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 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 :).