Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Staying with your dream is what it will take - I am still on it !

It has been over a month, almost two since I found the time and the calm to sit down and reflect and write something.

There was just too much on my mind and on my plate to find a moment to actually share my thoughts and feelings and the status of my progress.

It seems that life always has something to throw in to your way to work on. Overall I must say whatever came my way so far was pretty small stuff. Nothing really significant. I did not get seriously sick, did not have any accidents or other hardships. But one significant factor remains present at all times: Age!

If I would be 25 again all those things around me would be literally a piece of cake. Work , practice and get things done.

So over the last few months I tried to do exactly what I want and need to do. Practice, play golf, take care of business and have a social and family life. Did not work as I liked it to be. By far not enough practice. Often simply to tired to get up at 6 am and get going. Some times my mind to full to focus on what needs to be done.

Two main reasons would be transportation and then some dental problems , which those took me out a couple of weeks as well. In regards to those two matters we are at a turning point. Both issues, transportation and dental will be taken care of over the next few weeks. Dental work and with it all issues will be done tomorrow. Transportation I am not exactly sure yet. But we work on it.

Once our transportation issue is resolved this will free my time to actually get in my 4 or so hours practice a day in without being under constant time pressure. I can assure you, that under time pressure good practice is simply not possible.

On the up side, I was able to accomplish some very good things on the range. My short game came back nicely. Putting most of my work into 100 yards and less shots, as well as bunker play and putting. Especially bunker play came along big time.

With my woods I only made limited progress. Mainly I fine tuned my 5 wood and my 4 hybrid. Both crucial clubs in  my game as I am not the longest of the tee and need to have those clubs under control. My driver got the least work out. Although I can live with it, it holds me back to shoot the real low round. But after my season is over end of September a new plan will be developed.

For example I measured my home practice area today. But can not proceed with it until I have some other issues resolved. Things which might take the space I need for the cage away. But we will see how it will work out.

A big step forward I made with my mental approach and training. Thanks to Youtube there is so much access to great meditation and other audio recordings. With a good headphone I was able to get some good work in. But I am far away from being where I want with that as well. Finding silence for a few hours is not easy.

So I worked my way out of a big hole I was in for weeks. Shooting scores which were almost scary. a few of them even in the upper 80s. But I kept on playing and got a few good rounds and one great round going ( between 74 and 79). That was , as you can imagine a huge relieve.

There will be no big events before the WGATUSA Nationals in PA. Just some skins game rounds, practice and maybe a couple family rounds. Depending on what will happen at the Nationals, the plan for the rest of the year will be made.

If I am able to bring my flight home and win it, I will be able to play for the USA in Turkey. So October and November will be full force preparation for just this event. Given the case that I will not fly to Turkey, preparation for the next season will start immediately.

Main goal will remain the same. Play full time professional golf and put the hours and work in every day to make it happen.

Until that point where will be some changes so. I will start doing some other work again. So the days will more look like 4 hours practice and 4 to 5 hours work. Tournaments scheduled around those times. Not ideal and it will be demanding and exhausting, but also necessary.

Most important next year  will be playing large national tournaments and official FSGA and USGA events. But a schedule can not be put together until the end of the year.

I am excited that I can do what I can do. Even though I am not satisfied at all with how my days look like . in terms of golf. I believe I made further progress and did what I could to work with what I have.

It is up to me to change my circumstances and there will be a huge emphasis on just that. Work on team building, full time club membership, more charity events and so on.

Next update might come soon. Need to get some equipment before the championship and certainly will report about how we get there, play practice rounds and the tournament itself.

Thank you for all the nice messages and encouragements. I can assure you, that I won't give up. If anything I work harder and be more persistent and aggressive with my goals.

As always, helpful tips, comments, suggestions and so on are very welcome. For example on how I can get my hands on a good launch monitor and build my practice area at home. All for a reasonable price. Financing OK. Also on how I can get into some other big charity events around the country.

Certainly looking for interesting tournaments and events.




Thursday, July 2, 2015

Changes are good, but how far should you go?

Just found out that I posted an article in the wrong blog. I will not change it over, but post a link below where you can find my writing.

http://achimsgolfreviews.blogspot.com/2015/06/i-need-to-work-harder-and-be-more.html

When you read this entry you will find that I was talking about changes. Over the past weeks I was trying to find out what kind of changes I need to make.

And I am still not exactly sure what I will change and in which way. But a few conclusions I made so far.

3 things I so far figured out which I have to work on and do better.

1. Practice

I always thought that the more balls I hit, the better I get. Wrong. It is not the number of balls which count, it is the quality of the shots I am working on. Yesterday I started to put this in place. I practiced for a short period, but I went through my routine for every shot, played my shots in playing tempo. It was a great success and I feel much better about the result.

2. Mental strength

Over the past weeks I was really struggling with my mental game. As a matter of fact I was struggling in general to keep my focus on the task and on the end goal. It went as far as me questioning my entire venture. I guess you can call it crisis.
But luckily I came to a positive conclusion and again know that what I am doing is the right thing and I am on the right way. I just need to put more work in mental training. Take the time to meditate, think slower and have definite times to think. So I do not lose sleep again as a result of my mind working at times when it should not.
But I found several systems online which I will try to use to build up more confidence again and to have even clearer vision of my game, tasks and life and large.

3. Personality

With the mental crisis there came a personality crisis as well. Will I  have to become someone else to be successful and reach my goals? The answer is more clear than ever : NO.
Every golfer has his own way, his on personality and his own thoughts. Also his way of living and being. There is no need to apply any changes. I like the way I am and I just need to make sure that I bring myself to the course. With everything which comes with it.

I believe I tried to hard to become a different person to attract circumstances and people which might be good for my life and business. However, by changing I would attract circumstances and people which do not fit in that mentioned life. So despite the fact that there are some changes I need to apply, my personality needs to remain exactly the same in order accomplish my goals and to keep believing.

I am aware, that reading all this my be a little confusing. But I can assure you, it all makes sense. With all that being said I believe that my game will come back to the same level where I was 6 weeks ago.

As early as this Saturday I will apply a different approach and I believe I will see results right away.

So in short :

I will practice smarter, work more on the mental aspect of the game and go back to my basic simple approach.

Further I will implement a different practice and playing schedule. Less stress and less pressure.
Just need to find my fun again.

Gladly I take advice about ideas on how to improve. So if you know of programs, lessons, videos or anything which might help, please send it my way.



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How do I avoid a mental breakdown in golf ?

That is a great question and I really am in need of an answer. Until two days ago I was convinced , that my mental game is part of my strong side in golf and that even with some limited abilities in my technical department , I can use this strong mental game to the course and get the job down.

Yet, when I played my last round I experienced again the total opposite. It literally was like there was two people on the course. One playing the front 9, one hacking the back 9. Two different swings, shot shapes, putts, behaviors. Scary would be the word I would use if I would see someone play like that.

The difference was , that I was that someone.

In the end it became clear, that I easily can shot par or better on any 9 holes at any time, if I am able to keep my focus, have my thoughts sorted and directed, block negative feelings and thoughts completely and let my natural swing do the job.

On the front 9 of Miami Shores Golf and Country Club I played a good round. Not sensational , but a good round. Despite not striking the ball as good as I can, I kept it in play, moved the ball forward nicely and gave myself opportunity to make some parts. I did make a couple birdie putts. So it was OK. Got up and down a few times. I felt good, calm and content with what I had done.

On the back 9 I started out with a birdie opportunity which ended up in a bogey. My mind was immediately starting to race a little. My next tee shot almost made to he hazard. I was able to get to the ball, but made a very poor decision in regards to club selection and only moved it forward a few yards. Leaving me a clear shot to the green, but way too long for those fast greens. I saved a bogey , which was a little miracle. But I was very unsettled inside.

That showed on the following holes. I never really felt comfortable over the ball again. My mind more busy working on the outcome of the round and the tournament than being in focus for the moment.

I was not able to get myself under control and dropped shot after shot, even missing a 2 foot putt ( which I did not in months). With every shot I lost, my confidence suffered more.

In the end I shot one of my worst back 9 ever. Frustrating.

I can not comprehend why that happens. Out of my last 6 rounds of golf, I only had one decent 76 and not in a tournament. It seems that I am able to start well, but that I am not able to contain my focus and my positive attitude and block all outside influences. Circumstances around me seem to enter my thought process on the course. If not conscious then subconscious. At this point I could not even tell what it is all about. Work, finances or whatever. But there is a distraction within me and it causes a lot of trouble. I am able to restrain this distraction for parts of my golf rounds and for parts of my practice sessions. But there is a trigger somewhere, which starts those things to come out and in and sneak into my brain.

Until just recently I was on the way to tackle this exact task 100 %. I know that some of my supporters and friends say that this is normal. Even the PGA big shots have those moments. I agree, there are moments like that. But we are talking about moments! Not entire rounds or days or weeks.

So of all things I need to work on, this very mental aspect is number 1 on my priority list. Practice is good and playing is important. But all is for nothing if I am not able to keep my mind in focus and under control.

I guess the first thing I need to do is to find the source of the problem. That I will have to do by myself. At least I figure that there is nobody who can help with that. The second thing I is finding some ways to understand, learn and practice my mental game even more.

For that I will seek help online. There is plenty of information. But I also reach out to all my fellow players. Professionals and amateurs alike. Also to all other athletes or specialists.

I would appreciate any information about sources, ideas, tips or maybe even experiences.

Being in the middle of preparing for some bigger evens I really need to find a way to get myself back in a mental state which allows me to 100 % focus on the task on hand and when on the course be exactly there.

I guess that is where I caddy comes in. As Jordan Spieth said in his press conference. He was not hitting good shots at all. But his caddy encouraged him, helped him to pick clubs, shot shapes and read putts and motivate him to stay on it.

But where would I get a caddy like that with my current status? Right now I have occasional help on the course. That is nice, but in the end not the help of a caddy.

There needs to be a way to get this done. I believe I have all I need right now to play. But I need to have my mindset realigned.

So let the ideas and tips roll in and let's see if there is something I can find to be helpful and doable.
This week is an off week. I practice and play one or two times before another event on Sunday. So there is some time to work on this or at least start working on it.

Looking forward to get some messages.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Next goals: Represent the USA at the WGAT World Championship in Turkey, qualify for the Mid Amateur Championship of Florida

Play, Play and Play. That is what it is all about. Jack Nicklaus said, like others before, that playing golf is the best practice. I will follow his lead.

While I still have other obligations I have to fulfill, I have the opportunity to play often. Mostly in events hosted by different golf tours. Like the World Golf Amateur Tour, The FSGA, Golf Channel Tour and so on.

On top of that I have a great membership at one of the best clubs in Florida. Add the skins groups I am part of and you find that I have plenty of chances to play.

But I have other things to do as well. There is work around our home and work in general. I think I average about 3 rounds a week right now. Certainly not enough, but pretty good. A combined 10 hour practice I have going for me as well. That is not counting the constant practice I get in at home even without owning a practice net or simulator.

So in all, I am doing pretty good with what I have.

The last 3 weeks were not easy. I fell into a hole with my swing and with my scoring. I simply was not able to get the job done. My drives were of and all over the place. My approach shots did not approach the areas they should have and my putting was without simply off.

As a result I played some really bad rounds of golf. The last 5 events I  played I did not even come close to the top 5 and I have to admit that it was hard to keep focus. If I would have done something different than before and played better based on that, fine. But I really did not change much. Not in golf and not in my life outside golf.

That made it very hard to stick with what I started since working with my pro. But I did and last Wednesday I finally played a decent round of golf again. Although 77 from the 6600 golf tees at Sarabay CC is not exactly stunning, it was a good and solid effort I showed there.

My drives found more fairways, my approach shots were getting to closer to the target area again and my short game was almost back to normal. I depend on my short game greatly and when it is out of line, my entire game is suffering.

So I was very happy about this golf round and I think I will get a fresh confidence boost.

The day after the round I took it easy on my body. Playing in the heat is very demanding and it is crucial to not overdo it. I used my Smash Bag for swing practice and kept working on mental practice and preparation.

I read some great articles about mental practice and really need to learn how to use those techniques. The PGA Pros do and all winning athletes do.

There is 3 goals for the rest of the year which I am shooting for.

1. Winning my flight at the WGAT USA National championship and become part of the US Team, playing in the World Final in Turkey.

2. Qualify for the Mid Amateur Championship in FL and play the Mid Senior Championship in Florida and make it to the final rounds.

3. Shot another 5 rounds under par.

While there is more goals, those 3 are a top priority for the last few months of this year.

Number 1 is one of my favorite goals right there. Qualifying to play for the USA Team was a dream of mine for years. Sure , I thought about different teams back then. But once your age advances, you are not that picky any more.

The WGAT USA is an interesting Amateur Golf Tour. Not exactly a huge tour, but a good format and with some good things you can win.

I play plenty of local events on this tour. All over Florida and maybe even Mississippi and Louisiana. Tampa being my home tour, I am leading this very tour for two categories. Ranking and Player Of the Year. Both I want to win on this tour. 1 giving me free entry into the National Championship in Pa, Shawnee Inn Resort and the second one paying for Travel and Hotel.

Both are great benefits and compared to other AM Tours, those two are big prices.

This weekend I play in Tampa and Miami on this very tour. Both small events, but both loaded with points for the rankings.

It all looks pretty good and I am overall satisfied with my progress on this tour. While only 11th in the National Ranking and without a chance to win that outright, I am doing well in the local events and will be nicely prepared for the championship in September.

There I have a chance to win my flight and with it the tremendous price.

A fully paid trip to Turkey to represent the USA. Including trip, food, drinks, golf, bag, shirts, hotel and so on. It will be well worth it.

My second goal, qualifying and playing in the official events of the FSGA does not have a big price to be won. But it does have a bigger impact on my long term goals and my career goals towards the mini tours and senior tours.

Those events are counting towards the World Amateur Golf Rankings. My name is not even in this ranking, but needs to be there. So I will work hard to get into the championships and make sure that I play well. This World Ranking will be crucial in the near future to enter bigger events, talk to future sponsors and earn status in all kinds of ways.

But it is not easy. I played in the Florida State Amateur Qualifier and it was tough. Literally there were only 3 players over 21 in the entire group. The rest were kids who are students of IMG academy, college players and other young talents.

Tough environment. But I did well. Shot a good 82. Not that this is a good score. But with how I got it, I am happy. Had a hard time to find the fairway, but my short game saved me often. Finished tied for 28th in this qualifier. Which put me in the midfield of all 300 qualifiers. Not too bad for an older guy :).

The Mid Amateur is for players 25 and over. So chances are getting better right there and the Mid Senior is for players over 40, which puts me right in the mix to win.

I am excited about all those events and work as hard as I can to be prepared and to keep my mental state in positive mode.

The last goal mentioned in this article are the under par rounds. I did shoot under par last year and this year. But by far not often enough. I played several good front or back 9th. Shooting 1,2 and one time 3 under par. On the second 9 however I lost the strokes again. A frustrating fact.

It always seemed like I was not able to keep my focus. Not sure why it was and at times is. That is why I am working more on the mental aspect than anything else.

I have another half year to accomplish those rounds and I am convinced that I will make it, maybe even exceed my goals.

So I am in good spirit. No doubt that I will accomplish all three top goals and move on to better things next year. Patience is important and luckily I have plenty of that.

I am thankful that I have great people supporting me. Without them I would not be able to proceed or it would be much harder to get things done. And I will continue to improve my circumstances, which I am in total control of.

As always I am looking for ideas on how to improve my situation in terms of home practice, support and everything what can help to move forward in this business. So if you have ideas, suggestions or contacts and would like to share. I would be very thankful.


Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 - a good golf year so far - Playing the WGATUSA, FSGA, GC AM Tour and WFAM Tour

2015 so far was a very busy year so far. While golf is on top of my agenda, there is a ton of other things which take up my time, strength and dedication. This makes it even harder to keep up with all my writings online and offline.

But I am working hard to get back on to of it.

So how did I do so far with my golf practice, golf tournaments, golf equipment and my overall situation in relation to work ?

It all goes pretty well. Considering that I only have 24 hours in a day, I believe that I am doing a good job to balance golf, family, work and our home.

Winter was difficult in terms of practice. I had no membership at any course. That means I pay for all range balls. Considering the amount of balls I am practicing with, that is a huge amount. But I tried to control it by putting even more weight on my short game. My daily dose of balls should be about 300 on the range. I did about 90 on each session. Since I was very busy with work on our homes, my sessions were limited. Not because I did not want, but because was tired and there was sometimes no time left. But I got the job done and so there is no big projects which will do that again.

I did most of my practice at Suncoast Golf Center. New balls, new tees, new pro. Great place to improve.

As a matter of fact, I did take some lessons with the head pro there and will take some more. Scott helped with some major improvements, which start to set in slowly but surely. After a rough start right after my lessons, I am now back on track. Getting longer, more accurate and keeping my misses in play.

I am blessed to report that my Summer Membership at Sarabay CC was sponsored again for this year. This will make a huge difference yet again. Last year it threw me forward big time with my game and this year I can add to that. No more worries about all the practice balls and one of the best short game facilities in the area at my hands. Also a wonderful course and club.

In regards to tournaments. I played a lot of them in March. 4 different tours. Different formats. Tons of travel. Playing from Orlando to Naples. All over. I absolutely loved it and love it. Nothing like it and I feel so happy that I can do it. On top of that I had some good success. Winning several events, coming in 2nd and 3rd a few times and always stay within the top 10 ( only I couple times it was not very good). Past two months were very good for me, no doubt.  My game improved, my the way I mentally approach the rounds approved and my results approved.

I love the tournament lifestyle and continue with it through the year. Upcoming events include two WGAT USA events in Ft Myers ( a tour which I lead on the local level ), a Symetra Tour Pro Am where I will be able to play with one of the future LPGA Stars, a City Championship, The WGAT USA Masters beginning of May and a Celebrity Invitational Tournament in Tampa playing with some NFL Players.

Not only is that all fun, but also will I be able to win prices, cash, trophies and keep building my public profile. Also I will meet new friends and build relations, which helps for out future planning as well as it will open new doors into the wonderful world of pro golf, charity golf and amateur golf.

My latest edition to my bag was also my last. I did not do anything for my clubs for a while. I am happy with my clubs. But there is some improvement to be made. Need a new SW, a new Hybrid and all of my clubs need new grips. I usually change grips often. But the cost is tremendous. I am aware that with all my play I should change them every 6 months. But I kept it low. Now I am working on it . Just need to find the best way. Have plenty of gift certificates and might be able to get something done with them. We will see.

My work around the house and in other fields took a lot of energy out of me. One of the things suffering from that is my writings. It is hard to write good or reasonable content when exhausted. So I kept it very low. But I personally think I 'd rather write less now and deliver better content, then writing all the time and just putting stuff out there.

In any case. I am back and it looks like I have more time to back on the board. Things are going well. I love what I do and I am thankful for all the support I get. For some it might be hard to understand how much effort, $, time and work goes into a game or any game if you want to succeed on a professional level. It also takes a toll on family, friends and everything around you. It takes great support and good people to tag along with that and most important, they all need to believe in you and the cause.

I am lucky to got all that and so I will work harder and harder to get it done. Thank you for all the messages asking about my status and how things are going.

What else?

I am trying to buy a Foresight Golf Launch Monitor. A toll to improve and to make $ with. Also something for the future when we get our Hotel our Bed & Breakfast going or our little sports bar. Anybody out there knows of used items? Financing such equipment or any other way to get my hands on it? Trades? All suggestions are welcome.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The final weeks of 2014 and a new start in to a new season

2014 comes to an end and it was an interesting, amazing and also yet a difficult year on my way. The quest to reach a professional playing level will remain active from here on.
It is the last day of a  cruise we are on with family. Sitting on my balcony looking out on the water I think about the last 8 weeks. While from a work and personal standpoint they were exciting and wonderful weeks from a golfing perspective they were tough, not very successful and overall a setback.
My practice time was brief and without a home base to go practice not very productive. Did the best I could in my mind. Bounced between 3 different places. 3 different balls on the range. Not an easy task. There was no time to play many rounds. Between working, organizing and travelling there only few opprtunities to get out. Tournaments were at first not on the schedule, but I was able to enter a couple official events. Glad to say that I played well . Also played some Skinsgame rounds. Did not do to good there but yet they were fun because of the fact that I played with old friends and since the parents now live here my dad can play with us as well.
My scores were except 3 of them very high. Just could not find my rythm. So instead of being in the 75 to 71 range I had to take a few 80s rounds.
When I think about it , it becomes clear that the reason is the off time I had. Fact is that I am still in my growing phase. While in that phase every brake, as short as it might be, results in a setback. With that thought in mind my concern is not huge. It will take 3 weeks to be back where I left off and my desire is bigger than it was before. There is a few things which need to be cleared. The biggest one being my homebase for practice. Right now I feel kind of homeless. Not a good situation. There are many factors which come in to play when choosing the next one. We will see in the next few days and weeks how it will play out.
On this cruise I had the opportunity to not only think about golf, but also to practice. The ship had a very nice practice area, some ok balls and a few good clubs. So every day I worked on my timing(the biggest issue I have to work on) and on my routine. Have to say that I feel like I made progress. Although playing with some old clubs which feel not close to mine I hit the sweetspot the majority of times.
My mindset also has evolved yet again over the last 7 days. The clarity with which I see myself in the future has become even stronger. That does not only include my spot and role as a golfer. It also includes the way I see myself in other ways like as  charity advocate, husband, son, friend, brother businessman and so on. All those things are impacted by my passion for the golf sport and in need to be connected in a way so life will be happy ,relaxed and joyful while going through it.
The fact is , my dream will not go away no matter what and so all other things need to be carefully puzzled into this dream. We are getting closer though.
We will be home Sunday morning. That will give me a good day to prepare for a very exciting week of golf and work. Starting Monday at Sarabay Country Club where I will play my first West Florida AM Tour event of the season. Followed by 3 concentrated practice days which lead to the National  Matchplay Championship of the WGAT in Howey in the Hills, the last event for this year. The idea will be to finish strong. I will work hard for it and enjoy every moment of those days. This will be a week how I like it . 4 hour practice, 3 hours work and the rest online and some family time.  Also I am back on no alcohol and special diet starting Monday . Still need to work of 50 lbs. Long ways to go . But I am even more excited and thankful than I was before. My recap of the year will come right after next weekend. Thank you to all who follow me and to those who send messages of encouragement. All that helps as well.