green and on the putting green. Today, I played in a steady rain and got to hit a lot of different shots. I spent a lot of time around the greens today, and I really feel sharp with my wedges.

One point of emphasis on which I really want to improve is my sand play. I've always been mediocre at best from the bunkers, and I'm going to change that. Prior to last week in Florence, I started playing a lot of bunker shots on which I have some room to let the ball release with my 54 degree wedge. I used to play almost exclusively with my 60 degree wedge from the sand, but this switch is really simplifying my bunker play. The results have been instant and dramatic improvement. I'm excited to keep working on it.

I feel really good about where my game is and where it feels like it is going. I'm just trying to keep loving what I do and loving finding ways to do what I do better! If I keep doing that, the results will be exciting!

***On a different note, I have a question: I'm looking for a place in Orlando to live for a few months this winter. Does anyone know of anybody in the Orlando area that might have a basement bedroom that they would be willing to rent to me for December and January?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Stage Winner!!

I passed the first stage of Q-school with flying colors! In fact, I shot 68, 63, 69, 66 to win the stage! In all honesty, winning doesn't do me any more good than finishing 21st would have, but it is very good for my confidence. I feel great about the way I played, and I also feel like I learned a lot.

I was definitely nervous at times during the week and especially during the early holes of the last round, but I feel like I trusted my routine and all the practice I've been doing. I know that the experience of handling the pressure will be something on which I can draw in the future.

My putter finally got hot in the closing round 66. I actually was not very sharp from a ball-striking standpoint, but I made eight putts outside of four feet including two from 15+ feet. I knew the putter would come around and it finally did!

I've got to work to make sure the putter stays hot, and I definitely have some work to do to make sure my driving and iron play stay a little more consistent. I will be working hard to prepare for the Second Stage which will be the week before Thanksgiving and should be in Southern Georgia at a place called Callaway Gardens.

Stay tuned for more details and practice reports. I'm going to keep getting better!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Q-school: Stage 1, Round 3

Overall, round three was solid for me today. I hit a lot of greens, made few mistakes, and stuck to my game plan of playing aggressively all day. I wasn't quite as sharp on my execution today as I was in round two, but I still shot a one-under-par round of 69. This score was not bad as the course played slightly tougher today with a fairly constant 15 mile per hour breeze. 

I missed five more fairways today though I feel like I hit the driver pretty well. I never got in much trouble, but I still want to be sharper off the tee, and I know it will save me shots if I'm playing from the short grass.

I had mixed results on the greens today. I rolled in a couple of longer putts which is something I've really been working hard to do, but I missed two putts today that were not three feet long. One was a poorly trusted line and the other was just a lack of focus. Never the less, I spent a couple hours doing some putting drills after the round, and I love the way I'm rolling the ball. 

I'm still tied for third after today's round, and I'm one solid round away from moving one step closer to the PGA Tour. I'm relaxed, confident, and ready to keep having fun chasing my dream! 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Q-school: Stage 1, Round 2

I hit the driver a little better and putted pretty well today. I still have plenty of room for improvement, but the result today was a very satisfying 63. I still missed five fairways with the driver (one of which lead to my only bogey of the day), and I missed a two five-footers that I still want to make!

All-in-all though, I'm very pleased with how I played today. I really putted nicely, but today's score was more the result of a lot of quality iron shots. In fact, I made eight birdies today and never made a putt longer than six feet. 

Today's round moved me up into a tie for 3rd place. There are still a lot of people under par and the leaderboard is a little bit bunched up. I have to make sure I keep moving forward. I'm going to stay relaxed these next two days and keep my foot on the gas pedal. This is no time for playing prevent!

Tomorrow I'm going to hit more fairways and keep the same mindset I had today! I'm going low!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Q-school: Stage 1, Round 1

I feel like the Florence Country Club suits me well. It's important to hit fairways and putt well, two of my strengths. Unfortunately, I did neither today. I'm not entirely sure what I did do right, but I managed my way around the course to a 68 despite hitting just four fairways and having 31 putts. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts today, but made nothing and missed three putts inside of four feet. Despite the waywardness of my drives, I kept my ball out of serious trouble and still hit most (14) of the greens. Bottom line: I don't feel like I was far off today!

I'm currently sitting in a tie for 16th. The top 21 out of the 78 players in the field will advance to the Second Stage. It's way too early in the week to be thinking about that, though. I'm just going to go out there tomorrow and clean up some of the sloppiness from today and shoot a good number. I like where I'm sitting, and I'm excited play better tomorrow!

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 19, 2009

1 Practice Round Down

I made it to Florence comfortably by 12:30 today. I joined an old college friend for a practice round and played all 18 holes at Florence Country Club. My game was far from stellar, but I felt like I got to know the course and I'm already comfortable on it. 

I got in some great practice on the putting green and out of the bunkers at the chipping green after the round, and I feel like I made good progress in both areas. 

I'll play another practice round tomorrow and have the whole day to work on anything that needs some sharpening before the event starts on Wednesday. I'm feeling good, and I'm ready to go! 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heading to Florence

I'm two thirds of the way from Missouri to Florence, South Carolina, and Florence Country Club where I'll be playing the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School this week. I drove home from Missouri to East Tennessee yesterday and will leave for Florence early tomorrow morning.

After a great two-hour practice session in Columbia yesterday morning, I made the 640-mile haul to beautiful Dandridge, Tennessee. Here in Dandridge, I had a great short game session this morning before hitting some balls with my coach Bobbo and playing a few holes this afternoon. It was a perfect day of practice, and I feel confident with all elements of my game.

Tomorrow will be a much shorter 315-mile drive over to Florence where I will play a practice round in the afternoon. I'll have another practice round on Tuesday and a good day of practice before kicking off the competition on Wednesday. It looks like the weather will be good and I'm confident that my game will be, too--regardless of the weather!

PGA Tour Q-school??? Bring it on!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good week! Almost Go Time!

The weather in Columbia, Missouri, was almost depressing this week. It was cold, gloomy, misty, rainy, and just plain old cloudy all week. The crazy thing is, it was perfect for me! I got some good practice playing in layers again, AND I had the golf course all to myself everyday. 

I spent most of my practice time this week on the course. I played everyday and hit a lot of shots off the tee and spent a lot of time around the greens. I am feeling really good with my driver now. I am working it both directions and hitting my target more often than not. My iron play has not been the most consistent, but I feel really confident about it, and my short game is in good shape! Cold hands have not allowed too much time on the practice green this week, but I have been putting the ball well on the course, and I feel like I'm going to roll it great in South Carolina next week.

I'm leaving tomorrow to start my journey over to South Carolina. I will practice here in the morning, drive all afternoon to Tennessee, and spend Sunday practicing and working with my coach, Bobbo. I doubt we'll make any changes, but it's always good to see him. Then I'll take off Monday morning for Florence, South Carolina. 

I'm going to the first stage of Qualifying School for the PGA Tour. I'll play a practice round on Monday and Tuesday before the competition starts on Wednesday. It's 72 holes, from Wednesday through Saturday. If I play well, I'll advance, and I'm feeling good!

I'm excited to get back out there and compete!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Weekend, Tuning Up!

It was a good weekend here in Columbia, MO. Fall is here for sure as the weather turned much cooler, but the rain has started to dry up, and it is good sweater-wearing golf weather.

I played with some of my old teammates this weekend and played really well. I feel like I'm getting back in control of my driver, and, like I said last week, I feel really good about my short game. I'm excited to have a good week of practice before heading back East later this week for the last few days of preparation before heading to the First Stage of PGA Tour Q-school in Florence, SC.

I will head to Florence on October 19th to practice on the course (Florence Country Club) for a couple days before teeing it up on October 21st as I attempt to get one step closer to the PGA Tour 2010!

Thank you, everyone, for all your support. I'm feeling good, and I'm ready to compete!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rainy Days

I know I have an awesome job because it bums me out when the weather keeps me from working as much as I would like. I practiced in the rain yesterday until there was standing water on the entire practice area, and then it continued to rain most of the night and is still raining this morning. It may be a day off from practice, but I'd say I'll squeeze in something short. 

I have gotten a lot of good work done since the Monday qualifier shortcoming. I feel like my short game and my putting are ready! I'm excited about the way I'm rolling the ball and my chipping feels great, too. From a ball-striking standpoint, I feel good, but know that I have work to do to become more consistent. I'm hitting the ball as well as I ever have, I just need to make sure my ball flight is something on which I can rely. I know I can work the ball both ways, but it seems like right now I tend to miss it both ways, too, when I'm a little off. I think I'm still just struggling to get everything working in the proper sequence from the top of my backswing. I know I'm swinging the club better now than I was a week ago, I just need everything to get back in sync. That will come with just a little practice!

I'm back in Columbia. Had to watch my Tigers lose a big game last night against Nebraska. : ( I'm not happy about that, but life goes on. If college football is one's biggest complaint, I'd say he/she is doing okay!!

I've got just under two weeks to get it all tuned up for the First Stage of Q-school. I'm not 100% ready right now, but I wish it started tomorrow! I'm excited! October 21-24.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Qualifier Mishap

I played today in my first Monday Qualifier attempting to earn a spot in the field of the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Open. Monday Qualifiers are an 18-hole round where a lot of guys are playing for a very small number of spots in the tournament field. Therefore, in order to make the field, you have to play very well and not make any big mistakes.

I did play very well today, but I made a big mistake. I kept the driver in play and hit a lot of good iron shots today. I also saw a glimmer of hope with the putter as I made a few in that 5-10 foot range that I've been missing. I felt good over the putter all day, too. 

But, as I said, there was a big mistake. I got it to four under par through 11 and hit a great tee shot on 12, the hardest driving hole on the course. From the middle of the fairway, between a seven and an eight iron, I decided to hit a fade seven. I never committed to the shot and never trusted that it was correct. The result was a poor swing and big block into a right bunker. The bunkers were very wet, and the spot where my ball landed was almost unplayably so. There was no where to take relief, however, and I executed a poor shot from the puddle, leaving it in the bunker and making a double-bogey six.

I hit a lot of good shots in the closing six holes, but couldn't quite get another birdie to fall. My score of 70 left me on the outside looking in. And, yes, 68 would have gotten me into the field. But I know better than to get caught up in the "what ifs." Today was undoubtedly a positive experience for me. I played great, and I made a mistake from which I will take an important lesson: Be committed to a shot before attempting to execute it. I already knew that, but this will serve as a powerful reminder!

I'm still brimming with confidence. As much as this hurts right now, I feel great about my game. I have just over two weeks to get totally prepared for the first stage of Q-school. I play October 21-24 in Florence, South Carolina. I can't wait!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tennessee!

I'm safely back in my old stompin' grounds! I had a great day today. Hung out with the "Kukster" and Ralph Holt out at Dandridge Golf Course--the course where I learned how to play, and then went over to The Country Club in Morristown and did some really good practicing!

I worked with my long time coach, Bobbo, today! He liked what he saw, and we just made a simple little change. He told me that the left-to-right shot I've been hitting lately is the result of my right shoulder starting the downswing. I kind of knew that analysis was coming, but haven't quite been able to fix it. After a couple dozen shots, we got my hips starting the club down, and the path of my club really started to change. After a couple dozen more shots, I finally started to relax my hands and was able to release the club down the line. By the end of the session, I was working the ball both directions on command and, more importantly, hitting it STRAIGHT!

I also put in some good time on the practice green and around the chipping green. I know that the formula for success when I tee it up Monday in the Qualifier for the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic will be accurate drives, precise wedges and a hot putter. I'm feeling like I'll be ready!!

I'll have another good day of practice tomorrow before heading down towards Chattanooga on Monday. My qualifying round is at Cleveland Country Club, and I tee off at 1:20.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Daily Grind... :)

It's pretty cool being able to practice and play golf eight to 10 hours per day and call it my job! People talk about getting burned out, but I haven't seen any signs of that. I know the continuous travel and potential loneliness of the road will be the real challenge, but I am really looking forward to conquering the difficulties that accompany my new life as a professional golfer!

I'm continuing to progress nicely. I feel like my short game and especially my putting are in good shape. I'm looking forward to getting the putter back in action under tournament conditions because it continues to feel better and better in practice. 

I'm still fighting some quirky issues with my ball flight. I have been hitting a lot of cut shots, and I'm really having trouble getting the ball to start right of the target and turn over to the left. I'll think I've got it fixed one minute only to see the consistent left-to-right shot pattern reemerge moments later. I'm still very encouraged by the consistency of it all, I just want to make sure I'm not becoming one dimensional with my ball-striking. I'll see my coach, Bobbo, on Saturday, and together we'll make sure everything is on the right track. 

I'm heading HOME to East Tennessee tomorrow. I'm going to practice hard this weekend and hopefully be ready to go low in the Monday Qualifier for the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic. I tee off at 1:20 on Monday afternoon at Cleveland Country Club. Last year I think it took six under to qualify for the tournament, but it's a short course that offers a lot of birdie opportunities. I'll be ready to take advantage!!


Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keepin...