Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Still Ready for a Great First Round

Even though I was one of the very first groups scheduled to tee off in today's first round of the Egolf Tour's Irish Creek Classic, I never hit the first competitive shot today. Steady rains left the course unplayable, and thunderstorms served as a vocal reminder that we could not be on the course. After a morning of killing time and waiting for the inevitable announcement that we would not be playing, I had a great afternoon. Some relaxation while the rain moved out had me feeling good for an early-evening jog and an after-dinner "practice" session where I hit a few balls in the empty lots across the street from my host family's house. I hate that I didn't get to compete today, but my body and my mind are both ready for a great round tomorrow. The weather forecast is still a little iffy, but I'm thinking we'll at least get to play some golf tomorrow. I'm ready for anything, and I'm confident that it'll be a great day! Come back to hear about it in the evening.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ready for Anything

I'm excited for this week's event. I had a great session today on the driving range before my practice round at the Club at Irish Creek, and after the round, I went back to Cabarrus Country Club for some short game practice at the course where I will play the first round Wednesday. I played a very good practice round at both courses this week, and I feel like I'm ready for a great tournament. The weather forecast is quite bad for the next three days, but I know that I am prepared to handle adverse conditions, and I'm excited to get started. My scheduled starting time for tomorrow's first round is 8:20 a.m. off the 10th hole at Cabarrus. I'm ready to be mentally tough and enjoy any challenges that come my way. My game feels good, so I'm going to execute well. Come back here to here a good round one report tomorrow!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Week of Preparation

I believe that last week was one of the best weeks of practice I have ever had in my life. I was definitely struggling with most areas of my game at the beginning of the week, but I was determined to be positive and work hard so that I would be feeling good heading into my Egolf event this week. I am definitely feeling good now. Last week I finished each of my process goals and also played at least 16 holes everyday. My ball-striking improved dramatically early in the week, and I saw steady improvements in my wedge play, short game, and putting with solid practice sessions throughout the week. I feel like my game is fairly sharp in all areas, and I'm excited to keep progressing and becoming more consistent. For fleeting moments, I saw brilliance from all facets of my game last week, so I just need to keep fine tuning and finding those brilliant moments more often, and I'll be holding those big cardboard checks in no time!

This week I am just north of Charlotte, North Carolina, for an Egolf event at the Club at Irish Creek. Cabarrus Country Club will serve as the event's co-host and will be the site of one of my first two rounds. My game felt good today at Cabarrus in a practice round, and I have a good feel for that course. I will play Irish Creek tomorrow and am confident that I will have another good practice round. The tournament gets under way on Wednesday, and I think good things are coming! Keep it here for another report from Irish Creek.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Golf-Geek's Report: My New Clubs

I am really starting to see the advantages of being fit for my golf clubs. There has been quite an adjustment period, but I am now hitting the ball more consistently and finding that my misses are finishing closer to the target than they have in the past. I have tried not to be very technical with anything in my golf game, and my equipment is no exception, but I am excited to have clubs that are built to fit my game and help me be more consistent. Here is what I'm working with these days:

Driver: Titleist 910 D3; 8.5 degree; Oban Devotion 7x shaft; Club Setting D1
In short, this driver is very low-launch and low-spin. The shaft is stiffer than anything I've used before, and the D1 setting lowers the loft by .75 degrees and opens the face 1.5 degrees. I like the driver because I can really stay behind the ball and release the club without much chance of hitting it left. While I can still launch the ball on a nice trajectory, I do hit it a little lower and with much less spin than my previous drivers, so I can play much more easily in the wind. I'm excited about this new driver!

3 Wood: Titleist 910 F; 13.5 degree; Fujikura Rombax P95x shaft; Club Setting A1
This three wood has a shallower face than the one I was using before, so I am able to hit it much more easily off the ground. I actually launch the ball way up in the air with this club, and almost have to work hard to keep it down when hitting it off the tee. Like the driver, I have a hard time getting the ball to turn left with this club, so that allows me to swing it aggressively. I'm not in love with this club yet off of the tee, but I think it is going to be a par-5 killer for me from the fairways, and I know that I will grow to trust it off of the tee.

Hyrbid: Titleist 910 H; 19 degree; Fujikura Speeder 904h shaft; Club Setting A1
This club is one of the biggest differences in my new bag. I used to have a very soft shaft in my hybrid club and could hit all kinds of high, curvy shots with it, but it was too inconsistent to trust as a weapon on tight driving holes and long par 3s. This new shaft is heavy, stiff, and very consistent. I have to work really hard to vary my ball flight with this new hybrid, but it is going to deliver consitent, dependable performance. I like it!

Irons: Titleist 710 CB; 4-PW; Tour KBS X shafts; Standard Length; 2 degrees upright
These irons feel amazing. They are not quite as forgiving as my old AP2's, but they look and feel so much better that I am willing to sacrifice that. I had never heard of a KBS shaft before being fit, but I am able to launch the ball a little higher with them and find that the ball flies much more consistently in the wind with the new shafts. I am also thrilled to finally have irons that have the proper lie angle for me. My previous clubs were too flat, but now I can see that my divots are better, and I don't have to manipulate the club with my hands to get the ball started on line. I really like my new irons.

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled 51, 55, 60 degree; Raw finish; 1 degree upright
I'm pumped about my new wedges. They look just like my previous wedges, but I have reconfigured my iron set (no 3 iron, 4 iron one degree strong) to allow for an additional wedge. I used to carry just a 54 and 60 degree wedge, but found that the yardage gap between my pitching wedge and 54 degree wedge was too large to allow me to play successfully on firm greens. Now I have more options and can more easily hit a variety of shots into the greens with my wedges. I am going to be deadly from inside of 125 yards!

Putter: Odyssey DFX 2-ball Mallet
This is old trusty. I've been using the same model since I was a sophomore in high school more or less. I love it. I am looking into ordering a Scotty Cameron, but I want to find something I like more than mine first. I'll keep you posted.

One other thing that applies to all of my new clubs and is different is the fact that I now have two wraps of tape under my grips. That is a small, but noticable change in the way the club feels in my hands, but I'm quite comfortable with it.

That's my new bag. I'm pumped about it, and I know that my new sticks will be one of the contributing factors that help me get to my goals this year. Keep it here for more about how they are working!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Practice This Week

My game was definitely a little bit off starting the week. I was mis-hitting a lot of shots and losing most shots to the right. In addition, my short game and wedge play didn't feel sharp at all. I feel like a whole new golfer now, though. A little work with Bobbo and a lot of very good practice has me hitting the ball much better, and I can feel my short game returning to good form as well. I have had very full days of practice this week and have done a good job balancing time between the practice facilities and the golf course. It has been a rewarding week because I have played at least nine holes everyday, and each day I can see the work that I am doing turn into good results on the golf course. I definitely need to become more consistent with everything, but I feel like I am on my way to playing great golf in the very near future.

I have done a pretty good job this week working toward my process goals. I have already spent hours working on my distance control with my wedges, and have tried multiple times each day to do my putting drills. I have only completed two putting drills so far, but I can tell that I am rolling the ball very well and have seen very positive results from my putter on the course. I have also had very good workouts and runs so far this week and am feeling great. I must do some work the rest of the week to complete all of my process goals, but I will get them done.

I feel good about my game and especially good about the direction that it is heading. I'm really feeling comfortable with everything--including my new clubs, which are finally starting to produce the shots that I knew they would. A couple of you have asked for some specifics about the new sticks, so tomorrow I'll come back on here and post a "golf-geek" report with all the specifics about my new weapons. That will be fun!

Things are great, and I'm excited. I have got a few more days at home before I hit the road for my next event. I am going to take full advantage of my time here and be well-prepared to compete for a win when I leave. Come back tomorrow for the report about my new clubs and in the next couple days for another practice report from beautiful Dandridge, TN!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going to Have a Great Week

I had a great weekend here at home in East Tennessee. My game is struggling a little bit right now, and 36 holes on two different courses over the weekend really revealed some of my current weaknesses. I'm not hitting the ball very well. I am missing a lot of tee shots to the right and am struggling to hit my irons consistently solid right now. I am also struggling to hit high, soft pitch shots with any kind of touch around the greens. Yet, I am still managing my game pretty well, making good decisions, and putting the ball well enough to feel like I am on the brink of playing great. This week will be fantastic. I am going to spend a lot of time practicing all areas of my game and will also spend a good deal of time on the course working on getting the ball in the hole. I feel like I can really get rid of the negative vibes that followed my golf game home from Africa and be playing great again by the end of this week. I'm excited to have a great week of practice, and I know that I will find that "lovin' feeling" in my golf game soon!

I'm also glad to get back in a good fitness routine. I wasn't as good about keeping my workout schedule as I would have liked to have been in Morocco, but I had a light "two-a-day" workout on Saturday and a good hill-running workout today to get my body back in rhythm for a full week of workouts and running this coming week. I will complete all of my process goals this week (and each week for the rest of my golf year!), and I believe that my fitness goals are a big part of the package that will help me perform my best.

It's going to be a week of hard work for me, but I am going to love almost every minute of it. Keep it here for a couple of progress reports along the way!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Home, Happy, and Ready to Go!

I am in Dandridge, Tennessee, and it feels so good! My travel home turned a little bit nightmare-ish Wednesday night in New York. After a delay getting out of Morocco, we landed in New York just an hour before my flight was scheduled to leave to get me back to Atlanta. I made a mad-dash through customs, got my bags quickly, made a second quick pass through customs, and efficiently navigated my way to the U.S. Airways counter twenty minutes before my flight's take-off time. I was dripping with sweat, but excited because I thought I had made it. Wrong. I wasn't even allowed to check in, and was told that I wouldn't be leaving until the next morning. So, I spent the night in the international terminal of JFK airport. It was a good life experience, but not one that I want to repeat ever again. After sleeping very little, I got on my 6:20 a.m. flight and started the journey to Atlanta. Two flights and an hour shuttle ride later, it was 1 p.m., and I was at Callaway Gardens. I hit balls and chipped and putted for a few hours that afternoon and spent the night with my good friends (The Shavers--thank you!) at Callaway Gardens that night, before driving home this (Friday) morning. I stopped for an hour on the drive home to be uncle Pete, but rolled into the beautiful Malnati Resort just after 2:00 p.m. and almost kissed the ground. (I hugged my mother instead.) I went out to Dandridge Golf Course for a relaxing afternoon of practice, and soon I will curl up in my own bed! I honestly had a very enjoyable experience in Morocco, but I am extremely happy to be home right now.

I have nine days here before I will leave for the next Egolf event, which is at The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis (North Charlotte), North Carolina. I need to have some really good practice in the coming week. My game was definitely not very good in Africa, but I don't feel like I am far from playing very well. I tried to work towards my process goals the second week in Morocco, but did not do a good job of achieving all of them. I'm excited to resume good practice and fitness habits. I will do some really good work on my game this weekend, but starting Monday, I am really going to commit to my process goals. I will have a great week of practice in the coming week, and I will keep it going moving foward.

I'm excited to keep getting better. I feel good about the way I have started the year, even though I didn't have good results in Africa, and I know that I will keep getting better. Keep it here for some practice reports from beautiful Dandridge, TN!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Final Report from Africa

In terms of golf results, my trip to Africa was definitely disappointing. I played very poorly today in the final round of the El Jadida Classic. In fairly calm and very easy conditions, I failed to make a single birdie and posted a final-round 75 to drop into a tie for 49th position for the week. That, combined with my missed cut last week in Marrakech at Samanah Country Club, certainly were not the results I was looking for or expecting from my golf game here in Morocco. Outside of the results from the two tournaments, however, I would say that my time in Africa was very good. I did get to play tourist a little bit in Marrakech and gained a little bit of a feel for a completely different culture. I also gained some experience being apart from things that I take for granted at home, such as my cell phone and a readily available kitchen for making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (or any of the many more complex dishes that I often prepare for myself). I learned how to cope with a little bit of jet-lag and that I need to use more caution when diving into new types of foods. On top of having some fun and learning a lot about playing international golf, I also really saw some positive signs from my golf game, even though the final results were disappointing. It has certainly been a great trip overall, and I know that I will build on the positive things, learn from everything else, and be a better golfer in the future because of this journey.

As far as my golf game goes, I'm not really sure how to describe the way my game has felt the past few days. I am actually starting to feel very comfortable with my ball-striking, but it seems that I was never really able to get very much from it on the course this week. I hit the ball very solidly and was close to being on-target with most shots the last two days, but it seems that I never quite had my distance and my direction right at the same time. Couple that with a putter that was just icy cold today, and it is a very good recipe for a lousy score. My short game was pretty lousy all-around today, and that is something that I really need to spend some time practicing in the coming weeks. I believe that my short game is one of my strengths and know that it will be a big part of my success, I just need to put in a little extra work in the near future to get my short game back to where I expect it to be. My game is in good shape; I just need to keep sharpening the edge. Good tournament results will follow.

I'm excited about a lot of things right now. I'm excited about the potential I see in my golf game. I'm excited to get home and see family, friends, and Miss Alicia (soon). I'm excited to put the battery back in my cell phone and turn it on for the first time in two weeks. I'm excited that it's only a couple of weeks until it's time to compete again. (I have decided not to go to Louisiana for the Nationwide Tour Monday Qualifier there, by the way.) But perhaps most of all, I'm excited to settle back into a regular practice routine so that I can get after my process goals en route to accomplishing my outcome goals. I believe that this is going to be a very big year for me, and I'm excited to continue working towards making that a reality.

Morocco has been great, my friends, but the United States is home to most everything I love in this life, and I can't wait to get back to them. Thank you for following me. I'll drop a quick line on here in the next day or two just to let everyone know I'm back on the home turf. Good things are in the near future. Keep it here to hear about them all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Almost Great in Round 3

I played so well today in the third round at El Jadida. Conditions made the day brutally hard. Rain and winds gusting over 30 miles per hour at times turned the already tight course into a very demanding test. I really struck the ball solidly today, and my short game was back as well. I birdied three of my first twelve holes without any bogeys and felt great. I really continued to hit the ball well the rest of the way, but a poor club selection, a couple of bad breaks, and some almost unplayable winds on the par-5 8th hole cost me some shots coming in. I made three bogeys and a double bogey in the last six holes with another birdie mixed in there as well. In the end, my scorecard read 73, which was still a fairly good score for the day, but I played much better than that.

My game was much better in all areas today. I drove the ball fairly well, hit a lot of quality iron shots, and really chipped and putted the ball well. I was very happy with how comfortable I felt on and around the greens after really struggling in that area the first two days of the event. My game felt very good today, and I'm pumped moving forward.

Scores were not very good today. If I could have finished my round a little bit better, I would have really moved up in the field, but even with my poor finish, I still moved up into the middle of the pack and have a chance to collect a good finish with a nice round tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be very tough again, so I feel like another good solid effort will move me up the leaderboard even more. I'm going to commit to a good plan on every shot, and I'm confident that my execution will be good. Come right here for a good final round report from Morocco tomorrow!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Awful Golf in Round 2

The only good thing I can say about my second round from El Jadida is that I never gave up. It was the strangest day. The weather kept us on our toes all day as the rain and wind would alternate every few minutes with steamy sunshine. One moment, a rain suit would feel like a steam sauna, but as soon as the rain suit came off, the weather would switch and short sleeves would feel like any icy cold shower in a wind tunnel. This back and forth happened five or six times during the round today, but in reality, it was little more than annoying and certainly was no excuse for my lousy performance. I really don't know what to say about my game today. I had a great warm up session this morning before my 12:20 tee time, and I felt great when I walked to the tenth tee to start my round. It all went wrong from my very first swing, however. I felt like I made a pretty good swing on my first tee shot but hit the ball right of the planet, and such was my day. I had a plan and went through my routine on every single shot today, but repeatedly watched shots fly off line and putts roll away from the hole. I hit very few shots today that I would call good, but I just kept plugging along, and in the end I somehow managed to post a score of two-over-par 74 for my second round.

My never-quit attitude was just enough to keep me around for the weekend in this event. On the 9th hole (my 18th) today, I figured I needed to make a par to stick around for the weekend. The 9th is unquestionably the most difficult hole on the course, but I knew I just needed to keep trying to execute a solid plan. Once again, my tee shot didn't quite go according to plan. My shot leaked a little right of target and managed to work it's way right against the lip of a fairway bunker. I had to hit a sand wedge to get out of the bunker, and was left with 107 yards to a very small landing area and had a very gusty wind coming at my face. I needed to hit a solid pitching wedge to get it through the wind, and I finally executed a great shot and hit the ball eight feet behind the flag. I then rolled the putt right in the middle of the hole for a great par and the chance to go play this course (which I love) two more times.

I played awful today. I played the par-fives one over par, hit my tee shot in the gunch 4 times and felt like an idiot on the greens. All that and I still held it together enough to make the cut. I think today was something of an anomaly; I really do not feel like I'm swinging badly, and I know that my putting is great. I have nothing to lose the next two days, but I do feel that I have a chance to gain a lot. Though I made the cut on the number, I am only 7 shots out of second place. The weather is supposed to be pretty bad again tomorrow, so I'm going to have an intelligently aggressive game plan and execute better, and I think I can really make a move on "moving day."

I'm excited to go play again tomorrow. I don't feel like my game is as bad as what was on display today, and I'm strangely confident that I'm going to play extremely solidly tomorrow, even if the weather turns out to be awful. Come back for a round-3 report tomorrow. It's going to be good news, I think!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Disappointed but Encouraged after Round 1

My ball-striking was almost very good today in the first round of the El Jadida Classic. With the exception of a couple of brain-slips with the driver, I hit the ball quite well. My iron play was very solid today, but I failed to capitalize on any of the medium-range birdie opportunities I gave myself, and my short game really let me down the few times I did find any trouble. In the end, I made four birdies and four bogeys to shoot 72 in my opening round. The course was very score-able today, so I am disappointed that I didn't chip and putt the ball well enough to shoot the good score that my ball-striking deserved. I know that my short game is solid, though, and I'm confident that I will put it all together tomorrow!

One thing that I am pleased with about my round today is my par-5 play. I hit a bad drive on the opening hole, which is a par 5, but played a couple of smart shots after my tee shot and narrowly missed a putt for birdie. On the par-5 8th hole, I hit two very good shots with a driver and a hybrid just over the back edge of the green and neatly two-putted for birdie. I hit a decent drive and a great lay-up shot on the watery par-5 11th before sticking a wedge shot within a couple feet of the hole. Finally, on the 18th, I hit a great drive and a smart three wood shot just right of the green before butchering a little pitch shot and having to settle for par. Despite a poor drive on the first hole, I was in position to birdie each of the par fives today. I need to execute much better around the greens and take advantage of my opportunities, but I am pleased with my strategy and mindset on the par fives.

I am not happy with my score today, but I know that I am moving quickly in the correct direction. My game felt good today, and I feel like I really have a chance to shoot low numbers the way that I am playing. My score today will not leave me in very good position on the leaderboard, but I still feel that I will be competing for a win before this tournament is over. I'm going to spend some time this afternoon working on my short game, and I hope to be firing on all cylinders when I tee it up for round 2 tomorrow. Come back here for another report soon!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

All-Golf Report from El-Jadida

The golf course here at Royal Golf El Jadida is one of the sweetest I have ever played, and it suits my game as well as any course I have seen in a long time. I feel like I can successfully compete at any course, but I know that I am at my best on tight golf courses with small greens that require a lot of precision. This course has some of the smallest landing areas off the tee and on the greens of any place that I have ever seen. The course is difficult, but I love it.

I played an early practice round this morning and started to feel a lot better about my game. I need to stay within myself a little bit more than I did last week in the desert, and I feel like I'm doing a good job of that so far this week. The firm fairways and dry air of last week encouraged me to try to hit the ball a mile, but I know that that is not my game, and I am very satisfied hitting fairways and smoothing 7-irons from 152 yards, rather than trying to bomb drives and jump on 9-iron from 145. I have really tried not to hit anything hard the last two days, and I feel a great deal of rhythm coming back into my golf swing. I'm really starting to feel good about it again.

I have also been back into a good fitness routine the last three days. After allowing a couple of recovery days after my sickness five nights ago, I have enjoyed a nice run, a couple of light workouts, and a great stretching session in the past three days. I really do feel like I'm 100% right now.

I feel great, and I really like this golf course. I fully expect that I will win this week. I am playing the pro-am for the event tomorrow, and the tournament begins on Saturday. I need to have some wedge and putting practice just to further sharpen those areas of my game, but I truly think that my game is ready to win out here.

Keep it here for another report soon!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Morocco in Pictures

This is about 50 yds from my new hotel room!
This is the new hotel. Photo taken from the beach.
The Atlas Mountains--just 20 miles from the (very flat) Samanah Country Club outside of Marrekech.

This is the view from the hotel in Marrakech.

It is crazy that my fellow golfers and I are living somewhat in the lap of luxury over here because it doesn't take much investigating to see that the vast vast majority of Moroccans live in severe poverty. Immediately above are a few pictures that I snapped while on the bus between Casablanca and the city of Marrakech. These are "houses" for rural farmers and shepherds in Morocco.

Once in Marrakech, we found that there are very select few in Morocco who have a lot of money, but for the most part, the city-dwellers are quite poor as well.

I was able to spend a decent bit of time exploring the city of Marrakech while I was there. Unfortunately, I didn't feel comfortable taking my camera to the market (or "Souk") as it is called because I had heard some stories from other golfers who had been their previously. The Souks are the coolest part of Marrakech as a tourist, and, according to a wealthy French woman I met who lives part time in Morocco, the Souks are in fact one the most unique aspect of central-Moroccan culture. At the market, vendors cram unbelievable amounts of merchandise into the tiniest spaces imaginable. Walkways are often only a couple of people wide between vendors, though the market does have a number of "open-air" areas where performers such as snake charmers put on their shows. The snake charmers were real, and their cobras and other snakes would stand and rise to the music of the charmers' flutes. I kept a safe distance from that! The markets were also crazy simply in the shear volume and variety of items available. Everything imaginable from jewelry to live chickens was available for purchase at the souks. The vendors would often follow us for hundreds of feet trying to entice us to by their merchandise. Prices were completely irrelevant there. The vendors would start the bidding by saying what they wanted for a product, but the actual selling price was often not even half of the original number. I'm not the best at that kind of haggling, but I am very tight with my money, so it would have been interesting to see what the outcome would have been if I had tried to purchase anything. The souks were a crazy but great experience. I wish I did have pictures to share with you, but I hope that my description gives you at least a small idea of what it was like.

The pictures really aren't posting the way I wanted them to, so this isn't what I had in mind, but I just decided I was going to go ahead and attach a bunch of pictures up there at the top of this post, so I hope you enjoy them!

By the way, I'm at a new place now and though my game is still not feeling perfect, I do feel really good. I played nine holes today at the new course, and I absolutely love it! This is my kind of place! Come back here for more news soon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Game was Still Sick in Round 2

Physically, I feel fantastic. Whatever caused me to be sick most of the night before the first round is completely out of my system, and I am feeling 100%. Unfortunately, that did little to behoove my golf game today in Round 2. I hit the ball very poorly today with my irons, and despite a lot of good work around the greens, I simply put too much pressure on my short game and wasn't able to hole the necessary putts to hold on to a decent round. I bogeyed four holes on my closing nine today and finished with a very disappointing round-2 score of 75. My two-day total of 149 will miss the cut by three shots, and leave me working on my game instead of competing for a win the next two days.

Today's round was pretty bad. I chipped in for birdie on my second hole (the 11th) and converted an easy up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 12th to go to two under par through three holes. After that, however, I began to struggle. Three times today I missed the green from inside of 130 yards and made bogies on all three occasions. That is terrible. I was quite dreadful today with my longer iron shots as well. I missed a couple of greens by a pretty wide margin and just couldn't muster the short game magic to save it. I am actually very pleased with my chipping and pitching, but I left myself too many tricky shots today and didn't putt the ball very well either. I do feel like I'm putting the ball well, I just didn't get many to go in today in that 5-10 foot range. My ball-striking with the irons was the real culprit of my struggles, and that will be something I spend some quality time practicing in the coming days before the next event begins in El Jadida on Saturday.

My game was very disappointing today. I really expected that I would play well given how well I felt and how good my game has felt all year thus far. I am not discouraged, though. I know that this game deals out some hard times. I always hope that I will never have to deal with struggles and missed cuts anymore, but I know that hard times and some frustration are a guarantee in the game of golf. I am ready to take this temporary setback in stride and go get 'em next week in El Jadida. I'm still encouraged by the way my game has felt all year, and I will go find that lovin' feeling again!

The two tournament weeks that I have had so far this year have definitely not been great weeks toward achieving my process goals. This week in Morocco was a challenge because the available practice facilities somewhat hindered the types of practice that I could do, but I need to be more creative and find ways to accomplish my goals. Today is Monday, and I will start checking off some of my goals for this week tomorrow. I know that my wedge play and putting need to continue to improve, and I will also spend some time working on my ball-striking. My rhythm was a little bit off on the course this week, so I am just going to think about that while I practice in the coming days. My process goals for tournament weeks are very realistic, and I plan to start making strides towards achieving them this week in Morocco. I know that working towards my process goals every week will get me to the outcome goals that I want.

My game may have been awful today, but I am still doing great. I'm healthy and I'm motivated. I can't wait to go play and practice tomorrow so that I can get my game whipped back into shape. I only have to wait four more days before it's time to compete again, and you can bet that I'll be ready. Between now and then I'm going to enjoy being in Morocco and enjoy the challenge of overcoming the recent struggles that have entered into my game. Life is good, and I'm still smiling!

By the way, I'm sorry that this update is "all golf" as well. I do have some info and a few cool pictures to share that will tell you more about my experience here in Morocco. I'm excited to share that kind of stuff with you, too, and I promise that I will soon. It's been a pain in the butt because internet is very rare here, it seems. There is no internet in my fifth floor hotel room, so I can only use it in the lobby, and even there it is very sparse. In any event, that is a poor excuse. I will share more from Morocco in the coming days with short updates about the improving status of my game and more about the cool experience I am having in Africa. Thank you for following, and come back soon for more!

Hard Day on Day 1; Feeling Great for Day 2

The night before the first round of the tournament, I was feeling great. I was in bed by 10:30 and had three alarm systems ready to wake me up at 5:15, so I was certain that I would have plenty of time for breakfast and a good warm up session before my 7:50 first round tee time. Unfortunately, my wake-up call came well before 5:15. Around 2 a.m., I woke up with an achy stomach. I rolled around for a while hoping it would go away, but it didn't. By the time my alarms started ringing, I had been awake for over three hours and had spent way too much of that time in the bathroom. That is more than enough details about that, though. In truth, I felt okay as I went to the golf course, but I was definitely exhausted and weak. I played my round without eating or drinking anything, and was definitely struggling to keep myself focused during the round. I'm angry with myself because I feel like focusing and going through my routine is something that I should have been able to do despite feeling weak, but I was very lazy at times. In the end, I struggled my way to a disappointing round of two-over-par 74. Scores were expectedly low in round 1, but I still have a chance to get myself right back in the tournament with very good play the next three days.

It is now almost 10:00 a.m. local time the morning before my second round. Last night I was still feeling a little bit strange at dinner time so I ate very cautiously. At 8:30, I laid down in my bed still dressed and with the lights on in the room. The next thing I remember was waking up around 5 a.m. this morning, taking off my sweatpants and long sleeve t-shirt, and then going back to sleep. I slept until just after 8:00, and woke up feeling awesome! I still used some caution this morning at breakfast, but I ate very well. I feel energized, healthy, and ready to play great in round 2. I tee off at 12:20 today, so I had better start getting ready to go. Today I have absolutely no excuses. I am going to use the same formula that I had on the table in round 1, but today I will not allow myself to be lazy. That formula is: have a solid game plan on every shot, trust that game plan, execute the shot with confidence, go find the ball and repeat. I'm going to have a great day.

I will be back with a good round 2 report and more from Morocco later tonight. Come check it out!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Almost "Go Time" in Morocco

Today was fairly uneventful but good. Though I felt incredibly refreshed at days' end yesterday, I had absolutely no objections to the fact that my alarm clock didn't go off this morning and I slept in until 8:00 o'clock. (I have multiple wake-up alarms set for tomorrow.) At that point, it was a little too late to run and still make breakfast, so you can imagine which of the two I was willing to skip! After breakfast, I went to the course for an hour of practice before the pro-am. The pro-am was a lot of fun. I played with two Moroccans, Chakib and Khalid, and a Frenchman, Jean Louis. Jean Louis was fluent in English and Chakib was extremely conversational in English as well. We had a really fun afternoon. My game today was very odd. I hit the ball very well at times and very poorly at other times, yet my short game managed to always perform to the exact opposite of my ball-striking on every hole. I looked brilliant around the greens on the holes where I hit it poorly and struggled around the green on the holes where I hit it well. In the end, I made 17 pars and a lone birdie. Though my game was erratic today, I actually feel very comfortable heading into the first round tomorrow. I know that I am playing well, and I really feel good about everything over here in Morocco. My first round will begin early tomorrow morning at 7:50 local time. I'm planning to play well and then go with some friends to see the town of Marrakech. It should be an awesome day! Check back here tomorrow for a full report and some long-promised pictures!

Tomorrow's formula for success on the course: have a solid game plan on every shot, trust that game plan on every shot, execute the shot, go find it and repeat. It's going to be a fun week, and I am going to play well!

Friday, March 4, 2011

All Golf on Friday

I feel awesome. I had nine of the deepest hours of sleep I have ever had last night, and I woke up feeling great this morning. I was at breakfast by a quarter of 7 local time, and after a relaxing morning, arrived at the golf course around 8:30. I played the whole course today with a couple of buddies, and I really had a good practice round. After the round, I had a long session on the driving range to further sharpen my ball-striking before ending the day with a very good hour on the putting green. I got back to the hotel at sundown, with just enough time to get in a quick workout before dinner. I had hoped to see some of the town of Marrakech today, but the day of productivity I had on the golf course was well worth putting that off for a later day. I feel really good about the status of my game right now.

The course, which is called Samanah Golf Club, is really cool and pretty darn good. It's a desert style course with wide fairways that are bordered by a very small bit of bermuda rough before giving way to desert sand and cactus bushes. The tee-shot landing areas are generous, but wide misses will find more than enough trouble to keep things interesting. The golf course is very long, but the fairways are absolutely rock-hard, which means that any straight drive will roll a long way, effectively making the course play much shorter than the scorecard yardage of nearly 7,500 yards. The greens and areas surrounding them are awesome. The turf around the greens is so bare and tight that errant shots can run well off of the greens and recovery can be difficult and require a great deal of creativity. The greens themselves are very good. They are pretty large, have great speed, and are very undulating. Precise iron and wedge play will be required in order to get approach shots into the correct area of the severely sloping greens, and great touch will be needed with the putter. The course is certainly not difficult, but it does demand a lot of good shots and some creativity in order to be successful. I think the course sets up well for me, and I know that with a firm commitment to a good strategy and some decent execution, I can tear it up.

Tomorrow will likely be "all golf" again, as I am playing in the pro-am for the event at 11:00 a.m. I think I will have a short run (indoors, on a treadmill, don't worry) before breakfast and will head to the course for a little bit more practice before the pro-am starts. The pro-am should be really interesting because I'm playing with three local citizens, and I have no idea if they will speak any English at all. I'm not too worried about it though. I'll still talk to them even in they can't understand a word I say. There is some kind of competition associated with the pro-am, so even though I don't know what the format will be, I know that I will have some motivation to be focused and to play hard, which is always fun for me. Tomorrow should be a great day of final preparations before Sunday's first round of the tournament.

I definitely want to experience a little bit of Marrakech before we leave here, too. I'm excited because My friend Billy Hurley and I both have very early first round tee times (I play at 7:50), and I think we are going to buddy-up and check out some of the sights in downtown Marrakech on Sunday afternoon. I spoke with a rather wealthy lady today from France who has a vacation home on the golf course we are playing and she told me some of the places to go and assured me that they were safe, so I feel very good about heading out for a very little while with Billy on Sunday.

I took a few pictures from the golf course today, but it more or less looks like a good golf course. I will post some cool pictures from Morocco soon.

Everything is going great. I'm feeling well, eating well, and my golf game is really on track. I'll be back with more info again soon--tomorrow probably. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm in Morocco! ...And Tired

What an adventure the last 30 hours of my life have been! I started on Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. in Pine Mountain, Georgia, with my last-minute check-list before making the journey up to the Atlanta airport shortly before 7. Things went smoothly as I flew from Atlanta to JFK Airport in New York with a one-hour layover in Charlotte. I got into JFK with just the right amount of time to comfortably claim my bags and get back to the ticketing counter of Royal Air Maroc to re-check my bags and sign in for the flight to Morocco. Then, at 5:45 Eastern Time on Wednesday, I took off for Morocco. My plan was to try to knock myself out with a Nyquil-like medicine and sleep through the 7+ hour flight. Unfortunately, I didn't execute the plan as envisioned. I slept very little, but somehow was excited and awake when the flight landed at 6:00 a.m. (Morocco Time) in Casablanca, Morocco. The process of claiming our bags and going through customs took ages, and it was well past 8 when we boarded busses for a three hour drive from Casablanca to Marrakech, the site of the first Egolf Event here in Morocco. It was noon before we arrived at the hotel to check in, and I figured that I might as well just force myself to stay awake the rest of the day so that I can try to reestablish a normal sleep cycle tonight. After settling in at the hotel, I took another shuttle for the 25 minute ride out to the golf course and had a short practice session before playing the front nine. It's been a good day, but I am ready for a great night of sleep! I am heading to bed as soon as I finish typing this, and I think that I will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, on schedule, and ready to go!

The country of Morocco is really interesting. The ride from the airport to Marrakech revealed many locals tending to scraggly herds of sheep, goats, and cattle that were grazing in very sparse, rocky pieces of land. Small groups of living establishments dotted the landscape, but it would not be accurate to call them "houses." Many of the buildings that seemed to serve as peoples' homes had a roof over only one small room. It seemed like a very impoverished land between the airport and the city of Marrakech. Marrakech is a fairly large city that seems to have some modern or even "western" features, but I get the idea that the vast majority of the locals are not able to take advantage of any modernities that the city may offer. I'm excited to (very safely) explore a little of the city and learn a bit about it. I will share more and some pictures soon.

My top priority, of course, is to prepare and be ready to play well in the two golf tournaments while I am here. I feel that I am off to a very good start in that regard. While I wish I had been more well-rested today, I do believe that I maximized my practice time and that my choice to stay awake through the day will be rewarded in the form of a non-jet-lagged, well-rested feeling when I wake up tomorrow morning. Tomorrow I will play the whole golf course and spend a little time sharpening all the areas of my game. Saturday I will play in a Pro-Am associated with the event and do all of my final preparations before the tournament begins on Sunday. The practice facilities are very limited at this particular course, so I will have to find creative ways to reach my weekly goal in terms of practicing my wedge play, but I am determined to that. My putting has felt great leading into this event and continued to do so today. I think I am in good form right now and believe that a couple more good days of preparation can have me ready to perform very well here in Morocco.

It is exciting to be here. I am looking forward to discovering more about Morocco, and I am even more excited to start pursuing my first international win. This is going to be a fun time all-around, but I am being certain to stay focused first and foremost on the task of preparing well and playing great golf. Keep it here for good news about golf and exciting information about Morocco. I'll be back with more and hopefully some pictures tomorrow or Saturday at the latest. Thank you for following!

Visible Progress

I’ve been making a lot of invisible progress lately. By that, I mean that my scores have been consistently rather stinky, but beneath that,...