Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Holiday; Good Work

The Malnati Thanksgiving was a huge success in Maryland with my Dad's parents. Good times with great people and of course great food made for an extremely good week, and the fact that we had perfect weather only added to that. I spent more time with a frisbee in my hand than a golf club, but I was able to practice a little bit (see my driving range in the picture above!) and also stayed very much on top of my fitness work. Thanksgiving week was extremely enjoyable but still productive in terms of my progress with golf, so I'm feeling great.

My driving range at my grandparent's house was pretty darn cool. Each day I would launch shots from their yard into the river nearly 100ft below. It was fun to hit a variety of shots from that high vantage point because the ball would stay in the air forever and its curvature was exaggerated. Between hitting balls that way and chipping around the yard, I really did get in some good practice.

I am also excited by how fit I feel that I am becoming. Both my runs and my strength training are getting more demanding, but my body is responding beautifully. I knocked out a 7.1 mile run in less than 50 minutes on Thanksgiving morning. I had to make room for all the Turkey!

On Sunday morning, I had my meeting with Dr. Eric Hegedus in North Carolina to talk about my fitness and ensure that the work I am doing is contributing to improved golf performance. The results were great. The most resounding message that I took from our meeting is that the things that I am currently doing are working. That was encouraging to hear, but we also pinpointed a couple of weak areas on which I can work. A loose right shoulder (lingering effect from a college injury) and poor internal hip rotation were the two major physical weaknesses that I can improve with some added exercises and stretching, but Dr.Hegedus also thinks that I can become more efficient in my golf swing by implementing a slight change in posture. I have always hyper-extended my back a little bit over the golf ball, and by relaxing my lower back a little but at address, I might be able to turn more effectively. I am excited to get to work on a couple of new things, and equally excited to have confirmation that the things I have been doing are working. 

I definitely feel like I am improving in a lot of ways right now, and I'm excited to keep that going. I'm back home for a few days, so I should have some good practice and at least a couple of good matches to tell you about in the next few days. Keep it here for more progress reports. Thank you for following!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heading Back East

A great and productive week in midwest has come to an end, and I am flying back to Baltimore today to see my sister and make the short drive down to Southern Maryland for Thanksgiving with my Dad's parents. I am joining many others in the country who are traveling today, but the time that I was able to spend with friends in Kansas City and the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my family are more than worth any hassles associated with Holiday travel. My time in Kansas City was great, and I am excited about a lot of things moving forward.

I was able to get quite a bit of good work done on my golf game during my time in KC. While I have only been able to have a full practice session one day since my great round on Saturday morning, I continued to see more good stuff from my game during a good afternoon of work on Monday. The work that Bobbo and I have done on my swing is really taking hold, and my ball-striking is feeling great. I am also pumped about the positive things I am seeing from my short game and putting. All areas of my game are improving, and that is very exciting--especially this time of year!

I am extremely excited about the work I have done on my fitness as well. I am continuing to push myself pretty hard with workouts and runs and have also done a good job of keeping up with a good stretching (yoga--sort of) routine. It all has me feeling as fit as ever, and I know that this kind of work can only help my performance. This Sunday, my sister Laura and I will travel to North Carolina to see a physical therapist friend of hers who also specializes in helping golfers increase their performance through physical training. I'm hoping that he can help me improve my fitness routine and ensure that I am doing the most good for my golf game with my workouts. I don't really know what to expect from this visit, but I am certain that it will either help a little bit or help a lot, and I like both of those options.

I am hopeful that I will be able to sneak in a little practice over the holiday weekend, but my main priority will be soaking up time with my family. I will definitely be able to practice a little bit and will continue to do good work towards my fitness, but I will also eat a lot and enjoy some relaxation with my family. I must say, though, that Malnati-style relaxation is seldom very relaxing, but it is always fun!

I have spent the last week with some friends and my sweetheart, and for them, I am incredibly Thankful. I am heading to D.C./Maryland to spend the Holiday with the family for which I am incredibly Thankful. And to each of you who continue to show me unyielding support, I am incredibly Thankful. It's going to be a great Thanksgiving for me, and I wish the same for all of you! Thank you for everything you have done for me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things Going Well in Kansas City

My excursion out to Kansas City has gone perfectly so far. My friend Bud Reynolds was successfully married yesterday in a great ceremony that capped off three nights of fun wedding preparation. That was great because I was able to meet some new friends and also reconnect with some very good friends from my past. In addition to the wedding and wedding prep, my days here in KC have also been extremely productive. Good weather and a great place to practice have allowed me to make some big steps forward in my golf game. I have been able to stay on top of my fitness work, too, so I am feeling good all-around. The last four days have been great!

On Wednesday and Thursday, I practiced hard both days without playing any golf on the course. I have always preferred to practice on the course, but I think I needed to have a couple of good range sessions, and I really have seen strong improvements from my mid-week work. In addition to the driving range, I was also fortunate enough to have a world-class short game area at my disposal, and I spent hours working on my wedge play, chipping, and bunker play. I feel awesome about the work that I did, and the benefits really showed the last two days. On Friday and Saturday I played with some friends at Indian Hills Country Club, and despite gusty winds, all areas of my game looked good both days. On Saturday, with winds gusting from 25 to 35 mph, I shot even-par 70 on a fairly tough golf course even with a brain-slip triple bogey on a hole. I really played well and felt great about my game!

Things have gone very well so far on this trip, and I am looking forward to more fun and productivity in the next few days. Keep it here for another update from KC soon!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Politics in D.C.

Just kidding about all that. I have been in our nation's capitol for the past three days, put politics haven't been on my mind. I have soaked up some great time with my family and found quite a bit of time to keep working on my golf game. A spirited day of golf with my friends from the Jackson Clinics (my sister, Dr. Laura Malnati's employer) kept me busy on Saturday at Evergreen Country Club. I was able to get in some more good work with a nice practice session on Sunday. I haven't missed a beat with my workouts,  either. Two great morning runs--including one over the Potomac River in D.C. this morning--and an awesome workout with my sister have me continuing to feel good about my fitness. All-in-all, I've had very productive and fun days here in the D.C. area with my family. I'm heading to Kansas City today, and need to keep up my good work. I feel great about the direction that my golf game is heading, but I need to have some good practice to solidify the work I've been doing and gain some consistency. I'm well on my way though. Keep it here for news from Kansas City!

The pictures above are:

My sister, Laura, at Evergreen Country Club & my sister, Gina, with my nephew, Isaac (almost 5) and my niece, Abigail (almost 3). I also have a 13 month old niece, but she was in bed at picture time.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

A Great Week

I have done a lot of good work this week. I have had very well-rounded practice sessions and have also played quite a bit of golf. Solid morning workouts have me feeling more fit and flexible. I feel great all-around and am excited to keep working on it.

Bobbo and I worked together a couple of times this week to see if some of the changes we have talked about are taking hold, and we both think that I'm on the right track. I'm trying to add a little bit of width to my backswing and get my lower body, rather than my arms, to start my downswing. The new position at the top of my backswing still feels a little awkward and causes some inconsistencies, but when I get it right, I hit shots that are even better than my good ones used to be. I feel more and more comfortable every day, and I'm really excited about the potential I see from my ball-striking.

Perhaps even more exciting are the great results I've been seeing from my short-game work. I'm not trying to change anything with my technique around the greens, I'm just making practicing my chipping, pitching, and bunker play an everyday priority, and it is cool to see how quickly my execution and touch have improved on all sorts of shots near the greens.

After a lot of holes played by myself and a lot of time spent practicing early in the week, I had a fun match on Thursday. Playing a course called Ruggles Ferry with a friend of mine named Jonathon Hodge, I put my work to the test under a little competition. I definitely hit a lot of shots where I looked uncomfortable, but I also hit some really good shots. I ended up shooting two under par and tying my buddy in the match. While neither of those results thrill me, I am very happy with a lot of the shots that I hit and a few putts that I made when I needed to. My game felt good, and I know that it will only be improving.

Right now I'm on the road with my family. I will be a bit of a traveling man for the next couple weeks as I'm heading to Washington D.C. right now for a four day stay with my sister before flying from D.C. to Kansas City to be in an old friend's wedding. After that, I will fly back to D.C. for Thanksgiving with my Dad's parents in Maryland. I'm excited to spend some time with some very cool people, but also am pumped to play and practice in some new places. I am going to keep getting better, and my travels are not going to slow that down.

Everything is going well, and I am feeling good. Keep it here for reports from D.C. and Kansas City. There should be great times and good practice. I'll keep you updated!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Off to a Good Start

This past Monday was the first day of my 2012 golf season, and I am off to a great start. I have gotten in good work on all areas of my game and have also been stepping up the intensity of my workouts. I am doing a few new things on and off the course, too, and am excited about how good things are feeling. I am going to improve over these fall and winter months!

I have already been working on a few new things. First of all, I've been working on my putting stroke. I have always tried hard to steer clear of any mechanical thoughts with my putting, but the truth of the matter is that despite solid putting all year, I have struggled on and off with getting the putter coming too far to the inside on my backstroke. I practice enough to putt pretty well even when that bad tendency creeps into my stroke, but I know that fixing that flaw will make my putting even better and more consistent. The picture at the top of this post is the drill that I've set up in the living room at home, and though it looks complicated, it's actually a very simple way to make sure that my alignment and stroke are both right where I want them to be with my putter. I have already seen good results from this work on the course and am excited to keep working on it.

Bobbo and I have also done some work this week. I definitely don't like to get technical with my swing, but Bobbo thinks that by adding a little width to my backswing and getting my hands farther from my head at the top of my swing, I can pick up a few more yards and a little more ball-striking consistency. The change led to a day and a half of frustrating practice, but it is already feeling great, and I think Bobbo is right.

Off of the course, I have added a little bit of yoga to my fitness routine, too, and it is feeling great. The weekend after Thanksgiving I am going to see a physical therapist who is also a personal trainer that studies the golf swing and helps golfers maximize their fitness work. I feel like I am pretty good at working towards being strong, fit, and flexible, but I'm hopeful that my visit with this physical therapist will help me create workouts that directly translate to better golf. I'll update you for sure after that meeting, but for now, I'm going to work really hard at strength training, running, and stretching.

I feel great right now because I really feel like I am getting better. I am excited to keep working. Thank you for following me, and I hope that you will stay with me this fall and winter as I continue to improve!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to Work. And Loving It!

It has been a while since my last post, and a lot of good stuff has gone on in that time. I'll try to give you a little highlight reel to catch you up on what's been happening since my disappointing early exit from PGA TOUR Q-school. My family and I spent the entire week after Q-school enjoying each other's company and doing some of our favorite things together. Two incredible hikes in the Smokey Mountains and a lot of frisbee golf were just a couple of the activities that contributed to an awesome week off from real golf. The combination of that week off and the disappointing way that my 2011 season ended now has me as motivated as ever to work hard and get better. When I went to bed this past Sunday night, I told myself that Monday was the first day of my 2012 season. I have been hard at work since then on my fitness and my golf game and feel great about things.

I have improved greatly over the past few years, but I know that a thorough off-season of work will have me ready to break through in a big way next year. I feel great and am as excited as ever about the big possibilities that are ahead of me!

I know that off-season work may not be the most thrilling thing to read about on here, but I've got some exciting ideas of ways to get better this winter, and I'm going to do a good job of keeping my blog updated as I improve.

Also, I'm going to start including more pictures with my posts. Enjoy a couple of pictures from our hikes in the Great Smokey Mountains for now, and look forward to more good stuff as I improve this fall/winter!

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New Blog Site

Hi everyone! Thank you for continuing to try to keep up with me. As you might have noticed, I've not been updating this blog at all late...