Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New (and Presently Wet) Fairways to Conquer

On Thursday morning at 8:15, I will tee it up in my first NGA (formerly Hooters) Tour event. This week's event is in the town of Tifton, Georgia, on Spring Hill Country Club. This part of the country received nearly 8 inches of rain over a five-day stretch from last Friday through this Tuesday morning, so the golf course is extremely wet, but a day and a half of sunshine have it playable for Thursday's opening round. My practice routine has definitely been hampered a bit by the strange weather, but I have worked hard on my game all year and am ready to play well this week. The course is a bit quirky, but it's right up my alley--tight and dog-leggy with fairly small greens. The putting surfaces are extremely grainy bermuda grass, but I did have a solid session on the practice green Wednesday afternoon. With two-weeks of competition under my belt, I expect good things this week. I'm going to stay relaxed and enjoy myself but am also determined to be focused for each and every shot. Come back for good news each evening during the tournament. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tournament-Week #2 Summary

After playing well in Friday's third round of the eGolf Tour's Oldfield Open, I was excited for the opportunity to have another great day in some nasty weather in the final round. My third round had moved me into a large tie for 4th place in the event, and I was anxious to improve my position with a solid day in what promised to be challenging conditions on Saturday. Unfortunately, the conditions won on Saturday, and the final round was completely washed out, which left the 54-hole results final for the tournament. I really did want to play the final day, but I guess a T4 finish is a good result in my second event of the year. More importantly, I felt comfortable on the course during this past week's tournament, and I can tell that consistently good results are in my future.

During the tournament at Oldfield Country Club and the Callawassie Island Club, I just felt more relaxed than I had the previous week in my first event of the year. It was a nice feeling. I was trusting myself more and executing more freely. That is a great sign moving forward.

I had a fairly good week of practice as well. My time on the practice green was frustrating because it took me ages to complete my drills. In fact, I had just two of my completion drills for putting done when we were washed out on Saturday. I did great work on the practice green all week, and my stroke was (and is) feeling good, but the putts simply were not dropping frequently enough for me to finish my drills in a timely fashion. I took care of business with a solid Sunday afternoon of practice, however, and am pleased to say that I finished all of my work goals for the week. Things looked bleak as I sat inside for the entirety of the day on Saturday, but a "two-a-day" workout on Sunday morning, during which I did a hard interval sprint workout and a full-body strength training session, combined with a solid afternoon effort on the practice green and short game area allowed me to check off all of my work goals. I am pumped about that!

This past week was a good one. I got my mind much closer to where it needs to be for tournament golf, and my execution improved as a result. I still have a lot of improving to do as my iron play was very questionable during the first two rounds and my putting left a bit to be desired at times, but I definitely feel like the last week was a huge step in the right direction.

I will be making my career debut on the NGA (formerly Hooters) Tour next week in Tifton, Georgia. I'm exciting for the challenge of learning a new golf course and a new tournament series. The only thing I know for sure about the NGA Tour is that the player who gets the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes wins. That'll be my goal! I'm heading to southern Georgia sometime during the day on Monday. The tournament begins on Thursday. Come back for a pre-tournament report between now and then. Thank you for cheering for me!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Best Round of the Year... So Far!

The sample size is small at this point, but my Friday round in this week's eGolf event at Oldfield Country Club is definitely my best round of the year so far. Playing in some tricky conditions that included a stiff cold breeze in the morning and rain showers over my closing holes, I made five birdies and just a lone bogey to post a third-round 68. It was a solid round because I finally combined a proper tournament mindset with good execution. I was fairly calm all day and hit a lot of quality shots in all facets of the game. I still feel like my iron play could be sharper and I can definitely get hotter with my putter, but all in all I am feeling great about the state of my game.

In the tough conditions that round moved me up the leaderboard considerably. I began the day in the middle of the field, but I currently sit in a four-way tie for 4th place. The leader is six shots ahead of me, but given a rough forecast for Saturday's final round, I know that anything can happen. I am going to stay patient and keep my attitude good. It will be an exciting final round, and I am confident that I will play well. Come back over the weekend for a final-round report and a complete summary of the tournament week. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Even in Round 2

I promise I'll give a full update on here soon, but here is just another quick one from round 2 for tonight. I was playing at Callawassie Island Club for my second round of this week's event, and the course has some tricky holes and absolutely the fastest greens I've ever seen. I was calm and confident starting the day, but a par, bogey, bogey start sent me into a tough spot early. After a bit of a second-round meltdown last week, I had to work hard to gather my thoughts and stay relaxed this time around. I did a pretty good job of controlling my emotions, even though my execution was a bit off most of the day. I struggled with my irons all day and didn't putt the ball very well, but I did a good job of staying calm, and that allowed me to keep it together nicely. A disappointing bogey at my final hole knocked me back to even par (72) for the day, but I'm pleased with the way I recovered from my rocky start. I now have two more days to climb the leaderboard, and I'm excited about that. Keep it here for a good report from round 3 Friday night. Thank you for taking the time to follow me. Exciting things are coming!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Comfortable on the Course in Round 1

I felt great all day during the first round of this week's eGolf tournament. Playing at Oldfield Country Club, I was comfortable and relaxed on the course all day. My game felt good, too. Unfortunately, I have only a one-under-par round of 71 to show for it, but I can tell that my mindset on the course has improved immensely in tournament week #2. Apparently I still need to sharpen some elements of my game because I need to be shooting something better than 71 when I feel great about how I've played, but I can tell that I am in good shape moving forward.

I move to the tournament's co-host course for my second round on Thursday. The Callawassie Island Club is a fantastic venue, and I am looking forward to having a great day on it. Come back for a report in the evening. Thank you for your support!

Ready to Go at Oldfield

The eGolf Tour is at two very good golf courses this week. I play at the tournament's host venue--Oldfield Country Club--in Wednesday's opening round before heading to the really cool co-host--Callawassie Island Club (par-4 18th pictured)--for round 2 on Thursday. I'm feeling good! Keep it here for nightly updates throughout the week. Thank you for following me.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Summary of First Tournament Week

Missing a cut is one of my very least favorite things. I strongly dislike it. For that reason, I cannot look back on my first tournament week of the year with overwhelming positivity, but I can say that I am very pumped to be back in tournament action and am excited about the weekend of practice I have just completed. The long lay-off from competition definitely left me a little bit rusty in terms of dealing with the mental challenges that accompany tournament golf, but I am confident that I will bounce back quickly. I don't have to wait very long to get myself back into contention as the eGolf Tour plays again this week just inland from Hilton Head Island at a course called Oldfield Golf Club. Though a lot of things were very disappointing in week 1, I definitely feel like I progressed this week and am excited to go compete again.

I want to cathartically speak a bit more about the negatives from this past week. I had a hard time getting ahold of my thoughts during the second round. At the very first sign of adversity, I began to think about the cut. At the time of my first bogey in round 2, I was still one under par for the tournament and in good position to do much more than make the cut. As my mind went places it shouldn't have been going, I found myself struggling to find comfort over my golf shots. I am disappointed that I executed poorly at key times during my second round, but I know that my problems were psychological and not physical. That knowledge is simultaneously frustrating and encouraging. It frustrates me because my thoughts are under my control, and I should have been able to manage them better. At the same time, it is encouraging because I know that my mental game is one of my greatest strengths, and I am certain that thinking the right thoughts will become easier as I get back into the groove of tournament play.

There is plenty of good news to report from this week as well. Other than the obvious news that I now have my first tournament of the year under my belt, I also completed all of my work goals for the week. Doing so wasn't easy, and I had to deliver a very strong performance on the practice green in some chilly conditions on Sunday, but I did it, and it felt great. I didn't feel fantastic about my ball-striking sessions over the weekend, but I am hitting the ball well enough to compete, and my short game work and putting were both very solid and productive. In addition to that, I am quite pleased with my fitness work during this tournament week. I may have trimmed the intensity of my workouts slightly, but I still had great running and strength-training sessions all week.

I am feeling very good about things. My bum result in the first event of the year certainly could be a little unsettling, but I still had a positive week, and I'm ready to give it another go this week. There is no additional pressure to perform well this week to "make up" for last week's shortcomings. I just need to stay relaxed, enjoy myself, and play to the old clichĂ©--one shot at a time. I love playing tournament golf, and I am ready for week number 2 of it in 2013!

Keep it for a pre-tournament update on Tuesday night before this week's event begins on Wednesday morning at Oldfield. Thank you for keeping up with me!

***Special Request: I will be journeying to some new venues this year as I split time between the NGA (formerly Hooter's) and eGolf Tours. My first NGA stop is next week (2/28-3/3) in Tifton, Georgia. Does anyone have any potential housing contacts for me in that area? Tifton is about 50 miles north of Valdosta right on I-75. Let me know if you happen to know anyone around there that might not mind a house guest for a week. Thank you very much! peterjmalnati@gmail.com/(865)3874185

Friday, February 15, 2013

Early Exit from Event #1

I won't say much for now, but I do want to give a quick report from round 2 of this week's eGolf tournament at Palmetto Hall in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I had a fantastic morning leading into my afternoon tee time for the second round, and I hit two nice shots into the opening hole to start my round with a birdie. I felt like it was really going to be a great day for me. I wasn't correct. I hit a poor long iron shot into the difficult par-4 third and was disappointed when my six-foot putt for par wiggled out of the hole. For some reason that bogey really rattled me. All of the positive feelings I had from my morning and my solid offseason of work left me for a little while, and I felt nervous and uncomfortable over most of my shots for the next few holes. The seventh hole on the Cupp Course at Palmetto Hall is probably the tightest driving hole I'll play all year, and my nervousness didn't combine well with the trouble-laden, narrow fairway. Though I had been swinging my driver beautifully up to that point in the tournament. I blew two balls out of play on the right side of the hole and suffered a quadruple-bogey 8. I battled hard after that, and actually had myself back in position to make the cut before a bogey, bogey finish dropped me to a 76 (+4) for my second round and 3 over par for the week. I will now have the weekend off, which is never a good thing in my business. I'm disappointed because I feel like my game was in good shape heading into this event, but clearly I wasn't mentally ready for the challenges that present themselves during tournament play just yet. My game is not far off, and I'll have a solid weekend of practice. Hopefully I'll feel more comfortable next week as the eGolf Tour stays here near Hilton Head for an event at Oldfield Golf Club. Come back for a practice report later this weekend and a more thorough summary from tournament week #1. Thank you very much for keeping up with me!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Tournament Round of the Year

I was greeted by a familiar feeling on Thursday morning around 8:00-ish. Though it was familiar, I hadn't felt it in nearly three full months. It was that excited, jittery feeling that accompanies the beginning of nearly every tournament round I've ever played. The combination of three years of professional golf experience and five very good weeks of preparation in January and February had me feeling calm and confident until about thirty minutes before my tee time. The calm vanished, but the confidence remains.

I was actually a bit nervy on the course for much of my opening nine holes, and my game certainly wasn't sharp. I hit 8 of my first nine greens in regulation, but my lone birdie in that stretch came from a remarkable pitch-in from a dreadful position on the one green I missed. I had a three-putt bogey during that stretch as well. I opened my second nine with three consecutive birdies after hitting some solid iron-shot approaches and holing three nice medium-range birdie putts. A three-putt from long range on the fourth (my 13th) hole thwarted my momentum, but I still felt good heading to the tee of the par-5 fifth hole. I hit a nice tee shot and then proceeded to hit a very (and I mean VERY) poor second shot into the middle a pond fronting the putting surface. Because of how far off my second shot was, I had to drop in nearly the spot from which I had just hit and ended up making a double-bogey 7 on what should have been an easy par-5. I can just chalk that up as a very lousy shot, though. I didn't make a mental mistake, and I was fairly committed to the plan I had chosen. I'll execute better next time! I played my final four holes in one-under-par to post an opening round 71 (-1).

I'm not disappointed with how my game felt in round one. I was a bit shaky on the greens at time and I hit the aforementioned absolutely horrible shot, but all-in-all, I feel good about things. I'm excited to do it again (and better!) in round 2. Come back for a second-round report Friday evening. Thank you for following me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Hilton Head Island, Ready to Get Started!

The last four days have been crazy. Last Thursday night, I felt like I had my game as fine-tuned as it has ever been. I was a machine knocking out my practice last week and was playing great in some matches, too. Everything was feeling very good. A rainy day kept me from practicing much on Friday, and then a travel SNAFU over the weekend really hampered my golfing time. I had planned a two-day getaway with my wonderful fiancĂ© before I hit the road to start my tournament season this week. I had a great deal on a flight and the weather was going to be nice, so I knew that I would have a great time with Alicia and would get to have some quality practice. Unfortunately, my clubs got mishandled by the airline and didn't make it to my destination until mid-afternoon on Sunday. I hardly got in any practice over the weekend. It was all good, though, because Alicia and I did have a great time together. My travel woes didn't end with the club mishandling, though. To make a long story short, I was supposed to land in Atlanta at three o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, but after a supposedly delayed flight that turned into a missed flight and a two-hour shuttle ride to a different airport, I landed in Atlanta at eight o'clock Monday night. I very safely drove over to Hilton Head Island and parked my car at my host family's house just before 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. It was definitely not how I had scripted the weekend, but I wouldn't trade the time with Alicia for anything.

My golf game is still in great shape. Rainy and stormy conditions (plus my need to sleep until nearly nine o'clock) hampered my practice on Tuesday at Palmetto Hall, site of this week's season-opening eGolf Tour event, but I can tell that things are very close to firing on all cylinders. The only thing that greatly disappoints me about the complications to my plans over the weekend is the fact that I wasn't able to finish all of my work goals last week. I had completed nearly everything by Thursday afternoon, but in the end, I came up 55 minutes of short game work and one of my ball-striking drills short of finishing my work goals last week. It was a stellar week of practice, and that is how I will remember it, but it bothers me not to complete all of my goals. My game really does feel great, though, and I am going to have a great first tournament week of the year this week. And, yes, I will finish all of my work goals, dangit!

This week's event is the eGolf Tour's Palmetto Hall Championship. Palmetto Hall features 36 holes--the Cupp and Hills courses--and both will be used for this tournament. Both are stern tests of golf that demand accuracy and good shot placement. It was too wet today to learn much, but this is my fourth trip to these tracks, and I am excited! The tournament gets underway on Thursday. I am hopeful for a good day of practice on Wednesday, but heavy rains threaten once again. I'll be ready to go either way on Thursday!

Keep it here for daily tournament reports from my first event of the year! Thank you very much for your support.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quick Report from a Great Week

This week has been just what the golf doctor ordered for me. After a couple of weeks of grinding out great practice sessions but not being able to see stellar results because of nearly unplayably cold conditions, this week has been much better. I have been nailing all of my practice drills and have also had 27 holes worth of matches and another 18 hole round with Bobbo just for practice. In my 27 holes of matches (all at Holston Hills Country Club), I am ten under par for the week. I have had a fantastic week of practice, and my game has felt great on the course as well.

I now have all of my new equipment, and I am pumped to say that most of it was love at first strike. My woods are little changed but definitely slight improvements; my irons, however, are significantly better for me. I have practiced with them only one day, but I already feel comfortable with them.

Things are coming together very nicely! I said in my last post I wanted to find mid-season form in mid-February, and I think I am doing just that. It will definitely be an anxious week as I kick of my 2013 competition schedule next week, but I think my game and my attitude are ready for it!

I have only a little left to do to finish my work goals for this week, but I still plan to have some focused practice over the weekend. I will finish my work goals for this week and continue to sharpen all elements of my game. Come back for a good report at the end of the weekend.

Thank you so much for keeping up with me! It's going to be a fun and exciting year!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Warming Up

I know how very lucky I am to get to do one of my favorite things and call it my job. I absolutely love to play and practice golf, and it rarely every seems like I am going to “work” when I am on the job. The last five days last week felt like work. I absolutely do not want to sit inside very much as I am in the final two weeks of off-season preparation, but I had to brave some pretty harsh elements to have good practice sessions the last several days. In truth, though, I even enjoy the challenge of that. I practiced at Dandridge Golf Course each of the last four days (Thursday-Sunday) with wind chills in the twenties and twice with different forms of frozen precipitation coming down. Other than battling to keep feeling in my hands, the elements did not keep me from having great practice. I definitely continued to improve a lot last week, and though I may complain about the weather a little bit, I still had a lot of fun at work.

With a dusting of snow covering the greens on Saturday, I had one of my best ball-striking sessions of the year. My short game work is feeling great as well. I feel great over the putter, but I have to say that is the one area of my practice that gave me the most trouble in the cold and blustery conditions this past week. I came up one putting drill and one hour and forty minutes short of completing all of my work goals last week. I can blame that short coming mostly on the fact that severe cold temperatures in the mornings shortened my work days, but in truth, if I could have completed my putting drills in a timely fashion, I would have had plenty of time to finish all of my work. I am disappointed not to have finished my goals for the week, but all areas of my game feel very good, and I feel like I really did get a lot better. It was a solid week of work, but I am excited to see some better temperatures in the forecast moving forward and am ready to get all of my work done.

In addition to good practice, I have also been having great work towards my fitness. I feel like I have added a few elements to my workouts here in the past month or so that are helping me to feel stronger and quicker. In general, I would say that my fitness level feels as high as it has ever been. Given the busy schedule that I plan to keep this year, staying on top of fitness will be important, but I think I am off to a great start in that regard.

As I enter the last full week of preparation before kicking off my 2013 competition schedule, I am feeling great. I am excited to hopefully have a few friendly matches this week and just to have a great week of work. My game is feeling good. I really do feel like I am a good week of work away from being tournament-ready. Can I find mid-season form in mid-February? I think so!

Keep it here for practice reports throughout the week. Thank you very much for following me and rooting for 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...