Sunday, May 25, 2014

Back on My Route

I still didn't have anything even close to the tournament results for which I am looking this week, but for the first time in a while, a week is over and I feel absolutely great about what I'm doing. I am genuinely positive for the first time in a couple months, and I feel ready to conquer the opportunities that lie ahead of me over the second half of the season. I completed all of my Map Goals this week (including holing a bunker shot at the last minute!), and physically I feel really good about the direction that all areas of my game are heading. I may give myself two or three weeks off from my Map Goals at times throughout the remainder of the year so that I can soak up time with my family, but other than that, I'm going to get them done every week for the rest of the year. I'm back on my path to success, and whether or not the results start to show up right away, I know that I'm going to get there!

I'm at home for the next few days and will head to Memphis late in the week to begin preparing for US Open Sectional Qualifying, which is next Monday (June 2), and the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic, which is the PGA Tour event in Memphis later that week. Keep it here for good practice reports from East Tennessee. Thank you very much for keeping up with me!

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm Back! ...Almost

I'm putting poorly. I am hitting too many bad shots. I'm just not quite sharp in any of the physical aspects of the game. With that said, I felt fantastic in the second round of this week's Web.com Tour event in Raleigh. I could give you a bunch of stories about how close I was to playing great (and I was close). Unfortunately, the end result was a Friday round of one over par and a missed cut by four shots, but I had fun, trusted myself, and for the first time in the last few months, I truly expected to play great. Poor putting and a couple of erratic swings kept me from posting a good score, but I was much more like my old self mentally, and I'm certain therein lies the key to ending my slump. I have more thoughts to share, but I'll leave it at that for now. I'm heading home for a short stay, and I'm excited to keep getting my head on straight! I'm going to be playing better than ever here very soon! Check back for a more thorough report after the weekend. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wake-up Call (A Good One!)

My round-one results in Raleigh were unfortunately pretty darn similar to what I've been experiencing lately. I made three bogies and a lone birdie for a two-over-par score of 73. 

I experienced a wake-up call on the course, however. My caddie this week is my mom, and she's been on the bag for some great performances over the years, but she hasn't caddied for me since last July. She made it very clear to me that in my whole life she has never seen me so negative, down, and frustrated as I was yesterday. That's a pretty strong claim from someone who knows me well and has watched me play a lot of golf. That hit me like a ton a bricks because two of my greatest attributes on the course have always been a great attitude and positive self-talk. I knew instantly that something had to change, but I couldn't quite snap out of my funk right away. Then, in a conversation with my wife last night, Alicia suggested that I am letting my quest to keep my PGA TOUR card this year put more pressure on me than I have had in the past. I want to deny that because I know that "stress" and "pressure" are things that I create in my own head, and I would like to think that I am smart enough not do that to myself. Denial is a dangerous thing, though, and I know that she is right. I am putting a great deal pressure on myself to keep my PGA TOUR card this year. And that is hurting me. 

I play golf, first and foremost, because I absolutely love it! Starting today with the second round of the Web.com Tour event in Raleigh, I am going to remember that. A great attitude, positive self-talk, and a sheer joy in playing golf have always been things that set me apart from my competition. Today, my strategy on the course will be getting back to exemplifying these qualities.

It's time to go play a game that I love! Thank you for following and caring about me. Come back for a report late this evening.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Time to Have Some Fun in Raleigh

I usually write stuff on my gloves when I get out two new ones before every tournament. It is usually something meaningless just to put some color on the gloves, but this week in Raleigh, one of my gloves says "play hard, have fun" and the other one says "make some birdies!". I'm ready to do what these phrases command. 

My short game and putting have both felt a little bit off in my practice this week, but I am playing with a sense of freedom that I haven't felt in a a while. I'm ready to play Peter Malnati golf this week. I know that my short game and putting are both strong and am confident that they will be fine in the tournament. 

I am really excited to get started this week, and because I am the first one off at 7 AM on Thursday morning, I don't have to wait long! Keep it here for updates throughout the tournament. Thank you for following me.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting Back to Being Me

I've been trying a little bit of everything. This past week I played in the PGA Tour's HP Byron Nelson Championship, and my results were awful. I posted scores of 73, 77 (+10) and missed the cut by nine shots. It was not a fun day on Friday as the round started to slip away from me, and this particularly ugly result definitely left me feeling a little discouraged.

Before I get into more details about the opening line of this post, let me highlight the "lowlights" of the past few months: I haven't posted a single under-par round since the final round of the Puerto Rico Open the first week in March. I have missed my last five cuts and have yet to make a PGA Tour cut in the continental United States. The most birdies I have converted in any round during this stretch of poor play is three. These are some very unfavorable trends to say the least. 

So, back to my opening statement: I've been trying a little bit of everything. I have been. I've tried thinking more on the course; I've tried to completely turn off my brain on the course. I've tried thinking about my swing mechanics. I've tried making some equipment changes. I've even tried adding a new color to the rotation of Sharpies I use to mark my golf balls. The only thing that has been consistent is my results. 

Ironically, the thing that really got me thinking about this notion of trying all sorts of things is my blog. Over the years, I have at times taken brief breaks from writing on my blog, but when I am playing my best golf, I typically have posted updates nightly during tournaments and at least every few days between events. This year, I've been struggling to publish a post or two each week. I have spent so much energy trying to think of ways to start playing better, that I am neglecting the routine that has served me so well leading up to this point. My blog is a small example of that. I have used this forum to brag on myself and really enhance the lasting effects of positive things in my career. I have also used my blog to get the negative stuff out of my head and to solidify my resolve to overcome the challenging times. This year I've been trying so many new things, that I've neglected this that has always been valuable for me. 

The blog is just the tip of that iceberg, too. I haven't followed my normal routine with my practice lately either. I've been giving my Map Goals a good try every week, but I've willingly let myself beat extra balls on the range while trying frivolous swing thoughts and entertaining the whims of equipment reps. I am most definitely in a slump, and I cannot fully attribute my poor play to issues of routine, but the fact that I am "trying a little bit of everything" this year is absolutely not helping me get back to playing Peter Malnati golf. I need to be constantly striving for improvement, but constant improvement has been the trademark of my golf career to this point, and I need to recapture the focus that has guided me to this point. 

So, where do I start? With something  that has worked for me for years: goals. I've re-thought and re-written my goals for 2014. I have made some small modifications to my Outcome Goals, but for the most part, all of my goals look the same. I have literally re-written them though as a catalyst for a renewed commitment. Here's a look at the hand-written page: 



Each of these Outcome Goals is still attainable despite my slow start this year. My Map Goals are very solid, and if I can get back on a path where I follow them well, I'm confident that I will climb out of my current slump and start progressing towards new heights. Some habits from my past that I want to re-establish into my routine include practice sessions by myself, early bedtimes, and using my blog as a mental toughness tool. Just writing this I am getting excited to get back to work! 

I still have a lot of exciting opportunities coming up. This week I am playing on the Web.com Tour in Raleigh, NC. I will have a good week here at the site of my second Web.com Tour event last year. I will get into plenty of PGA Tour events this summer, too, and I have sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open coming up soon, but right now I'm just excited to work and play. 

Thank you for bearing with me through that entire post. If you read it all, you deserve a medal. If you read it all and you don't think I'm crazy, I want to give you a hug! I know that you are rooting for me, and I really appreciate your support. Keep it here for more frequent updates moving forward and for some good reports this week from Raleigh!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Celebrating and Getting Better

This past week hasn't looked like a typical work week for me, but it has me feeling great as I travel this morning to next week's PGA Tour event in Dallas, Texas. I began the week with a 22-hour stay in Columbia, MO, where I was able to watch my wife become Dr. Alicia Malnati as she successfully defended her dissertation. On Friday night, with a lot of help from her co-workers, I threw together a surprise-party at our house. It was awesome! Then on Saturday, Alicia and I were able to host my mom and dad and my sister Gina's family for an impromptu Mother's Day celebration. It really wasn't much of a celebration, but it was great to spend some time with my mom. It's cliche to say, but my mother has truly been one of my most unconditional supporters. I'm very thankful to her and I love her a lot. Happy Mother's Day to good moms everywhere! It was fun for me to spend time celebrating people who mean so much to me.

I have had a productive week of work as well. I've not been as committed to my Map Goals as I wanted to be, but I have knocked out a lot of my drills while maximizing some time working on my ball striking. I have been staying on top of my fitness routine as well and am feeling great physically. I have seen some improvement in my game this week, and I am ready to keep getting better. I really believe I'll be playing the best golf of my life soon. 

I traveled early this (Sunday) morning to Dallas and plan to get in a full day of work here as I prepare for the Byron Nelson Championship next week. I'm feeling refreshed, excited, and confident. Keep it here for more frequent updates and some good reports from Dallas! Thank you for following me and for your support!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mr. and Dr. Malnati Feeling Great

never gave any updates from last week's Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. I ended up shooting 75, 73 (+4) and missed the cut by three shots. It really hurt to not have better results last week because I am very pleased with the preparation that I had leading up to the tournament, and for the first time since Puerto Rico, I felt great on the course. I was still much too inconsistent in all areas of my game, but I was comfortable and confident on the course, and that has me greatly encouraged. 

I had a great week of practice last week in Charlotte, but for a very valuable reason, I gave myself the weekend off from finishing my Map Goals. My wife, mom, dad, and sister (Laura) all made the trip to North Carolina, so I soaked up some quality time with them. It was fabulous and so good for me! I also need to say a heartfelt thank you to the Duffy's for facilitating (and, more importantly, being a part of) my family! It was very good for me to spend a little time away from golf with people who mean so much to me. 

Then, the real highlight of the past several days began Sunday morning. For the past three years, my sweet wife has been working so hard to fulfill the requirements of her full-time employment while also working on her doctoral degree. On Sunday we flew to Columbia, Missouri, where on Monday she successfully defended her dissertation and officially became Doctor Alicia H. Malnati! I am so proud of her and it was so cool to be there for that. She will always be working incredibly hard at something, but this milestone might allow her to catch her breath for a day or two! 

Alicia with her signed dissertation defense form and me with my Tour Card!

We are currently heading back to Tennessee, and we're both feeling great about things. It is just now getting to the time of year when I play my best golf, and I'm confident that my best golf ever is in the very near future. I'm going to have a great week at home. I will definitely soak up more time with Dr. Alicia Malnati, but I will also nail all of my Map Goals and have a great week of preparation. 

Exciting stuff is already happening, and great things are coming soon. Thank you for your support, and please keep it here for updates moving forward!

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...