The last round of golf I played was November 15th, 2015. Shortly after that date I tweaked my back very badly and was hobbled for nearly a month. I probably wouldn’t have played much during that period of time anyway because it just gets too cold here in northern Utah, unless global warming flares up.
Tomorrow’s forecast here is a crazy 62 degrees and the snow is melting fast. I will join up with my buddy Dan and who knows who else at 2:30 for a 9-hole walking round on the front nine of one of my three home courses, River Oaks. I’ve just spent some time transferring my sticks and other golf bag stuff to my newest golf bag (pictured). I can already tell the carry design of this bag isn’t great. The straps come too close together, making it hard to get my arm through. We’ll see how long this bag lasts.
I’ll also start on my testing of literally dozens of golf accessories, balls, apparel, and clubs which have been patiently waiting in HOG World Headquarters. It’s going to take a while to catch up.
For tomorrow’s nine I don’t expect much from my game as I haven’t hit a real ball in some 95 days. I just hope to survive the round, loosen up, and see if I can start to make progress on my single golf goal for 2016:
The following is probably more for me than it is for you. Read at your own risk.
It’s February 9th, 2016. The high temperature here in Salt Lake City for the last month and a half hasn’t even reached freezing. The HIGH temperature. Normally this time of year I would be going absolutely nuts, having not golfed, or even seen green grass for three-plus months. This year though? Not the case. I haven’t once dreamed about hitting a drive, draining a long putt, or cracking a solid 4-iron.
This year is different. Interesting. I haven’t missed golf, at all.
Why is this year different? Honestly I couldn’t wait for winter to come this past fall. I came close to quitting the game forever, several times. I was having some very tough mental battles on the golf course in 2015, despite winning a couple of tournaments with my dad and being one of the last two players left in my club championship (lost by four shots and boy is that another oddball story which pisses me off beyond the realms of imagination).
2015 was a year of some bizarre happenings. Two out of the first three rounds I shot were 71’s on a par-72 course, early in the spring. I couldn’t help but thinking of how this could be the best season I’d ever have with a start like that. Over the course of 2015 I hit my driver as good as I’ve ever hit it and about as long as ever. At the same time my ball striking was very off. I’d switched to irons which were apparently not the right ones for me. They were suited for handicap level 6-15 or so. Being a 1-2 handicap I think those irons did their best to bring me up to the 6-15 handicap level. I think that tiny bit of game improvement design and thicker soles messed up my iron game and killed part of my confidence. My short game, despite a lot of practice this year, was not good. Missing a green was going to mean a bogey or worse 70% of the time. And the usual strength of my game that made up for a lot of my other weaknesses, was not as good either. My putting, unfortunately, dropped off. I went from a deadly-great putter to average in 2015. I don’t know why.
2015 was also a year of frustration for me from a golf business perspective. One “good relationship” I had went sour. That hurt. Over the past few years blogs have dropped in popularity and Google rankings. The SEO and big money spent by the big media entities is having an effect. Plus the web is flooded with shit golf blogs. That hurts the site’s ability to bring in money to pay it’s own expenses.
Golf stopped making sense.
To add to all of the above, my exposure online to so many golf social networks has seemingly had a negative effect. I’ve gotten so tired of the same old repetitive garbage out there, from hot tour wives and girlfriends to the one billionth WRX’d watermark of some tour player’s custom wedge I’m supposed to have an orgasm over. What’s in the bag? Not my interest. Who is Rickie Fowler dating this week? Who cares? This is golf media now?
I found myself gravitating toward other “hobbies.” I started getting heavy into the drone world. I’ve now built many drones from scratch and captured incredible photographs and video of golf courses and many other amazing subjects. I even started a drone site, found at AmbientFlight.com. That’s been a fun world. No short game issues either but crashing one is a hell of a lot more expensive than losing a $2.00 nassau.
I’ve also taken a deep dive back into PHP coding, building apps, and programming website applications. It’s been a great, rewarding, and mentally challenging endeavor.
This winter has been a nice reset. I got the break I wanted. Needed. That said, I don’t think the game’s frustrations, expenses, or irritations have gone anywhere. Jerks still don’t fix their ball marks. Rounds will still take too long. My short game won’t be any better. How I process these frustrations will be a crucial factor in my staying or leaving the game.
The BEST part of golf and running this golf blog has been the great people I’ve met and befriended. That’s the one thing that has kept me in the game during a time where I wanted so badly to bail. I value my friends and business associates in the golf world and I look forward to deepening those relationships and establishing new friendships…. IF I say in the game.
For 2016 the goal is only one thing: rediscover golf. Forget the short game stats. Forget who Rickie Fowler is dating. Forget putts per green-in-regulation. Forget whether my handicap has gone up or down. Forget my best score. Forget my worst score.
I’m a little unhappy about something I just found out. A Hooked On Golf Blog Facebook follower sent me a note a few days ago letting me know he was having trouble getting through to me on the site’s contact form at https://www.hookedongolfblog.com/contact. It appears that at some point a server/site update broke the contact form. I’m not sure just how long the contact form has been broken.
In the few days since I fixed the contact form I’ve gotten quite a stunning number of messages from people I’m very happy to hear from, both new and old. There’s no telling how long the form was broken and how many people got frustrated and gave up trying to contact me. For that I apologize.
If you tried to send me a note previously and couldn’t, now you should be able to.
Every Christmas, if our home course River Oaks is closed due to snow, we contest the Christmas Classic Golf Tournament. This tournament has been going for probably longer than a decade (I’ll have to look at the record books for the exact year). It’s a festive and fun event featuring good friends, the 12 balls of Christmas, snow shovels, and good spirits.
The format is simple. We pick a par-3 hole, or create one. Each golfer hits 12 balls. The golfers hit them in groups of 3. When all shots are complete, we go to the green and find the closest ball to the pin. The player who hit that closest ball is the champion golfer of the year and gets to keep the legendary (and missing) ugly green hat. I lost the damn hat. I think it’s in my basement somewhere.
Below is the video highlighting the 2015 event.
Over the years we’ve gotten very artistic at marking the 12 balls, so that when we venture to the green to find them they are easy to identify. Buddy Dan has taken the artwork to a whole new level. See his balls below, so to speak.
And I must post a picture of the first-time champion, Robert Lund. Robert is also the voice and music behind the Christmas Classic theme songs from last year and this year.
Congrats to Robert for joining one of the most exclusive groups of champions in the world.
Ironically, via the internet I stumbled upon a great article which gives a different perspective and reason for the shrinking game of golf, the internet. The net actually grew golf for me, exposing me to much more information about golf, playing the game, golf travel, golf equipment and so on. But I get what writer Rory Hughes is saying. It’s much more easy for people to surf the web and update their Facebook status or watch funny cat videos than it is to play a difficult long, expensive game in nature for five-plus hours without an internet connection.
Nice job Mr. Hughes. It’s a great angle and certainly a contributing factor to golf’s struggles.
If the web is the primary reason for golf’s shrinkage, I wish it would hurry and get as shrunk as it can. My home course is too crowded and the rounds take too long. It’s too expensive, plus the greens take too much of a beating. If we could get more people staying at home watching funny cat videos I could get a full 18 hole round completed in less than five hours, on better greens.