Coming out of golf hibernation this spring has been hard. Having not touched a club for 4+ months put some serious rust on the game. The first round I played was the best of the short season to date, and scores have been progressively getting worse.
Today I tweaked my back somewhere between getting out of the car in the parking lot of the course and the first tee. I’ve been rubbing the lower back vigorously in the shower with soapy (thus slippery) hands to work the knots and inflammation. On the course I tried the same thing but didn’t have soapy hands and did it on top of my golf shirt. In a few seconds I’d done it so hard I took a half-inch wide chunk of flesh off my knuckle. So then I had back pain and a nasty flesh wound on my knuckle. Golf is tough.
On the range before the round a swing thought came into my head from out of the sky once told me by an old golf buddy who moved away years ago, “narrow your stance.” I tend to have a wide stance and it might creep wider and wider. I’ve been quite inaccurate with the irons this year, and hitting lots of fat shots and even 3 shanks. I’ve gone years without one shank. I narrowed the stance on the range and nuked a 4-iron almost to the end of the range.
On the course I hit the irons tremendously for the most part. Nearly jarred my 2nd shot on the 2nd hole. The greens were so bloody fast though, I missed the nearly gimme birdie.
As the round progressed I hit a lot of great iron shots, but started to fight the back spasms. Starting on the back every few swings was a bizarre “protect the back” swing, which doesn’t work well. Just ask Tiger Woods. I lost a few strokes to par because of those few swings, but managed 77.
77 for me normally is a mediocre round, but as rusty as I am, simply breaking 80 for the first time was a major step in the right direction. The number is somewhat a representation of the round, but is much less important to me than the feel of hitting solid irons and executing shots. That’s much more rewarding.
Positive thoughts at the moment, but the back is very, very stiff.
Sunday services today took me up Parley’s Canyon between Salt Lake and Park City, to Mountain Dell. There are two courses there, the Lake and the Canyon. I enjoyed a slightly brisk and quite windy round there, going through the process of resurrecting my dead golf game.
I busted out the PB&J on about the 11th hole.
On the 12th tee I reached for the 2nd half, but found that the 2nd half was gone.
On the 14th I found the culprit, a MOOSE! Hard to see, but he’s in the trees.
I may not have played the best golf, but it was nice to be out in nature sharing my lunch with the wildlife.
This photo of Rory McIlory sums up how I’m feeling about my golf game at the moment.
The word to best describe my golf game right now is probably the most-used word by President Trump: disaster. After four+ months of not even swinging a golf club over the winter, the golf game has gone into deep hibernation. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even looked at a golf club in four months.
I’m not sweating it too badly because I know every spring it takes a while to get my game back. I’m sure by the time winter comes and it’s time to shut it down again, my game will be getting close.
Pop quiz: Is it possible to lose $21 playing golf with a $2.00 bet?
Answer: Yes, when you’re me and playing against the guy with the best short game in the world.
Yesterday was round 3 of the 2017 season for me. I have low expectations since I have now logged 3 rounds in 3 weeks and 3 rounds since November. It doesn’t even bother me that my rounds are getting worse. I know through many years of experience that it takes me a while to get my game back in the spring. That’s a great reason to move somewhere I can golf all year, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Yesterday’s round featured a match between the team of me and my buddy Arnie, and Dalton and Al. Al is a senior player closing in on 70 years old who I’ve played 100’s of times with. He has the best short game of any amateur golfer I’ve ever seen, and better than most pros. Man was that short game on display yesterday.
Al is not a long player, so he often misses greens he’s unable to reach in regulation. If he misses any green in regulation by 70 yards or less, I’d put his lifetime up and down percentage at around 75%. It was so amazing yesterday that I was hoping my putt from the fringe would be closer than his shot from 60 yards. By my calculations yesterday he failed to get up and down once out of around 14 times. That was on the 18th hole when the match was already closed out and it didn’t matter. Hehe.
At the end of the day Al had taken all the cash I had on me, $21. Nothing more fun than leaving the course with an empty wallet. But it was the cheapest short game lesson I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from him. He hit almost every shot low. Low runners. And unlike what a lot of short game experts tell you (to land the ball just on the green and have it release) he would land the ball short of the green and the ball would roll to the hole like a putt… to 1-2 feet. His release on those shots is pretty low and short too.
Inspired by Al’s short game I was able to get up and down three consecutive times on the back nine, probably a world record for me.
I must resist the lob wedge and go low and run my short games unless the situation forces a high shot. That’s a goal for this season.
I now have two rounds in the books for 2017 after a four-plus month break from playing. I did not hit a shot. After finishing last year’s handicap rounds with several scores in a row in the 70’s, and a final even-par 72, my handicap stopped at a 3. Here in northern Utah they turn the handicapping off from November to April. So my handicap has been a steady 3 since November!
My long time buddy/partner and I teamed up today in a match against two higher handicap players. We agreed to give them eight shots on the round, and promptly got our asses kicked. They haven’t played much golf either and that’s when it dawned on me. Net matches this early in the year favor higher handicap players. Hear me out.
As a rusty 3, this early in the season I’d consider breaking 80 an achievement. Shooting 75 this early in the year is not likely. I won’t be shooting mid or low 70’s for a while, until I get my my game back. So my handicap may be a 3, but I certainly will not be playing to a 3 for months. In fact, each spring my handicap usually blows up from low single digits to around a 6. Then as I card some lower rounds in the summer it goes back down.
As I witnessed today, at least in the case of the guys I played with, a higher handicap doesn’t seem to have the problem of shooting their handicap. They’re going to shoot high anyway. Odds are much higher IMO that an 18 will shoot 90 after not playing for months, than a 3 shooting 75.
So the “net” result is losing net matches early in the season until I can shoot my handicap. I don’t suppose I’ll be able to talk them into gross matches? LOL.