Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lots of GREAT Stuff

That is certainly the most generic title you will ever see me give to a post. If you notice my last post (which was way too long ago), you'll see that the title would lead one to believe that this edition should be titled "The Future". Well, that post is coming, but for now, I just want to give an extremely quick overview of the past couple weeks.

My practice has been scattered and scarce for the past 15 days. I am still working on some great things and am determined to reach my ball-striking goals during this brief winter off-season, but I haven't been able to stick to a solid practice routine lately. Weather has been a reasonable excuse for my shortcomings, but more importantly, I have been soaking up time with the people that I love most in the whole world. I am so thankful for my family and for Alicia. I have had a fantastic Holiday Season thus far, and I know that there is more to come as I still have my favorite crew with me for the New Year's weekend.

With that said, I spent a couple hours with my golf clubs down in the basement today getting re-fired up for the super-productive winter that I am going to have. I still feel like the stuff on which I am working is going to make me a tremendously better ball-striker, and I am determined to start the year in mid-season form when tournament time rolls around in early February. I have a lot of work to do to achieve that goal, but I can do it and am excited to really bare down very soon!

I have some good news to share regarding my 2013 schedule and will also be publishing my 2013 process goals very soon. Monday, January 7, 2013, will be the start of my work year, and I am already pumped up for it. For now, I am keeping myself in great physical shape and soaking up the last few days of a great Holiday Season with my favorite people. I'll get after my golf again very soon!

Thank you for keeping up with me! I hope you all have had a warm Holiday Season and I wish every one a very Happy New Year! I will be back with more updates and news very soon. I am as excited as ever. Please keep it here to enjoy this continuing journey with me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Past, Present, And...

I am definitely in what can only be described as my offseason. I usually am very absorbed in the present. I rarely think much about the past, and I don't like to spend too much time worrying about hypothetical situations in the future. Right now, however, I am doing quite a bit of both. I have analyzed my practice logs and am doing some reflecting on the past year. At the same time, I am starting to put a lot of thought into the route I will to take to advance my game and my career in 2013. In this post, however, I want to share my findings after looking back over my 2012 season, and talk a little bit more about the exciting things that are going on right now. I am wrapping up my thoughts about the future, and I will share exciting news in that regard soon.

I apologize to those of you who are stat junkies and want me to regale you with my greens in regulation percentage and average putts per round, but I don't keep track of that. To me, a lot of stats of that nature are very misleading. As I look back on 2012, I am concerned with two main areas: my work towards my weekly process goals and my par-5 performance.

I was shocked by my findings in the first of those areas. I felt like I had a great year of work. I know that I failed to prioritize my practice the way I should have some weeks, but I thought that I had established a great work routine throughout the year. I was displeased to find that in the 44 weeks from when I published my "process goals" in early January through the last week of my season in mid-November, I failed to complete all of my process goals 15 times. That means I successfully completed all of my work goals just 65.9 percent of my work weeks this year. Often it was just one putting drill or a workout that kept me from completing my goals, but that shows a shortcoming. All-in-all, I am still very pleased with the work that I put in this year, but it was eye-opening to see how many times I came up short of my goals. I did some deeper analysis to see how my weeks looked during and immediately preceding some of my best tournament results of the year. There were no strong correlations at all as I found that some of my best tournament results followed great weeks of practice whereas a couple of very strong performances followed weeks during which I had come up very short of my practice goals. A noticeable trend from which I will learn moving forward did appear, however. On three occasions when I spent a weekend away from golf to enjoy special occasions or just fun times with special people, I performed well in the weeks that followed. I am not good enough to make a habit of taking time off, but I think I will plan three to four weekends per season to do non-golf activities moving forward. My look back at the work that I did each week this year certainly doesn't leave me disappointed, but it does show that I have a lot of room for improvement. My weekly goals this year were challenging but very reasonable. I will have a similar set of process goals next year, and you can bet that I will do a better job of completing them.

The one performance stat that I do track is par-5 scoring. Great players and tournament winners play the par 5s well, and it is not just the long hitters to whom this statement applies. At the beginning of the year, I proclaimed that I wanted to have a scoring average of 4.33 on par 5s for the year. Some of my buddies told me that was not a realistic goal. I tried to use their doubts as motivation and set out to prove them wrong. They weren't. I am disappointed with my performance on the par 5s this year, but 4.33 was not a realistic goal. I played 409 par 5s this year in tournament play and was 151 under par on them. That works out to an average of 4.63. I am now convinced that 4.33 is an unrealistic expectation, but 4.5 is a lofty yet very reasonable goal. To achieve a 4.5 average, I would have needed to shave 54 shots off of my total for the 409 par 5s I played. That means I have a lot of work to do in this area. To play the par 5s better, I need to develop more confidence in my ball-striking and continue to hone my wedge play. You can bet that par-5 scoring will be on my list of goals again for 2013, and I am going to improve dramatically in that area.

The only other process goal I made that deserves a year-end mention is my "friendly match" winnings. I need to nurture a more competitive instinct in myself, so I wrote down a goal to profit $500 in friendly matches and practice round bets this year. I did keep up with this throughout the year, and I liked having this goal, but I don't play enough matches or play for enough money to reach $500 in friendly match winnings. I had a rough stretch in early-year practice rounds, but I was still finished the year up near $200 in this category. I will have a goal along these lines again next year.

That details my year-end findings regarding my process goals. I know that stuff might not seem like the most relevant information, but to me it is quite informative and useful. I will use it to shape my process goals for next year and as motivation to improve.

As for my 2012 outcome goals, I think most of you know I came up short on all three counts. I expected to have multiple wins on the eGolf Professional Tour. I won once. I expected to finish the year first on the eGolf Professional Tour's Money List. I finished fourth. I expected to end the season with full status for 2013 on at least Web.com Tour. I did not. This is disappointing news, but it was a GREAT year! All of my goals were very doable, and I made a great run at them. The fact that I came up short will motivate me to work harder and smarter than ever. I will have bigger and better goals for 2013, and I'm ready to start achieving them!

That is enough looking backwards. I have a lot going on right now. I am entrenched in some swing changes that are going to increase my competence as a ball-striker. I have never liked the idea of making changes to my golf swing, but my ball-striking is the only area of my game that hasn't improved significantly in the past three years, so I am committing to a change this winter. I am confident that I will improve and become much more consistent as a ball-striker. I am already seeing positive signs, and can't wait until things start feeling comfortable. While I am working hard on my golf swing, I am continuing to sharpen my short game and putting. I feel that these areas of my game are strong, but I have plenty of room to keep improving. When my swing changes become fully engrained, I want to feel like I am tournament-ready. My current work definitely has me on track to make that a reality. In addition to putting good work into my golf game, I have ramped up my fitness work over the past two weeks as well. I am feeling strong, fit, and flexible. As I said in the opening of this post, it is definitely my off season right now, but I am doing a lot of exciting and important work.

So there is a look and the past and the present. I still have a little bit more information to gather and thinking to do before I go to in-depth about plans for the future, but the wheels are turning in that direction. Keep it here for practice reports and an exciting look towards what is coming next year. Thank you so much for following me and for your support. Here's to a warm winter--literally and figuratively!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Major Progress

In the week that followed my disappointing exit from this year's PGA Tour Q-school, I did some some serious thinking about my golf game. My year as a whole had been quite good. My results were very good and quite consistent, and I further confirmed that my career is on a good trajectory. Something just wasn't right about the way my season ended, though. It wasn't just that I played poorly at the Second Stage of Q-school; it was more a realization of the fact that no amount of positive thinking could have helped me overcome the poor ball-striking week that I had that final week of my season. To take that thought a step farther, I came to the realization that every single aspect of my game has improved greatly over the past three years except for the consistency of my ball-striking. My chipping, putting, wedge play, course management, and tournament mentality have all improved steadily and significantly over the past three years, but my ball-striking is still inconsistent at best and downright troubling at times. While I certainly have weeks where I hit the ball well enough to succeed, I would still say that I am successful in spite of, rather than because of, my ball-striking. Therefore, I decided it is time to make some changes.

I still don't believe there is such a thing as a perfect golf swing, but I do believe there are things I can do with my golf swing to improve the quality and consistency of my ball-striking. I had a meeting with Bobbo to see if he was on board to help me make some changes over the winter months, and he sure was. He had some ideas right away, and after a good talk to make sure we were on the same page, we got to work last Sunday. The changes felt dramatic at first, and the task seemed daunting, but after just nine days of really hard work (and, thankfully, beautiful weather!), I am already starting to see signs that we are on the right track. I don't know the golf swing very well, and I don't like to get too technical, but I will try to share with you my understanding of the changes that I am making.

I am happy to say that I do have a firm understanding of what I am doing and the reasons that the changes will help me improve. The first thing that I am doing is increasing the amount of forward shaft lean that I have at impact. I have always struggled with releasing the club a little bit too early on the downswing, which allows the club head to pass my hands at or even before impact resulting in a weak and inconsistent strike. To fix this problem, I am working hard to quiet my hands and let my body turn pull the club through the hitting area. The other change that I am making is my first move in the downswing. I have spent years hitting three-quarter, controlled shots. While that sounds like a good thing, I have become very content just to make a controlled "all-arms" swing with no lower-body drive at all. If I want to make a strong body turn into and through impact, I need to initiate my downswing with a strong leg drive toward the target. When I start my downswing with my lower-body, it allows my body turn to deliver the club squarely and consistently to the ball. Incorporating these two changes into to golf swing will greatly increase my competence as a ball-striker.

Just nine days into this process, I am already starting to see results. When Bobbo and I talked before we started working, I gave him a list of four things I was looking to accomplish with any changes we would make: 1.) Deveolop the belief that I always hit the ball solidly. 2.) Improve the sound of my iron shots--go from a "wipey, clicky" sound to a crisp, flush one. 3.) Learn what it means and feels like to "compress" the golf ball. 3.) Add ten yards per iron and at least ten yards of carry with my driver. I am not comfortable enough with the changes yet to say that I have accomplished any of these goals, but I am starting to hit some shots that definitely meet the middle two goals and hint that the first and fourth are very possible. I have a lot more work to do, but things are feeling great and I am very excited!

While I'm working on these improvements to my swing, I am also taking time to keep my short game and putting sharp. My goal is to hit the ground running in 2013 without the warm-up period that I have seemed to need in the first couple months of my previous competitive years. Like I said, I still have a lot of work to do before I will feel fully ready to unveil my swing changes, but I am confident that this winter will go down as the most productive time in my golfing life to date.

I have finally reviewed my practice logs from 2012 and do have some pretty relevant information to share, but I'll cut off this post for now before it turns into a novel. I'm going to keep making great strides as a ball-striker, so come back soon for an update on that and to hear some more in-depth analysis of my 2012 season. I have so much to accomplish moving forward, but I am heading in a great direction.

Thank you for following me and for your continued support and encouragement!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much for which to be thankful. My family loves and supports me. My girlfriend of more than four years goes through the ups and downs of my golf career with me (even from a distance) while working a full time job and finishing her Ph. D. I have friends all over the country who offer me support and warm homes during my travels. In addition to that, I have a team of people, most notably Bobby Bray (Bobbo), who have helped to cultivate my game over the last several years. All of these pieces come together and allow me to apply myself fully toward my goal of having a successful career on the PGA Tour. I am so thankful for the life that I am able to lead and for all of the people that help make it possible for me to do it. It was truly a happy Thanksgiving for me, and I hope the same for all of you.

In terms of a golf update, I fibbed in my last blog post. I have not as of yet analyzed my practice logs and stats from the year to give any concrete data to you. The one thing that I know for sure is that my competence as a ball-striker and my confidence in my ball-striking deteriorated over the last couple months of the season. Bobbo and I had a long talk on the phone last week to discuss a strategy for improving over the winter, and we had our first session on Sunday afternoon. We are going to make some changes, and I am excited about that. I don't like thinking mechanical thoughts at all, and I will not be making highly technical changes, but I am going to improve the way that my lower body works in my golf swing. I am also going to improve my impact position by getting my hands a little bit in front of the clubhead during the actual strike of the ball. I will fill you in more as I start to better understand the changes that I am making. I am really excited, though, because I know that I have a lot of room to improve as a ball-striker, and I can tell that these changes are going to spark that improvement.

I will give at least weekly updates of my progress throughout the winter, but I will also publish a summary of my 2012 season very soon. There is obviously a lot of positive information that I will remember, but I'm also certain that there is a lot from which I can learn and on which I can improve. Come back for more news soon, and keep it here for progress reports and a look towards potential 2013 schedule options. Thank you very much for all of your support and encouragement!


A cool view from a Saturday hike on the way up to Mt. Leconte in the Smokey Mnts.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crash... Early End to a Great Year

I did not play well the final two rounds at the Second Stage of Q-school. Rounds of 78 and 75 on Friday and Saturday placed me convincingly on the wrong side of the score needed to advance to the Final Stage and marked the conclusion of my 2012 competitive schedule. Q-school is the most important competition of the year for a player like me with no status on the PGA Tour or Web.com Tour, so it is very disappointing that my performance didn't match the consistently high standard that I have upheld for most of the year. I definitely was nervous and felt an increased amount of pressure at Q-school, but I truly believe that I handled the mental challenges of the week well enough to be successful. I simply didn't have it from a physical standpoint. My ball-striking was bad all week, and though I managed it well enough to hang in the mix through two rounds, I didn't hit enough solid shots to survive the tough course for four rounds.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that I have exited Q-school before reaching the Final Stage. That is extremely disappointing, but it is important to look at the entire body of work when analyzing my year and the trajectory of my career. I have done nothing but improve over the past three seasons of playing professional golf, and 2012 was undoubtedly my best year. My results were consistently good, and I even managed to have some very good tournament results on weeks when I didn't feel great about my game. I have practice logs and some year-long statistics that I will study over the next week and will share some more detailed analysis of things that I did well and things that I can do differently to keep improving. My general summary of the year right now is simply that is was another huge step in the right direction despite a very disappointing ending.

With that said, there are areas of my game that glaringly need work. I am a very inconsistent ball-striker. At times I feel like I can hit every shot that is needed to be successful, but at other times, I struggle just to hit routine shots solidly. I'm pleased with the work that I have done and continue to do on my putting and short game, but it's time that I actually put some real effort into my ball-striking. I am going to talk with Bobbo and come up with a plan for the next couple months. I'm not talking about making a drastic swing change, but I need to come up with something (a new swing thought or practice technique, for example) that can help me increase my competence and consistency as a ball-striker.

I am not discouraged. Disappointment is still hovering over the bum results from last week and the consequences thereof, but I will move on and continue to improve. My career is still on a great trajectory, and I still absolutely love what I do. I will be stronger and better than ever next year!

I am going to do some analysis of the year and come up with a plan for the winter in the next week. Please keep it here for more news, and continue to keep up with me moving forward. I really appreciate all the support and encouragement that you continue to provide as I chase this dream. We are going to catch it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Still Kickin'!

I've reached the mid-way point here at the Second Stage of Q-school at the Hombre Golf Club. I shot even par (71) in the second round. I survived some very squirrely shots with some great par saves in the first part of my round, but I just couldn't string together enough good shots to make any birdies. Through the first 15 holes, I had made 14 pars and a bogey. I finished birdie, birdie, bogey. Despite the bogey at the last, I feel like my finish gave me a little momentum heading into the final two rounds. The course played tough in the second round, and though 71 was definitely not a great score, it actually moved me slightly in the correct direction on the leaderboard. I am currently right in the middle of the field (T34th), but I have two more rounds to move up. My game is actually feeling better each day, so I'm excited to get out there and play again. I will definitely be nervous these next two days, but I'm going to enjoy the moment, stay relaxed, and play well! Come back for a round 3 report Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Played Well in Round 1

The Second Stage of Q-school began for me on Wednesday morning at the Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Florida. Some recent ball-striking woes had me knowing that I would need to manage my game well around the trouble-laden course. My mindset was fairly good in Wednesday's opening round, and I made a lot of very good decisions on the course. I actually executed fairly well, too, and am quite pleased with the way everything felt. Unfortunately, the one poor decision I did make cost me a couple of shots and left me with a score that really doesn't reflect how well I played. On my 16th hole (the 7th), I chose to play safely and hit an extra club on the water-guarded par 3. I made a great swing, but as soon as I made contact, I knew the ball would go too far. I thought it would just go to the back of the green, but it actually flew all the way over the putting surface and into the pond behind the green. That turned into a double bogey, and I shot a one-under-par round of 70. I really played quite nicely, so it's a shame I don't have a better score to show for it. I'm very encouraged, though, and am excited that I have three more days. I'm going to stay relaxed and continue to enjoy myself. Good things are coming! Keep it here for more updates. Thank you for following me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good Decision Making

I am in Panama City Beach, Florida, and I'm ready for Wednesday morning's first round of the Second Stage of PGA Tour Q-school at Hombre Golf Club. I have had two good days of practice at the Hombre, and I have learned my way around the course very well. The Hombre is a fairly short (though it has played long with cool temperatures and soft conditions the last couple days) and is definitely a ball-placement type of course. Many of the holes feature narrow landing areas off of the tee, and every hole requires a lot of precision into the green. I absolutely love golf courses like this, and I am excited to be playing here.

To be completely honest, I really don't feel that great about the way that I am hitting the golf ball right now. I have struggled to hit the ball solidly and have felt uncomfortable over most of my iron shots lately. With that said, I tried to treat both of my practice rounds as if they were qualifying rounds, and despite hitting the ball poorly, I stayed out of trouble with good decision making and used my solid short game to shoot two really good scores in the practice rounds. I played the final hole in the dark on Monday and never found my tee shot, which I had pulled to the left, so I don't know what my score was on that hole, but for the other 35 holes I played in my two practice rounds, I recorded nine birdies and just one bogey. That proves to me that I am good enough to be successful even when my game is not in top shape. The most important thing this week will be staying relaxed and executing shots with a sense of calm. Being relaxed is a choice, and therefore I can decide to do so. I will have to make a lot of good decisions this week in terms of my strategy on each and every shot, but the most important (and likely most difficult) decision I need to make is to remain calm. If I can make that decision and choose to do it all week, I can easily overcome any shortcomings from my execution.

I am ready to make that decision. I am going to enjoy myself all week. Great things are coming. You can follow the results at pgatour.com/qschool, but come back right here for nightly updates. Thank you so much for keeping up with me and for your support!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On the Road to Big Things

My caddie (my Mom :) ) and I hit the road for the 2nd Stage of PGA Tour Q-school on Sunday afternoon. I had a good run on Sunday morning and a quick practice out at the beautiful Dandridge Golf Course before we left mid-afternoon. I am writing this from a hotel just south of Atlanta, GA, from where we will cruise the rest of the way down to Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Florida, on Monday morning. I am excited to get to the course and have a quick practice round on Monday afternoon. I will have a thorough day of practice and another practice round on Tuesday before the 72-hole competition begins Wednesday morning. It is going to be a fun week, and I am pumped for it!

I am really pleased with the practice that I have had over the past couple weeks since 1st Stage. In addition to playing the final two eGolf events of the year and having at least varying degrees of success in some areas of my game, I have also completed all of my process goals each of last two weeks. I am happy with the effort that I have been putting into my practice, and I have definitely seen enough positive things from my game to feel excited a lot of the time. In all honesty, though, I am definitely not feeling as good about my ball-striking as I would like. My timing or something is a little bit off, and I'm having a lot of trouble finding any consistency. With that said, my short game is feeling good, and my putting is still in great shape. In addition to that, my mind is my greatest resource on the golf course, and I can choose to stay in control of that. So, while I am certainly going to try to find that "lovin' feeling" with my ball-striking and make the week a little bit easier on myself, I know that I can still take care of business even if I have to work very hard on the course.

I am going to enjoy this week. There is definitely a lot of perceived pressure that accompanies Q-school, and I let that pressure affect me tremendously at 1st Stage three weeks ago. In order for pressure to exist, however, I have to acknowledge it. I can choose how much pressure I feel. I know that my game is not as good right now as I want it to be, but I am going to choose to stay relaxed and trust myself on every single shot this week. Mostly, I am just going to have fun! I expect great things from myself, and I will work hard to make them happen, but I am not going to let the situation change the way I approach this week. It's another week of tournament golf, and I am going to live it up doing one of the things I love!

Keep it here for reports from the action throughout the week. Thank you for following me and for all of your support!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Less Than Dazzling Finale to the eGolf Season; Moving Onward!

I certainly had a great year on the eGolf Professional Tour, but on Thursday, I ended it in less than stellar fashion. In my defense, River Run Country Club played about as difficult as any course I have seen all year, but in all honesty, my game felt sloppy, and I can't really claim that I gave a good performance. I wanted to end the mini-tour season with a great round and move up the leaderboard for one more good finish, but instead, I continued my butchery of the par 5s and posted a two-over-par final round of 74 to finish at three over par for the event and in a tie for 11th in the small field. Though my game still showed some great signs, my ball-striking was erratic, and I didn't have a lot of consistency with my short game or putter either this week. I'm still feeling good about all areas of my game, but I definitely wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be this week and didn't get the results for which I was hoping in what could potentially have been my last mini-tour event ever.

It's time to turn my attention to the next thing on my calendar--the Second Stage of PGA Tour Q-school. It is undeniable that Q-school is the most important event of the year, but I am going to treat it just like another week of competition. I am playing the Second Stage at a course called The Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Florida. The competition dates are November 14-17 (next Wednesday-Saturday), so I will hit the road to start my journey down to the Florida panhandle on Sunday afternoon. I am very much looking forward to next week!

I have a couple days to soak up my East Tennessee HOME first. I will put in solid days of work over the next 2.5 days but will also spend a little time relaxing. I definitely need to fine-tune all areas of my game and find some consistency with my ball-striking, but the truth of the matter is that my game is in more than good enough shape to be successful. I have worked very hard to get myself into a position where I can truthfully make that statement. I am going to stay in my routine of hard work for the next couple of days here at home and then also throughout the rest of the Q-school process, but I think I will also put a little extra emphasis on enjoying myself and my work during this stretch. I am at peace with the effort that I put into my career, so I can definitely let myself relax and trust that I am doing the necessary things to be successful. I am really looking forward to a couple of great days of work here in Tennessee, and then it is off to have some real fun starting next week!

Keep it here for updates from this incredible journey. Thank you very much for caring enough about me to follow me and offer your support!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

1 More eGolf Round

I wasn't particularly pretty in the second round of this week's eGolf event. I hit a lot of good shots and did plenty of things about which I feel very good, but I did just enough lousy things to keep myself from maintaining any kind of positive momentum. At the end of the day, I made five birdies and four bogeys for a second-round score of 71. I feel like I was close to playing very well, and I'm pumped that I have a chance to get after if for one more day here at the eGolf Tour's final event of 2012. I would like to end the mini-tour season (and potentially my mini-tour career!) on a high note with a good round on Thursday. I have made a mess of the par 5's at River Run Country Club this week, and if I can clean up that area of my performance, it will give me a great chance to post a good score in round 3. I'm going to be relaxed and will really enjoy myself in the final round, but at the same time, I expect good things. Come back for a final-round report on Thursday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Great Challenge at River Run

I just want to drop a quick line about the opening round from the final eGolf Tour event of 2012--the Championship at River Run. River Run Country Club is a solid test of golf under typical weather conditions, but given frigid temperatures that are making the course play slightly longer than usual, it is very demanding. I did not handle that test well in the opening round. My game was surprisingly sloppy and I still did not putt the ball as well as I expect. I did a good job of managing my game through 14 holes in Tuesday's first round, but I bogeyed three of the final four holes to post a two-over-par opening round of 74. I had a fantastic afternoon of practice after my round, however, and I feel quite good heading into Wednesday's second round. I have had a solid year on the eGolf Tour, and I plan to end it with another good tournament. In order to do that, I need to be relaxed and execute a solid game plan one shot at a time. I'm going to do just that, and I expect good things the next two days. Keep it here for updates. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So Much for Shorter Days!

On the first day after turning back the clocks, I had a very productive day of work and wrapped up a solid week. I had a great run Sunday morning to finish my fitness goals for the week, and in the afternoon, I nailed a couple of putting drills and had some quality short game and wedge play work to complete all of my practice drills. I also re-gripped all of my clubs in the morning. New grips feel so good! Despite losing an hour of daylight on the back end of the day, I accomplished a lot on Sunday, and it was a great way to finish to a solid week.

My game is feeling good. I wasn't my usual self with the putter at the eGolf event this last week, but I have had a solid week of practice on the greens. I'm hitting the road on Monday morning for the last eGolf event of the year at a course called River Run in Davidson, NC. The event is Tuesday-Thursday, and River Run is a great and challenging golf course. This week is my last chance to achieve my goal of winning "multiple events" on the eGolf Professional Tour this year. My game is in good enough shape to do it, and I'm expecting to have a great week!

Keep it here for updates along the way. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Good Final Round Effort

I played well in Friday's final round of the eGolf Tour's Forrest Oaks Open. Entering the day in a three-way tie for the lead, I was in a great mindset to start the round. I hit two very good shots into the first hole but watched in amazement as my five iron from just 167 yards (hey, it was freezing cold and a little bit uphill) trickled back down the false front edge of the green and came to rest well below the level of the hole on the front fringe. Three putts later, I walked off the first hole with a disappointing bogey to start my day, but my attitude was not changed. I was relaxed and determined to execute a good game plan on each and every shot. For the next 13 holes, my game looked great. Despite a couple of very frustrating missed putts, I played holes 2 through 14 in four under par without a bogey. I was cruising. Though I did a good job of not worrying about what my competitors were doing, I knew that I was tied with one of the guys in my group with four holes to play, and I had an idea that we were in the lead. Still, I felt calm and confident over almost all of my shots. Ironically, it was only the putter--my biggest strength--that felt balky under the final-round pressure. I was a little uncomfortable over the putter all week for some reason, and that discomfort bit me on the 15th hole. After watching the competitor with whom I was tied roll in a lengthy putt for a birdie, I missed a short range putt for par on the par-4 15th. The two-shot swing put me behind the eight-ball for the final three holes, and my par-par-par finish paled in comparison to the leader's par-birdie-birdie effort on the same stretch. I shot a final round 69 (-3) and finished tied for 2nd place at ten under for the tournament.

I definitely wanted to win and am disappointed not to have finished more strongly after playing so well for the first 13 holes of the final round, but overall I am very pleased with the way I played this week. Coming off a nerve-wracking week at the First Stage of Q-school, I was determined to have a week in which I practiced being in control of my emotions and staying relaxed. I did a great job of that, and I played really well, too. My ball-striking was as good as it has been in a while, and though my putting let me down, I know that I am a great putter and fully expect that this week's lackluster performance on the greens was just an anomaly. I feel as good about my game right now as I have in a long time. It was a great week!

I need to have a solid weekend of work to finish up my process goals for the week and to get that lovin' feeling back with the putter. I will head to Davidson, North Carolina, next week for the eGolf Tour's final event of the season at a great course called River Run. It will be a small-field event, and I'd really like to put myself in position to win again. Doing so will start with a good weekend of practice. Come back for a report from the weekend and a preview of next week in a couple days. Thank you for following me and for your support!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tied at the Top with One Round to Go

I wasn't my best in the second round of the eGolf Tour's Forrest Oaks Open this week. Conditions remained cold and breezy, but I didn't handle them as well on day 2 as I had in the event's opening round. In reality, my game still felt fine, but I wasn't as sharp from a ball-striking perspective, and my putting was uncharacteristically poor. Overall, it just led to a quiet day in which I made two birdies and two bogeys for an even-par round of 72. My seven-under-par total has me in a three-way tie for the lead heading into Friday's final round. Though the results weren't there in round 2, I'm very excited about how my game feels. I had a good afternoon of work following the second round, and I'm ready for a great day on Friday. I'm going to be relaxed and trust myself on every shot. I'm going to have fun! Come back for a full report late Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me and for your support!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Relaxed and Ready

I purposely gave myself a day off from golf on Sunday to relax after surviving a demanding week at First Stage. Unfortunately, the weather forced me to take most of the day off on Monday, and then travel concerns ruled the day on Tuesday as I tried to negotiate the snow covered Smokey Mountains on my way to this week's eGolf event in Greensboro, NC. All travel went smoothly, and though I didn't have the practice I would have liked on Monday and Tuesday, I arrived in Greensboro Tuesday evening excited for the Wednesday morning start of this week's event.

Facing bitterly cold conditions and a great golf course (Forrest Oaks Country Club), I teed it up in the tournament's first group with a very conservative game plan and designs of a solid effort in my head. My main goal for the next two weeks on the eGolf Tour is to be relaxed and execute my plan on every shot with no doubts and no fidgeting over the ball. I met that goal in Wednesday's opening round at Forrest Oaks, and I executed my conservative game plan beautifully. I hit 17 greens in regulation on my way to an opening round of 65 (-7). I made eight birdies, and my lone blunder of the day came on an inexcusable three-putt from just ten feet on my 16th hole. I played great other than that mistake. I was relaxed, and I truly did execute every shot fearlessly in round one. It was great and definitely something positive on which I can build heading into Second Stage in a couple weeks.

Before I get ahead of myself, though, I have a great chance to accomplish something good here this week. My opening round has me in the lead, and I know that if I stay relaxed, I can keep it going! I had some solid practice after my opening round, and I'm feeling great about everything. Keep it here for the rest of the action this week. Thank you very much for keeping up with me!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Rest of the Story

So I made it through the First Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying. That in itself is great news, but the way that it happened might just be even better news. I would really like to be able to say that my game and my mindset were great everyday and that I played four steady rounds and easily advanced through the first stage, but that is not quite the way it happened. My game was a bit erratic, and for most of the second round and the early stages of third round my emotions were out of control as well. In the middle two rounds, I was almost overcome with nerves and felt powerless as the fidgetiness returned to my routine and reeked havoc on my comfort level over golf shots. My prospects looked pretty bleak midway through the third round, but I held fast to a couple of my core beliefs and managed to pull myself out of a hole. I am going to give details about how it all played out and what I was thinking throughout the process, but the take-home point for me from this experience is the fact that I faced adversity from both my physical and mental games and managed to overcome them on my way to accomplishing my mission at the First Stage of Q-school. That might prove to be more meaningful in the long run than being in complete control of all aspects of my game and cruising through easily would have been.

Though there is definitely a general sense of heightened pressure that surrounds Qschool, I felt fairly calm and committed to a solid game plan during my opening-round 69. That sense of calm was nowhere to be found on day 2. I know that I control my own thoughts, but I could not reign in my wildly racing mind, and I struggled through a fidgety, uncomfortable, and non-confident round of 73 in round 2. I had a relaxing evening after my round-2 struggles put me behind the eight-ball at the half-way point, but I was greeted by the same out-of-control nervous mindset the next morning when my 3rd-round tee time arrived. I nervously struggled through the opening six holes at even-par before hitting one of the worst drives I can ever remember hitting on the par-5 16th hole (my seventh hole of the round). My ball took off so far off line that it hit trees just fifty yards from the tee box and rattled around in the woods while traveling a distance of only 150 yards. For a very brief moment, I gave up. As I searched for my ball, I felt physically and mentally defeated and, in that brief moment, I didn't think I could recover. When I found my ball (with some help from a group playing the preceding hole), I spent a good deal of time deciding what to do. I chose a very aggressive shot and tried to advance my ball out of the woods and toward the green through a very small opening in the trees. When I pulled off that difficult escape shot, I reminded myself of two of my core beliefs as I walked to my ball.

1.) I have the ability to choose my thoughts, and therefore, with some will power, I can choose to focus on one shot at a time and keep my thoughts in the present.

2.) I am the best putter I know, and regardless of my ball-striking struggles, I have a decided advantage because of my putting.

Keeping these two things in mind does not guarantee that I will always be successful, but in this case, doing so allowed me to turn things around. I was still very nervous, and I continued to fidget more than I want to over shots for the rest of the third round, but I got myself into a mental position to be successful over nearly every shot for the rest of the event. Starting with a great par save on that 16th hole during round 3, I played the final 30 holes in seven under par to get the job done. Despite being in an enormous situation, I was actually at my calmest during the final round. I am proud of that and pumped to be moving on in Qschool.

My game does need some work. Everything was better during the final round, from my driving of the golf ball to my trust level with my fidget-less routine, and I can use that as a great building block as I prepare for second stage. Though confidence is a thought and therefore a choice, it is true that "competence builds confidence." I need to increase my competence as a ball-striker so that the choice to approach each shot with confidence will be easier to make. I will have some quality practice over the next couple weeks, and I will absolutely be firing on all cylinders in mid-November when Second Stage rolls around.

I am going to keep my game sharp with tournament action the next couple weeks as well. The eGolf Tour has two events left on its 2012 schedule, and they will be contested the next two weeks. I plan to play in both and add to what has already been a solid year on that tour. I wrote at the beginning of the year in my "outcome goals" that I wanted to have multiple wins on that Tour. I have but one thus far. Let's see if I can achieve that goal over the next couple weeks.

Equally important will be my pursuit of my process goals for the rest of the year. My putting and short game have really responded well to the focused practice that my goals require, and I am excited to keep up with them. I had a great week of work during First Stage at Callaway Gardens, and while I am sad to say that I actually didn't quite finish all of my goals this past week, I feel comfortable saying that I deserved the day off on Sunday. I will make up for not finishing my process goals last week with diligent weeks leading into Second Stage. My practice has been consistently good most of the year, and I will continue to put in quality work to improve all aspects of my golf.

I am proud, relieved, and very much excited with the way First Stage went last week at Callaway Gardens. This is just the beginning. Great stuff is coming over the next couple months and then well into the future as well. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me! Thank you very much for your support and encouragement along the way!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Moving On: Enough Said ...For Now

There is a lot to say about my last two days at the First Stage of Qschool, but I'm going to keep it short and very sweet for now. I posted rounds of 67 and 70 the last two days to reach 9 under par for the week. It wasn't easy, but my efforts will be rewarded with a trip to Second Stage! I finished tied for 15th and am now one large step closer to reaching my goal of playing on the PGA Tour. Come back to hear about it in more detail Sunday night. I just wanted to share the good news quickly right now. Thank you so much for following me and for your support!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time to Relax

Golf is one of the things that I love to do in life. In round 2 at the First Stage of Q-school at Callaway Gardens, I was letting golf be more than what it is. From the very beginning of the second round, I was treating every shot as if it was life and death. I was nervous and fidgety all day, and I hit some of the worst shots I have hit in a long time. I held it together pretty well and actually had some glimmers of hope on the front nine, but a string of narrowly missed make-able birdie putts left me at even par as I made the turn. On the back nine, my discomfort started to rear its head. I badly missed the fairway with four tee shots on my second nine holes, and I had to do a great job of holding it together in order to post just two bogeys from those errant tee shots. I ended up with a second-round score of 73. I was not in a good place mentally during the round, but I played very hard and am proud of the fact that I didn't blow up to a very high score. As it is, my score definitely has me a bit behind the proverbial 8-ball at the half-way point of Stage 1, but I am in a position where two solid rounds the next two days can still easily get the job done. I had a nice practice session after my round, and I know that I am playing well enough to get the job done this week. I love to golf, and I especially love to play competitive golf. The next two days will definitely be intense competition, but if I can relax and enjoy it, I'll be in good shape. It's time to have fun and play well! Come back and check on me for a good round-3 report Friday evening. Thank you so much for keeping up with me and for your support!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunset on Day 1

The title of this post sounds dramatic, but I'm really just referring to the picture. I am very pleased with how I played and how I felt on day one. I had a frustratingly poor day of ball-striking during my last day of preparation on Tuesday, so I entered Wednesday's opening round knowing that I would have to rely on my greatest strengths--my attitude and putting. I had a good game plan and a great mindset, and I actually hit the ball pretty well. I made just one bogey on the day and never had to scramble very much. My putting felt very solid, but I had a bunch of ten to twenty foot birdie putts that were just a fraction off. At the end of the day I posted a three-under-par opening round of 69. I am feeling good and am ready to play well! Come back for a round-2 report Thursday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Monday, October 22, 2012

Feeling Great at Callaway Gardens

I feel very much at home here at Callaway Gardens. I arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday and had a nice little putting and chipping practice session (during which I finished all of my process goals for last week!). I then put in a very full day of work on Monday. I played a practice round and spent a lot of time on the driving range and putting green. I hit the ball very well on the course but am still not feeling fully comfortable with my ball-striking. My wedge play, short game, and putting are feeling great however, and my ball-striking is decent-trending-towards-good, so I'm feeling great overall. I'll have another productive day of preparation on Tuesday before this show gets underway Wednesday morning. I am excited. This is going to be a fun week. Keep up with all the action right here. Thank you so much for following me!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Last Week before School

This has been a good week. I have gotten in a lot of great work on my golf game, but have also enjoyed a little time away from the course, too. Next week (Wednesday-Saturday) I will play the First Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying (Q-school) at a place called Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. For a mini-tour professional golfer, Q-school is the ticket to golf's highest levels, and I have been preparing for it all year. I am pleased with the year of tournament golf that I have had, and I'm pumped about this week of preparation as I head into Q-school.

I have been so productive with my time this week. I have put a lot of work into my process goals, and with just an easy day of work on Sunday, I will be able to complete them all. My wedge play, short game, and putting are all feeling great. My ball-striking is still not as comfortable as it has been at times, but I'm starting to hit the ball better, and in a couple of friendly matches this week, I have hit the ball adequately. (I know that "adequately" does not seem like high praise, but I have fairly high standards, and if my ball-striking is adequate, I'm going to be in great shape.) All-in-all, my game is feeling very good, and I'm excited to enter "School" this fall.

I've had some relaxing times off of the golf course this week, too. I have spent some fun time with my sweetheart (of four years last Friday!) this week, and we spent this Friday afternoon on a hike in the Great Smokey Mountains. Though I insisted in my last post that I don't need a break from golf, I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend a little time doing other things with my favorite people this week. I am feeling recharged and ready to go!

Enjoy a couple of pictures from my week. This is the fifth green at Holston Hills Country Club and the view from atop Mt. Camerer in the Great Smokey Mountains.

I'll be doing a good job keeping you updated from Georgia, so come back to follow all the action. Thank you for your support and encouragement!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Taking a (Needed?) Break

I don't need a break. I'm not tired, and I'm certainly not "burned out" as I hear some people say, but when I look back over my calendar, I have played a multi-day event each of the last eight weeks and, if you count Monday Qualifiers as a tournament round, have not had a full week away from tournament golf since early in the year. I absolutely love what I do and really never get sick of it, but perhaps it is good timing that I will finally be taking an entire week off right now. I am coming off my worst tournament performance of the year this past week, and though I still feel very confident about my game, I can definitely use a little time to regroup and refocus.

My journey to the PGA Tour hits the most exciting time of the year starting just more than a week from now. The First Stage of the PGA Tour's annual Qualifying Tournament (Q-school) begins for me on Wednesday, October 24, at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. I have spent a lot of time at Callaway Gardens over the past three years and am really looking forward to getting back there.

My game is going to be in good shape for Q-school. In this past week's eGolf event at Northstone Country Club, I was not good at all. Ball-striking woes that have been plaguing me for the past five or six weeks really reared their head, and I compounded them by making a lot of mental mistakes, too. I was just sloppy, and that is the antithesis of the way that I play golf. The day after missing the cut, I went to a course called Irish Creek to have a match with some other good players who had missed the cut at Northstone. Despite hitting the ball just as poorly as I had during the event, I played a bogey-free round of 68 on a very good golf course. I made no mental mistakes and was solid with the putter. If I do those two things, I will post a lot of good scores just like I have all year. My round on Thursday was very encouraging because it was good to see that I do still have the ability to shoot good scores when I'm not playing my best.

I feel like I'm on the verge of getting things back in working order. I have been having some of my very best short game and putting practice the last couple weeks, and I feel great about those areas of my game. In addition to that, I got a very simple tip from Bobbo over the phone after my debacle at Northstone this week, and I am seeing some improvement with my full shots. I am pumped about the weekend of work that I just completed. In addition to finishing all of my process goals with great sessions for my putting, short game, and fitness, I spent a lot more time than usual hitting range balls. I typically try to do most of my full-shot practice on the golf course, but I am excited to say that I feel like I had some productive driving range sessions on Friday and Saturday. I played a few holes on Sunday, and, though I didn't test a lot of the shots in my bag, I seemed to be hitting the ball much better. I don't need to be playing great to have great tournament results, but it sure does make things much more stress-free if I can feel good about the way that I am hitting the ball.

I love tournament golf, but I am excited to have this next week fully away from it. I will get all of my process goals done and will have a great week of practice. I feel like I'm ready for Q-school right now, but I will really be ready for it in a week! It's an exciting time of year, and I am feeling great. Thank you for keeping up with me. Keep it here for updates as I continue to improve.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not a Typo on the eGolf Site

If you've been to the eGolf Tour's website to check for the results of this week's event at Northstone Country Club, you probably think that they must have entered my scores incorrectly. Given the consistency with which I have played this year and the way that I have describing my game as trending in the right direction, it is shocking to see scores of 73 and 77 next to my name, but unfortunately that is  correct. A lot of good streaks came to an end with my poor play in Tuesday's second round. My highest score since February also marked my first missed cut since March. In addition to that, I failed to make a  birdie for the first time in longer than I can remember in the second round. It was a tough day, for sure, and it's impossible to shoot a score like that and not feel a bit worried about things, but I can honestly say that my game feels okay. I had a great afternoon of practice following my second round on Wednesday morning, and I think that I can get things back on track very easily. I want to talk more about my poor rounds here at Northstone and talk about things that I have learned this week, but for now I'm just going to confirm that those were in fact my real scores. I am going to have a great day of practice on Thursday, but please come back in the evening for some analysis of the tournament and an exciting report about what's coming up next. Thank you for following me, and please don't be too disappointed by this minor little setback. Great things are still coming!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Results Coming Soon

I'm in Huntersville, North Carolina (just north of Charlotte) for the eGolf Tour's Northstone Open at Northstone Country Club. I had a great weekend of practice at home and a good day of preparation on site on Monday heading into Tuesday's opening round. I even had a very productive morning leading into my afternoon tee time on Tuesday, but I struggled from beginning to end in the first round. I bogeyed the first hole because of a poor opening tee shot, and a really cold performance on the greens kept me from getting anything going all day. My only awful shot led to a double bogey when I splashed my approach to the par-4 12th hole into a green-side pond, and, though I actually hit some decent shots following that blunder, I did not make any birdies in the closing stretch of my round. In fact, I made just one birdie all day and posted a two-over-par score of 73. I feel good on this golf course and feel like my game is in fine shape, but I am obviously very disappointed with that score. Things weren't really as bad as my score would indicate, though. I know I'm a great putter, but I was icy cold on the greens in round one. If I can stay positive and be committed to a good game plan on every shot in Wednesday's second round, I know that I will putt better and get better results. My game is in good shape. Great things are coming. Keep it here for a good round-2 report in the evening. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Great Weekend of Work

I came home from my tournament this past week with a lot of mixed emotions about my golf game. It has been really great lately the way that I have been able to take some very poor ball-striking and manage it quite well to post some great tournament scores. That is very encouraging, but the fact that I am hitting the ball poorly puts quite a bit of pressure on the rest of my game, and when I made a couple of mental mistakes in my final round of last week's tournament, it was too much to overcome. I posted a lousy score that left me at the bottom of the final-round field. In addition to the ball-striking woes, I have gone back and forth over the past few weeks as to whether or not I am making good progress towards my goal of improving my pre-shot routine and instituting a new "one-look-at-the-target-and-go" approach to hitting golf shots. I was thinking about a lot of things as I made the trip home on Thursday evening, and two thoughts became clear to me. First of all, it is really impressive how good I am at golf to be able to have the successful results that I have in the past four weeks without hitting very many solid shots. Secondly, I needed to have a very good weekend of work.

I have continued to meditate on that first thought, and I am glad to say mission accomplished on the second thought. I really haven't found any major improvements in my ball-striking yet, but I have had some great practice sessions and absolutely nailed all of my putting drills and short game work. I focused a lot on my routine while I was practicing, and I think I have come up with a key to help my improvements take hold. The "feel it" portion of my "see it, feel it, trust it" approach to golf is very important. If I can truly feel the shot that I am trying to execute before I address the ball, one look at my target just confirms that feeling and I am ready to pull the trigger. If I address the ball and am still trying to get the feeling of what I want to do, however, I fidget and take multiple looks at the target before I finally start my swing. Therefore, it is imperative that I feel the shot that I am trying to hit before I take my stance at the ball. I feel like I definitely made great progress towards improving my routine this weekend. My putting and short game work this weekend was some of my best practice of the year. I'm still not sure why my ball-striking is a little bit off right now, but I feel good about everything else and am confident that I will start hitting the ball better, too. Overall, I feel great about my game after the weekend of work that I just completed.

By the way, I was thirty minutes of short game work shy of completing all of my process goals the week before last. That bothered me. I worked really hard to complete my fitness and putting goals, but I didn't get all of my short game work done. Darn it. I made up for it this past week, though. After completing very few of my practice or fitness goals before traveling home on Thursday evening, I worked very hard and efficiently over the weekend to complete all of my process goals. My goals are definitely doing their job. I feel great physically and my game felt good during some highly focused practice sessions. I will get my goals done every week!

I am hitting the road Monday morning for an eGolf Tour event this week at a course called Northstone Country Club just north of Charlotte, NC. The event is Tuesday-Thursday, and Northstone is a course that I know decently well. I will get in a practice round on Monday and will be ready for a great week. I'm excited about my game. I can't wait until something clicks and I start hitting the ball better, but I know that I am good enough to get the results I want even if I'm not hitting it very well. I have a feeling good things are going to happen this week, and I'm nearly certain that great things are coming up in my future. Keep it here to enjoy this fun ride with me. Thank you very much for following me and for your support!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disappointing Result, But Excited Going Forward

I did not get the results for which I was hoping from the final round of the Carolinas Tour's Tour Championship. I mixed in some very poor shots with a lot of mediocre ones on my way to a one-over-par round of 73. On a day with perfect scoring conditions, that is a very disappointing result, but I'm not discouraged. I did make progress with my pre-shot routine, and my iron play and driving of the golf ball still showed signs of improvement. It certainly was a sad way to end the Carolinas Tour season, but the day was definitely not a total loss.

I am now in my East Tennessee HOME for the first time in quite a while, and I am very excited to have a great weekend of practice. I have a lot of work to do on my progress goals for the week and also need to have a quality session with Bobbo to make sure that nothing funky is going on with my mechanics. I know that my game is in good shape and continuing to get better, but I feel like I need a productive weekend of practice just to get that lovin' feeling back.

I will be playing an eGolf Tour event next week at a course called Northstone Country Club just north of Charlotte, NC. I'm riding a little momentum on the eGolf Tour with consecutive fourth place finishes in my last two events, but I think it is time to get back in the winner's circle. It will start with productive weekend of work here in Tennessee, though. Keep it here for a practice report later in the weekend. Thank you very much for following me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Room to Improve But Feeling Good

I made a double bogey on the first hole of my second round. I took two swats at my ball in a fairway bunker on the way to my opening blunder, but I stayed very calm and played another solid round. I hit every green in regulation after the first hole and made five birdies and no bogies over the final 17 holes. My matching rounds of 69 to open the Carolinas Tour's Tour Championship do not have me where I want to be heading into the final round, but I am pleased with the way that I am hitting the ball and feel like my game is progressing.

Only twelve players made the cut here in this small field event, and I am in eighth place and eight shots behind the leader. That means that tomorrow's final round will be a great opportunity for me. I am still not happy with the status of my routine. Three weeks ago when the eGolf Tour opened its fall series of events in Ninety-six, South Carolina, I had my less-fidgety, one-look-at-the-target-and-go routine somewhat ingrained, but for some reason I have not been able to stay comfortable with that over the past few weeks. My non-fidgety routine feels good in practice, but I find myself struggling to stick with it in competition. Thursday's final round will offer me the opportunity to force myself to be uncomfortable and commit to executing my new routine. I need to trust my new routine under tournament conditions so that it can get truly ingrained and comfortable. The reason that this is so important to me is that my See it, Feel it, Trust it approach to hitting golf shots works most effectively if I execute my shot while the image and feeling of the shot that I'm trying to hit are fresh in my mind. I don't know why I'm so uncomfortable pulling the trigger after one look at the target, but I'm going to get there, and forcing myself to do it here in this week's final round will be a great step.

Though I'm definitely not happy that this issue with my routine is something that is causing me such trouble, my game is in very good shape. I'm struggling with a cold putter this week, and I've thrown away a couple of shots with two uncharacteristic mistakes, but I feel like I am still putting well and my ball-striking is starting to come back around. I know that great things are coming this fall!

I am more interested in working on my new routine and committing to it than anything else in Thursday's final round here at the Carolinas Tour's Tour Championship, but don't be surprised if I shoot a good score and climb up that leaderboard a little bit as well. Come back late in the evening for a report from the action. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Encouraging Start at CPGT Championship

As I chronicled in yesterday's post, it has been a long few days to get me to Carolina Lakes Golf Club for the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour's Tour Championship. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on Monday night and had an interesting morning battling I-77 traffic as I completed the journey to the south-Charlotte golf course. I got to the golf course in plenty of time, however, and had a brief but great warm-up session before my 9:50 a.m. start time. After a poor tee shot off the first tee, I started to hit the ball better than I have in quite some time. My putter was fairly cold all day, but I made just one bogey and did manage to make four birdies for an opening-round 69. My iron play was fairly good all day and I hit the driver much more solidly than I have been lately. Neither my game nor my routine were as good as I want them, but I showed a lot of promise on both fronts, and I am encouraged by that. Carolina Lakes is a good test, but scores were pretty good in round one. My round has me four shots back after the opening round of this 54-hole event, but I'm feeling good about things and I think a low one might just come up soon! Keep it here to follow the action. Thank you for supporting me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The (BIG) Ups and (little) Downs of Golf

A lot has been happening in the past week, and I am sorry that I have done such a lousy job of keeping you updated about it all. In the past five days, I have had a pretty dramatic high and a very disappointing low on the golf course, but in between the two, I was able to spend some quality time with some of my absolute favorite people in the world, so I would rate the last few days quite highly despite laying an egg on the golf course on Monday. I still have very little time to write, but I will try to give a brief synopsis of my last five days (and in doing so will explain why I have very little time to write).

It started in Mint Hill, North Carolina, last friday with the final round of the eGolf Tour's Olde Sycamore Open. After recovering from a terrible opening-round 74 with a bogey-free 66 to make the cut, I put up another bogey-free round on Friday and jumped from the back half of the field into a solo fourth place finish with a final-round 64. I still didn't feel great about the way I was hitting the ball, but I had a very good game plan and putted well enough to put up a good number. That round gave me back-to-back fourth place finishes on the highly competitive eGolf Tour despite not having my best stuff. That is pretty exciting!

As soon as my round was over on Friday, I drove up to my sister's new place just outside of Washington D.C. in Ashburn, Virginia. That made for a long day, but it was totally worth it because I got to hang out with my sis, and my parents had driven up for the weekend as well. I wish my sweetheart, Alicia, could have been there, too, but it was pretty darn sweet to spend a weekend with my sister. We spent Saturday outside exploring. In the morning we walked around her new stomping grounds and then headed out west and spent the afternoon in the northern VA Blue Ridge Mountains. It was an awesome day!

On Sunday, I was back to work preparing for the Web.com Tour's Monday Qualifier in Potomac, Maryland. Some strange weather halted my afternoon practice, but I still had a productive day and felt ready to go for the Monday Qualifier. Unfortunately, I didn't perform well on Monday. With my mom caddying and my dad and sister there to watch, I had poor touch on the greens and sprayed some tee shots off line as well. The touch issue caused a three-putt bogey early in the round and then a lost ball on my eighth hole of the day led to a very disheartening triple bogey. I fought hard and ended up posting a one-under-par score of 71, but that was two shots shy of the qualifying number. My game was sloppy and I wasn't mentally sharp enough overcome my poor execution. I am disappointed not to have qualified.

My ball-striking is definitely a bit off right now, but I think I am heading in the right direction. I have obviously posted some very good rounds lately, so I know that I am not too far off, and I believe that I am close to playing my best golf ever. I have not done of good job of sticking to my less-fidgety routine, however. I had it very close to where I wanted it a couple weeks ago in South Carolina, but old habits are dying hard. I will continue to work on it, and both my routine and my ball-striking will be back where I want them in no time.

After failing to qualify on Monday, I decided the best thing for my game right now is to keep playing. I am working through some things, and I need to keep putting them to the test under tournament conditions. With that in mind, I decided to take off Monday afternoon from the D.C. area and head back down towards Charlotte, NC. The Carolinas Pro Tour has its Tour Championship Tuesday-Thursday at a course called Carolina Lakes just south of Charlotte in South Carolina. Though I was nearly 500 miles away at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, I will be there and ready to compete for my 9:50 a.m. tee time on Tuesday morning. I am comfortable on that golf course and am excited to play!

Though my execution hasn't been good lately, my only goal from a performance standpoint this week is to have an intelligent plan on every shot, to commit to that plan, and to trust my new routine. If I do that, I know that good execution is just around the corner. I should be in contention for a win this week.  Keep it here for all the news--I will do a better job of keeping you updated! Thank you for following me!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quick Pre Final-Round Update

It has been a crazy week, and I don't have any time to write right now, but I want to let you all know what has happened at this week's eGolf event at Olde Sycamore. Here is the bullet point version:

After a poor ball-striking performance in the Web.com Tour Monday Qualifier this week, I was determined to clean up my performance and have a great eGolf event. In the beginning, I didn't.

In Wednesday's opening round of the tournament, I was two over par through one hole, three over par through three holes, and four over par through six holes. I battled hard all day, but could manage only a two-over-par round of 74.

I had a good afternoon of practice on Wednesday and had more good work on Thursday morning. I really didn't feel a lot better on the course on Thursday afternoon than I had in Wednesday's first round, but I posted a six-birdie, no bogey round of 66.

I have safely made the cut and will tee it up in Friday's final round at 8:30. I am pumped to still be playing!

It's going to be a busy weekend, but I will definitely be back to give you the final report from Olde Sycamore and information about the exciting stuff that is approaching for me.

Thank you so much for keeping up with me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Good This Monday

There is not a lot of good news from my qualifying round for this week's Web.com Tour event. I hit the ball surprisingly poorly and never gave myself any good birdie looks all day. Luckily, I made a thirty-foot birdie putt on the first hole, or the course would have shut me out. I made two bogeys and just the lone birdie for a non-qualifying score of 73. I'm not sure what exactly went wrong. I felt great about my weekend of practice and felt good heading into my round Monday morning. I was simply out of sorts all day. I drove the ball well enough to shoot a good score, but my iron and wedge play was simply atrocious. It was disappointing while it was happening, and I'm definitely bummed not to be playing on the Web.com Tour this week, but I did a good job of regrouping after my round yesterday and had a fantastic practice session in the afternoon. I'm fully focused now on the eGolf Tour event this week at a course called Olde Sycamore on the east side of Charlotte, NC. The event is Wednesday-Friday, and I expect to have a solid week of work and be in contention coming down the stretch on Friday. Good things are still happening, and great things are coming. Keep it here for all the news! Thank you for keeping up with me!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Great Weekend of Work

After further thought, my body of work at this week's eGolf event was pretty good. To finish in fourth place with a performance that certainly left a lot to be desired is definitely a good outcome. My ball-striking was really quite poor over the final two rounds, and both my routine and my results on the greens were poor in the final round. Given the good finish in the tournament despite the disappointing aspects of my execution, I was motivated to have a good weekend a practice and clean up some of the areas that let me down this past week. I have some exciting opportunities coming up in the next couple weeks, and I really feel like my game is in great shape for them.

I was able to have an excellent weekend practice. I nailed my remaining putting drills and trusted my new routine while dealing with a little bit of pressure towards the end of each. My short game work was also quite good this weekend, and I am really starting to develop some confidence in my chipping. I had struggled with some of my practice goals during the tournament, but I efficiently handled all of my drills this weekend. In addition to that, I had my first full-length, pain-free run since injuring my foot on Saturday morning to complete all of my fitness goals for the week. Therefore, I once again knocked out all of my process goals this past week. I am proud of the way that I have held my commitment to finish my process goals every week, and I plan to keep it up until I am all the way through Q-school.

This will be a fun week with a big opportunity for me. I am playing in the Monday Qualifier for the Web.com Tour's Chiquita Classic in Charlotte, NC. I know that my game is in good enough shape to qualify and play well in the tournament, but because I know that Monday Qualifiers can be a crapshoot, I have also signed up for this week's eGolf event which is also in Charlotte. Obviously, I expect and hope to be competing on the Web.com Tour, but it is exciting to know that I will be playing competitive tournament golf either way. With that said, I really do think that I am playing well enough to make a late season run here on the Web.com Tour. It will all start with a solid effort in the Monday Qualifier.

Come back Monday evening for a report from the Qualifier. It is going to be a great week! Thank you very much for following me!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Friday, September 21, 2012

Final-Round Failure; Still Reasons for Optimism

I owe a full report from Friday's final round of this week's eGolf event, but I just want to give a quick summary of it for now. I felt mentally prepared to give a great performance as I headed into the last round alone in second place and just one shot behind the leader. Unfortunately, I didn't deliver. I drove the ball erratically and wasn't very good on the greens either. I lost control of my mindset at times and definitely didn't stick to my new routine as well as I would have liked. In many ways, it was a disappointing performance. I did, however, have the mental fortitude to play hard through some adversity. Despite being two over par through seven holes, I tried to keep myself fired up about each shot, and I put together a pretty good stretch of golf. Birdies on holes 8, 10, 11, and 17 sent me to the long par-5 18th needing a birdie to force a playoff. A poorly executed second shot left me hitting my third from the unpredictable bermuda rough and my sand wedge shot from just over 100 yards came up about 25 feet short of the hole. It was a make-able putt, but I was too aggressive and hit it through the break and well past the hole. I missed the ensuing par putt for a disappointing bogey finish that dropped me into a tie for fourth place in the tournament. I was disappointed with my finish and with my play in general during the final round, yet I was still in position to win the golf tournament. That is very encouraging stuff! I am going to have a solid weekend of work and get my game and my routine back where I want them. Come back Sunday evening for a more thorough report and to hear about the excitement coming up in the next couple weeks. Thank you for keeping up with me and for your support!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Perfect Test for My Fidget-less Routine

I looked a bit out of sorts all day in round 2. After opening the Egolf Tour's Cabarrus Classic with a very solid round of 64 on Wednesday, I was far from solid in Thursday's second round. I was sloppy off of the tee, mishit a lot of iron shots, failed to hit my wedges close the hole, and was a little uncomfortable on the greens. With all of that, I still managed my game quite well and posted another bogey-free round. I could muster only three birdies, however, and signed for a 69 at the end of the day. I am currently eleven under par for the tournament and alone in second place heading into tomorrow's final round. The leaderboard is quite bunched and there are a plethora of good players within three shots of the leader's twelve-under-par total. The final round will be jam-packed with excitement on Friday, and I am pumped to be in the mix!

I have to admit that I let my mindset get away from me a little bit during the second round. As I made par after par and failed to convert some very reasonable birdie opportunities, I began to press a little bit and try too hard. The greens were fairly bumpy given soft conditions and my afternoon tee time, but instead of focusing on my routine and worrying about my own execution, I was trying to will the ball into the hole over the bumps. For the first time in the last couple weeks, I found myself taking a couple extra looks over some of my putts and fidgeting a little bit again. It wasn't too bad, but I want to nip that in the bud and keep progressing with my new and improved routine.

Friday will be an excellent test for my mental game and my new routine. I will be in the final pairing and will certainly be feeling some added pressure, but if I can stay relaxed and stay focused on my own game, I will be able to execute my new routine easily. I am going to try not to think about my score or my standing in the field at all. I just want to see it, feel it, and trust it on each and every shot and execute fearlessly. It is going to be a fun day, and I am looking forward to everything about it! Come back for a full report Friday evening. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Start at Cabarrus

My game was close to feeling just right in the first round of this week's eGolf event at Cabarrus Country Club. I was fairly comfortable with my new routine and executed really nicely most of the day. I birdied all four par fives and notched four other birdies on my way to a bogey-free opening round of 64. My only shortcomings were a couple of sloppy misses from inside of ten feet on the front nine and a couple of mishit tee shots. I was never in any trouble all day, though, and am very pleased with all areas of my game. My mindset will be the same for round two on Thursday. I need to be committed to my new routine, a good attitude, and patience on the course. I think I can keep improving. Keep it here to follow the action. Thank you!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time to Go!

It has been a soggy couple of days in preparation for this week's Egolf event at Cabarrus Country Club. Rain has doused the greater Charlotte area, but surprisingly, there have been a lot of nice windows during which the rain has subsided or at least lightened enough to get quite a bit of work done. After a productive day on Monday in which I had some good practice and played two-thirds of a practice round, I dodged heavy rains in the morning and played a full practice round Tuesday afternoon. I have started to hit the ball much more solidly over the past couple of days, and my short game and putting continue to feel great. During this week's event, I will once again been focused largely on incorporating my new routine into my golf game and having a great attitude on the course, but I must say that I think I'm ready to be competing at the top of the leaderboard late on the final day. All aspects of my game are continuing to improve, and I know that if I'm patient, great results will come soon. I'm going to be patient this week, and we'll see what happens. I get started at 8:20 in Wednesday's first round. Come back for a good report in the evening. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oops, Delayed Final-Round Report + Week Summary

I never shared the story of the final round from this past week's Egolf event at Star Fort Golf Club in Ninety-six, SC. That's a sad deal, too, because it is a pretty good story. By virtue of the fact that I made the cut right on the number, I earned the privilege to be in Friday's first group off the tee. Playing at 8:00 a.m. in a group with just one other competitor, I had a feeling it might be a good day. Despite a strangely poor warm-up session, I felt great all morning, and even though my opening tee shot missed the fairway wide right, it didn't take me long to settle into a solid final round. I missed some greens in the early going, but my short game was spot on, and I even chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 second hole. Though I never had any great looks for birdie the rest of the front nine, I was able to neatly tap in for par on almost every hole. I made my only bogey of the final two rounds with a sloppy three-putt on the tenth hole, but then came alive and birdied four of the last eight holes for a final-round score of 67 (-5). That round moved me up to a tie for 15th place. It felt great to post a good score and move up the leaderboard a little bit!

The most important take-home point that I will remember from last week's tournament is the great birdie that I was able to make on the 36th hole knowing that my chances of playing the weekend were likely hanging in the balance. I try not to let the cut line or other distractions affect my focus heading into each shot, but of course I felt a little more pressure knowing that I was right around the cut line. In addition to that clutch birdie, I'm excited about the way that my new routine is feeling. I did a great job this week of trusting it, and though I definitely took an extra look at my target a few times and still fidgeted a bit more than I would like to, I made great progress and am encouraged by my effort.

I had a good week of practice during the tournament as well. Star Fort featured beautiful bermuda grass greens that were in fantastic shape. I do that vast majority of my playing and practicing on bent grass greens but will play all three stages of Q-school on bermuda this fall, so it was important to me to have a good week of practice on and around the putting surfaces. I definitely did just that. I nailed all of my putting drills this week and completed all of my short game work quite efficiently as well. My short game work and putting drills are definitely doing their job. I feel like my game on and around the greens is good right now and is continuing to improve. My ball-striking was a bit off this week and has continued to be through some weekend practice sessions, but I know that I will get that back, so I am very excited about the state of my game and the direction in which I feel like it is going.

I did all of my fitness work this week, too, so I completed all of my process goals. I even went for a couple of runs this week, which is something I hadn't done since hurting my foot three weeks ago, and I'm pleased to say that everything is feeling good on that front. My fitness level is holding steady at a high level. It was a solid week of work, and I am feeling great.

I was scheduled to play this Monday-Tuesday on the Carolinas Pro Tour, but that event has been cancelled due to a lack of player interest. That is just as well because I can now turn my attention fully to the Egolf Tour event this week at Cabarrus Country Club. The event is Wednesday-Friday, and I now have two full days to prepare for it. I'm already excited to play, and you can bet that I'll be ready by Wednesday. Keep it here for all the news throughout the week! Thank you for following me!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stressful Solid Day in Round 2

I told myself that I wasn't going to worry about the cut as I played the second round of this week's Egolf event at Star Fort Golf Club in Ninety-six, South Carolina. I began the day at even par, but had a fantastic morning heading into my 1:10 tee time for the second round. "Just relaxed play and commitment to my new routine," I urged myself heading into the round. I started on the back nine and birdied holes 11 and 12 after on opening par on the 10th. Maybe it was going to be an easy day I thought. Wrong. After my hot start, I parred the next 14 holes. Many of the pars were of the routine kind as I actually did play quite solidly, but on a few occasions, I had to work hard and convert some important putts in the 5-8 foot range to keep my scorecard blemish free. Even though I was able to keep the bogeys off the card, I couldn't help but know as I played my final hole of the day that another par was not going to be good enough to make the cut. Facing a dogleg right par four with thick rough and a stand of pines on both sides of the fairway, I carved a nice faded driver into the fairway and proceeded to hit a hard pitching wedge to six feet. I was directly above the hole and faced a scary looking putt. I had completed my six-footer drill during my morning practice session, and I drew from that experience to calmly (somewhat calmly, anyway) roll the putt right into the middle of the hole. The closing birdie gave me a three-under-par round of 69 and allowed me to make the cut right on the number.

Obviously making cuts is not my goal. I expect to be in contention and winning Egolf events, but I am proud of the way that I finished today and know that I can draw on that experience in positive ways moving forward.

The fall events on the Egolf Tour (of which this is the first) are all 54-hole events, so tomorrow will be the final round. I really like this golf course and feel like I'm ready to play a very good round on it, so maybe I will post a good number and shoot up the final-day leaderboard. I know that I will continue to have a good mindset and work on ingraining my new pre-shot routine. Things are feeling good! Come back for a final-round report in the evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Update from Ninety-six, South Carolina

The eGolf Tour is back in action. I drove down to Ninety-six, South Carolina, on Tuesday and had a great day of preparation for this week's event, which is being played at a course called Star Fort. This course is really good. It features fairly tight fairways with thick, penalizing rough and fast bermuda greens. I feel comfortable on the course and had a spectacular day of practice on the bermuda greens Tuesday, so I expected big things from myself when the tournament got started on Wednesday.
I am committed to my new "less fidgety" routine and, after the first round here at Star Fort, I can definitely tell that it is going to be easy to incorporate into my game. Unfortunately, my execution wasn't very good in round 1. I drove the ball poorly, struggled to hit my irons solidly, misjudged a couple pitch shots, and had two disappointing three-putts. With all of that, I stayed very composed and patient all day. I ended up birdieing the final hole for an even-par round of 72.
I will definitely have to post a good number in round 2 if I want to get back in this event, but I believe that I can do that. I'm going to remain committed to breaking in my new routine and also to enjoying myself on the course, and I am confident that good results will follow! Keep it here for more updates along the way. Thank you for following me!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.6

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Change is Good; Exciting Things Coming


It has been a busy week, but I am pumped to say that it has been filled with very productive and important work. At the Carolinas Tour event on Tuesday-Wednesday, a problem that has been slowly growing in my golf game reached a point where I could ignore it no longer. Having to address the problem stressed me out while thinking about it, but once I started working on Thursday, I made quick progress and feel great about things now. The next four weeks are packed with a lot of exciting action, and thanks to an excellent week of practice, I am feeling great heading into them.

The problem in my golf game can best be described as a general “fidgetiness” over the ball. Sports psychologists in golf talk a lot about pre-shot routines, and it is definitely true that having a reliable pre-shot routine is fundamental to a solid mental game. There are conflicting ideas about what a pre-shot routine should be however. Dr. Bob Rotella and many prominent sports psychologists believe that a useful pre-shot routine should be executed the exact same way before every single shot, but Jack Nicklaus believed that a successful pre-shot routine should include anything that enables a player to feel ready to hit the specific shot that faces him or her. I definitely have a fairly set routine that I perform before each and every shot, but I also have adopted a bit of Nicklaus’ philosophy in that I will allow myself some extra preparation on certain shots. Earlier in the year, this “extra preparation” entailed an extra look or two at my target over some shots, but over the course of the year, I have gotten to the point where I’m having trouble pulling the trigger. I will go through my routine, address the shot, and then look at the target many times while waggling the club or taking my left hand on and off the grip. The extra time over the ball affects my commitment to the shots that I am trying to hit. I decided on Thursday that I am going to commit to executing a more consistent pre-shot routine and taking just one look at my target once I address the ball. As long as I create a clear picture in my mind of what I am trying to do with each shot before I address the ball, there is no reason to take more than one look at the target. Because my fidgetiness had become habitual over the course of the year, it was a daunting task trying to make the change, but the uncomfortable feeling has subsided dramatically in just the last four days of practice, and the results have been phenomenal. I feel much better when it’s time to pull the trigger on golf shots now, and I can’t wait to show off my new routine under tournament pressure.

The next four weeks will offer plenty of opportunities for me to get my new routine “battle”-tested. The Egolf Tour kicks off its fall series this week in a town called Ninety-six, South Carolina, and plays the following two weeks in the Charlotte, NC, area. In addition to being back in action on the Egolf tour, I will likely double-up one week and play another event on the Carolinas Tour as well during that stretch. Immediately following the Egolf run, the Web.com Tour plays in consecutive weeks in Charlotte, NC, and Potomac, Maryland, and I plan to get myself into both of those events. It is an exciting time of year, and I am thrilled to keep competing.

I feel like this past week was one of my very best weeks of work I have had all year. Though I played the two-day event on the Carolinas Tour, I committed to achieving all of my non-tournament week process goals, and I was able to do that. My putting practice with my new routine was fantastic, and I saw similarly exciting results with my short game and wedge play. Though my foot is still recovering, I had a great week of workouts as well. I still substituted bike rides for all of my running workouts, but I did do some short sprint work on a hill on Sunday afternoon. My foot is probably ready for me to run on it, but I don’t want to push it. I was very thorough in all of my work this week, and I’m pumped to say that I truly feel like I got better in all facets of what I do.

I’ll hit the road early this week for South Carolina. The Egolf event is at a course called Star Fort and will be played Wednesday-Friday. I’m pumped to be back in Egolf action. At the beginning of the year, I wrote down multiple Egolf wins and the top position on the year-end money list as two of my outcome goals. Though I might be mathematically eliminated from achieving the second of those goals, I’m going to try like crazy to do the first and see how close I can get to the second. Most of all, though, I’m going to commit to my new routine and get comfortable with it in tournament play. It’s going to be a fun week and a great stretch over the next few weeks. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me. Thank you so much for your support and for keeping up with me!

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...