Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How was 2014 and what is there to come

Life can be a very busy thing and so it was for myself the last few months of 2014. That would be the main reason why you did not find many articles and texts on line. Not for golf and not for anything. But things going on every day it was hard to find the time and focus to sit down and actually write.

Again I will try to do a better job doing so. Knowing that there is people actually following and watching me.

In 2014 I was able to make some big steps forward. Not really talking about winning events or finishing in the pay ranks. That is a good thing and boosts confidence. But I won before and I made money before. When I talk about big steps forward I think about my average score, my swing and my course management skills.

After starting the year playing well I realized that I am standing still. Meaning, I was not improving regardless of how many balls I was hitting. I shot good rounds and then I shot some not so good rounds. But nothing really changed.

My lesson with Jerry Hinton changed my game right away. Considering that my grip was the only thing he worked on, that is very impressive. But it was me playing with different groups, which improved my game even more. As a matter of fact , playing with retired PGA pros and exceptional good golfers more often, elevated my game dramatically. To a point that I actually shot under par again.

Up until October I was  playing rounds in the upper and lower 70s week after week. A great feeling. Best thing about it was, that I believe that I did not change my swing or game at all. What I did change was my course management approach and the way I looked at my game on and off the course.

2 factors which played a big role in my course management skills were a) The Golf Game and b) my Summer Membership at Sarabay Country Club.

The Golf Game showed me clearly how I was navigating golf courses and what adjustments I had to make. Playing at Sarabay Country Club helped me to work on my approach shot and where to place it in different situations.

From October to December things changed a little. We had to take care  of several things which resulted in me not being able to practice nor play as much as I liked and my mind being a little off track. That resulted in playing some not so good golf. Loosing some confidence in my game was probably the main reason for this little hole.

Being in this position I thought that it would be a great opportunity to change a few clubs. I really was not happy with my driver and also open to start with a new putter.

To keep it short. I found a great putter, the True Balance from Bridgestone and after being evaluated on a Flight Scope yet again, I also found the perfect driver, Titleist 915 D2.

My first round with both new clubs I shot a 2 over par round at Tatum Ridge Golf Links right away.
Best statistic about that round was the fact that I hit 12 fairways and that I gained 15 yards in average.

Naturally I am aware that one round really is not enough to tell how much improvement can be made with new equipment, but it was sign of hope.

In all I would say that in 2014 my game improved a lot. I am still not where I need to be. But I am very close and getting closer with each round.

2015 is around the corner and I have big goals. There are plenty of tournaments to be played, events to be part of, articles to be written and much more.

I will start with a nice tournament right after New Years. The FSGA has a Winter Series Championship on TPC Prestancia in Sarasota.

Because a current cold I am not sure about preparation. But it should be fine. What comes after I will lay out later. I am in good spirits and look forward to a great 2015

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My last 3 weeks including tournaments, practice and new equipment. - thoughts on my current situation

Over the past weeks I played a few tournaments, practiced, played in skins game groups, got myself something brand new to hopefully help my game and thought about how to proceed.

First and for all, my will and desire are unbroken. A few times now I heard a question about my progress and the time frame, the investment and the emotional toll I pay to accomplish my goal. Let me tell you, if you have a true dream, you will work on it. No matter what toll you pay.

First about my new gadget I was able to get. The GameGolf Traking system. A GPS tracking system, which actually is able to follow  you on the course and record your movement around each golf course including stats like distance, direction , putts and so on. You collect data and then can start working on certain things. Also you can compare yourself to other players, including some PGA Tour players.

I will not go further into details of the system. That you will find in a review soon just make sure you find my golf review blog. While not often, I do write unbiased reviews about golf equipment, courses and so on.

The item I bought at a GC Am Tour event at Waterlefe Golf and River Club. As a member of the GC Am Tour you have a few benefits. One of them is to get a 50 $ discount on this machine.

The event at Waterlefe with the GC Am Tour was not one of my best. I was not able to keep the ball in the fairway nor was I able to get my approach shots close enough to the pin to score well. In all, I was working hard on the course make even a few pars. So I kept my stats, but forgot the round.

Waterlefe is a tight course with tons of water. If you are in the fairway, you are good. If not , you are out.

I followed up with another not too exciting round at River Wilderness Golf and Country Club. This time it was an FSGA event. Again, I was not able to keep the ball in play as I wanted and on top of that my putting really did not help me.

Both of the above rounds were in the low 80s, which is not like me at all. However, if you play a lot, things like that happen and I do not have any problem with that at all. It is part of golf. Further I need to consider my new grip and swing as well as my new set up. My coach told me it will  take 6 months to be on top of all that. Considering I play in the National Final of the WGAT this September, 6 months is not an option.

From there on I played a few skins games. Bobby Jones Golf Complex and Tatum Ridge Golf Links. Shot in the mid 70s on all of those rounds. If you take a look at the conditions on those courses, that is pretty good shooting.

Last week I then played Waterlefe Golf and River Club yet again. This time with the FSGA. I had a good round going there. Started with a bogey and followed that with 9 pars and 1 birdie. I thought I am on to something. Then I had 2 triple bogeys in a row, followed by 3 pars and a double.

In all I shot a good round and was happy. I missed only 2 fairways. Scrambled nicely and had incredible sand saves. Putting was right on. The two holes I messed up where the result off wrong decisions I made when deciding what shot I played and which club I used.

I came in 4th. That is a good thing. Just did not pay anything.

Right after that I was back at Rolling Green Golf Links and Tatum Ridge Golf Links. Again I played two rounds which are not really like me. Could not get the ball in the fairway often enough and my approach shots were wrong distance all day long. Putting was good though and that saved me a ton of shots.

I practiced a few times. But by far I am not doing what I would need to do. It is a challenge. There is simply too much around me going on which has a direct impact on my mental state. A lottery win would do the trick. However I can not count on that. So I need to keep working on other things.

An important fact will be to stay in focus of what is important. Golf.

Played a round at Sarabay yesterday. It was horrible. The score was not good. But I could live with that. What was frustrating was how I got my score. I simply was not able to get my mindset right.

Missed short putts. Had many misshits. I worked through the round grinding and was able to at least finish strong. But in my mind I am going backwards.

My environment is simply not right. So I will create a new one so I can pursue the goal. The environment is something I have control over.

There is 3 weeks before the big tournament. Cross your fingers that I get in shape for that.

Yesterday the Tourstriker club arrived. Starting with it today.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How do I get ready for a golf tournament?

Every time I have some tournaments coming up I get messages or emails asking me what I do before those 1 , 2 or more days tournaments.

Over the years I read many articles, books and also watched many videos about this matter. The entire issue sounds way more complicated than it really is. There is several basics which are definitely a must and are consistent with many professionals and to amateurs.

Note: Those actions are after you played any practice round. I am talking about the day, afternoon and evening before the competitive round of golf.

1. Get all equipment ready
2. Get clothing and back up clothing ready ( watch weather report)
3. Study yardage book if available ( google earth is certainly a good options as well)
4. Play the course in your mind before sleeping
5. Rest as much as possible the day before the weekend starts

In addition to those things there is all kinds of different ideas people have to get ready and it would be a book full of writings to cover them all. So I will go through the basics first and then add what I personally do on the day before play.

1. Get equipment ready

To me that is one of the easiest parts of the entire deal. Mine is pretty much always ready to go. But I check if all clubs are clean. Then I check my grips and make sure they are in order have no unwanted fat spots or so.

Next I put enough balls in the bag for the round. Usually I take 1 dozen of balls. I mark them all, so I do not have to do it on the course. Make sure you check the rules if you play the one ball rule. But most amateur tournaments do not.

2 fresh towels is what I attach to the bag. My cleaning tool and an extra brush for the clubs. I have a little bag with plenty of golf tees, pencils, markers and ball repair tools. Depending on the weather I put a rain cover for the bag in the side pocket. Attach the umbrella.

This is it. My bag is ready. Simple and fast. For the most part my bag looks like that at all times.

Last I make sure my pin seeker has a full battery and my GPS watch is fully loaded.

2. Clothing

My clothing I pick depending on the weather. So in the evening I put out two sets of clothing. One for hot weather without rain and one for hot weather with possible rain. I live in Florida and so I mostly do not prepare for cold weather unless it is winter time.

In addition I put out a couple bracelets which I wear to balance my ions etc.

Last thing is my hat, which I pick matching to my clothes. It may sound funny. But all has to match. If I do not feel good about what I am wearing it has a direct impact on my game.

3. Study yardage book

If I have one I go through it a couple times the night before the tournament. But it does depend on how good I know the course. There is many courses I know very well and I might or might not go through it. If I do not have one I use Google Earth to take a look at the course. I basically check distances and look at traps and water.

4. Play course in mind

When I go to bed I actually play the entire round in my mind. That includes all 18 holes. Every club I will use I picture. I picture every practice swing and the actual shot. Some times I go through alternate options. I only have positive outcomes in those rounds.

5. Get good rest

The day before the tournament I rest as much as I can. That does not mean I do not do anything. I work around the house, write and get little things done. But I keep it slow. I do not want to be exhausted or get a muscle ache. That would not make any sense.

There are days on which I meditate or listen to certain music. I do all kinds of things to get my mind in a positive and calm state.

That is it. There is not anything more to it. I do not work out like crazy or take all kinds of supplements. The key is to feel good. Feel good about yourself, your body and what you do on the day before playing.

If you fall asleep in a relax state of mind and your body is relaxed as well, there is a very good chance, that you wake up relaxed and in a positive state of mind.

Those above things I do and can control. Certainly I can not control what goes around me. However, I can control how I react to it and how I deal mentally with it.

So today I did what I just wrote and now I will do some additional work. I feel great. Rested well and my mind is in a positive state. Tomorrow I will play a track which I have played many times. So I know the course.

That is a huge benefit. There is not yardage guide. So I will look at it online. Just check some hole for distances and develop a little game plan.

What I game plan I will pick tomorrow morning I do not know yet. It depends on how I feel. I want to win , that is for sure. But the approach on the course I only know after hitting my first warm up shots.

Waterlefe CC is a tough track. Tight and lots of water. But I like it because you need to be accurate and length is not the issue here.

The challenge of this weekend is the Sunday round. There I play a course I have never played. So I will rely on Google Earth and my playing ability to navigate through this tournament. However, I will prepare myself just as I do today in all other aspects.

Colliers CC in Naples has another challenge. It is 2 hours away from my home. This is always a tough one. Driving and then trying to settle down, warm up and play a round in full focus. I did it many times and will do it again. It is not my favorite to do, but at this point of my career there is no other choice.

We will drive and play, travel and play, sleep less and play and so on and so on. On the good side , we will be able to be productive and talk about the round, the goal, other golf related and business related things. Very important to use this driving time. After all this is a business and time is money.

Next big thing I am working on: total balance. After watching Sergio Garcia changing over the past 18 months I know, that I need to be in balance. In balance with golf, business, relationship, family and friends. If I can accomplish that , I will have the same leap like Sergio had. Ok, now I really need to get into 5 :).

How do you get ready for a one day or two day tournament? Any suggestions? Any ideas? Really would like to get some comments here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Does practice make perfect ? No, but it sure helps to have more luck on the course

9 days since my last entry. A long time. But it has been a busy period. Played a couple of round. One at Bobby Jones Golf Complex. A good round considering the conditions on this golf course. I was satisfied with my iron shots and my short game. My driver was OK but not exactly accurate.

I got in some good practice at Sarabay Country Club, my summer base. Mostly working on iron shots up to 175 and on my short game. Really working heavy with my LW. This club was one of my best clubs in my bag once around the green and I want to get back where I had it. A scoring club.

Last Sunday I played at Tatum Ridge Golf Links. Now that was a good round and an interesting round. I know play in the first group. That is a very positive sign. The early groups are usually the better players in the field. So there is a promotion.

Also I get to play with my current coach Jerry Hinton. That gives him the opportunity to watch me and to also help me if necessary. On that last Sunday I really wanted to get my driver in order and see if I can in someway get my new grip to work for me with this club.

First drive was not exactly pretty, but it gave me a good shot to the green, which I was able to get it on and start with a nice par. The second time I used my driver on the par 5 number 3. It was the last time for this round. Again the shaft of my Taylormade R11s broke in half.

I had a very good driver with good distance. But the best part was , that I did not hurt anyone. I had a similar experience with the same driver and shaft at Bradenton Country Club at charity tournament. Good drive, broken club, nobody hurt.

So my plan to work on my drive went out the window on the 3rd hole. My plan was to play with my 3 wood. But since we were in private skins game, my partners offered me to use their drivers. So on 4 I tried an older Taylormade Burner. A disaster. Almost hit the water on the left. Got lucky and saved a bogey on that hole.

Then I tried the Tour Edge Exotic driver Jerry was playing. Looked nice and had a nice shaft to it as well. It was not easy, but this driver I could hit. I was back in the game or at least partly.

From there on I hit some OK drives. I kept myself in play. That is always good. What kept me in play was my short game. On 2 I chipped in with my LW for a birdie. On 6 I chipped in with my LW for a birdie and I hit the pin on 7 yet again. It did not fall in though.

My wedges were great. My putting was good ( the greens were much better than before and rolled nicely) and when I was in trouble I was able to hit great iron shots from all kinds of lies. My 3 wood of the deck was great. Made good contact through out this round.

In the end I shot a 5 over par round. Not too exciting after being under par at first and finishing the front 9 par. On the other hand. I had a penalty on the back and still had to work with this new driver. So it was all a good thing.

The best news I think was that Jerry told me that my shot shape has improved an my contact sounds and looks more solid. Also I gained some distance. Those are all great aspects I must say.

Also very positive was that I could try out this driver on the course and in a match. I liked it . It looked good, felt good and had a nice solid feel to it. The bounce of the club face was much better than with my old driver and the weight was incredibly light. Not sure how much weight this club had, but it was light and felt great.

I started researching the company and the club itself and am pretty impressed. So I decided I will try it out at Golfsmith and then take it from there. Meanwhile I still have a last shaft for the R11s which I will use until I make a decision.

Yesterday and the day before I put in some very productive practice at Sarabay Country Club. Again working on my short game and irons. Yesterday I added 1 hour of putting to it. My shots on the range were almost perfect. Not sure if it was my hard work or the fact that Jessica Korda was practicing right next to me :). Either way, I was very happy and excited that the new grip has such a positive impact on my game.

Over the next few weeks much will happen. This week I will only play a private round on Saturday at my club and on Sunday to the Skins game yet again. But next week we are back in the hunt.

River Wilderness with the FSGA, Waterlefe CC with GC Am Tour and then SF Colliers CC in Naples with the WGAT USA - South Florida Championship. I am so ready and so excited. Never felt better about my swing and my mental game. My physical condition is not as I would like, but I feel good and that is the most important part.

I have a long way to go, but I enjoy it and keep moving towards the goal line. Today is over. Just doing some work around the house and leave business and golf behind for the rest of the evening. That is the only way to keep a fresh mind.

Anybody played Colliers CC in Naples before? How was it? Any suggestions? I am always open.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lake Venice Two Men Championship, general practice, WGAT National Championship and more

I am now working my grip and set up for a few weeks and it looks good. It is a long process to change something so fundamental as the grip. As a matter of fact my coach , Jerry Hinton, told me that it might take 6 months to fully change and be used to it.

So far I must say that it feels good. I think I gained some distance with my driver already. Also I believe that my woods of the deck have improved. I am struggling with my 5 iron and at times 6 iron. However , my short irons are in good shape, as they were before. It feels to me as if I make better contact when staying committed to my swing.

In the end I think I just have to keep working on it and try to make sure that I watch my grip before every single shot.

Last weekend the Two men Championship of Venice was on the schedule and I was again in it. This time I had a different and by far better partner. I do not think that I would have entered this tournament if not finding someone who has a positive attitude and a reputation of being a good player.

My practice round I played at Rolling Green Golf Club ( I wrote a review for this course here). The main reason I picked this club was that Jerry plays there every Friday morning and wanted to see me play. Information about Rolling Green you will find in my review.

In regards to the round. My objective was to put the grip to work, watch my set up and see if I can hit longer shots off the tee.

I had a very positive experience there. Although I had many questionable shots, my 3 wood and driver looked pretty good. Pretty straight and of good distance. In the end I was able to get a good eagle on my score card on 18. Not the longest par 5, but long enough to make it a good one. And if you argue that this could be a par 4 ( 480 yards). Fine with me, it still is a birdie. Fact is , I was able to reach the green.

From this one hole I was able to take a lot of confidence with me into the weekend tournament at Lake Venice Golf Club. It was a team event. So our roles were defined pretty well. My objective was to put the ball in the fairway so that Mark could take a good swing at it. He is a long hitter. From there on I worked on getting a safe score in . Saturday was best ball. So I wanted to make sure I play at least par on every hole. That did not work out entirely, but close.

Thing is, that I never really found my rhythm on Saturday. Just could not get the game going as I wanted. Mark played well and so we carried us through the round with an OK finish. Shooting a 75 is not stunning. But it was acceptable considering the circumstances. By that I talk about the fairways and the course in general as well as me not finding my game. The good news was , that I made a lot of very important and good putts.

Sunday was a scramble format. Here we thought that we will catch up with the leaders. Again the plan was that I putt the ball in play and let Mark rip it out there. Second shot put it on each par 5 for eagle putts or in regulation on par 4s for birdie opportunities.

I was in good shape from the get go. Literally only missing 3 fairways. Reached 2 par 5s in two after hitting great drives.  Did not get all par 4s in regulation but most of them. My short game was right on and my putting was very good for at least 12 holes. I had some issues on the front 9 coming in.

Mark did a good job with some very good drives and long approach shots. So we were able to have a great back 9 with 2 under par , but had to take a 1 over par on the front. That was not good enough. But back to my game. I went through my newly developed routine like a clock work and it worked out great.  Some of my drives were perfect. Not only right were I wanted them, but I already gained about 10 to 15 yards. My longest drive on that day was 290 yards +. A great drive. Little right to left and I did it without the usually hard work I have to put in to hit a drive that long.

In all, I am very satisfied with my game over the weekend. Clearly the work with Jerry starts to kick in. We discussed further steps for improvement. A big one will be golf clubs. Different driver, additional hybrid and different wedges. I am not entirely sure when I will or can move on with that, but I am working on it.

Also I will add the Game ( a tracking product to see how you play your round, shot by shot. McDowell seems to have success with that). Last I will take a series of up to 10 more sessions with Jerry Hinton at Tatum Ridge Golf Links.

Last my practice at Sarabay CC needs to increase gradually. This might be a challenge for time and technical reasons, but there will be a way.

I am extremely excited about how I progress and change. It is a long and hard way. But it is a fun way and honestly, I feel like I am supposed to do exactly what I do. No doubt whatsoever that I will make it.

The upcoming weeks are going to be very exciting and very exhausting. This week in full focus on practice until Sunday. Sunday I will play yet another round with Jerry to see if I am on track. This will be the Tatum Ridge Game. A good and big game. Good $ opportunity as well.

Several rounds coming up including 2 tournaments. But the two most interesting I entered today.

The South Florida WGAT Championship at Colliers CC in Naples and the National Championship of the WGAT in Howie in the Hills ( close to Orlando , FL). The second one being the biggest event I play in this year. It is a 3 day stroke play event in which the goal is to win your assigned flight and win a  trip for two to South Africa for the World Final in which to represent the USA.

The tournament will be on the 25,26 and 27 of September. However we play on 2 courses and I need to play 2 practice rounds, one on each, before I get there. I want to have the best shot at a win. A win there would be huge.

It would give us a trip for 2 to South Africa 4 weeks after the qualification, around October 25 or so. All and I mean all expenses are paid for including flight, drinks, food, hotel and so on. Best, I would represent the USA and be part of a great team over there, battling teams from all over the World. How exciting that would be. After all I am a US Citizen and that would  be the topping on the cake.

Now that the green fees are paid we will work on hotel nights for the trip. If things go even more well my entire family will be part of this event and travel with me. That would be even better and a double motivator. On top it would actually our first golf trip as I always pictured it.

But one thing at a time.

Anybody out there played on the WGAT before? Maybe even qualified? This is my first year playing on this tour. Would love to hear from players who were part of it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Innisbrook Resort in Tampa - The Copperhead Course and how my new learned grip works out

It has been a while now since I took my lesson from Jerry Hinton and am I working in implementing what I learned. At first it seemed odd and I never really felt comfortable when setting up. However, things get better by the day. The more I practice on the range and around the green and the more my mind is getting used to the new set up position , the more comfortable I get. Jerry said it will take me 6 months to have it all done. That is a long time and considering that I am playing all the time in all kinds of events, that is too long for me.

But I have to be patient. And patience I have plenty. I would not try to play competitive golf if I would not be patience. So I am working on it and try to play with the grip in tournaments and skins games.

Last weekend there was one of the events I waited to play in for a few years. The Golf Channel Tour Independence Day Open at the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa on the Copperhead Course. The very same course where the ValSpar Tampa Open is played. I have been there many times, watching the PGA Tour coming through and walking with my favorite players like Daly, Els and so on.

It was always fun to be at the Hooters Tent on 17 and see the guys coming through the Snake Pit.

But this weekend was my turn and I was excited to play. We made it a 4th of July outing. Christiane and I booked a hotel close to the resort and arrived around lunch time. Had a good lunch at the Wing House and then hopped over for the practice round.

The goal for this round was to learn more about the course. How it feels off the tee, how the greens are, where the landing areas are and all that. Also to take some photos and to enjoy the course.

The most important thing I am working on is getting the ball off the tee and into the fairway and with good distance. I can hit fairways all day long but would be way back.

On that day my drives were all good. The entire practice round I only missed a few fairways and when I hit them my balls were of OK length, giving me a chance to hit greens in regulation and set myself up for birdie putts.

I navigated the course pretty well. Keeping the ball in play, not getting in to much trouble and taking advantage of my short game. The greens were pretty slow. But no wonder. This course is mainly used for this big event and the rest of the year there is only few players who make it around this track.

After the practice round I felt pretty good. As a matter of fact I was confident that I can shoot a low round there and get myself in the ranks to make some $.

We did not do much after the round. Just checked out the club house to see where those famous fellow players would have their drinks and food. Nice place and nice atmosphere.

But I did rest for the rest of the day. I wanted to make sure that I am in the best physical and mental condition I could be. After all we took the hotel just for that reason. To rest and to prepare for the tournament.

My tee time was 7 38 am. Not a time I am too excited about. But we can not pick it, so it is what it is. Was up at 5 30 am after a good night sleep. Short breakfast and over to the course. It was extremely humid. So humid that walking  my bag to the cart was enough to be totally wet.

I had about 15 minutes to warm up on the range. Not enough really. But because of the early tee time we just did not make it earlier. On the range I usually have a good warm up program. Beginning with some chipping and pitching and then go from PW to driver in a certain line up.

This time I cut it short. Did some pitching on the range, went from PW to 5 iron and after a couple hybrids to driver. No time to putt. But I figured the greens would be the same as the day before.

Christiane was riding with me, so I did not have to prepare all the food and other things I usually do, which gave me some more time. We were a threesome, which I like. Just makes it a little more fluent.

My first tee shot was perfect. Long, straight, center of fairway. A good start. I remembered this tee shot for the next 17 holes. It was the only one of its kind on that day. Imagine.

This round of golf was a classic working round. Meaning, I worked hard for every single shot. I spent plenty of time in the woods, the rough and the traps. Almost every shot pretty much required some imagination. I hit my approach shots from behind trees, out of the rough , of sand banks and pine needles.

It actually was a pleasure to play the par 3s. Since I could go for the green without using my driver.

But I played hole by hole and shot by shot. Evaluating every situation carefully and as good as I could. Choosing a club and a shot shape which I though will help me to score. Christiane helping me as a caddie surely helped along the way. I was so busy with my round that I otherwise would have forgotten to eat and drink.

It is because of my course management abilities and my mental strength that I made this tough round what it was in the end. A round which brought me a second place in my flight and the 5th best round of the tournament. But there were major errors and I actually was leading the tournament by far for a long time.

When I look back here is what I though in the end. My drives were not in the fairway, but mostly playable. I got luck two times being on a cart path and getting relief.  My approach shots where not on target, but I played the % so, that I was somewhere in front of the green or close by.

My pitching and chipping saw better days, but I was able to play shots which gave me an opportunity to score something. Putting was actually good. No doubt that my putting saved me plenty of strokes. On the other hand, I had 3 birdie putts within 6 foot which missed.

The trouble shots from behind trees or other bad lies I mastered well, just as I expected because I do them often and do not mind them at all.

My bunker player was good until 17. I hit great bunker shots, saving par a couple times and never worse than bogey. Only on 17 I had troubles. Coming into this hole I was leading my flight and was on top of all scores. Short par 3 for us . 176 or so. I left it way short and in the front bunker.

This left me a 28 yard bunker shot from a hard and wet trap ( because of the rain storm the night before). I had two shots for this situation. A full bunker shot and a clean pick up pitch. I decided to go for the full shot. Unfortunately I caught the ball clean, hitting it not only out of the trap, over the green but some 20 yards behind it.

I was not too concerned about it. We determined in the practice round that that there is plenty of room behind the green. So I was thinking chipping it on. When I found my ball that changed. I actually almost few the 18th tee box. My was sitting in the deep rough on a downhill slope. I was facing a mount I had to carry and land the ball on the down slope. Not a pretty sight I must say. So My goal: get it on the green, somewhere. I accomplished that by 4 inch or so. So I was not unhappy with the result. From there I have a chance for a long bogey  and surely will close it out in 5.

My putt looked good, but did not stop at all and I left myself a 7 or 8 foot putt for a double bogey. That really got me going. But I took my time and actually made it. At that point I had no idea where I am standing. But I knew that this was costly.

I made a good bogey on 18 after again being in the woods. When I came in to drop of my score card , I thought that I had no chance to be in any paying position for my flight. Disappointing at that point.

But when we looked at the leader board we quickly found out that only one layer in my flight shot a better score and only 3 or 4 more of the entire tournament shot a better score. That was very interesting but made my two double bogeys even worse.

I realized , that when taking away those doubles and rolling the 3 birdie putts, I was about to shoot a great round of golf. Now imagine. I hit 4 greens in regulation and no more than 4 fairways. Yet I was able to actually score an OK round of golf. There is some hope. There is the difference. Being able to make something out of nothing. Coming back after a double and putt for birdie and so on and so on.

So I am 100 % positive, that I am on track with my game. Even with it all taking much longer than I ever thought. Just got to keep going and work hard. Believe in myself and the cause. Time is not on my side at this point and the entire situation we are in is not favorable 100%.

But at the same time we are in a much better position than many others who made it or are trying to make it.

This last weekend was a good experience in many ways. Having Christiane as a caddie with me, playing one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour . One the players like a lot. Walking the fairways all those guys do every year. Trying an overnight stay for the first time and liking it and actually winning something by working hard on the course.

I followed up with a good round on Sunday at Tatum Ridge Golf Links There I hit not many more fairways and I missed again some short birdie putts. But I had a good round, was working on my game and made a little $. Comparing a round at Tatum Ridge with a round at Innisbrook is not possible. Different worlds.

Monday was resting day and today I am back on the range. 3 to 4 hours I will work on short game and yet again on my weight shift and set up. I have some time before the next tournament. But I will write before that.

In the end I feel great and have to say, that when I am playing golf and especially in a tournament , I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do. How can you beat that?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Golf Lessons with Jerry Hinton at Tatum Ridge Golf Links

Only in my first couple years in the golf business I ever got a lesson from a PGA professional. Back then I started and was taught the basics by Bob Marlow at Marlow's Golf Tec . I started very late but understood right away, that in my case it would be best to get some professional help.

In the mid 90s I started working for Bob Marlow in his back then top of the line video teaching center in Bothell, WA. Great technology I must say. My second time I received help was in Eugene , OR where I worked on a driving range for Le Golf Corp. My head pro back then was Mike Hegarty. (Now the head professional in Pendleton, OR Wild Horse Resort)

Mike played on different tours including the PGA tour. That was most interesting to me because I wanted to know what a touring pro would tell me. His advise was simple. It was all about the basics and how to have a solid foundation.

For the past months I was debating what to do. Clearly I need help. I am not getting any longer and my score average although in the 70s is by far not as I had planned. First I thought about golf schools. But then I met Jerry Hinton. Jerry Hinton is a PGA professional for decades with a long list of great references in terms of teaching, managing and playing.

When I sat down with him we got along right away. I told him what I have in mind. He said that we can accomplish that and that he is a big fan of basics. Building a solid foundation. Funny, there it was again.

So last week we did our first session at Tatum Ridge Golf Links in Sarasota. Our first goal was to look at the over all swing. Set up, tempo, grip. We quickly found out that my set up is pretty solid and my tempo in good shape. However, my grip was one thing Jerry said we need to work on.

So we did some adjustments. That felt so different, that the first few swings I took did not look that great. However, after a few more balls I started to feel better and began to make more solid contact with my irons.

The only other thing mentioned was that he feels I should tee up my ball higher when using my driver. Not sure how I will handle that. I already play a 10.5 driver. But I gave it a shot there and tried to do it the last two rounds.

Overall the 1 hour lessons with Jerry was very good and I felt comfortable. I feel that he believes I can reach a certain goal and without changing every thing, which as we all know is very difficult after years of doing something. But I know , that if I want to get my average score to 70 I need to make changes and improve certain aspects. So it will all be worth it.

I tested my new grip last Wednesday at Sarabay Country Club. It was difficult and felt strange, but I played a good round of golf. My tee shots where not good at all. I maybe had 2 good drives. The rest was all over and short. My approach with the irons was good, but my distances are all over as well. At times I felt like I lost 10 yards on some clubs and at the same time I gained 10 yards on some others. It will take lots of work to get that in order.

My second round was at Bobby Jones Golf Complex. Played a solid round. Had good opportunities , but had to settle for a 5 over par round. Had a couple more good drives and my approach shots were better. Again I feel like I have some distances  control issues, but I simply adjusted my club selection and it worked out OK.

Both rounds I played good from bunkers, around the green and on the green.

I scheduled a second lesson with Jerry for next Tuesday. We will work on bunker shots. Although I get the ball on the green most of the time I am not as close to the pin as I would like. Had 2 sand saves of 3 yesterday. But both of them I have to credit my putting as I was at least 12 feet away.

Today I will do a light practice at Sarabay Country Club. Nothing to big. It is hot and I need to be in good shape for tomorrow. World Amateur Golf Tour event in Naples, Florida. It is a super small group, but it counts towards the national qualifier and we play at Quail West Golf and Country Club. One of the premier clubs in South Florida.

Tomorrow we play on The Preserver course. 18 holes with water in play. That will make for an interesting and tough round. But I am looking forward to this test. If things go well Christiane might be able to accompany me for the first time in over a year and help to keep statistics and determine shots. Kind of like a caddie.

We will see what we can accomplish tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bobby Jones Golf Complex, Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club and Tatum Ridge Golf Links - 3 days of golf and competition

After 3 days of playing in 90 degrees plus I took it easy yesterday in terms of practice. I have to say that my physical fitness is pretty good despite the fact that I clearly have to much weight.
I started the weekend at Bobby Jones Golf Complex with a single skins game. Because it is a quota game it is not my favorite format, but since only birdies and better  pay I find it motivating and a good opportunity to shoot for the pin. Points are not paying well there, so although I like to play good, my main objective is to go for the pin at all times. It was very hot. Still I warmed up 30 min before going out. It is crucial for me to get my back stretched and my mind and timing dialed in. The round was not as good as I hoped for. The main reason being my tee shot. Through the entire round I never felt comfortable when addressing the ball. So I was never really ready ( mentally).
That had a big impact on my swing thought and then on my swing. My short game saved me many times again and my shots in trouble situations are getting better and more confident. There was no winnings for me but I was satisfied with several aspects of my game. Mainly the fact, that my touch around the green is improving and that I make better decisions when in trouble. Like when I am behind a tree, on gravel or sand and so on.
With those positive thoughts in mind I took of Saturday morning to Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club. I was signed up for the 2nd Clearwater Highschool Tornado Football Celebrity Golf Tournament. This event was a 4 men scramble . The reasons to start there were simple. Good prices ( both for hole in one and raffle), the potential to meet some interesting new people and playing a course I never have played before. I think also  the opportunity to play my driver without blocking thoughts was a little factor.
You can read about the course and the tournament at www.achimsgolfreviews.blogspot.com in the next few days. In regards to my game, I am satisfied with my ability to keep the ball in play and my good touch around the green. My part in the team was to get the ball in play so our longest hitter can let his tee shot go. I successfully hit 12 fairways. I also was able to play great chips and bunker shots. In the end all this helped us to shot a 64. A good round considering that our group played without Mulligans. It was not enough to win anything. But I felt good about my work. I have to mention though, that despite me hitting all those fairways, my drives were not as they should be. I was holding back, blocking and simply not releasing. That kept my tee shot shorter than I wanted. But the key was to be in the fairway, both for this event and in preparation for the City Championship in Bradenton which will be played on Riverrun Golf Links, a course there you are either in the fairway or out.
My Sunday round I played at Tatum Ridge Golf Links in Sarasota. Again I was not finding my comfort zone at all. I did hit 13 fairways yet again. But I missed all par 3s. Chipping and putting was good as always. But even with getting the ball in the fairway and a good short game, I was not able to make anything happen to win $.
As a result of those three days of golfing I would say that my short game keeps improving. 90 to 40 yards are my favorite distances and I can make things happen. That will be a huge factor on long par 5s.  A huge challenge is the green speed. I practice on greens with stimps of 11 and up. Yet some of the rounds I play in competition are on super slow greens ( I would say 7 to 8 on a stimpmeter). I would say that I lose about 5 strokes on a course with slow or damaged greens. Maybe even more. I will work harder to learn how to deal with that. I am convinced, that I can get my putting and chipping to a point so I can judge greens better and act accordingly.
My tee shot remains my #1 challenge. I can hit fairways all day long but am way to short. It is mentally draining to not be able to hit consistent tee shots. There are days I release my right hand and arm and hit long beautiful tee shots all day long and then there are days I am not sure what I am doing there. Not acceptable. On par 3s over 190 I am not accurate enough to give myself enough opportunities. Everything below that I feel comfortable and for the most part am in range to get a birdie and for sure a par.
There are plenty of  tournaments coming up soon. So I need to get to work and fix my tee shot . Once I have that under control, things will change dramatically. I will start with a swing analysis at GolfTec. Hopefully this week. Anybody tried that before? Let me know about your experience.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Practice, tournaments and golf school plans - more focus on golf

It has been a while yet again since I voiced what is going on in my golf life. Fact is, that when in focus on working on my game and my tournament plan, I am just that. In focus. Combined with the fact that I still have to work beside my golf mission it becomes a little harder to sit down, collect my thoughts and get going.

I will work on doing it better and am convinced , that I can organize play, practice and writing in a matter it makes sense.

My first month of practice at Sarabay Country Club was a great success. Working on my game at Sarabay is of great benefit. The short game practice area is a wonderful place to spend time and work on all kinds of shots I am facing on the course constantly. I would say , that the majority of the time I spend right there.

Playing the course is a pleasure. It is in exceptional condition and one of the toughest tests in the area. Famous for the Donald Ross designed camel greens with a speed of 11 and up. I am alternating the tee boxes I am playing in all kinds of ways. Some times I play white, then blue, then white/blue and so on. By doing so , I give myself different tee shots often. It is important to do so. When playing the same course often, a not wanted routine can set in. I try to avoid that.

For the most part I am walking. That is good for my over all fitness and it helps me to feel the course better. See shots better and the shape of the green when approaching it to get ready for my putts.

Playing from the blue tees is a challenge. The course offers 7023 yards from those boxes. Considering the greens, that is a tough challenge. My drives are still not long enough. That forces me to hit hybrids and at times even a 5 wood or 3 wood when approaching the green. Depending on wind conditions ( playing into the wind is not a rare occurrence on this course).

In regards to my overall distance I decided to finally seek some professional help. After going back and forth for months now I made up my mind and will get a swing analysis from GolfTec.

What I like about this company is that they use technology which is used by many professionals. With the equipment they have in there facilities, I can get a very detailed overview of my entire swing and body movements.

This is exactly what I need. I am a strong player and have plenty of power and I need to find this little thing which keeps me from reaching the distance I need to be able to easily master longer tracks. We will see what will happen.

I played 5 competitive rounds of golf since I started working at Sarabay Country Club. 4 rounds were very good. As a matter of fact, for long periods of those rounds I was at par or better ( 2 under at the front 9 of Tatum Ridge). The failure to finish the rounds as I would like was a result of not being mentally and physically fit enough to stay in the zone. Simple mistakes were made.

Overall it shoes me that I can easily can shot under par, if I am able to keep my mind where it belongs. Focus and concentration were the main reason of not finishing the rounds as I would have liked.

But I am happy with the results. I played longer and more accurate and my short game has dramatically improved over the past 4 weeks.

Today starts my tournament season for the summer and I have a wonderful line up over the next weeks.

Bobby Jones Golf Complex being the first test for this weekend. Hoping the course will be in good shape. Saturday I am excited too play in a Celebrity Charity event at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Largo, FL.

This will be a nice round of golf. Although this will not be stroke play, there is plenty of opportunity to show quality shots. The most exciting one being the 10000 hole in one par 3 ! . Most important to me on that day is the fact that I will meet people from the sports world. Players of the Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning as well as many others who are connected with the Sports World.

It will be interesting to meet some of those guys and girls and to hear their story. Surely I will be able to learn something and make some new friends. Not to forget that it is also an event which will raise funds for a good cause for the area.

Sunday I follow up with the Tatum Ridge Game. Not the best course in the area, but a game with a ton of player and $ to be won. My mission is not only work intensive but also costs plenty of money. So although playing skins games are not my favorite at this point, they give me the opportunity to play well and earn extra $ for the cause.

Upcoming events next week are the City Championship of Bradenton ( 2 men), FSGA at The Oaks Club in Osprey and later this month the WGAT event at Quail West in Naples. The WFAT is a new tour I added into my schedule. This tour has great events to offer and certainly one of the most exciting incentives of all tours.

A paid trip to South Africa to represent the USA in a big tournament. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

So things are going well and my life is more and more in focus with golf. Practice, play , rest. Practice , play , rest. This is the way it should be and this is the only way to actually make it happen.

Which does not mean, that I am not doing anything other than that. There is still work to be done and challenges to overcome. But nothing which is so significant that it can not be done. I am excited and confident. Just stay with the mission and success will come as a result.

Last I would like to mention, that I will work harder on keeping up with my writings. Both , for my blogs and for articles. I am thankful for all of the readers who keep visiting my blogs :).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Status on practice and play

It has been a while since I sat down and wrote any article and I have to improve that. As things go back to normal after a few months of celebration and entertaining, I am getting back on my regular writing schedule to share my golfing life.
2 weeks ago I became a summer member at Sara Bay Golf Club in Bradenton , FL. A great opportunity to practice and play on one of the premier golf courses in the area. An old fashioned track from the 20s, this course offers the toughest greens around, long holes, a wonderful short game practice area, driving range, a 1o 1 putting green and a nice club house area.

All this is ideal for me to work my way further towards the ultimate goal. There is no doubt in my mind, that working on a course like that will help me to get better overall. I remember being a member at Pula Golf, Mallorca - Spain. One of the toughest courses in Europe they say. Playing and practicing there every day helped me to play the best golf I have played in years.

The same effect I know will kick in when I will spend the summer working hard and daily at Sara Bay. Combined with tournaments ( which I did not pick and enter yet) , skins games ( which I think I will do Fridays and some Sundays) and some lessons with a coach, I have no doubt that the goal can be reached by the end of this year or early next year.

Our plan was to start travelling the US next year. Play tournaments and experience life on the road. I will do my best to make sure we will stay on schedule.

So far I worked 3 days on the range there and it looks promising. It is nice to have a short game area where the green is identical with the greens on the course in terms of speed and condition. I played 2 times. One time the white tees and one time the blue tees. I need to change it around. Playing all kinds of tees will help me to have a new course almost every day or so.

Both rounds where good. I worked primarily on my tee shot. My biggest thing I need to get done. I am still to short and have not enough options of the tee. My shot to go is a slightly left to right fade and I will keep it like that. However, it would be good to have the options to hit a little draw and most important to get another 30 to 50 yards if needed.

I feel great at Sara Bay Golf Club and I think we will see some good progress.

Last Friday I played Bobby Jones Golf Club for the first time in several months. It is my men's group and it was for a special occasion. Although planning to play there more often again, I was not planning to play last Friday.

It was great to see my friends and exchange news. Both , putting and chipping green were closed, which did not help to get my warm up program done. But I did use the range for a few.

The British side of the complex was closed. I did not mind at all. The American side is very tight and in many aspects more demanding. So I liked the idea. I was the only one in  my group playing the blue tees. Although I do not mind, it is always more fun if you have at least one partner from your box. The difference is up to 60 yards on some tee shots and so you are pretty much always by yourself.

I had troubles of the tee in the beginning, but was able to use my good short game for an OK front 9. I left 5 putts short by a few inches. The greens were like carpet. I would say they ran about 5 or 6 on the Stimp. I adjusted on the back 9. Still my drive was not the best, but I hit more fairways and more GRs. Together with my short game I got a good second 9 done.

The score was not the best, but 70s is always a plus. I was satisfied with my work on that day and won a few $ with a good tee shot on a par 3. Considering the long period of not practicing and playing enough I think I did a good job to play the game of golf.

One thing I have to keep in mind. Practice is good and working on your swing is good. But when game day is here, the only thing what counts is playing the game. And the game is simple. Get the ball in the cup ASAP, no matter how.

Yesterday I worked for a little while at Terra Ceia Bay Golf Club. We go swimming there. I found that swimming helps my joints to feel better. I gained some weight again and I feel it. So although I wanted to take a brake from a full practice because my leg and right upper side where hurting a little as well as some muscle ache from 2 rounds of walking, I decided to at least work around the green for a while.

A smart choice. It keeps my touch fresh and my timing in line. Today is Sunday. No doubt. It is our goal to play a family round today and I will do a good warm up before that. A relaxed round of golf is on the agenda.

Rest of the day I start catching up with my blogs and work on planning our USA travel. This is a huge project. Let us see with what I come up with for a general idea.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

First day of practice - warming up for a full force season

Today was the day. I started my the summer with a 2 1/2 hour practice session at Terra Ceia Bay Golf Club. Main goal was to get a feel for the ball and some rhythm. Mainly I planned to work on my short game.

In all I spend 2 hours around the green. Working with my LW, GW and SW. Different shots from different lies including downhill, rough, behind trees and so on. The green was in OK shape. Not very fast but green and rolling nicely.

In between I tried to hit some irons. This always is a challenge there. The range is not in good shape. Not one even spot to play from. Luckily the golf school mat was available and so I put my focus on GW and PW shots from there. Between 50 and 110 yards. Easy swings.

Last I did some hybrids, 3 W , 5 W and driver. But only with the driver and a tee it made sense to swing. There was not a spot which was in good shape. I kept it short with those clubs. My drives were OK and I had some good shots with the other clubs.

After fighting the range and the balls I went back to the short game area and did another 150 shots there. I really worked on my LW. In order to make the ball stop on fast greens I need to be 100 % confident in this club. For some time now I was not so sure about using my LW.

It all worked well today. Got a really good feel for my wedges and my driver felt pretty as well.

Great feeling to be back on the range and course. I feel like I did what I am supposed to do and had fun every minute of this session. Even though the weather already is pretty hot I must say. But I do not feel the heat that much. As a matter of fact, I like when it is hot and humid.

Really feels good to get a work out again and I can not wait to be out there 4 to 6 hours a day. I was not able to set my new practice deal in stone yet. That is a big challenge. However, I will keep working on this matter. In order to move on and work in a professional setting, I need to get it going.

Suggestions are welcome. If you know a country club deal which is reasonable and close to me, send me a message. I am extremely interested in signing for a summer membership at a good club. I need a championship course which is as tough as possible, with fast and difficult greens, a good short game area, an iron driving range, a fast putting green and a good social agenda.

What that means is that there should be a restaurant, a men's club, professional tournaments if possible and other events.

A monthly fee would be preferred and a low food and drink spending limit would be good. An initiation fee should not be. Remember, I am in the Bradenton , FL area and need a club which is no more then a few miles away. Suggestions and comments are more than welcome.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A new beginning - opportunities are showing up - let us see if we can grab them

I am back. It has been over a week since I sat down to write anything. This is a good thing. It gave me time to think, to plan and to make some decisions.

One conclusion I made after spending time thinking about why I am not moving on was, that I am simply not working in the right spot surrounded by the right people. That I think was an important discovery.

If you want to be part of something, you need to start associating with people who are part of just that. Reflecting on where I practice, play and what I do. I am not doing that at all or only a little. So there is the first thing I will need to change to move on.

Change my practice facility.

Another point I think has huge impact is that need more professional help. Not that I do not think that I can do without, but I am simply running out of time. Being 46 I do not have the luxury Bubba, Lee or Chi Chi had when they we beginning to hit a ball. I need to move on with bigger steps. So I will make a decision where I get some professional help ASAP.

Luckily I actually was working on that for a while and have a pretty good idea what I will do.

The third factor I will work on is developing an image, a style. That will require some planning and thinking. The good news is that I worked on that as well.

So tomorrow will be my first day of practice after some good times with family and my honeymoon.

I will make a last stop at Terra Ceia Bay Golf Club and put in a good 2 to 3 hours of practice around the green and on the range. That will be my morning session. Followed by some swimming and stretching.

A short brake and then I am off to Sarabay Country Club. After checking all my options, it became clear, that this will be a great place to continue my mission. Great golf course. Very tough golf course. Good short game facility and great iron practice area. Very fast practice green.

On top of the exceptional golf course, I will associate with some of the most interesting golf players in the state. Members who played with greats and so on. People you should know. Check out the club to read about it's history and understand what I am talking about.

Hopefully it will work out.

The summer there will also connect me with players from other tours, caddies from tours and much more. This is where the association with people comes in. We will see how it will work out and if I can get in to it.

For now I just want to report back and let all the readers know that I am more determined then ever to get the job done. It will require more work, more sacrifices and more investment. But it does not matter. If there is one thing I found out while sitting and thinking on my ship's balcony.

There is really nothing else I want to pursue. So there it is :). Tomorrow and the day after I lay out a more detailed plan on here. In terms of practice, tournaments ( which there are many in the next few months) and how we are going to build an support this business and it's most important asset, the player :).

Exciting times are coming on to us.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

City of Bradenton Two Men Combo Championship 2014 and other things I did and do

It has been a while since I wrote. Why? I was busy. Busy playing golf. That is a good thing. Last weekend I played for the first time in my a life in an event where you play 4 different formats and with a team partner. It sounded like fun the moment my friend Adam Zaydel told me about it.

Was it fun? Oh yes it was. I enjoyed every minute of it, although we did not win a dime. But let us go through it real fast.

Adam and myself started on Saturday morning on hole 1. First format was simple better ball for 9 holes. I was hot right from the get go. I did not miss a fairway and had good opportunities for birdies. That was a good thing because Adam was off to a tough start. We did a good job navigating through the first 9. The back 9 was played as a scramble ( hit two tee shots and then play both balls from there and so on) . We did well here again. I continued to hit fairways and long drives and Adam came back and we were able to shot a good 70.

That put us just outside the Championship flight. Which was a good thing. The leader hat 7 shots on us and that is a huge margin. In the 1st flight however we were on top with some others and had a good chance to make things happen.

Sunday we started on the back 9. Format: Modified alternate ( both tee off , then play the ball you picked to the hole alternating players). Interesting format. Even more so when both players have trouble to get the tee shot in to the fairway. Those 9 holes were tough. It was hard work to get any score going and looking back, I think I made some wrong decisions. Especially of the tee.

We managed to finish without a major disaster and in my mind we had a pretty good chance to pick it all up on the last 9, playing scrambled better ball. Both hit a tee shot and then both finish their ball.

I had some good looking birdie putts on the first 3 holes. But my putts did simple not fall. On 4 we both had a birdie putt and Adam managed to roll it in. We followed up with a couple pars and made two more birdies before coming to 18.

My drive was good. Very good. Only had about 130 to the pin. I knew, that if we can make one more birdie, we have a shot at some $. I pulled my shot to the left fringe. Adam left it to the right of the green. But what happened next was the most strange and incredible thing. It might not have lost us the tournament, but it sure took away one chance.

We walked up to the green talking bout what ball to play. We discussed the distance , the break and lie. Once we were done I picked up my ball which was much further away and walked towards Adam. That is when our fellow players asked me what I am doing. We both turned around and looked surprised. Then it became clear to us, that we mixed up the formats. Unbelievable. After 8 holes playing one format, we actually switched in our minds to the scramble again. I was stunned. In over 25 years of golf I have never made a mistake like that.

Adam saved the par. But it was not good enough. We finished T3. After score card play off we came in 5th and won nothing. What a thing.

We had plenty of opportunity. I felt great and played good. Adam came back in form on both days. It just did not happen. The putts did not fall. But I will play next time again. It was a refreshing change.

Played a West Florida Golf Tour Event the following Monday at Lakewoodranch Kings Dunes. A tough and wonderful golf course. My goal was to attack every pin from wherever I was. It was not easy and I did not succeed. But I felt good about what I did. Arnold Palmer attacked and I think I need to attack more. This time it did not work out, but next time it will.

There were a few good drives, great bunker shots, nice fairway woods and certainly good putts. But also there were some unlucky kicks, tough breaks and wrong club selections yet again. It was the last event of my winter season. I woke up with some sore bones the next day and needed one full day to recover.

I played well the last 7 months. Played many events. Won a couple, finished in the money in a few and learned a lot about myself, the game and the tours.

Now I have a 3 week break. I will practice. But there is not much play. Maybe one tournament in May. My focus over the next weeks will be on developing a better plan on how to move on and progress further. How to get the mandatory 6 hours of golf in every day, where to get my lessons and coaching and how to play more tournaments all over FL and beyond.

One thing is for sure. There need to be changes in order to move on and reach for the goal. What I think and what will happen I will naturally share with all of the readers. Beginning May 15th or so I will up the blog to a daily entry again. Call it a diary if you like.

But what comes next is what will ease my mind and relax my body. We will go on a 7 day first honeymoon on a ship. Relax, enjoy, think, plan, decide and put things in perspective. I will practice for about 1 hour a day to keep me in the groove :) and go to the gym for 1 hour a day to start my new conditioning. There will be one more entry to this blog before we leave.

Not sure if I publish what I come up with while thinking and planning while travelling. or once we are back as a summary. We will see. This blog represents a window into my mind in terms of golf and it is hard to lay out a schedule. When something comes to mind and I think it is worth sharing, I will do so. Then again, I believe that every thought I share is worth sharing because it might help another person to make a decision.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lakwoodranch Country Club, Sara Bay Country Club - playing tournaments with the WFGT and FSGA and more

Home after another perfect golfing day. But first a few days back. My practice time is pretty much zero at this point. I only can work on my game at home. Pretty simple. No transportation to my practice facility. That makes it difficult to go out and do what I need to do. Never the less, I am working on my game. Did some good work on my putting. Trying to get back to my old putting stands and swing. Not easy, but seems to be the right way to go. On top of that I am working the Haney practice work out. 100 swings a day. Last I do the smash bag in the garage and the chipping all over the house and the yard. All together that is working well , but for sure no supplement.

Last Monday we had the West Florida Amateur Tour Event at Sara Bay Country club. Always a tough course to play. The greens are severe. Donald Ross design. Elevated and like humps. Either you are on the green  or you are not. It was super windy yet again. But this time no rain and it was not cold. Pretty nice day.

Played a good round of golf. Was able to get the ball safely to the green. Not many GRs. But my short game was in good shape and so I navigated well through this tough conditions. Many shots had to the thought through several times. Club selection was simply not easy. Gave myself some good opportunities. 2 of them I converted into birdies. The first one on number 5. A short par 4 with lots of trouble in form of water hazards and bunkers. Picked the right club twice and had a 2 foot birdie putt after a great approach which I was able o stop right there.

The other birdie was my favorite. Hole 13. A long par 3. It played 199 and into the wind. I figured about 220. Put a nice fade in the middle of the green and sank the 15 foot putt as if I am doing this all day long.

My drives were straight, but only a couple reached the 280 mark. So there is work to do. In all I had a good 2nd place finish. That always helps to get some confidence back.

Today I finally had the pleasure to play the Kings Dunes Course at Lakewood Ranch Country Club. The two courses there eluded my play for years for all kinds of reasons. Since we play there next Monday , I thought this to be my practice round for that tournament.

FSGA stroke play in Gross Division. I love this format. Playing this format will force me to get longer, better and work harder. Much better then the other games we play at times. Had a rough start. Got stuck in traffic. That resulted in me being there just in time. I had about 5 LW shots and a few chips I could make. We started on 16. I liked that. So I had the finishing holes to start he round. I started good with 1 over par on those 3 holes. That gave me some good confidence, which I needed on that course. What a beautiful golf course and what a tough golf course. We only played 6600 yards, but that was enough for me to work hard. I had no yardage book and none of my partners had played this course before.

Pretty much every tee shot was by feel. My goal was to keep it in the fairway and see if I can work my approach to the green. My tee shots worked out OK I must say. Was able to keep it in play. Only 2 tee shots were errand. One in the water and one almost in the water. Both ended in a double bogey. Not because of the tee shot, but because of a poor first putt after getting on the green.

It was fun to play. You need to be accurate on that course. There is no forgiveness at all. If you make little mistakes, you might get punished. I found that out on 3 holes. The first one I mentioned. But more difficult to take were the two par 5s. One I took an 8 and one a took a 7. On both holes I was within 90 yards with my second shot. On both holes I attacked the pin and on both holes I hit the green but the ball went of to the side into a deep collection area.

Both times I tried my LW and both times I left it short. Absolutely amazing. A pure mental error. Wrong club, wrong swing. I usually am taking full advantage of par 5s. Not this time. The par 3s I played 1 over par. So I can live with that. Interesting was hole 14. This hole played 200 to the pin, straight in to the wind. About 220 or so. I put it on the green and had a 28 foot birdie putt. I actually left it short and missed my par putt. Amazing.

Over all I am satisfied with my play. I had 3 lip out birdie putts which I converted to par. Had 8 more birdie putts. Left 2 short and missed the rest by as much as less than an inch. My drives were good and although the fairways look tight and are tight at times, I hit plenty of them. My lay up shots on par 5s are all good. Just need to putt them on the green so , that they do not roll off after hitting the green.

All other approach shots were OK but not close enough. My biggest struggle was from collection areas. I clearly need to change the club from there and play a different shot.

One of the facts which strike every time I play a course like this is, that those tracks are tougher and longer than what we otherwise play. Only if I can play golf courses like that I will be able to improve. When forced to hit it longer and more accurate, you will learn that.

I am looking forward to Monday. We will play the same course and this time I will be in time to warm up. Further I now know the course a little better and there will be a few tee shots which I will do different for sure. Also I am now aware of the space which is actually available behind the greens and in some of the fairways. So I will have more confidence.

Not sure about the greens. They were not that fast I thought. But hard to read. Good looking greens I must say. I just like this place. Beautiful, tough, demanding, not forgiving and a great facility coming with it. I can not wait to get back there on Monday with the West Florida Amateur tour.

But first we play the 2 men combo tournament at River Run Golf Links in Bradenton. A tough and tight little course. This is a fun tournament. 4 formats. 9 holes better ball, 9 holes scramble, 9 holes shamble ( no idea what that means) and 9 hole modified alternate. This will be a fun weekend and I am playing with my German friend Adam Zaydel. Adam is a good golfer and this will be our fair well event as a team. He will be leaving to Germany next week.

I love it. This week is all about competitive golf. If I could get the practice done and other parts of the golf life, this would be exactly how we picture our weeks. One thing I have to tell myself. I am playing well for what I have on hand. My distance is by far shorter than the distance of the other guys in my group. I am old enough to be a father to most of the young guns out there. Also I do not get the practice most of those players have with coaches. In the end, I am doing well and am only a few shots, yards and tweaks away from being where I want to be. I am excited that we are that close.

So I will finish this spring season with fun and ease and then we will get ready for a full force pro approach starting mid May. Tomorrow a light practice and I am ready for 3 days of golf. Anyone had any experience with those formats I wrote about?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Playing at Belleair Country Club and Laurel Oak West - always a pleasure to play on great golf tracks

So, as I mentioned before I let this month be a relaxed month of playing tournaments, collecting experience and preparing for a harder push starting the end of May. For that I am entered in a wonderful line up which started on March 31st 2014 with Laurel Oaks Country Club.

This event was put on by the West Florida Amateur Tour. Laurel Oak has been a great place to be for the past 3 years. Both courses, East and West are kept in great condition. The staff is exceptional friendly and helpful, the Pro-Shop is organized and well stocked. On top of that , I won 3 times there and was in the money other times. So those tracks are made for me.

Last Monday was no different. I played a good round of golf. Not because I had the best of drives or spectacular approach shots. But because I have my short game under control. I hit some fairways on the front and few GRs, but managed to bring in a 2 over front. Had a few more birdie opportunities but did not make a single birdie.

I started the back 9 with a good feeling and my first drive on the not easy 10 of the West Course was actually pretty good. Despite plenty of wind coming into us, I had a shot at the green, which I left short. A bad chip from a muddy lie paved the way to a bogey, which I only managed to get because of a great putt.

The rest of the back 9 was so and so. 2 bad holes helped to bring in a 42, which was very disappointing. The great news was that I made a very good birdie on 18. Good drive, nice second lay up , almost perfect approach and a very good putt. It was a good finish. I felt good about the round although there clearly was more possible. Laurel Oaks Country Club again was a good venture. No winnings this time.

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Had a good day rest on Tuesday to prepare for an event which was scheduled totally by surprise. The FSGA organized a tournament at Belleair Country Club in Clearwater Florida. There were several reasons why I wanted to play. Amongst them the fact that it is Florida's oldest Golf Club, further it was a stroke play event in which I have to play the back tees in the gross division, my good friend Adam Zaydel was playing and most important, this course also is a Donal Ross design. This is significant because next Monday we will have a shoot out at Sarabay Country Club in Bradenton and this club does not allow any amateur practice rounds any more. A new thing the members decided for.

Signing up for a tournament without ever having played a tough course is not exactly the best thing to do. The circumstances however spoke all for it.

We arrived there about 30 minutes before the start of the tournament. A little close and not exactly a lot of time to warm up. I did the best to get my routine in. Fell about 20 minutes short. I felt good though.

We started at 18. A 420 yard par 4. Had a good drive right away. My second shot was not too bad either. However, my LW chip and my putts were horrible to say the least. Leaving me with a 6. Number 1 all of a sudden looked different to me. Another 417 par 4. Tried to pass the fairway bunker on the right with my drive but came up just a few yards short. What followed was a sequence of events and mental errors leading to a 7. 5 over after 2 holes. Not exactly what I was looking for.

But experience and ability helped me to settle down and play the following 8 holes 3 over par. Missed some good birdie opportunities. Had good drives, was working the wind coming from the water pretty nicely and chipped it not close but to good distance. Best shot without a doubt was on 3. Had a huge drive into the wind and yet 189 into the wind and uphill. Got a good hybrid going and had 9 foot for birdie. Missed by less than an inch. Did not leave it short. That was the best part.

Getting a 42 out of the triple bogey on number 1 was not exciting, but at least I found some confidence. That did not show at all on the back 9. Funny how you can hit plenty of fairways, good approach shots and yet play a bad 9. My chipping on to the Ross Greens was a disaster. Not to speak of my 3 3putts which I produced.

I enjoyed my round, worked with whatever I had on hand and was able to pull of some great shots from wherever I was. Had 3 penalties on the round. The result of this round was not one for the books. But Bellair Country Club ( West Course) for sure was a worthy practice round for Monday. I have to say though , that the greens at Sarabay Country Club are much more severe and faster. So we will see if I can get my LW and GW better going.

Some might say that shooting rounds like that has not much benefit and might even work against the player in terms of advertisement or goals. I disagree. It is how the player acts on it what will determine if there will be any kind of impact on his game or reputation. At this point of time, this round has no impact on anything.

It was a  pleasure to play this historical course and if I ever get a chance to get on it again, I will grab it and will be up for the challenge.

That last two days I spend time with one thing : Impact drills. It seems that I have some trouble to make solid contact with the ball. This results in problems with picking the right clubs for certain distances. I am flying to many greens and yet, sometimes I am 10 to 15 yards shot. It is true, that it is part of golf to be not perfectly on. But it would be nice to have more consistency.

The coming Monday we will fight it out at Sarabay Country Club in Bradenton. Always like this course. It is tough. The greens are fast and it is a challenge to keep the ball on the green with your approach. My goal on Monday: Hit the middle of the green. The past few rounds I was attacking every pin without hesitation. That left me with plenty of challenging shots. So I will do it different.

Go for the middle, give myself some opportunities and otherwise get a par out of it. There is 2 par 5s I can reach in two. It will depend on condition and feel if I will go for it.

Next Wednesday I finally get to play Lakewoodranch Country Club - The Kings Dunes Course. I am really looking forward to that one. Never had a chance to get on yet.  Following will be the 2 men team tournament Saturday and Sunday at River Run Golf Links. Looking forward to play this tight course. It will be fun to play with my friend Adam Zaydel yet again.

With our abilities together we clearly are due for a good result.

Last tournament before the big break will be Lakewoodranch again. Funny, they do not let you play a practice round either and I am lucky to be entered in the FSGA event.

After we successfully completed all this events, there will be a break. This break needs to be used to relax, rethink and re-plan. Came a long ways, but we are stuck and I am not satisfied with my daily routine in terms of golf. There need to be changes and improvements on all fronts.

Tomorrow practice is on the schedule. Going back to Terra Ceia Bay Country Club to work my impact and my short game. If possible play on Sunday a casual round. But that is a matter of finding a deal which makes sense. It is still season and the golf rates are still pretty high.

I am so looking forward to summer time here in Florida.

In all I feel good. Not physical fit yet and mentally still not strong enough. But my spirit is higher then ever. Simple reason for that : I just do not want to do anything else. This is it. We will accomplish the goal. At all cost.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Club Championship at Terra Ceia Golf Club

The last two days I was busy playing the Club Championship at Terra Ceia Golf and Country Club in Palmetto, Florida. You could call it my home course. However , it really is the place where I have my handicap and where I practice.

I like to work on my game there and at times I play there. Certainly I signed up for the Club Championship. It was to be held as a stroke play tournament, which is my preferred format.

The weather did not look good on the morning of the first day when I got up in the morning. But before I took off it cleared up and no rain in sight. The round played pretty tough. Not because of the 14 water holes, the tightness of the course, the small greens or speed of them, but because of very strong ever changing winds.

It was pretty difficult to find the the right line and distance. But I navigated nicely through my front 9. The two holes deserving to be mentioned here were number 5. A short par 4 with plenty of water to the right and only a tight opening to lay up and OB to the left. I had a not so good hybrid which luckily did not go in the water, but stopped in the deep rough close to a tree. I had a clear shot, downhill lay. In order to avoid landing in the water when hitting it too short, I played it to the left of the green.

Gave myself an outside chance to save par and took a bogey. Considering the tee shot and the lie I had as a result, the bogey was acceptable. The very next hole is one of the toughest par 3s. Tee box, water, green. Wind from all sides and you never know where from. On that day clearly it blew right into us. 170 to the pin. Took a 5 wood and gave it a good punch.  Was just left of the pin. Downhill putt and made it. There was hope.

The 1 over par on the front 9 was OK with me. I gave myself some opportunities to make birdies and made one good one. Saved par when I needed too.

The back 9 started different. Bogey on the first two par threes, one of them a 105 shorty which often causes trouble because of the wind. Followed up with a good par, another bogey and another par.

There we are at 15. Short dog left right. Hit a good drive, leaving me 65 yards to the pin. But , I was a little too long and ended up with a palm tree in front of me. Now here comes a bad decision. While the shot I can do best is a 7 iron pitch, I decided to take a SW and play a high  lob like shot over the palm tree. Ended up hitting the tree and the ball came back . This time  a downhill lie. Miss hit it and ended up over the green behind yet another palm tree.

Only chance was to pitch between the trees on to a mount to the right of the green, hoping that the ball will roll down towards the pin. The shot was great and it started rolling towards the pin but stopped 10 feet from it. Missed my bogey putt.

Only chance I had to stay in the match was to play 3 pars minimum. In my mind I decided to shoot 3 birdies.

The last three holes are all around a little lake. Water comes into play all the time and to the left is OB. Tight and tough. I got myself a par on 16. Chipped in for birdie on 17. Faced with a similar shot like on 15 after my drive I this time took my 7 iron, pitched close to the pin and made birdie. Here is the good news. I learned from my mistakes and did better. 67  was my first round and I was good with that.

Today was the final. 3 players had a realistic chance for the title. My front nine worked out well. Played pars and a birdie. Made a bogey which was again on 5 and this time got myself a bogey on 6. Different wind, different shot.

7 and 8 I saved par despite not so good tee shots. Thanks to my LW. 9 looked pretty simple this time. I hit a good drive and was 29 yards from the pin. Right in front of  a small trap. The fairway on that spot felt a little solid. Like concrete. My first thought was to chip it with my GW to the right and two putt. However, I decided to take my LW again after hitting it well and lob it over the trap right to the pin which stood and the narrowest spot of the green.

I missed the shot and my ball ended up in the trap. My first trap shot. I like bunker shots. Really worked on it and it paid off. I just did not realize that there was not much sand in this one. Even when stepping in it. I did not catch much sand and hit it not only OB but on to the roof of the house behind the green. So I had to hit another one. Again I learned from my mistake and hit a good shot out to leave me a putt for a 6, which I missed. This 7 almost took me out of the match.

Needless to say that I had some mental issues to fight. But I am currently working on getting my mind under control. 10 worked out just fine. Had a bad tee shot. Used my LW again and left it just short of the green on the fringe. I made the putt and felt my confidence coming back.

The short 11 is not my favorite hole and this time I took an extra club. Still I missed the shot and ended up in the water taking a 5. Horrible to say the least. Bad tee shot on 12, but almost made birdie. Great tee shot on 13 and made birdie. Poor tee shot on 14 and yet another bogey.

There was 15 again. I went back and forth with my club selection and still took my driver. Again I was too long, overshooting the fairway and ending up in the bunker. Downhill lie, one foot in the trap and one food outside about 1 ½ above. Palm tree in front of me ( same as the day before) 68 yards to the pin, OB to the left. The correct shot : PW ion to  the fairway, chip on and put for par. My choice: 8 iron, going for the pin. The shot felt good and looked good. But when I got to the spot where I thought it was I saw that the ball was OB again.

I was later told it rolled of the mount and hit the cart path. So I went back. Same club, same shot, got it out and left it short behind the same tree again. Only shot available : PW fade around the tree. This I actually made happen. Still needed another chip and 2 putts to save an 8. That was it. Finished with par, par and birdie. Considering I just had an 8 , it was good golfing to finish par , par and birdie on those water holes.

73 on the second day gave me a 3 place finish with some $. I am never happy to not win. I only needed to play par on those two holes to win that thing.

Overall I must say my game improved. Better turn, more power, longer shots with all clubs, putting is much better than just a few weeks ago. I made many good decisions and scrambled nicely.

I surely learned an important lesson from those two holes. Play the % . I knew it before and did not follow through with it. I guess that is what mental strength and ability is all about. Whenever I played the higher % shot on any hole, I was right and finished well .

The wind was tough, but it was for everyone the same. We had no rain and the greens were running nicely. There was really no reason to not win this tournament.

3 place is not a bad thing and I take  any price I win :).  I will take some good points from this  two rounds and remember all the great shots I hit and putts I made.

What really is worth mentioning is the improvements I saw on the course. The greens were in good shape despite all the rain. Nice and firm and green. The fairways looked OK to me as well. Compared to last year this course improved a lot. I reviewed last year or so and it is like a different track.

Tomorrow we are at Laurel Oaks Country Club to play a practice round for the West Florida Amateur Event on Monday. I am excited about it. This is one of my favorite clubs. Nice people, great course and always good players to compete with.

Monday will be the beginning of a wonderful tournament series.

Laurel Oaks Country Club, Sarasota

Belleair Country Club in Clearwater

Sarabay Country Club, Bradenton

Lakewoodranch Country Club , Sarasota ( 2 times)

Really feeling blessed that I am able to play all those golf courses and tournaments.
What is on the list today? Just taking some notes about those rounds and my improvements and things to work on. Rest. Write.

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