Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One AWFUL Shot; But a GREAT Day

I began the final round in an eight-man tie for the lead at six under par, and can honestly say that I never thought of my standing in the field one time during the round. I don't know if it was because I am continuing to improve mentally or if it was simply that I am so thankful just to be playing after my nearly serious foot injury last week, but I am pumped about the way that I was able to commit to each shot without thinking much about the overall outcome today. The results were quite good, too. Despite a couple of short-range misses on the greens, I was six under par and bogey free through thirteen holes. I narrowly missed birdie putts on holes 14, 15, and 16, but still felt good as I stood on the 17th tee. There I made my only mistake of the day. I hit my tee shot well left of target, and never found it in the woods. I made double bogey on the penultimate hole, and though I followed it with a good birdie on the par-5 18th, my second-round score of 67 and two day total of 133 (-11) finished two shots behind winner. For a brief moment after my round, I was very disappointed with the result. I had played so well but didn't get the victory. After a short bit of reflection, however, I am feeling great. My game was very good in round two. With the exception of a couple of short-ish missed putts and the one dreadful drive on the 17th hole, I played nearly flawlessly. In addition to that, my mindset was fantastic. I definitely wish that I had won the tournament (and collected the winner's check!), but this showing will only continue to enforce that I am doing the right things and heading in the correct direction.

I'm heading home to East Tennessee for the weekend, and I need to have some solid days of practice. I'm definitely pumped about the progress that I'm continuing to make, but I know that I can further sharpen all facets of my game and add more consistency. I'm excited to have some more good work days. Keep it here for a practice report over the weekend and a "what-comes-next" update. Thank you so much for keeping up with me!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quick Round-1 Report

Prior to my 11:36 tee time in the first round of this week's Carolinas Pro Tour event at Cabarrus Country Club, I was afraid that I had tried to return too quickly from my injury scare last week (see yesterday's post). My warm-up session was a bit painful and certainly didn't show a lot of promise. I went to the first tee, however, convinced that I was going to have a good day. Six lousy shots later I finished the very easy par-five opening hole, and felt momentarily discouraged. I managed a bounce-back birdie on the second hold, but could manage only pars on the next five holes to stand at even par through seven holes on a very benign golf course. I switched balls on the eighth tee and told myself I was going to win this tournament. I believed it, too. I made four birdies and eagle over the next eleven holes and posted an opening round of 66--six under par. My name is on top of the leaderboard heading into the second round of this 36-hole event, but I have got plenty of company. A full eight players matched my score and several others are within just a few shots. The final round promises to be full of action, and I am excited to be a part of it. I told myself I was going to win, and I believe that I will. No matter what happens, I am thankful that I am able to play. Come back for some exciting news after the round tomorrow! Thank you for keeping up with me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Scare from Last Week; Ready to Go Again

In addition to a fairly solid round of 68 in the second round of last week's Carolinas Pro Tour event, there was a much bigger story from last Thursday that I did not tell on here. To make a long story short, I was dangling my foot outside of the golf cart (The Carolinas Tour uses carts for its events) as I sped from the fourteenth green to the fifteenth tee and got my foot caught against a rock as I looked excitedly toward the tee of the approaching par 5. It was evident that I had done some serious damage to my foot, but I was instantly encouraged by the fact that I could still put some weight on the foot and half-ways make a golf swing. I painfully finished the four holes of the tournament and got a bag of ice for my three-hour drive home. When I arrived home, I could only hobble. My physical therapist, Dr. Laura Malnati, is a darn good one, and we talked extensively over the phone about what I felt and the motions that I could and could not make with my foot, toes, and ankle. She confidently diagnosed that no bones were broken and that I had just really aggravated and overstretched some of the muscles in my foot. She prescribed me to try my best to keep the foot in motion but cautioned against overdoing it. It would heal itself she assured, but it would take some time before the muscles calmed back down and the pain subsided. I have been a good patient, and, despite not being able to walk the first two mornings after it happened, I am now walking with very little pain and even walked a full nine holes this (Monday) afternoon. I am very relieved to see that this injury is nothing severe, and I feel very lucky. From now on, I will be following that stupid warning written in all golf carts to "keep arms and legs inside the cart at all times while in motion." :)

I vowed three weeks ago that I would finish my process goals every week until I am all the way through Q-school. Given that I hadn't made much progress on them last week before suffering my injury, I didn't like my odds of keeping that promise. I am really pumped up to say, however, that with a lot of work on the putting green and some very quality time spent working on my chipping, I was able to finish all of my practice goals on a bum foot over the weekend. Even more exciting is the fact that I was able to have a good workout on Saturday and then substituted my final run of the week with a 17-mile bike ride on Sunday. The bike ride was something new for me, but I have a family of experts in that area. Though my butt hurts from the ride, my body feels awesome and I am proud to say that I did complete every single one of my process goals last week. It was a good feeling, and I really do feel like I made great progress while I was hobbling over the weekend. 

I felt so good on Sunday that I decided I was going to play this week on the Carolinas Tour again. I was leaning towards withdrawing on Saturday and still felt that way until late in the day on Sunday, but as I hit some long bunker shots towards the end of the day, I noticed that I was getting to my left side fine on my injured foot. I hit just one full shot on Sunday, but it felt good, and I knew that I was good to go. I practiced in Dandridge on Monday morning, had another great bike ride over the lunch hour, and hit the road for Charlotte, NC, in the early afternoon. I arrived in time to play a quick nine holes before dark at a course called Northstone, and both my foot and my game felt good! 

This week's Carolinas Tour event is at a course called Cabarrus Country Club. It is Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am ready for it! Though I didn't play a practice round at the course, I know it decently well and am confident that I can play it well. Most of all, I'm just excited to be playing. It should be a great tournament with another strong field. Keep it here to follow the action. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

67, 67: 135??

The Carolinas Pro Golf Tour website shows in the final results that I posted matching rounds of 67 for a nine-under-par total of 135. Unfortunately for me, they have the total correct, but my second round was actually a 68, and the nine-under-par total left me in a large tie for sixth place. I am quite pleased with how I played even though that result certainly does not thrill me. I played solidly in the second round. I was very happy with how I putted, but I did miss a tap-in par putt on the sixth hole to make my only bogey of the day and thwart my front-nine momentum. I also watched sadly as a number of very well-rolled birdie putts caressed the hole before missing on the back nine. I was close to shooting a very good score both days, but I still see my 67, 68 showing as a continuing step in the right direction. The great news about these rounds is that I finally have something to show for my efforts. While good scores often leave a professional golfer empty handed in Monday Qualifiers, it feels good to say that my consistent effort the past two days has earned a paycheck. I am excited to be competing and even more excited by how good my game feels. I say this all the time, but great things are coming! Please continue to follow the journey with me. Thank you very much for your support!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Round 1 of the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour Event at Cowan's Ford

I would have been excited to tee it up this week even if I were playing an event with a small and week field, but the Carolinas Pro Tour field this week is neither. I am pumped about this tournament. After playing a solid practice round at Cowan's Ford Country Club on Tuesday, I was feeling great for my afternoon tee time in Wednesday's first round. I opened with a birdie on the short par-5 first hole but followed that with two pars for a pretty mundane start. Birdies on five of the next six holes, however, got me to six under par at the round's half way point, and I felt like I could keep it rolling. I maintained a fairly high level of play on the back nine, too, but unfortunately did not continue to get the ball in the hole nearly as efficiently. I hit two bad shots on the back nine par threes, and suffered a bogey each time. Despite some very good iron shots, I could muster only one back-nine birdie and had to settle for a round of five-under-par 67. I am pleased with how everything felt, but it is definitely disappointing to feel like I squandered a chance for a very low score. I am still incredibly excited to be competing and cannot wait to tee it up again in the second round of this 36-hole event.

Others in the field did not squander the opportunity to shoot a low score. There was a 61 in the first round, and a full nine players in the 56-man field shot 66 or better. Scoring was incredible. I feel like I can post a very good number in round 2, though, and I plan to do that. Come back late Thursday evening for a final-round report. Hopefully I'll have some exciting stories to share! Thank you for following me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Exciting Failure

The Monday Qualifier for this week's Tour event in Knoxville, TN, is only a failure in terms of the final result. I didn't qualify, and, in fact, I wasn't even very close. I shot a 67 (-4) and finished tied for 9th, a full three shots behind the qualifying score required by this rare two-spot qualifier. That only tells half the story, however. Despite a balky driver and a strange missed putt from just three feet, I made seven birdies and posted another good score in a monday qualifier. I feel like I am swinging very well right now, and I am getting closer and closer to my usual confident self on and around the greens. I definitely wasn't my best today, but I saw a lot of positives from my game and things are feeling very good.

I am ready to play a golf tournament. I am going to play this week and next on the Carolinas Pro Tour. This week's event is Wednesday and Thursday at a course just north of Charlotte, NC, called Cowan's Ford. The Carolinas Tour is definitely a smaller mini-tour, but the field for the events the next couple weeks will be fairly large (near 50 players) and very talented. I am very much looking forward to the competition. My scores lately haven't been good enough to Monday qualify, but I think my consistency will be rewarded in tournament play. Also, I think my game is trending upward. I will definitely be amped for this week's event, but my mindset will be good. It's going to be great!

In addition to playing the event, I am going to continue to stay committed to my practice and fitness goals. I am feeling great right now, and I'm going to keep it going. Keep it here for all the news! Thank you for following me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The End of Great Week of Practice; Time for a Great Week of Action

I was very thorough this past week. I completed all of my process goals and feel like my game really improved. My short game and wedge play are definitely a work in progress, but I can tell that I am heading in a very good direction. My putting drills made me work hard last week, but I completed all of them and feel very good about my stroke. In addition to my practice, I have had great workouts and runs the past couple weeks, and despite a long day in the car on Thursday, I feel as good as ever. I designed my process goals so that I can get the most out of my work weeks, and the last two weeks have been a great example of just that. Though I don't believe that my game has been that far off the past six weeks, I can definitely tell that I am improving, and that is an exciting feeling.

I can't guarantee good results, of course, but I feel like my preparation has me a in a good position to play very well in the near future. Tomorrow (Monday) is the Monday Qualifier for the Knoxville, TN, Tour event. I qualified for this event in 2010 and played quite well in front of a great home town crowd. I know that my game is ready to do that again and even improve upon it, but the qualifier will be a great challenge this year. The start of the PGA Tour playoffs has slashed the number of Monday Qualifier spots for this week's Tour event from the usual seven to just two. I am playing at Willow Creek Golf Club, and I know that it will take a very good performance to qualify. I am ready to deliver, though, so I am excited to play tomorrow! Regardless of what happens in the qualifier, I have a lot of tournaments on my calendar in the coming weeks, and I can't wait to tee it up in something longer than a monday qualifier!

My game is good, and I am really enjoying myself. I can't wait to go compete. Come back for an update Monday evening, and keep it here to enjoy some exciting tournament action with me! Thank you for following me. I really do appreciate your support.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Time to Get Back in the Groove

My game is in good shape. I definitely experienced a bit of a doldrums type of feeling throughout the second half of July, and my failure to qualify the last three weeks on the Tour has extended that feeling. In reality, though, my game has really felt good the past couple weeks. I am excited to keep improving, and I can't wait to get back to competition.

I briefly mentioned the "Rule of 1/3's" in a former post, and I think that theory deserves a bit more explanation in light of my recent results. The Rule of 1/3's states that an athlete's performances will be poor one third of the time, average one third of the time, and good one third of the time. Obviously varying degrees exist within these three categories, but all performances fit into one of the three. The implication of this theory is that no amount of practice and preparation will eliminate poor or average performances. With that said, the mission of practice is not to eliminate poor performances, but rather to improve the standard of average. If what was once good can become average, then the level of both good and poor performances improves to a new level. That is why I practice. I know that I will not play well all of the time, but if I can continue to improve what is my "average," I will be on my way to achieving all of my goals.

In light of the Rule of 1/3's, let's briefly look at what has been a disappointing last six weeks. I shot 70, 65, 70, 70 to finish T27th in the Egolf Tour's Southern Open. The next week, I shot 72, 69, 73, 71 to finish T32nd in the Egolf Tour's River Landing Open. Then I shot 70, 72, 71 to finish T7th in the Missouri State Open. The past three Mondays I have posted scores of 69, 68, and 71 to miss three Tour Monday Qualifiers. My performances have definitely been somewhere from the high side of poor to the low side of average during that stretch, but those results are really not that bad. I have definitely improved my standard of "average" and am continuing to improve. I know that I am going to start playing well again soon, and the results are going to be special.

I am now back home in Dandridge, TN. I had great days of work in Missouri on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a safe travel day home on Thursday. I resumed my good work with a solid afternoon of practice on Friday at Dandridge Golf Course. I am well on my way to finishing all of my process goals this week, and everything is feeling good.

I am going to have an efficient weekend during which I balance some good work with some relaxation time. I will finish all of my process goals and will be getting myself ready to get back to action next week. The Tour is in Knoxville next week, and though the number of Monday Qualifying spots has been slashed from the usual seven to just two, I will enter the Monday Qualifier with confidence. I am ready to play tournament golf and I'm ready for the Tour.

Stay tuned for a weekend report and an update before the qualifier on Sunday evening. Great things are coming; keep it here to enjoy them with me! Thank you for for following me!

Monday, August 13, 2012

One More Week of Practice...

I did not qualify for this week's Tour event in Kansas City. The qualifying course, Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence, KS, suited me perfectly and some difficult windy conditions should have only added to my advantage, but I struggled to feel comfortable and had to battle all day. I was never over par for my round but never had it any lower than one under par, which is where I finished the day. My score of 71 was close enough to keep my attention for most of the day, but in the end, the 70's were playing off for the last qualifying positions. My game is in good shape, but I never let myself relax enough to execute freely on Monday. I wanted to qualify badly, but I know the key to playing my best is finding that balance of focus and relaxation. I was trying a little bit too hard this Monday, but I'm still excited about the status of my game.

This will be a good week for me. I will spend a lot of time practicing, and will also evaluate my options and come up with a schedule for the next two months leading into Q-school. I know that I will be playing next Monday in the qualifier for the Tour event in Knoxville, but beyond that, I'm not sure where I will be playing. I am planning on qualifying next week and getting myself on a little Tour run! Regardless of what happens next week, I will definitely have a lot of tournaments on my schedule in the coming weeks. My game is in really good form right now, so I am excited to compete.

Despite the disappointing news from Kansas City, this is going to be a very productive week for me! Keep it here for some good updates along the way. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Short Summary of a Big Week; Time to Monday Qualify

When I wrote my manifesto "Belief in My Method" (last Sunday's post), I ended it with a promise to myself and anyone who cares that I will finish all of my process goals each week from now until the end of this competitive season. I left no doubts about doing that this past week. I had some of my most focused and highest quality practice sessions of the year, and was actually done with all of my non-tournament week practice goals by early afternoon on Friday. In addition to thorough practice sessions, I also had a great week of workouts and had plenty of time for a couple of very competitive "friendly" matches on Thursday and Friday. My hard work paid dividends in the matches as I played very well in a winning effort on Thursday and then prevailed in a head-to-head showdown with current a Mizzou All-American on Friday. In both matches, I felt really good on the course. It was one of my most productive weeks of the year, and, yes, I did finish all of my process goals!

My game is starting to feel very good again. I am currently in Kansas City, Kansas, and will tee it up Monday morning in Lawrence, Kansas, in the Monday Qualifier for this week's Tour event. I know that anything can happen in a one-day, 18-hole qualifier and that I have to be very process oriented and not think about the outcome, but with all that said, I feel like I am ready to have a good result. I am playing Alvamar Country Club for the qualifier. It is an incredibly tricky and tight layout, but it is the kind of course that rewards good strategy and precise execution. It also will reward patience and consistency. It is right up my alley! I tee off at 8:11, and I am ready to play well. Come back for a good report in the evening.

Thank you for keeping up with me! I appreciate your support.

Monday, August 6, 2012

DNQ in Springfield, MO, but Feeling Awesome!

"DNQ" means did not qualify, and that pretty much tells the outcome of my Monday in Springfield, Missouri, where I was trying to earn a spot in this week's tour event, but to consider my performance a failure would be downright wrong. (By the way, if you haven't read my post from Sunday, go check that out.) I was playing on Monday with a brand new feeling of conviction, and though my execution wasn't always great in the qualifier, my mindset was and I had myself in a great position to be successful. Some really good decisions coupled with a lot of trust in my game allowed me to play holes 5-12 in five under par, and that is where I stood for the round when I faced a fairly easy 25-foot birdie putt on the fourteenth hole. I was a bit too aggressive with the birdie putt and missed it on the high side, but then made what felt like a solid stroke on the ensuing three-foot par putt, but the ball veered just right of my intended line and lipped out. Undaunted, I continued to to execute well over the closing four holes, but a bit of a bad break led to a bogey on the 17th hole and a very anti-climactic birdie on the par-5 finishing hole left me with a four-under-par round of 68. I feel a tinge of disappointment to have been in such good position and not finished the job in the qualifier, but I am very happy with how I felt on the course. My execution was really not that great all day, but I was still in position to qualify and still shot a solid score on a very good course. I am excited and feel like my round today could be the start of an exciting stretch. I have the remainder of this week to practice (and you can bet I will!), and then I'll head to Kansas City next week for another shot at a Tour Monday Qualifier. I feel great, and I think my game is going to be better than ever again very soon. Keep it here for practice reports throughout this week. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Belief in My Method

I have had a busy week. After coming up short in last week's Monday Qualifier for the Tour event in Omaha, Nebraska, I returned to Columbia, Missouri, for a week of good practice. On Tuesday afternoon, I consulted a former teammate of mine in hopes that he could offer me a bit of help on my chipping. I trust his opinions and knowledge of golf mechanics, but I wasn't exactly ready for the overhaul that he was going to suggest to me. The basic gist of what he said was this: "Peter, you pick the club up to the outside with you arms which causes your shoulders to tilt instead of turning... then in order to get back to impact you have to slide your hips forward and dip your right shoulder." And here was the real kicker: "You do the same thing in your full swing," he added. For a golfer who tries very hard to avoid thinking about mechanics or technique, it was an intimidating diagnosis. I took what he said seriously, however, and spent the entirety of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning trying to make my backswing a simple body and shoulder turn while keeping my hands and arms inactive. Trying to incorporate the change made for some long and frustrating days of practice and forced me to do some serious searching in my golf soul.

Sometimes it takes a little adversity to create or reinforce our convictions, and the tough days of practice that I have had in the past week have done just that for me. As my struggles during practice forced me to think more and more, I had a couple epiphanies. First of all, I re-identified the greatest strength of my golf game. It's not my driving, my iron play, my short game, or my putting. My greatest strength is my attitude and the thought process with which I approach tournament golf. Secondly, I remembered the greatest golf lesson that I have ever learned, which is that there is no such thing as a perfect golf swing. The reason that Bobbo (Bobby Bray, my long-time coach) works so well for me is that his advice always attempts to build on things that I already do. In essence, he is a an extremely knowledgeable golf pro who knows what my golf swing looks like when it is working well and can help me keep it there more consistently. Confirming these two notions (my mind is my greatest strength and my golf swing can only ever be perfect for me) set me free to finally truly believe something that I have said for quite some time.

There is no such thing as right or wrong method, but belief in one's own method is essential for success. My method is simple, but after a week of mental, physical, and emotional struggle, I believe in it more strongly than ever right now. My method is a simple three-step phrase coined by Dr. David Cook: "See it, Feel it, Trust it." I need to formulate an intelligent plan before each shot and then visualize what I want that shot to look like. I then need to let my body feel the action that will create that shot I have pictured. Finally, I need to let go of all mechanical thoughts and trust myself to execute the feeling. My mind is my greatest strength on the golf course. Why would I let anything else be the most powerful part of my method? See it, Feel it, Trust it. That is my method. I believe in it thoroughly.

I do think that is very important to have sound fundamental mechanics in order to play golf, and I do believe that the suggestion that I got last week was certainly good advice. In fact, I will try to incorporate a bit more body turn into the first couple feet of my backswing, but it is important for me to know that my method of playing golf will never be based on specific swing thoughts or even on more generic swing philosophies. I will always be striving for ways to become better and more consistent, and I know that improving my mechanics is a part of that process, but when it comes to hitting golf shots in meaningful situations, I need to be able to clear my mind and trust my body.

In hindsight, what a great week it has been! I have learned so much, and I feel great right now.

I am in Springfield, Missouri, and am ready to play in the Monday Qualifier for this week's Tour event here. My game is a little bit of a mess right now because of the clutter in my brain this past week, but I feel like that problem is on the way out. I have low expectations from an execution standpoint heading into the Monday qualifier, but I expect that the mental clarity with which I approach every shot will be superb. I am going to give myself a chance to execute well over each and every shot, so maybe I'll get a pleasant surprise from my golf game. No matter what happens, I am thankful for the week of struggles that I have just completed and am pumped for the plethora of exciting opportunities that await in the near future. I play at 10:45 at Rivercut Golf Course in the Monday Qualifier, so come back for some good news in the evening.

Also, as a side note and a challenge to myself, I was fairly thorough with my process goals this past week, and did have a great week of putting practice, but I missed a sprint workout and also did not do the required distance-control work with my wedges defined in my non-tournament week process goals. I am pleased with everything about last week, but from today through the end of the final stage of Q-school this winter, I vow to complete my process goals each and every week. My process goals will get me to my outcome goals, and I am going to keep up with them.

Thank you so much for following me and supporting me and believing in me. I really appreciate all of you!

New Blog Site

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