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.