Monday, March 29, 2010

Working Order

Both my car and my golf game seem to be in working order. I honestly have not done anything to fix my car other than refresh the antifreeze, but a 300-mile trip from Columbia, South Carolina, to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA, did not faze it. After the long day that ended with my heartbreaking missed cut at last week's Tarheel Tour event, things seem to be falling back into place. Two good days of practice there in Columbia and another two really good days of golf at Callaway Gardens have me feeling good about my game, and I am loving life.

Golf is fun! I love it, and I'm so glad that I'm starting to remember that. I'm enjoying practicing a lot, and I know that that same attitude is spilling over into competition. I can't wait to tee it up in competition again!

After some morning practice tomorrow, I'll be heading home to Tennessee where I'll stay until Sunday before I'm off to play on the Tarheel Tour again next week. Next week's event is in a location to which I have never been: Southport, North Carolina. The golf course is a 36-hole facility called St. James Plantation, and it's about thirty minutes south of Wilmington and twenty minutes north or Myrtle Beach. I'm excited to go check out a new part of the Atlantic Coast and play some great golf! By the way, does anybody have any potential housing contacts for me in the area?

Obviously the tournament results aren't what I would like to see so far this year. I am truly excited moving forward, however, and I feel like my year is about to turn around!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Longest Day Ever... Pretty Good Golf, Though!

Today was the most unbelievably bizarre and challenging day I've ever experienced in my golf career. In the morning, I was in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, waiting for my 1:20 p.m. second-round tee time. I was about twenty miles south of the golf course I would be playing, and at 11:30, (with a nice lunch packed!) I started the journey up to the course. Traffic problems caused me to take a little detour. This was no big deal as I had some time to spare, but then the very unexpected happened. I noticed the temperature dial in my car creeping towards the "H." Then I began to smell an odd odor. Finally, I noticed a little smoke escaping the hood of my car and knew that I could push my trusty Ford Taurus no farther. Desperate for assistance, I parked at a downtown gas station. No help could be found. I had no other option but to call a taxi and hope it arrived quickly. It arrived quickly enough, and 55$ later I was running to the driving range with just enough time to get loose and hit a few putts.

After all that, I went out on the course still determined to meet my two goals: commit to each shot and have fun. I failed a few times on the first goal, and got a little uptight and nervy a few times on the back nine, but I came very close to achieving both objectives. The results were good. I drove the ball beautifully for the first time all year. My iron play was very solid. My chipping left a little to be desired at times, but also looked very good a few times. Putting was my Achilles heel, though I felt like I was hitting some really good putts. I missed three in that 4-6 foot range on the front nine and just couldn't get any medium range putts to fall coming down the stretch.

The end result was a one-under-par 71 and a two-day total of even par 143. I was a little bit heartbroken to find out after retrieving my overheating car that the cut had fallen at one-under-par. A missed cut by one. I played so much better this week and felt so much better on the course. I honestly cannot wait for another chance at it!

I have to share two shots that I hit today that make me smile. Knowing I likely needed another birdie, I was relishing the intensity of the last few holes. On the seventeenth hole, a par three, I had 185 yards uphill to a pin stuck on a very shallow top shelf of the green. I knew that a smooth five would likely bounce over if it carried to the top, and I needed to be aggressive. I decided to play a high, hard draw with a six iron. I painted the picture in my mind and I signed it with a beautiful swing that produced just the shot I had pictured. The ball fallowed my intended path and landed softly eight feet short directly in line with the hole. Unfortunately, I did not quite read the putt properly. Then, on the 18th hole, I had a swinging, right-to-left, over a hill and back down 40-foot putt for birdie. I studied it, chose a line, felt the speed, stood over the putt, and... didn't trust it. So, instead of hitting it anyway, I backed off, went through my routine again, picked a line and felt a speed that I did trust, and hit what looked like a perfect putt. It was tracking the whole way only to catch the top lip and slowly spin out on the other side. It was so much fun to watch that ball roll thinking it was going in! Next time I have a putt like that on my last hole of a tournament it will be for the win!

I was definitely sad at the end of the day. But now, I am encouraged. My game is coming around. I am going to get it. I love playing golf again, and I will play great again soon because of that! Oh yeah, and my car will be fine again soon, too!

I'm pretty sure it is officially spring, and just like the little blue birds, my birdie barrage will hatch soon, too!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mission Almost Accomplished in Round 1

My goals were to commit to every single shot and to enjoy the entirety of the round on day one of this week's Tarheel Tour event. With the exception of a few mentally weak moments, I achieved both goals. I relaxed and enjoyed myself, and for the most part, I played nicely.

I can sum up my round like this: mediocre to lousy driving, good iron play, decent short game, and streaky putting. It all resulted in a one-over-par 72 to start the event. Not a great score, but certainly a round that leaves me with a chance to get myself into contention in the coming rounds.

I'm still just not quite comfortable over the driver. I hit some really good drives today, but I also hit enough poor ones to let me know that I'm not in a good rhythm yet. My iron play today was as good as it has been in a while. I was trying to work the ball a little bit, and I hit a few really nice little fades into a couple of right pins on some par threes. It was fun! On the greens, I'm a little bit lost right now. I just don't have a whole lot of belief in my stroke. I was able to turn my brain off on the course today and just let my instincts roll a few good par-saving putts into the hole, but I really do not feel right over the putter right now.

Golf is a funny game, though. Sometimes you find success when you least expect it. I honestly believe that if I stick with the same game plan of committing to each shot and enjoying myself on the course, that I will play a great round of golf in round two. I'm excited to get out there and have another shot. I'm ready to kick some butt!

I tee it up at 1:20 in the afternoon at Columbia Country Club in round two. Check here for the good news afterwards!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Struggling but Ready!

Despite not feeling particularly sharp in any aspect of my game, I truly believe that I am ready to compete in this week's Tarheel Event. After two productive days of practice and a rain-induced (and much needed) day of rest over the weekend in Charlotte, I made the short trip down I-77 to Columbia, South Carolina, where I have already played my two practice rounds. Like I said, I was not really "on" in either of the practice rounds, but I feel like I am prepared to relax and play well this week.

Tomorrow I play a course called Cobblestone Park, which will be hosting only one round of this tournament. The other three rounds will be at the Columbia Country Club. The courses are very different, but both will require some degree of accuracy off of the tee and good putting on very grainy and undulating bermuda greens.

My goals for the week are to be mentally tough enough to go through my routine on each shot and be committed to every shot before I hit it and to enjoy myself the entire time that I am out there playing. If I do both of these things, I know that I will be be good enough to be in contention even if I don't find my "A" game.

I'm in a good frame of mind. I'm ready to play well. I'm ready to have fun. Bring it on Cobblestone Park and Columbia Country Club! Check here for updates!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Down and Out ...Except not Down

I am out. I am NOT down. I have missed another cut, but I went in the right direction today. After a lousy day in round one had me questioning myself, I was determined to return to a better frame of mind and play well in round two. I can't say that I played well as I shot 74 on an only medium-hard golf course in perfect scoring conditions, but I enjoyed myself for almost the entire day, and I feel good about a lot of what happened.

The 74 was a little deceiving today. On my eleventh hole, after being too aggressive with a nice look at eagle, I got momentarily frustrated when my birdie putt also missed and proceeded to quick-hit the par putt and miss from only a foot. A couple of holes later, I had a brain-lapse over a seven iron from the middle of the fairway and chunked it into a pond some 60 yards short of the green. These two mistakes threw away three shots inexcusably. These kind of mistakes make me mad, but I'm excited to say that had my focus been a little sharper, I could have shot a pretty good number today.

My number one goal for the day was to stay relaxed and enjoy myself on the course. I really did that. I want so badly to have good results in these tournaments that I am trying a little bit too hard to make myself play well. The answer lies in getting out of my own way and letting my talent and hard work take care of business when I'm in these tournaments. I love playing golf, and I need my attitude on the course to be about having fun!

I'm going to stay in the Charlotte area for the next few days and will get in a lot of good practice. My game is already ready, but I think when the tournament in Columbia, South Carolina starts next Wednesday, I'll be completely ready to relax and kick some butt!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Disappointment on Day 1

The first round did not go according to plan. Despite feeling good heading into the tournament and having a nice warm up session in the morning, I just felt uncomfortable and out of sync on the golf course. Horrible front-nine ball striking and poor putting all day led to a very, very bad 77 on a golf course that yielded a plethora of low rounds.

This round was painful. I truly thought I was ready to play well, but I just never settled into any kind of rhythm. I was actually getting away with a lot of poor tee shots on the front nine, but two three-putts and a four-putt caused me to play the final five holes of the front nine in six-over-par. I did settle down a little from a ball-striking standpoint on the back nine as I hit every green and had a reasonable look at birdie on each of the last eight holes. Unfortunately, I never got even one of those birdie putts to fall.

I must admit that I got a little down today as I felt what had been a great deal of excitement about my game slowly melt away. I did not do a good job staying in the present, and I was fighting a little bit of "internal pouting" out there on the course. I was kicking myself for that and trying to stay positive, but I did not handle my emotions very well today. Rough rounds are a part of this life that I am so gladly choosing to live right now, and I know that I need to handle them better in order to give myself the best chance to be successful. I will learn from today's experience and will not let it keep me down!

Tomorrow (Thursday) I play the more difficult of the two courses hosting this event. I know that I will need to play a great round of golf to keep myself alive in this tournament, but I also know that I am capable of doing just that. I'm ready to just relax and play golf. Tomorrow is a new day, and I AM going to enjoy the challenge as I tear up the course at River Run Country Club. Check back for details!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Go Time!

I tee it up at 9:20 tomorrow morning on the first tee at Cabarrus Country Club. The two courses for this week's event are very different, but share one common characteristic: fast, undulating, difficult greens. I'm excited to be playing on greens that will be challengingly quick for the first time all year. Precise iron play and good touch on and around the greens will be paramount.

Cabarrus Country Club--the course which will host three of the tournament's four rounds--offers a lot of good birdie opportunities and is all-around a more forgiving track than River Run Country Club, which has more length and slightly more trouble. I will play my second round at 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday at River Run.

I'm looking forward to shooting a really good number tomorrow at Cabarrus. The golf course will reward good iron shots, and the fast greens will allow me to get hot with the putter. I expect to play well tomorrow! I am going to have a blast. Look for a low score! Keep it here for details.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back in Action!

It has been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on since then. I flew from Missouri back to Tennessee last Thursday, had three great days of practice in Tennessee, and drove to Charlotte, North Carolina Monday morning to start preparations for this week's Cabarrus Classic on the Tarheel Tour. I have settled in with a great host family near the two courses I'll be playing this week, and I am feeling ready to go! (Again, a huge thank you to everyone who came together to make arrangements for me to have a place to stay!)

In the past week, I have really gotten better! I have continued to emphasize my putting and work on my simple approach to ball-striking, and I have really worked hard to improve my wedge play. I spent some good time trying to dial in my distances with my wedges, and I'm moving towards feeling sharp! I really feel like all facets of my game are good and getting better. I'm hopeful to continue to see a positive trend this week. If I stay relaxed and enjoy myself, I know I will!

I played a practice round on Monday at River Run Country Club, which will host one of the first two rounds of the tournament, and I will practice at the tournament's main course, Cabarrus Country Club, tomorrow before the event gets started on Wednesday. I'm excited!

**sidebar: I'll be leaving the Charlotte area this Sunday heading to Columbia, South Carolina where the Tarheel Tour plays next week. I will be in the Columbia/Blythewood area. Does anybody have a housing connection there?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Great Weather... Almost Great Golf!

My trip to Columbia, Missouri was perfectly timed. The coldest daytime high I have felt since arriving has been something in the mid-forties, and tomorrow should mark the third consecutive day in the sixties! That's what I'm talking about! My game has reflected the weather.

I feel absolutely great about the progress I've made on the greens and in my ball-striking. After what has been a very frustrating start to the year with the putter, I am feeling very comfortable with my putting in practice and have started to see some great results on the course! From a ball-striking perspective, I am feeling much more relaxed now than earlier in the year. I have not really been working on anything in my swing. Rather, I've just been trying to ensure that my alignment is good and that my mind is quiet. I just want to get set up in a way that will allow me to hit a good shot and then let my body perform the task it has practiced so many times. It seems to be doing a good job! I'm hitting a lot of really good shots.

My wedge play still needs some work. From chipping all the way up to a full sand wedge, I just do not feel "dialed in" right now. I'm a little bit inconsistent with my contact, and that is making distance control hard to learn. Wedge play has always been one of the strengths of my game, though, and I am confident that all I need is a good practice session or two to feel like I'm right where I want to be.

I am very excited right now. My game is good and getting better, and I am having as much fun as ever preparing to compete. I am back in action on the Tarheel Tour on March 17th in Charlotte, NC. I am really looking forward to getting back on the course in tournament play. It's time to get my 2010 rolling! And I'm going to have a blast doing it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Excitement!

Though my last post was titled "Ouch" and told the story of a very disappointing missed cut by a single shot, I felt good about my game when I wrote it. Those good feelings are growing. Since that day, I have practiced or played everyday, despite a couple different days of travel, and I really feel like I'm finally settling into some good feelings. Since my last update I have driven from Savannah to Tennessee where I stayed for two days, and on Monday flew to Missouri for a week back in my old stompin' ground!

I have come back at exactly the right time. The winter weather is finally breaking here in the midwest. I have had nice weather in which to practice the last couple days and have taken full advantage. I have really put an emphasis back on my putting in the last week, and that is already starting to pay dividends. I am feeling very comfortable over the putter again for the first time since the end of Q-school last year. It's a good feeling!

I'm continuing to keep my ball-striking thoughts very simple. When I practice, I'm just working on my alignment and then trusting my swing to take care of the rest. It is working. I'm hitting it better and better each day.

The weather looks great throughout my week-long stay here in Missouri. I'm super-excited to keep getting better, and can't wait to compete again! The Tarheel Tour is back in action for another two-week run in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then Columbia, South Carolina, respectively, starting March 15. I will be at both events.

I'm going to continue to emphasize my putting in the next week, but I will also be spending some quality time on the golf course honing my wedge play. Everywhere that I've been this year, it has been too cold to really work on my feel and distance control, so I'm looking forward to some 50's and possibly even 60's in the coming week. I'm going to be sharp when I come back to competition in a couple weeks!

Stay tuned for more updates...

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...