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!