Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Stick Report

I sat inside yesterday (Wednesday) and watched a deluge outside. I was bummed because my practice is feeling so good that I just want to have more of it, but given the severe nature of the storms that affected a lot of areas in the Southeast, I am thankful that nothing too crazy happened around here. A day off here and there is actually very good for me, and I can still be productive in the house. “Productive” is certainly a good work to describe my last few days, and I am really feeling good about things.

I had an efficient practice session on Sunday morning during which I polished off the work goals that I had remaining last week. Sunday afternoon was a travel day, and my caddy—my mom :)—and I drove down to St. Simons Island, GA, where on Monday morning, I had an appointment at the club fitting center at Sea Island Golf Club. It had been two years since I was last fit for my golf clubs, so it was nice to check out all of the new offerings and re-check all of my specifics. I was hitting the ball well during my fitting, so I feel like I was able to get some accurate information. It turned out that most of my clubs were still pretty much right for me, but I did find a new three-wood that gave me improved performance. In addition to that, I switched to a different set of irons and changed to a new shaft in my irons. Here is a list of all the new goodies that are coming my way in the next week or so (I’ll give the full detailed report here for those of you who care, but I honestly don’t know much about any of these fancy shafts and such):

Driver: 913 D3; 8.5 degree; Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black 70X

3 wood: 913 F; 13.5 degree; Aldila RIP Alpha 80X

Hybrid: 913 H; 19 degree; Fujikura Speeder 904H X

Irons: 4-PW; 712 AP2; Project X Pxi 6.5; 2 degrees upright; 4-iron one degree strong

           Also 4i & 5i; 712 AP1; Project X Pxi 6.5; 2 degrees upright

I’m very excited to get the new irons because they are going to be much more forgiving than my current set without sacrificing any performance. I am definitely all about irons that can help make golf a little easier for me, and that is why I also tried out some AP1 long irons. The AP1 is a very big iron with a huge sweet spot and a hot face. I’m not sure whether or not I will use the bigger long irons, but it will be nice to have the option.

Though I was hoping to find some equipment that would give me an extra 50 yards off the tee, I am very happy with the way that my fitting went. I am excited to get my new tools!

For now it’s time to get back to work. The travel day on Monday afternoon and the washout yesterday have me a little bit behind on my practice for the week, and cold temperatures promise to make the rest of the week challenging, but I like a challenge. Two weeks from today is the first round of my first tournament of 2013. I feel very good about my preparation, but I need to have solid work the next couple weeks. I will be ready.

Come back over the weekend for a progress report. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Good Practice

This has been an encouraging week of work for me. I had a friendly match with one of my best buddies on Monday afternoon, and in addition to that, I struggled through some cold and difficult practice sessions on both Monday and Tuesday. I was feeling a little frustrated because I hadn't been able to complete as many of my drills as I would have liked through Tuesday, but when I had a competitive match at Holston Hills Country Club on Wednesday, I saw evidence that my tough days of practice are working. In cold and breezy conditions on a soft golf course, I hit every green in regulation and shot a great score of 67 (-5). In addition to that, I made a valuable birdie on the last hole to help me come out a little more on top in the match. I had another tough practice session on Thursday and then spent Friday inside as East Tennessee had to battle an ice storm. I had a lazy day during the ice storm, but responded with a great day of practice on Saturday. My putting and short game felt as good as they have all year on Saturday, and my ball-striking is feeling great as well. It is nice to see that the frustrating days of practice are leading to progress in my golf game. I love to practice, and it is very fulfilling to see good results from hard work. Though I haven't quite reached the start of my competitive calendar, I can already see good results from my golf game. I am feeling great!

Heading into Sunday, I need one more putting drill and just 15 minutes of short game work to complete all of my weekly work goals. I will get them done, and that is a great feeling given the fact that I had a slow start to the week and had a spend all of Friday inside. I am pumped about my weekly goals this year, and though I expect to complete them every single week, it is still a nice accomplishment. (By the way, I'll come back early next week and confirm that I did in fact finish my work on Sunday!)

I do have to confess, though, that I'm likely going to come up short in one area of my work goals. I have a section under my short game work called "Tri-weekly requirements." One of these requirements is that I make at least three bunker shots every three weeks. I have yet to make a single bunker shot, and Sunday is the final day of my first three-week block of the year. With that said, though, I am very excited about this section of my goals. I now have a different type of focus when I practice my short game. Though I haven't had any of my bunker shots actually go in, I have had them dancing all around the hole. I know that at some point this year I am going to hole a bunker shot in a clutch situation in a tournament. I may come up short on this goal during this three-week block, but I am going to remain adamant about completing it moving forward.

My practice is going very well! I have had some tough and frustrating days, but I am definitely seeing great progress. I am really feeling ready to go compete, but I'm glad I still have a couple more weeks to further sharpen all areas of my game. One area that I am going to sharpen is my equipment. I am very thankful to have the support of Titleist behind me, and on Monday I am going to Sea Island in Georgia to go through a Titleist club fitting. I'm not sure what, if any, changes I'll make, but it will be good to know that I have the best stuff for me in my bag. I'll give you an update on that early next week as well.

Thank you for keeping up with me. Great things are coming, and I'm excited to have all of you to share it with me! Keep it here for practice reports and other news.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Time for a New Week

I'm disappointed to say that I wasn't able to finish all of my work goals over the past seven days. I think the weather is a legitimate excuse, but I wish that I could have been a little bit more efficient with my putting drills when the sun finally did allow me sneak in some practice over the weekend. I struggled for a long time to complete my first three-footer drill, and that cost me a lot of valuable time after rain and snow kept me indoors for almost all of the work week. I'm pumped about the work that I was able to complete this weekend. I did both of my ball-striking drills despite having to shag my own balls out of snow-covered fairways, and I did managed to complete 3 putting drills and 3 hours of short game work. In addition to that good practice over the weekend, I had a great week of fitness work. Despite being cooped up in the house for much of the past seven days, I feel like I had a very productive week. I am ready to bundle up and have some great practice in the coming days. There is a couple-day cold snap coming to East Tennessee, but it is supposed to be sunny, so I am pumped!

Things are feeling good. I signed up for my first events of the year this morning. I don't start until mid-February, but I know that the next three and a half weeks will fly leading up to that first event. My work the next few weeks will set the tone for the year, and I am going to get off to a hot start.

Keep it here for practice reports and more information as I get ready to start an exciting year. Thank you very much for your support!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good Week for Indoor Work + A Look Ahead

Malnati Family Resort


I was bragging on my East Tennessee weather in my post about last week. I spoke too soon. After receiving more than six inches of rain from late Sunday evening through mid-day on Thursday, the temperatures turned cold a couple hours before the rain system finally moved out of Tennessee on Thursday evening. The result is a winter wonderland currently sitting atop the same ground that saw temperatures in the mid-70s just five short days ago. 
Mini snow-man. I named him Herb.


My friend William Harrold and I trudged out into the rain and played 7 holes on Monday, and I captured one of the few dry hours of the week to sneak in some practice on Wednesday afternoon, but other than that, I have been doing a lot of indoor activities this week. I definitely would prefer to be putting in full days at the golf course, but I can do some things to get better indoors, and this gives me a good opportunity to further organize myself and my plans for the year.

I am planning to have the busiest and best year of my career in 2013. I have once again joined the eGolf Professional Tour and will certainly play a fairly full schedule on that circuit. In addition to that, however, I have also decided to join the NGA Tour (formerly the "Hooters Tour"). The NGA Tour is the oldest developmental tour in the United States. I am excited to be playing both tours this year because I will have the opportunity to play I highly competitive golf tournament nearly every week if I choose to do so. The NGA Tour will also offer a nice bit of variety to my schedule. The eGolf and NGA schedules offset decently well, and I will be able to play a good deal on both. As you can see in my Outcome Goals for 2013, I truly believe that if I play the full year on mini-tours in the USA, I can be the leading money winner on both tours.

The "if" in that last statement hints at some of my other possible plans for 2013. The PGA Tour announced last fall that it will take over operations of the Canadian Tour starting in 2013. Little information has been released about the details of qualifying for the PGA Tour Canada (as it is now called) or its schedule for the year, but it has been made clear that the top five on the tour's year-end Order of Merit will earn status on the 2014 Tour. That perk alone is enough to make the PGA Tour Canada an intriguing option. Much remains to learned and options weighed before anything becomes official, but I will definitely entertain the thought of attending qualifying for the PGA Tour Canada and spending the summer months competing there.

In addition to that, I will attempt to take a more domestic route to the Tour. Though I have heard it rumored that Monday Qualifier entry fees have been raised considerably, I will play in every Tour qualifier that makes logistical sense. I have proven that I can compete at that level, and Monday Qualifiers offer the opportunity for a breakthrough at any time. I definitely think I can play my way onto the Tour during the year, and I will be trying to do so.

There are still a great many unanswered questions heading into my 2013 competition calendar, but one thing is for sure: I am going to play a lot of tournament golf. I know that it is possible to overdo it, and I promise to be cognizant of that as the year goes on, but for now I am very excited to get started. I will post my planned events for the first couple months of the year in the tab above labeled "2013 Schedule". I will try to do a good job of keeping that tab updated a couple months in advance as plans become more concrete for the year. As of right now, I know I'll be starting the year with a couple months of mini-tour action here in the States, and I plan to get some winning ways going early!

Back to the present. Please check for a practice report at the end of the week. I'm going to try hard to finish my work goals for this week, but I'll need a major assist from some warm sunshine and then an incredibly productive weekend. I'm not one for excuses, but the pictures above are my evidence of this week's challenge! I feel great, and it's going to be a very good year. Thank you very much for keeping up with me and for your support!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week One Done; It's Going to Be a Great Year

The East Tennessee weather could not have been more cooperative for the first week of work in my 2013 golf campaign. I established my goals for the year last week and stated that January 7 would be the beginning of my work year and the day that I would begin being accountable for weekly practice goals. I had fantastic January weather the past seven days and am incredibly pleased with the way my first official week of practice went. I finished all of my work goals, and my golf game showed some very positive signs. I feel confident that the past week is the start of what is going to be a very good year for me.

I played a lot of golf over the past week. I had two big matches to start the week on Monday and Tuesday at Holston Hills Country Club. I played fairly well in both matches, posting scores of 69 and 68. Tuesday's match was pretty intense, and my 68 actually cost me a little bit of money. I definitely had my competitive juices flowing, though, and it felt like tournament golf. I was able to have more matches the rest of the week as well. One of my former college teammates, Englishman Will Harrold, is spending a week and a half with me as he prepares for his second year of professional golf in Europe and Asia. We played a nine-hole match at Millstone, a great match at The Country Club and then two matches at Dandridge Golf Course over the weekend. After struggling on the front nine at The Country Club, I was battling hard to come back against Will, but he matched my four-under-par performance on the back nine to claim a victory from me on Thursday. I got him over the weekend at Dandridge, though. I actually had a golden opportunity to shoot 59 on Saturday as I arrived at the par-5 finishing hole needing just a birdie to reach the milestone. A nervous tee shot forced a lay-up, though, and an overly amped-up wedge for my third traveled too far. I lipped out a long-ish putt for the 59 and had to settle for a 60. Dandridge Golf Course is not an overly demanding track by any means, but I'll take a 60 on January 12th. My game showed positive signs every day this week, and I definitely feel like things are heading in the right direction.

In addition to the matches, it was a solid week of practice. I had a couple of good range sessions and did some positive work with Bobbo as we continue to hone some slight changes to my golf swing. My putting work was very good this week, and I'm excited to be back in good habits with my short game practice. I did a good job of maintaining my fitness over the Holidays, but I like my workout goals for 2013 and feel like I executed them very well in week 1. The past week was thorough, and I am pumped about the standard it has set for the year.

Great things are going to happen this year. I plan to play more than ever before, and I know that my game will rise to the occasion. My schedule will look a little bit different (in an exciting way) in 2013, and I promise to unveil my competitive plans for the year within the next week.

Thank you very much for keeping up with me. I really do appreciate your support. Keep it here for more practice reports and that preview of my 2013 schedule!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Go Time 2013!

I hope that you were all able to see the exciting news from my previous post. I am an engaged man, and I have one heck of a fiancé! I don't want to belittle the importance of that in the least because I am still incredibly excited about it, but it is time to get back into the habit of being a full-time professional golfer. Fortunately, I absolutely love what I do and have a fiancé who works just as hard as me and supports me completely, so the fact that I am getting back to work is nothing but good news!

My year of work officially begins on Monday, January 7. After a lot of thought over the past couple of days, I have completed my 2013 Goals and have published them in the tab above titled "Goals for 2013". At first glance, my goals for this year look quite similar to the ones I had in 2012. I have definitely modeled this year's goals after last year's. Some notable changes exist, however. First of all, I have re-ordered my Outcome goals to more accurately reflect my priorities. My first and most important outcome goal of 2013 is to earn full status for the Tour in 2014. Secondly, I want to find the winner's circle and become comfortable there. I expect to win at least three events on the major mini-tours this year. Lastly, if I spend the entire year playing mini-tour golf here in the states, I want to be the leading money winner on both the eGolf Professional Tour and the NGA Tour. These are lofty goals, but with the progression that I have shown over the past three years and the work that I am doing to improve, I believe that all are achievable.

I have also made some subtle but meaningful changes to my Weekly Work Goals (process goals) for 2013. My putting goals and basic short game requirements will be the same as last year, but I have added a feature to my short game work about which I am very excited. There is now a section under my short game regimen called "Tri-weekly Requirements". This section exists to heighten my focus during my short game work. It requires that every three weeks I must have at least ten chip-ins and hole at least three bunker shots. This addition should be quite do-able, but I think it will add an element of precision and intentionality to my short game work. The reason that I have this broken up into three week blocks rather than making it fit into the one-week system on which all of my practice goals are based is to accommodate for the weeks when short game facilities are lacking at tournament sites. I am excited about this addition to my weekly work goals. I have also added a ball-striking component to my weekly goals for the first time ever. This is not a huge addition, but it ensures that I practice hitting a variety of shots on the range at least a couple times per week. The rest of my process goals do look similar to last year's model with slight modifications. I think my work goals were very good last year, but the 2013 version is even better. I look forward to staying on task and doing the week-to-week work that will get me to my outcome goals.

I am going to create a couple of additional tabs here on my blog where I will track my work towards a couple of these process goals. These tabs can be found on the menu line just below the big picture at the top of my blog's home screen. Check them out from time to time and help hold me accountable for finishing my work!

I still have a lot more to say about my competitive plans for 2013, but I will end this novel for today. Come back soon for news about my 2013 schedule and practice reports as I get into full-time work mode! Thank you very much for following me and for your support. This is going to be a very good year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Best Shot of the Year?

I have to take a break from my usual golf-intensive posts to share some very exciting news. After more than four years of dating my sweetheart, Alicia Hatcher, I popped "the question" on December 30, and she said "Yes!" We are both heading into an extremely big year as she finishes up her Doctoral course work and begins writing her dissertation and I embark on my biggest, busiest, and best golf season yet. Therefore, we plan to wait quite a while before we start planning a wedding or setting a date, but still, we are both extremely excited about this step.

Now I don't want to brag, but I have to say that with the help of my AWESOME sister and family, I pulled off a pretty sweet engagement. I had a very whimsical idea just a week before Christmas that I could sneak Alicia down to our favorite city, Chattanooga, TN, and propose to her with a frisbee in a beautiful park on the Tennessee River. With the help of my family and especially my sister Laura, we pulled off a fantastic plan. We developed a ruse that had Alicia thinking we were driving down to my older sister Gina's house in Cartersville, Georgia, for a pre-New Year's celebration. We were in separate cars, and I told Alicia that we had time to stop off in Chattanooga for a minute. My mom, dad, and Laura were half an hour ahead of us and already in the Chattanooga when Alicia and I arrived. Alicia of course thought my parents and sister were already well into Georgia. So we parked in the city and walked the pedestrian bridge across the Tennessee river carrying a decoy frisbee. My sister had planted the real frisbee, on which I had written "Alicia 'Hatch', will you marry me?" in a bush by the River. We walked into the park and tossed the decoy frisbee around for a while as I moved us toward the bushes. When the time was right, I made the world's worst throw and tossed the decoy frisbee into the bushes. I charged into the bushes and, unbeknownst to Alicia, came out with the real frisbee. Despite it being clearly marked on the top and having an engagement ring securely fastened to the bottom, Alicia caught the real frisbee and threw it back to me three stinking times before finally seeing it on the fourth toss. She was driving me crazy! When she did see it, though, it was perfect!

Because my sister was there incognito the entire time, we have video evidence that it all really happened. If you have nine minutes to spare, check out my "smoothness" with this youtube link:
Note, you must have this link to access the video, and it cannot be viewed from your cell phone for some reason.

This year will be hard for us as a couple. Alicia is tied to Missouri by her job and the final year of her Ph. D. work. I have very few opportunities to be in Missouri because my schedule is going to be very full and seldom includes stops in or near the Midwest. We are both chasing our individual dreams, but we support each other fully, and we know that our dreams have us on a path to a wonderful life together! Though I may not see her as much as I would like over the next twelve months, I am so proud, happy, and excited to announce Alicia Hatcher as my fiancé!

P.S. Golf news is coming on here very soon. By this weekend I will have my 2013 Goals posted and will give a general overview of how my schedule is going to look. I have kept my body in fantastic shape over the Holiday season, but my practice has definitely taken a back seat for the past three weeks. I'm ready to get 2013 rolling and get my game in tournament shape. Come back for golf news soon!

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...