I felt some signs that my game would be close to returning to form. There are many factors involved in this transition from complete friggin’ hacker to decent amateur player.
I just came off my two highest rounds of the year. Those were on a very tough and foreign course 2300 miles from home. And my back was still recovering from one of the worst tweaks I’ve ever had. So I was hardly even bending down to read putts. Hell, I even four putted on the mega fast greens. That was the first putt I’ve had since January 2005. I’m serious. I still remember it, #3 at Sunbrook in St. George, Utah.
Reason 1 for my recent hack fests: I was coming off an injury. Reason 2: swing changes.
I’m also in the midst of gaining more confidence and comfort in some major swing changes. My coach/pro gave me a big swing lesson and I’m struggling to break old habits and implement the new moves and positions.
My posture is better. My release is still under construction, but when I get it right it is awesome, producing much higher ball speed and distance. I haven’t looked at it, but I think my swing plane is better too since my poster and positions are better.
Yesterday I shot 37 on the front and had some mental breakdowns on the back. But I knew that my swing was on the verge of a recovery. I could feel actual golf shots happening. I hit a six iron from 187 to about 3 feet, over a tree. Haven’t felt that “feeling” of compressing and seeing a ball fly like that in at least two months.
Well maintained equipment is a big factor
I recently put some new shoes on my feet, the new FootJoy Icons. I also regripped all my clubs. My spikes on my old shoes were worn, and my old grips were very bad. I seriously believe having better traction and stability in my swing, along with a better grip on my clubs, is playing a big factor in hitting better shots. It did take me about two rounds to get used to having so much traction. I was hooking shots for a bit, but I’ve fixed that for the most part.
So today I shot a 74, back on track with what my “old” 1-2 handicap dictated. Even though I shot that 74, I had to shell out some dough to my pal Arnie. Despite bogeying the last hole (and I won a press on that one), he shot 70!
The last couple of posts I was building up to announcing a big surprise for a special HOG reader. I’m now on the plane home at 33,000 feet, albeit a day later than I was supposed to be, from the big surprise.
The big surprise
I alluded to the surprise possibly being a golf club, golf gear, a round of golf at a famous course or a round of golf with a celebrity. The HOG recipient was awarded a few things as his special prize. The lucky winner received an awesome black leather SUMI-G Dormy belt, which I must say looks great on this classy guy. He also received full set of SUMI-G head covers, the ones with a “mechanical enclosure and a rigid exoskeleton.” A high end bottle of limited edition tequila and a beautiful antique liquor decanter rounded off the list of goodies. But none of those were the big surprise.
The big surprise for this special HOG reader was none other than myself. You see, this special reader is my life long best friend Alan. His wife and I covertly arranged a surprise weekend visit by me. It took quite a bit of work to schedule a weekend where Al wasn’t traveling for business and when I was available. Everyone from Al’s family and office were “in the know” and we all managed to keep the secret. He had no clue.
I was sitting in a chair in his living room with a beer in my hand hanging out when he walked into the room. I video taped his reaction, which included a big sigh and then a hug and kiss for his wife.
My best friend Al, is solely responsible for my starting up this blog five years ago. WIthout Al, HOG wouldn’t exist and my life experiences over the last five years would no doubt be drastically different.
One hell of a 48 hours
Five minutes after recovering from the shock of seeing me in his house we were in Al’s car, racing to the golf course to squeeze in nine holes before dark. We made it. On the way there I felt my back tweak slightly. I was worried it would go out again. Fortunately it didn’t. But that had me worried and it was tough to make some swings.
We played 45 holes of golf in 21 hours, walking the whole way. The final 36 was with caddy, which was a great experience on a spectacular course. I shot the two highest rounds of the year, due to my still recovering from my back injury and the difficulty of the course. The numbers meant nothing to me in the end as I was playing golf with my best pal.
It just dawned on me that I owe Al $6.00. His game has improved. He beat me out of $6.00 on the final 18 and I forgot to pay my bet like a schmuck. I’ll be mailing that dough when I get back.
We ate fine meals, drank fine adult beverages, played Tiger Woods PGA 2010, smoked fine cigars. Al showed me his pictures and videos from his recent round at The Old Course in St. Andrews, detailing every hole and vividly describing the nuances of golf’s birthplace. We attended a museum showing of historic “Star Trek Artifacts” and got photos of ourselves sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise. We also browsed a hall containing hundreds of artifacts, notes, gadgets and tools from none other than Galileo. We even checked out one of the only two working telescopes which were owned by Galileo, which was 400 years old.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with Al’s immediate family, which includes wife Kate and their toddler James, not to mention a dog and a cat. James was a blast and and my friend’s family’s hospitality was second to none.
6 minutes equals 20 hours
I can’t wait to get home now though. I’m wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday. I haven’t shaved, or brushed my teeth, or used my antiperspirant. I never eat Pop Tarts, but I just ate two. Why?
I missed the luggage deadline by six minutes for my flight home from Philly to Salt Lake. Despite even offering the Delta ticket guy some cash under the table I had to pay $50 to change flights and catch a plane to Atlanta, then fly home from there. At least I’d get to watch Tiger Woods win the WGC Bridgesone over Padraig Harrington while having a Yinglueng in the bar at the airport.
Unfortunately my flight to Atlanta was delayed 20 minutes. In that span of 20 minutes clouds rolled in and a huge lightning storm hit the airport. They delayed my takeoff for another 30 minutes. If the original Atlanta flight wouldn’t have been delayed we would have left before the storm hit and I would have gotten home 12 hours ago. Not to be.
My flight from Atlanta to SLC was the final flight. Since I was going to miss it, my best choice was to get back off the plane from Philly to ATL and stay in the Marriott in the Philly airport thanks to Al picking up my room with bonus points. I’d have to take my chances in the morning flying standby on the 7:15am flight to SLC. I got off the plane but my bags and golf clubs didn’t. They’re making their own way to SLC via Atlanta, supposedly. I have yet to see if they make it. That’ll be a lot of fun trying to track them down.
By some miracle, and speed at which I didn’t know I still had, I miraculously got on the 7:15am flight to SLC. I raced three ladies across the street from terminal B to A. They were trying to get on the same flight as me and we were all detained by security in B terminal since we didn’t have boarding passes. They too had standby passes, and we knew the flight was overbooked. Someone was going to miss the flight. I beat them by a hair because they all used one ticketing machine for the three of them and I used another.
All told it will take me 20 hours to do what should have taken six. I had to go through airport security three times, which is just thrilling. I haven’t gotten home yet. For all I know someone will get sick on the plane and it will be rerouted to Alaska or something.
Yesterday I was thrilled to have played golf, and survived. Survived the back spasms and stabbing pain. I’m past that now, which makes me very happy.
Today I had an issue arise which sucks, bad. My great van which hauls my golf gear, business supplies, kids and camping gear all over, died. The transmission is toast. This is not good. The van isn’t very new so I’m in the crappy position of deciding if I dump a bunch of dough into the thing or scrap it and buy another one.
These aren’t the decisions I’d hoped to be making today. Is it 5:00pm yet? Somewhere in any time zone? I think so.
If you’re reading my blog for the first time, you’re probably wondering why I’d post about being so happy to play golf. Well for the last 13 days, I’ve had back spasms from hell. Ever wonder what it would feel like if someone stabbed you in the lower spine with an ice pick? Just ask me.
Today I played a complete round of golf for the first time since July 16th or 19 days. That is an eternity for a golf addict who is used to playing 4-5 times per week. That’s the equivalent of Obama going two sentences without the word “change” in one. In other words, a long freakin’ time.
Though my round today was a high score, I don’t care. I played golf and finished without having to crawl home.
Tomorrow I’ll be happily playing golf with my close golf buddies. My pal Marius from sumi-g wants to take my money. He can have it. I’ll just be happy to play.
My back recovery is coming along, but much slower than usual. This last tweak was very bad. I’ve had numerous occasions where stabbing pains and spasms literally caused me to yell or groan. Sitting is not fun. I get very stiff and have to move around to loosen up after sitting for even 5-10 minutes.
While watching Tiger and the final round of the Buick, I’ve been going outside during commercials and making some light golf swings in my bare feet. These are the first swings I’ve attempted since the 21st of July.
I feel okay but very scared to really go for one. I’m going to just keep easing myself into the swings.
Tiger is now on the 18th fairway, with a three shot lead. I’m thinking of strapping on my gear and heading to the range to hit some easy shots and see if I can do it.