Sunday, January 30, 2011

Practice Keeps Getting Better--Working toward My Goals

I think I have really turned a corner in the last three days. I'm not 100% comfortable with where my ball-striking is yet, but I have seen huge strides in that direction in my last few practice sessions. This weekend saw a great combination of time on the course and time on the practice facilities, and I have to say that I am close to firing on all cylinders. I haven't quite been able to keep that lovin' feeling around for an entire round of golf yet, but it definitely shows up in spurts, and that has me very excited!

On Friday I went to the range with one very simple thought: good balance. I wanted to have good balance at the top of my backswing, at impact, and into my follow-through. The added rhythm I felt with that thought in mind has me hitting it much better and much more consistently than I have been the past two weeks. I'm excited to keep working on my balance and to see if the positive trend continues.

In addition to that, my chipping and putting seem to get better each day. Some quality time around the short game facilities everyday is resulting in a great comfort level over most shots on and around the greens. I need to keep fine tuning my touch, but I'm very excited about the status of my short game.

I have done a lot of thinking about the things I want to accomplish this year. Check out the link above my posts entitled "My Goals for 2011" to see what I plan to achieve and the things that I plan to do to realize my goals. All of the process goals are things that I can track, and I plan to hold myself accountable. I will be documenting my progress towards all the goals starting January 31. For my purposes, a week will be Monday-Sunday. I'll keep you updated along the way.

This is such an exciting time. I have lofty expectations for this year, but I really believe that I can accomplish every goal on my list. Keep it here for progress reports along my way!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Schedule is Up!

I figured out how to get a decent looking schedule posted here on my blog. Click the link titled "2011 Competition Schedule" on the left side of the screen just beneath the top picture to see what I've got planned for the year. This is not necessarily an all-inclusive schedule, but it gives a very good general idea of my plans for the year. I will always have current reports as to my whereabouts on here, but the posted schedule should give you a pretty good idea of my plans for the whole year (at least through September).

For now I'm still down at Callaway Gardens trying to find that lovin' feeling with my golf game. I'm close already, but I definitely still have some work to do. My putting and chipping are continuing to improve and feel great. I have moments when I really like what I see from my ball-striking and then spans where I feel like I'm still quite a ways off in that department. I'm hitting enough good shots to feel very good about things though, and I truly believe that my prediction to be playing the best golf of my life by February is still attainable.

I'm going to keep having good practice sessions in the coming days. I feel that if I can increase my ball-striking consistency, I will really be firing on all cylinders. Of course I constantly need to be refining all the areas of my game, but I really do feel like I'm at a very good starting point for the year.

I hope to have a couple more matches with my friend, Taylor Hall in the next couple days. It is fun to put my work to the test in a competitive situation, even if it is just small match with a friend. When I play by myself, I'm able to have some of my absolute best practice time, but there is nothing like a little competition to practice the art of scoring.

One of my to-do list items is to write down some of the process goals that will help me achieve my major goal this year of earning a spot in the Nationwide Tour Championship. I have some great ideas in mind, but I'm going to put them on paper, and I'll share a lot of them with you in my next update.

Great things are on the horizon. Keep it right here!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great Practice Right Now + A Look Ahead into 2011

My last three days here at Callaway Gardens have been fantastic. Every aspect of my golf game is feeling good and seeming to improve everyday. I'm still a little bit inconsistent with my ball-striking, but my percentage of good shots increases each time I go out to the course. My short game was already starting to feel pretty good towards the end of last week, but has continued to improve over the past few days. I've been spending a lot of time on and around the practice green, and it is really rewarding to already feel a great deal of comfort with my short game so early in the year. I definitely still need to further sharpen all aspects of my game, but I am extremely pleased with the way my game is coming around so early in the year.

The last two days have been really great because I have had the chance to play and practice a little bit with a fellow E-golf Professional Tour player. I met Taylor Hall last year at Callaway Gardens when we were paired together for the first two rounds at the First Stage of PGA Tour Q-school. He's a nice guy and a really good player, and he lives just 20 miles down the road from Callaway Gardens, so we have been able to have a couple of matches the last two days. It is nice to get those competitive juices flowing again, even if it is only on a small scale. I have played really well, too. We've played the Mountain View Course, which is the tournament layout here at Callaway Gardens, each of the last two days, and I have shot 70 and 71 on the par-72 course. I've thrown a away a few shots with some early-year goof-ups, but for the most part have played really solidly. I've gotten the best of Taylor both times so far, but I have a feeling I better continue to improve if I want to keep beating him! It is really nice to have some competition as I prepare for the tournament season that lies ahead.

Speaking of the tournament season that lies ahead, I have compiled a tentative Competition Calendar of my planned events for the year, and I'm excited to share that with you. I'm trying to figure out a way to post a PDF version of my calendar here on the blog, but haven't exactly nailed down how to do that yet. For now, I'll just tell you a little bit about what to expect. It's going to be a busy year for me, but busy in the best way. I will continue to play the E-golf Tour (formerly the Tarheel Tour) and plan to get some wins out there this year, but will also be dedicating a lot of time, money, and effort to getting into Nationwide Tour events. Last year I played in very few Monday Qualifiers because I thought that they were a long-shot and not a good investment of my resources. One week in late August changed that thought, however. I now know that I don't have to do anything special to be successful in Monday Qualifiers or in the actual Nationwide Tour events; it simply takes good solid golf. Therefore I will be mixing a lot of Monday Qualifiers for Nationwide Tour events into my E-golf Tour schedule this year.

I have some lofty goals for the year, and in my next post, I will talk about some of the process goals that I am going to set in order to achieve my larger goals. My biggest goal for this year, and the one around which almost every other goal will be based is this: I want to play in the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship the last week in October. In order to do so, I have to be in the top 60 on the Nationwide Tour's money list after the last regular season event in mid-October. To achieve this, I will have to be successful in some Monday Qualifiers and string together some good tournaments, but I honestly believe that I will do just that. In my next post I will talk about some more goals that I have for the year and the process goals that I will set in order to help me achieve them, but my overarching goal for the year is to play in the Nationwide Tour Championship the last full week in October.

It's going to be a fun year! Keep it right here and enjoy the ride with me!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Better Quickly (I was even PERFECT for a second)

I have had very good practice the last two days. Though I am definitely not comfortable yet over all of my full shots, I feel like my ball-striking has really improved greatly--both on the driving range and on the course. I have also spent a good chunk of time on the practice green lately, and I feel that I am starting to roll the ball well. When I am able to play golf by myself, chipping is one area of my game that receives a lot of extra attention. I will often spend 10-15 minutes hitting a variety of chip and pitch shots around each green while I am out playing. I am really starting to feel confident over all kinds of shots near the green. I am committed to using a lot of different clubs to hit chips, and I grow more comfortable each day using lower lofts to add very efficient "bump-and-run" type shots to my arsenal. My game definitely still has some rust, particularly in terms of ball-striking, but I feel like I'm very close to being in good form already.

It is true that my ball-striking is a little inconsistent right now, but for a brief moment on Thursday evening, I was perfect. I was playing by myself as I often do and was playing two balls, but with my first swing on the 172-yard par-3 17th hole on the Mountain View Course at Callaway Gardens, I hit a six iron that felt perfect off of the club, flew perfectly, and went right into the hole. It was kind of surreal because I could plainly see the ball go in, but I also could tell that I was the only person on the golf course. I don't mind, though, because I will remember the feeling of that shot, and I know that I can repeat it!

I spent a good bit of time this morning mulling over tournament schedules and filling in my calendar with many events that I would like to play. I will put all that information together and post my tentative tournament schedule on here in the coming days. One thing I know for sure right now is that my first event of the year will be an Egolf Tour event on Hilton Head Island February 16-19. I said many times over the holidays that I would be playing the best golf of my life when February rolls around, and I really feel like I'm going to make good on that prediction. Keep it here for more information and more good practice reports from Callaway Gardens!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Workin' Hard, But Loving It!

The last two days have been great. I'd be lying if I said that my practice has looked good or that it has been a lot of fun all the time, but the frustration of some bad shots is offset by the happiness of just practicing again. In truth, I have really struggled the last couple of days in a lot of areas. I'm probably thinking a little bit too much about my swing on the driving range and hitting a lot of inconsistent and lousy shots, and I haven't quite found that loving feel with the putter either. I do feel like I've had a lot of very good practice with my wedges around the chipping green, though, which is encouraging. All-in-all, I would say that my golf shots the last two days have been surprisingly poor, but I can tell that I am laying the groundwork for good days ahead.

As a good friend of mine once told me, "you have good days and great days." I guess if I was only judging by the shots I am hitting, my last couple days would just be "good" days, but I love what I do even on the days that are hard. I'll keep at it and have better news to report soon. Keep it here for another practice update and a long-promised look at my schedule and goals for 2011. Thank you for following!


Monday, January 17, 2011

90 Holes in Three Days!

After really not touching my clubs much at all in 2011 (or December 2010, for that matter), I have been making up for lost time the last three days. I am at Callaway Gardens and have been taking full advantage of the snow-less turf and tolerable temperatures. My good friend, Charlie Schorgl, flew down from Kansas City for the weekend as well, and we played 36 holes each day on Saturday and Sunday and added 18 more this morning before Charlie headed for the airport. I will be down here at least through the end of this week and will continue to work my way back into good form on the course.

My plan for these first three days of practice was to play as much as possible. I know that I am not the best player on the driving range, so I figured that trying to beat off some winter rust on the range or around the practice facilities might be a little frustrating. Getting onto the course and just using my feel and instincts to hit shots really gave me a good idea as to the state of my game, and I have been really impressed the last three days. I've driven the ball pretty well, hit a lot of good iron shots, looked fairly sharp with my wedges, and had a few highlights on and around the greens. There has been some inconsistency, too, of course, particularly in my chipping and putting, but all in all I feel pretty darn good about everything.

In the coming days I will continue to spend a lot of time on the course practicing that oh-so-important skill of getting the ball in the hole, but I also think that I am ready to spend some time on the driving range and around the short game area and putting green. I do not feel like I need to have any dramatic changes in form; I simply need to regain my comfort over a variety of types of shots, and I think the repetitive nature of practice on a driving range and the short game facilities will allow me to do just that. I already feel good about my game in its first few days after coming out of hibernation, but I know that some solid practice sessions in the coming week can have me on the brink of achieving a goal about which I have talked for a while: playing the best golf of my life when February rolls around.

I'm excited to be practicing again. I love what I do and learning ways to do it better. My competitive juices are flowing, and I want to start my tournament schedule right now, but I know that I need some time to get my game where I want it to be. I'll have it there, though, and 2011 will be a fun year! Check back here for a practice report in the next couple days, and I'll also give some more info about what to expect this year!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Headin' South!

I'm going to be practicing soon! I'm leaving in a couple of hours to head down to Callaway Gardens. The deep freeze is slowly lifting here in East Tennessee, but north-facing slopes and shady areas will probably have snow well through the weekend and into next week. The weather forecast in Southwest Georgia is not exactly balmy, but it should allow for plenty of full days of practice, so I am very excited!

I went snowboarding on hills around my neighborhood this morning for the sixth consecutive day! I hope that I don't see anymore snow until next winter, but I have to admit that I've been having a great time. If I'm ever feeling stressed this year, I'm just going to think about the carefree pleasure of running up hills and snowboarding down them with my Mom, Dad, Sister and Alicia. I have definitely missed golf and cannot wait to get back into a good practice routine, but my time away from the course this winter has me feeling absolutely great.

Keep it here for some practice reports and a report about my prospective 2011 schedule and goals. I'm ready for an exciting year, and I appreciate you following it with me!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Am I in Minnesota?

It is cold. And it is snowy. I'd love to be spending hours out at my office (golf course) working on the physical skills associated with my profession, but I'm absolutely having a blast in the wintry conditions. My parents and I have spent the last couple days outside playing frisbee golf in the snow and working on our sick (not as in "unhealthy", but the way they use it in California) snowboarding skills! Okay, so none of us really has skills, but we have a lot of fun hills in our neighborhood that we can slide down with very little risk of injury, so we've been enjoying it. I'm keeping to a very solid workout schedule and practicing my putting stroke a little bit in the living room, but for the most part I'm just enjoying the winter weather and making sure that I'm mentally ready to get everything I can out of my practice when the weather improves. I'm happy, healthy, and motivated. I have lofty goals for this year, and I expect to achieve them. Please check back here in the coming days for a tentative schedule for the year and some detail about those goals. None of my goals involve snow, but this weather is definitely not standing in my way!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Still Going!

There hasn't been a tremendous amount to report from the golf course lately, but I have been doing a lot of things to make myself better and to be more prepared for a great year of golf in 2011. My practice has been interrupted by very uncommonly cold weather and a couple of snow storms here in East TN, but I have taken advantage of some of the nice days we have had and have also been working in other ways to set myself up for a great year.

I've been able to continue a good workout routine through the holidays and into this new year, so I feel great and know that I am ready for any stresses that long road trips or situations on the golf course can throw at me.

In addition to staying physically fit, I've also been doing the last of my fanancial paperwork so that I will not have to be preoccupied with too many business dealings once my competitive schedule starts for the year.

My most exciting accomplishment of the past few weeks, however, was having an absolutely perfect holiday season with my whole family. Dr. Laura (my middle older sister) got to spend almost a week at home while Gina (my oldest sister) was home for two-and-a-half days with my nephew and two nieces. Miss Alicia also flew in the day after Christmas, so we had a happy houseful! We all maximized out time together well and did many of the things we enjoy like playing games (disc golf in the snow!) outside, creating healthy taste-sensations in the kitchen, and playing games/watching our favorite Disney-Pixar movies in the evenings. I was able to get in a few afternoons of practice while everyone was home, but the fun times I had with everyone was as valuable to me as any practice I've ever had. The holidays here at the Malnati resort in Dandridge, TN, have me feeling awesome!

I really do feel relaxed, energized, happy, and confident moving forward. I am definitely ready to put in some full days of preparation at the golf course, but I know that the weather will allow that soon. I feel like I have all my ducks in a row, as they say, and I know that my golf game will fall right into place soon as well. I'm going to say it again: when February rolls around, I'll be playing the best golf of my life.

I've got some exciting plans for this year, check back here soon to hear more about my 2011 plans and a tentative schedule. I WILL be keeping my blog updated more frequently moving forward!

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...