Now that the majority of the golf season here in northern Utah is over, and since my final club championship competition is finished (say hello to the 2014 champ!), I decided it was time to go to the doctor to address my tennis elbow problems.
Earlier this season I switched to some great, albeit harder golf grips. I loved the performance of the grips, but a month into using them tennis elbow flared up. The pain got so bad that I could not pick up the coffee pot to pour myself a cup of coffee. Even lifting my putter up a few inches to tap down a repaired ball mark was impossible without a ton of pain. It is a bad world to live in when there is no coffee and ball marks are not fixed.
Everyone and their dog has given me their advice and experience on the subject of curing tennis elbow. Resting the elbow, icing, and eating ibuprofen three meals a day didn’t help. Two swings and it was back instantly, even after two weeks of not playing.
New arm band and bandaid over shot area
I went into the doc’s yesterday and opted for a cortisone shot. I’ve never had one. It hurt like hell and hurts like hell right now. Some say one shot is all they needed and I’m hoping that’s the case for me. I do know it isn’t a good idea to depend on these shots and over time they’ll cause damage. Others suggested DMSO, a treatment given to horses. I’ll consider that down the road if necessary.
So I’ve had the cortisone shot and will take a week or so off to let it do its magic. In the meantime I’ll be switching grips. I’ll also consider adjusting some techniques to lessen the impact of the swing on my elbow. I have an arm brace which should help that, and another special brace on its way.
Note: I’ve had golfer’s elbow as well, and do have a bit of that since the grip change. The doctor did an x-ray on my elbow and it shows some damage on the underside, where golfer’s elbow is. I can feel a touch of it.
I the past I did the following to help cure/prevent the golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow and I got away from some of these:
- Play softer, bigger golf grips. It is a consensus that larger and softer golf grips will help, and I have a set ready to put on my clubs this week.
- Play a softer golf ball. Balls with a urethane cover and soft core like a Bridgestone B330 or a ProV1 are best.
- Pick clubs which insulate and isolate vibration better.
- Use golf club vibration dampeners on the clubs if necessary.
- Try like hell to hit the sweet spot. Center hits don’t jar the arm as much. Off-center shots are very bad!
- Swing slower and more relaxed.
- Pick the ball off the turf and take smaller divots.
- No more “ball pounding” on the practice range. The repetitive shock as well as the hard range balls are horrible for golfer’s or tennis elbow.
From a numbers and results standpoint, this is possibly my best amateur golf season yet with winning the club championship and coming in 2nd place at the Salt Lake Ameteur. Like most golfers I’m never satisfied, but the season has been a success.
September is nearly here, a great month in Utah for golf with the temps cool and the trees changing colors. Once October comes it is hit and miss (pun intended) on the weather and the temperatures really start to cool off. I hope to make it through to some time in October, then hang the clubs up for the winter in order for the injury to completely heal.
River Oaks Golf Course
Sometimes life is simply about showing up and giving it your best, no matter how good or how bad that may be. Such is the case for me this past couple of weeks at my club championship here at River Oaks Golf Course.
I came into the championship fighting a very bad case of tennis elbow. On several shots during the 36 hole event the pain was so bad I nearly withdrew.
The pain, and fear of pain, made my golf swing change drastically. It became much more hands-oriented in an attempt to take the elbow/arm out of the swing. As a result I started drawing or hooking the ball and had to start aiming farther and farther right. Strangely, the new changes increased my distance, especially with my irons. I had several shots which airmailed the universe, like a pitching wedge from 140 yards which flew 28 yards over the target. That’s a 168 yard pitching wedge.
I stuck with it though the pain and was the beneficiary of a few breaks in the championship. One break came on the 4th hole, a very long and tough par-4. I hooked my driver into trees short of the fairway. I knew at that point I was going to have a hard time making a double bogey. Upon reaching the fairway though, my ball was perched up in a good lie in the dead center of the fairway. It had careened some 75 yards right and forward somehow. I would have a similar break on the 35th hole.
The format and timing of this championship was such that the field was whittled down to a small number. Great for me as there weren’t that many people to beat. One of those players was a preacher. He was playing well and was certainly a threat to beat me. He even had the same exact irons as me. On the par-3 6th hole though, he hit a line drive tee shot which hit his own golf bag, then bounced into a hazard. He was infuriated. He turned to our group, took his hat off and said, “I’m so mad that I’m afraid I will start cussing if I play anymore. I’m going to withdraw.” With that, he walked off the 6th hole. Fine by me. The more narrow the field the better.
It would seem that all the stars aligned and the golf gods saw fit to help me as all the other players would succumb to the pressure of the championship, shooting very high numbers.
10th Hole – RIver Oaks
Going into the final nine holes with basically one arm, I had to hold onto a 16 shot lead. There were a few key shots, like the tee shot on #10 which was clutch and down the middle. There are so many hazards there and the drive is so tight that big numbers can happen there. One guy scored a 10 on that hole in the championship. It hurt, a lot. But the drive was perfect. I made a couple of birdies on the 14th and 16th holes and when the final results were in, I’d won the championship by a whopping 13 shots.
The proudest moment of my amateur golf “career” (for lack of a better word) was winning my club championship in 2005. That year the format was match play and I had to take out numerous opponents to get to the final. In the final I shot a 70, making birdies on the final two holes to win the championship over my opponent 1UP.
This championship was different. It was more like a battle for survival than a battle of golf skill. The last player standing won. That was me. I didn’t bring my best to the table, but it was better than the rest of the competition. Funny how I can be disappointed in my performance yet still be the winner. But I’m happy and proud to have my name on the champions board again, nine years after my first championship.
As a benefit of winning, I’m given an exemption into the Utah Golf Association’s Tournament of Champions next month. It is an honor to play in that event, and all the best players in the state are there. In a strange bit of bad luck though, I’m going to be out of town that weekend and will not be able to play since I will be in the Bahamas playing golf with Greg Norman.
Yeah, you read that right. Tough gig.
With the completion of the championship my core tournament season is mostly over. I went to the doctor yesterday and received a cortisone shot in my arm. First one and hopefully the last. Hurts like hell.
Alternate post title: “How to turn a 64 into a 74”
I’ve been fighting tennis elbow now for a new weeks. I’ve had to chance some of my swing technique to avoid pain. One change is a more hands-oriented swing which is apparently giving me more clubhead speed at impact. Another change is teeing the ball very low with the driver. It hurts less when the ball impacts the driver face lower. These changes have added power to my swing, strangely. I “caught” a pitching wedge flush last week which traveled 168 yards. Unfortunately, I had intended to hit it 140 yards. With this extra power I’m in position to make more birdies, when the swing isn’t wild. The bad swings go left. Far left.
Yesterday’s round was quite crazy. My first five holes of the day: eagle, birdie, par, birdie, birdie. At that point an opponent said “do you realized you’re five-under-par after five holes?” Yeah thanks pal. That’s a sure way of insuring I’ll shoot five over in the next 10 seconds, which I did. I finished the front even par. Even on the front would be satisfying on most days, but not when you were five-under after five. Gag.
On the back nine there were a couple of other notable moments. I punched a 7-iron from the right rough from 175, under an overhanging tree, to a back pin. The shot ended up about six inches from the hole. Birdie. A couple of holes later I chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th.
Two eagles in a round, along with four birdies. Unfortunately I had two doubles and six bogeys as well, resulting in a 74. Four pars on the day. Quite nuts. Thrilling one moment and more irritating than listening to Justin Bieber the next.
I see a doctor later today for my elbow. Playing in pain sucks. But I’ve learned that there is more power in my swing to be tapped into by some changes in technique. Hope to keep that but reduce the wild shots in the future. Maybe I’ll find a way to not choke away all those birdies and eagles and shot a round in the mid-60’s.
I witnessed an ace yesterday in my regular Sunday grudge match at Salt Lake City’s Bonneville Golf Course. My buddy/opponent Marius hit a beautiful five iron which drew toward the pin, hit, and rolled straight in the hole. Needless to say, he won that hole. Happy to tie the overall match though!
I tweeted the event yesterday, so above is an experiment in embedding the tweet. Seems to have worked.
Ask anyone who has taken on the position as club president of a golf club’s men’s association and I’m sure they can tell you all sorts of bizarre and crazy stories. As president of my men’s association for seven LONG years, I saw more strange stuff and heard more bizarre whining and sniveling than one could ever imagine. Reality is truly more bizarre than fantasy.
One thing I encountered in my time as pres, and which I had to create countermeasures for, is what I call “club championship poaching.”
A few years ago, as we did every season, we held our club championship. It was an 18 hole gross tournament and the winner collects the championship prize money, trophy, and plays in the state’s “tournament of champions.” Quite an honor.
One week prior to this club championship a stranger joined the association. The association always needs new members, right? That player shot the low round of the championship, winning the trophy and collecting all the spoils that went along with it. It took one time for me to figure out the gig. A very good “plus” handicap golfer like this guy joins every men’s club the week of the club championship. They win, collecting the prizes, and also gaining points in the state’s amateur ranking system.
The following season, knowing that this guy or other guys like him would try to poach the championship, I instituted a “minimum rounds played” setup. In order to qualify for the club championship a member must have played a certain number of rounds in the league that season. I set the number at eight.
Sure enough at the end of the season during the week of the championship, this poacher and a couple of others signed up for the association! They also entered the club championship. Following the tournament they did not find themselves on the leaderboard, despite shooting what they thought was the winning score.
I informed them that the were not eligible and that any player who had been there for the majority of the season would have seen the minimum requirements for eligibility in the championship posted on the association’s bulletin board.
Thanks for chipping in some cash into the league’s coffers and adding to the championship prize fund buddies!
See you next year?
When I resigned as president and the new president took over the league, I warned him about these poachers. He put into place an even more strict policy, a minimum of 11 rounds to qualify for the championship. This year the club had three new signups the week of the championship and they played in it! I’m sure they’ll be thrilled when they find their names missing on the leaderboard.