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I’ve always liked the word thaw. It’s got a good sound to it. And of course it associates well with spring and warmer temps. Although this past week since the official arrival of spring here, it’s been rather cold. Yesterday the high temperature was barely above the average low temperature for the date.

But the thaw of the most personal interest to me presently is that of the left shoulder. In spite of trying to stay active with the shoulder and doing mobility drills and stretches for it, the ongoing inflammation of adhesive capsulitis slowly kept getting worse and my range of motion with the left arm got further and further restricted. I think the painful aspect of it peaked in late December or early January, since then I’ve noticed that the constant ache has disappeared and sharper painful reactions have reduced, although I can still jolt myself pretty good if I jerk my arm too hard in some fashion.

But anyhow, 4 weeks ago finally the snow had disappeared and the weather was decent enough I decided to go out and play a round of golf. My swing was fairly restricted, I couldn’t keep my left arm straight and make full extension on the back swing, and I couldn’t swing hard with the downswing. I just couldn’t. It would hurt too much. And swinging was somewhat painful that day. The farthest I could drive ball that day was about 185 yards.

But when I played again a week later, there was some improvement and I got a couple of drives over 200 yards.

And last week, still some more drives over 200 yards and a bit longer.

And yesterday, definitely further than the prior week, and yesterday was the coldest weather day of playing yet.

So the shoulder is thawing out. I shot a crazy 86 yesterday. I’ve been playing from the gold tees with the loss of distance because of my shoulder, so I probably would have been around 90 if I had played from the white tees. I putted great on the front 9. It all got started on the first hole when I put my second shot on the front of the green with the pin in back. It was a putt where you just want to get it close and tap in for par. But I sank the 45 foot putt and it just felt good to make my first birdie of the year. At the second hole, I made another good putt that just missed.

I made a double bogey at the third hole, then a bogey at the fourth. So I was 3 over par after 4 holes. Then at the 5th hole, I hit a decent drive and found myself at what I guessed to be pitching wedge distance. I felt good while getting ready to swing and I made a good swing. The ball flew nicely, a little bit right of the pin, landed softly and came to a stop about 12 feet past the hole. When I got over the putt, it just looked pretty easy, a gentle right to left break and slightly downhill. Just get it rolling. And that’s what I did, for my second birdie of the round.

At the par-3 sixth hole, I hit a bit of a weak flare that landed in the bunker front and right of the green. My blast out was too soft and the the ball hung up in the rough just off the fringe. Feeling good with the putter, I decided to putt it. And it was a great putt, it came out nice and reached the top of the break point and then curled down towards the hole. It had just a bit too much speed and didn’t drop, then came to a stop 3 feet by. I would tap that in for the bogey.

Hole 7 I hit a good drive, an ugly second shot, then a bad third shot that ended up past the green. My chip back ran off the front of the green. Ugh. I chipped again and left it short by 12 feet. But the putter saved the bogey. Hole 8 was a unremarkable bogey, I guess. I thought my shot into the green was dead on, but it was shot. It was right on line. One more club up and it would have a had a chance to hit the flag. My chip on was short some and the par putt just missed. Hole 9, my tee shot was short and right and again just off the fringe. It was a putt much like I saw at hole 6, so I putted it and left it about 3 feet short. I tapped that in for par.

The back 9 got off to a good start. A good drive and 8-iron put me on the green, then I 2-putted for par. It was at the short 11th hole that I had what seemed to throw me off some. I hit a good drive, which left me about sand wedge distance to the hole. I hit that completely fat and squibbed forward a short distance. I looked at what was left and felt that an easy 3/4 lob wedge would be about right. And I was right, I hit it pin high about 5 feet right of the hole. An easy enough putt, but I totally choked it and left it a foot short. I would never regain confidence in the putter after that, and would go on to suffer 3 3-putts, at 14, 15, and 18. I only needed 13 putts for the front 9, it would take 21 putts on the back 9.

But I had no really super painful swings yesterday, unlike prior outings when a few times I would try to crank harder and my shoulder would tweak badly. Every attempt to crank harder this time would have some mild discomfort but nothing painful. I’m still short on distance though, the driver is about 20 to 30 yards short and I’m now around 1 club short with the irons. So there’s progress and the next time I play I’ll move back to the white tees.

I had some really good swings yesterday —

— the pitching wedge at 5. Hit it exactly the way I wanted, and it set me up for that birdie there.
— the lob wedge at 11 which gave me a chance to save par.
— 4-iron at 12, hit it exactly the way I like with a soft cut, it ran nicely onto the green
— 4-iron at 15, it was hit to recover from the drive I had yanked left. I turned over on it nicely to give it a bit of draw around the tree branches in front of me and it put me in the middle of the fairway for my 3rd.
— 8-iron at the par-3 17th. Hit it exactly the way I wanted, about 15 feet right of the hole to the center of the green. I started it there because I’ll often yank my short irons a bit left, so I wanted to aim for the center and guard against aiming for the pin and then yanking it left.

And the shoulder is getting better. It still has a long way to go until it’ll be fully back to normal range and strength and absent of pain, but it’s come a long way these past 4 weeks. I really need to practice my putting and short game though. I could be a decent putter, the first 9 holes of yesterday showed that. I putted well and with confidence. And there so many strokes that can be saved there. If I had completed my round yesterday with 26 putts, I would have shot a 78. 26 putts is not impossible. But you need to make all those putts that are 5 feet or in. And you need to play enough short game shots to inside of 10 feet. Then if I were to hit 9 greens in regulation, I’m looking at a round in the 70s. I can do that, I can hit 9 greens, I’ve done a few times now, I did it two weeks ago. 9 greens, 30 putts, that can be a round in the 70s for sure. I could play a round like that.

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