Saturday, January 30, 2010

Practice Practice Practice

"The secret is in the dirt." I can't remember who said that. It sounds Trevino-ish, but I think it was probably Hogan. The meaning is that while thinking, reading and studying about golf can all be valuable, time spent performing the act--actually hitting golf shots--is where the answers can be truly found. I think there is truth to that, and I'm spending a lot of time searching for that secret.

The good news for me is that I love to practice. It's not really labor to me. Right now, it's frustrating because I feel like the "secret" is very elusive, but I know that golf, like a lot of things in life, is cyclical, and I feel like if I keep digging in the dirt, I'm going to find that secret again.

I'm very pleased with the short game practice I've been having. I feel like my chipping and my putting are very good and improving daily. My ball-striking is where I'm struggling. It seems that a swing thought that works one day feels entirely different the next right now. I play my best golf when I'm not thinking at all, and right now my mind is riddled with a multitude of thoughts. I'm not discouraged, though. I've got over two weeks before the Tarheel Tour kicks off on Hilton Head Island, SC, and I've got a lot of dirt that I can explore between now and then. And I enjoy the challenge.

Special note: Anyone have any contacts on Hilton Head that I could potentially use to find housing?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Still Work to Do

I do feel like my game is good and getting better, but I was reminded yesterday that I definitely need to keep improving. I played in a one-day event yesterday on what is known as the Moonlight Tour, and I struggled my way around an easy golf course to a lousy 74. My ball-striking was mediocre, which is usually enough for me to be competitive, but unfortunately I putted the ball horribly. I have been practicing my putting a lot and have a lot of confidence with that right now, so I think yesterday was just a rough day, but it is not something that gives me a lot of concern. It was simply a reminder not to take any aspect of my game for granted.

I worked hard on my game for a few hours after playing yesterday, and will do more of the same today and tomorrow. If I feel good about things, I will likely play in another Moonlight Tour one-day event on Friday.

I am on the cusp of being back in good form. I need that first really good round of 2010 to get me over the hump. I'm hopeful and confident that I will find it before long!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Getting Better!

I have had a great three days of practice since finishing the tournament this past week. I wish I had another event coming up this week because I feel like I'm getting better everyday, and my game is starting to feel sharp.

I've been spending my time on the driving range, the short game range and the putting green. I feel like I've been having very thorough practice sessions and that my game is continuing to improve in all areas. I wish that I could spend more time on the golf course to practice making birdies and shooting low scores, but it is really good for me to spend intensive time working on specific areas of my game. I really do feel like I'm close to being back to mid-season form.

There are a couple of one-day events (called "Moonlight Tour" events) this week that are really close to where I am staying. There is not a lot of money to be won in these events, but I think I might play in them just to have some competition to test my improving game under tournament conditions. The events that I'm thinking about playing are on Tuesday and Friday of this week. After that, I will be in full preparation mode for the TarHeel Tour kickoff in Hilton Head in mid-February.

My game is already good, and it's getting better daily. I'm excited! Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Paycheck of 2010...

It wasn't a big one, but I finally cashed a check in 2010. I played well today in the final round of Hooter's Tour Winter Series event at Diamond Back Golf Club, but I made too many mistakes to shoot a good number. I offset four good birdies with same number of bogeys for an even par round of 72. For the week I shot 213 (72, 69, 72), which is three under par. The golf course was easy, which is why that total resulted in only a tie for 33rd place, but I'm proud of the way I played this week.

My ball-striking was more-or-less solid all week. I know that hitting the ball solidly should just be expected, but it's good for me to see how much far I've come back to normalcy in that department after feeling lost just one week ago. I still hit way too many shots off line, but now that I'm hitting it in the middle of the clubface, I can control my distance easily and directional control is not far behind. I'm really excited to keep getting better!

I made 814 dollars today. That's really not good when the entry fee was 950$, but I'm going to use this as a building block going forward. I'm ready to have a great 2010! I don't currently have anything scheduled between now and the Tarheel Tour's kick off event on Hilton Head in mid-February. I'm going to look for something to play between now and then, but it will be okay if I just continue to practice and sharpen my game.

Stay tuned for practice reports and schedule updates. Thank you for your interest in my career!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sort of Good : )

I played a nice round of golf today. I still hit a couple of lousy shots but hit way more good ones than bad. I recovered from an early bogey with some good iron and wedge shots to turn at two-under-par and overcame a bogey on my tenth hole with a couple more birdies to shoot a three-under-par 69 today.

I was in the morning wave of tee times today, so I didn't find out until six hours after I'd finished my round that my three-under-par total of 141 was good enough to make the cut--which it barely was. Obviously, making the cut right on the number is not ideal, but I'm excited to be playing for money tomorrow with the opportunity to move up the leaderboard with a good round.

I feel like I'm creeping closer and closer to good form each day, and I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a breakout day for me to get my 2010 jump-started. Stay tuned for a report from the third and final round and to learn about my upcoming plans.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Signs of Goodness...

Well, I said I was starting to hit it more solidly, and I did just that today--hit it solidly. It was really fun to strike the ball in the center of the clubface. I stood over shots today knowing I had a chance to hit them close to the hole, and that was fun for a change so far this year.

Unfortunately, I still hit a few loose shots on the front nine today. I planned my way around the course very well, but my execution was poor on three tee shots and a fairway bunker shot on the front nine. The three bad tee shots led to two bogeys and a double bogey while the errant shot from the fairway bunker led to another bogey. I got punished for all of my mistakes today. Three of my bad swings led to penalty shots and the other one left me chipping sideways from next to the green. Even with two front nine birdies and some good iron shots, I turned at three-over-par.

The back nine was my most solid effort in 2010 to date. I hit a lot of good tee shots, some really good iron shots, and made a couple of good up and downs for birdie on the two par fives. My putter was a little cold on the back nine, but I felt like I was hitting good putts. The end result was a three-under-par back nine and an even par 72 total for the first round.

This score was not very good as the course played quite easy today, but I'm very happy with the way I was able to come back on the back nine. I start on that nine tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to playing really well on that side again, and then I'm going to keep it going on the front nine. I'm expecting to play well and shoot a low score tomorrow!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ready to Go!

I am ready to play this week! I had my best day of practice of 2010 on Sunday, and then I played a nice practice round today at Diamondback Golf Club. I still hit some squirrely shots, and I don't exactly know where it's going every time, but I was at least striking the ball solidly for the most part. I am close enough to good that I can get there by 12:36 tomorrow when I tee off in the first round.

For the first since I've been down here in Orlando, I was determined to be serious and work hard during a practice round. I made myself I good yardage book, and I'm ready to manage myself around this, which is tight and requires both precision and good strategy. I feel like I have figured out this course, and I'm ready to go execute well around it tomorrow!

I feel really good about the direction my game is heading. If I keeps getting better the next three days, I should be in contention in the final round on Thursday. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Right Direction

I feel like I have had two really good days of practice the last couple days. I wish that I had playing privileges somewhere down here in Orlando because I feel that some of my best practice comes on the golf course, but I'm so very lucky to have practicing privileges at Bay Hill. I've spent the majority of my time on the driving range, but I've gotten in a lot of good practice on and around the greens as well.

I'm seeing great progress in my ball-striking. My hips had not been working levelly. My front (left) hip was moving up in my downswing which was causing my right hip to dip. I'm working on improving my hip turn, which in turn is allowing my club path to be more consistent in my downswing and my spine angle to remain constant throughout my swing. I'm not very consistent with this yet, but I'm hitting the ball much much more solidly.

The course I'm playing in the Winter Series event this week (Diamondback Golf Club) is apparently a fairly short and very tight course which punishes wayward shots quickly. I'm super excited to play a course that requires precision. Though I haven't been sharp in a while, I pride myself on making few mistakes and managing tough golf courses well. I'll play a practice round on Monday, and I'm going to set myself up for a good week!

Another good day of practice tomorrow and then a good practice round will have me feeling ready to dominate this week! Stay tuned for more news.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Slow Progress, but Progress!

I finished the second round this week's Winter Series event this morning. It was still nothing impressive, but I hit a lot of good shots. I made six pars and a lousy three-putt bogey to finish with a five-over-par second round of 76 to go with my first round 73. Obviously, I'm not very pleased with that performance, but I left the course more encouraged than discouraged today.

After completing my round, I went over to Bay Hill for some practice. I ended up spending about seven hours hitting balls and working on my short game. It was so much fun to just practice! I had moments where I thought I was on the right track and far more moments where I wanted to break golf clubs in frustration, but I enjoy the challenge of working through this current struggle.

I finally got a outside pair of eyes to check out my swing a little at the end of the day today. My friend, John Kelly, gave me some great input. I'm really excited to get back to work tomorrow and hopefully I'll get "that lovin' feeling" back really soon. I'm ready to play well again!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Need to Get Better...

I only played 11.75 holes of tournament golf today, but it was enough for me to realize that I have a lot of work to do. After a morning of hard practice and an afternoon of waiting for my delayed tee time, I saw a first hole birdie quickly eliminated by 11 holes of lousy golf. I'm struggling right now. I'm at four-over-par in the second round with a four foot putt for par on the 12th hole. My ball-striking has just continued to be bad, and it worsened today when I started to press a little bit.

I will go back tomorrow morning to finish my second round. I'm just going to turn off my brain and fire it right at every flag. Maybe I'll make an iron shot tomorrow morning! That would be cool.

The weather is finally turning around. It's getting warm down here. I'm very excited to have a chance to get five full days of good practice before my next event. I'm a little down right now, but I know that everyone goes through rough stretches. I can't wait to find my way out of this one, and I know that if I stay positive, it won't take me long!

Stay tuned for the final results from round two and practice reports as I start to turn it around.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Grr... Not There Yet!

I am not quite back to what anyone could call "solid" ball-striking yet. Though I feel better than I did last week, my performance today in round one was disappointing. I just struggled to find the center of the clubface with everything longer than a putter. I battled and held it together to post a two-over par 73, but on a course that is not terribly difficult, I can and should play much better.

I am not discouraged. I'm frustrated, but I know that I'm not far from playing well. I'm pleased with the way my short game has kept me in the ball park of decent scores the past two weeks, and I definitely feel like I'm moving towards something good with my full shots.

I don't play until late tomorrow. That will give me some time to go out to Bay Hill in the morning and have a good practice session before I hit the tee. Because of some frost delays today, my tee time for tomorrow has been pushed back to 2:00 o'clock. That will make finishing before dark difficult. It's okay, though. I'm going to go low tomorrow, even if I have to wait until Thursday morning to finish it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Feeling Good!

I had a great day today! Something finally clicked on the range this morning. I was just trying to quiet my lower body and turn my upper body more fully. I know that's not a profound thought, but something felt right today. I was hitting the ball much more solidly and saw myself having some control over my ball flight. It was very encouraging.

I then went to the course of this week's event and played a nice practice round this afternoon. I'm not 100% comfortable over the ball yet, but I felt pretty good today, and I hit a lot of really good shots. I'm excited to play this week. I know that I'm not quite where I want to be in all areas of my game, but I think I'm moving quickly in the right direction!

I tee it up at 10:15 tomorrow, and I'm going to play well! Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Improving and Excited!!

I'm getting better. It's taken a few long, ugly practice sessions, but I am seeing progress in my struggling ball-striking. The weather is still chilly, but I'm excited that the temperatures and my game are both going to heat up this week down here in Orlando.

Because of some generous people, I have been set up with practice privileges at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club. I've been beating balls the last couple of days out there, and even got to play a cold round with a gracious group out there today. I'm super excited to have a facility where I will be able to practice regularly. That will really help me get back to mid-season form quickly and then greatly surpass any mid-season form I've known in the past!

I will tee it up this week at a course called Forest Lake in the second of the three Hooter's Tour Winter Series events that I am playing in Florida this month. I'm excited to have a good tournament this week! The tournament is Tuesday-Thursday.

I also officially signed up for the first two events on the TarHeel Tour's schedule today. The first tournament is February 17-20 in Hilton Head and the second is the next week in Savannah, GA. I will definitely be on the lookout for a potential host family in both areas. Any suggestions? :)

Stay tuned for good results from Florida!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lousy Ball-striking Continues in Round Two

My first event of 2010 has ended a day early. Poor ball-striking had me working hard to make pars in the second round on a day when slightly warmer temperatures led to lower scores for the field. Again, I fought hard and my short game and putting both felt good, but in the end, I just didn't give myself enough birdie opportunities. I shot 74 in round two to go with my 76 in round one, and I missed the cut by a single shot.

I feel like I have a lot of positive feelings to take from this tournament, however. I didn't even have my "C" game from tee to green, and I still managed keep myself in the tournament with my short game. I need to continue to work to make my short game even better, but I gained a lot of confidence in that area this week. I know I'm a good ball-striker, too, so I just need to practice a lot over the next few days until something "clicks" again. I'm confident that it will happen before next week, when I tee it up in tournament number two for 2010.

Next week I'm playing in another of the Hooter's Tour Winter Series events. It is again a 54-hole event from Tuesday-Thursday. I'm excited for the chance to redeem myself!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shivers and Shanks on Day 1

2010 did not exactly start the way I would have planned it. I bogeyed my first competitive hole, hit two cold shanks, and hit three balls into water hazards. All this, and I still fought hard and am proud of the way I handled the adversity. I ended up getting up and down for a bogey on my last hole to shoot 76.

Scores were not as high as I had thought they might be on an Orlando day when windchills were in the 20's for most of the day. My 76 has me right in the middle of the pack, but I'm still in a position where I can make a nice move up the leaderboard the next two days.

The forecast does not look dramatically better the next two days, but I, of all people, am used to playing golf in cold conditions. I'm excited to go out and play well the next two days. If I build on the things I did right today and start to hit the ball a little better, I will be in good shape!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ready for a Great 2010!

Wow, it's been a while since my last update. That doesn't mean that nothing has been happening. I had a great Christmas with my family in East Tennessee, and, though the weather wasn't great, it was good enough that I could work on my game at least a little every day. I'm definitely not in mid-season form, but I feel like I'm playing well, and working on the right things.

I'm currently in Pine Mountain, Georgia, at Callaway Gardens where I played the Second Stage of Q-school. I'm just stopping in here for a few days to enjoy the great practice facilities, and to spend some time with my good friends who hosted me during Second Stage. The weather has been less than ideal with cold temperatures and some wind, but I'm still getting some good work done.

My final destination for this trip is Orlando. I'm going to stay with a friend of mine, and play in a couple of tournaments on the Hooter's Tour's "Winter Series." The first one in January 5-7 at a course called Shingle Creek. I will play in another a couple of weeks later at a place called Diamondback. I'm excited to get back in a tournament situation and feel the pressure that comes with that!

2010 is going to be an exciting year for me. I am a full time professional golfer. I will make money doing what I love, and I'm going to enjoy the challenge of getting better every day. I'm going to play at least two events in Orlando in January, start up a full schedule on the TarHeel Tour in mid-February, and make sure that I'm ready to shoot some really good scores in some Monday Qualifiers on the Nationwide Tour.

I'm going to have a lot of opportunities to make good things happen in 2010, and I will work hard to make sure that I'm ready to take advantage of those opportunities!

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...