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getting it back

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The improvement in the left shoulder is helping with motivation. It’s a bit depressing to find out that I had lost a lot of deadlifting strength, but on the other hand, it is wonderful to pick up a weight that feels heavy and not feel anything weird in the shoulder joint. So I’m trying to see this as opportunity — first off I will get to enjoy the rapid strength gains that one sees when the nervous system gets to remember how to recruit muscle fibers. Second, now that I know I’ve made a fair amount of progress with hip mobility and that I’ve loosened up my hamstrings some, maybe this is an opportunity to have better form when I deadlift and that better form may eventually translate into better strength gains. Maybe not either. That’s just speculative.

Right now the plan is to try to lift 3x a week, and alternate between a workout with deadlifts and a workout with zercher squats. With 2 of those workouts, the Tuesday and Saturday ones, I will also throw in some dumbbell swings, and a few dumbbell snatches. I can’t snatch yet left-handed because my left arm won’t get vertical enough yet, but I just want those explosive swing and snatch movements to help with how fast I can fire my hips. They might also help with regaining some of the power I’ve lost in my golf swing. I really hope that if I put the work in on this, that the strength and flexibility gains will show up in better distance with how far I hit golf balls.

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I saw The Adjustment Bureau for the first time recently. It’s a curious movie, maybe not as good as it could have been, and I didn’t feel that Matt Damon gave all that charismatic of a performance. He seemed very flat somehow to me. But I suppose the most interesting aspect of the movie to me was the conceit in it, one which I suppose I sort of dream about although my cold and rational side realizes it is purely fantasy, is the idea of a love meant to be, one so transcendent and fundamental that it can’t be stopped, that nothing can get in the way, not even an Adjustment Bureau trying to make alterations to keep individuals from getting off-plan.

I don’t really think there is any such thing. Or fate. Or destiny. We’re just kind of accidental along with being inconsequential. But the idea of a love that fundamental, that strong, it’s a seductive dream, isn’t it? I think there aren’t that many that don’t dream of someone they can love without reservation, without fear, without worry. And have that love given back. I imagine that there haven’t been that many couples of who loved another from early on after first meeting til death parted the two of them. Life’s too complicated for us to be perfect and life is too imperfect for us to be perfect.

But the eternal love idea is deeply embedded into our myths, our fictions, our stories, tales, movies and music and so much more. It is used to sell us products. It has been written about so many times and yet we don’t get sick of it. At times we might feel rather despairing over it, maybe especially if we have a breakup from a relationship that had once seemed and felt like it might be that one amazing transcendent love, but sometimes we get suckered into watching another movie about it or reading another story.

Perhaps the lesson is that as human beings we are suckers for fiction. And that drives our thirst for stories and movies. In fiction, we can sometimes see our better selves, the ones who don’t fail, the ones who persuade a bureau officer to lend him his hat and give the ability to jump from place to place and find the woman he loves. The one he was destined to love in spite of the interference by beings with powers that approach godlike.

Of course, in real life, it ain’t God or anything creating that interference. It is our own imperfections, our weaknesses, the fictions and lies we repeat to ourselves, the dreams we think ought to be real, but will never likely be because we just aren’t that amazing or that good. I sure ain’t amazing and I sure ain’t good. I’m too tightly wrapped up into my own self and that makes lots of people uncomfortable with me and also means that I really don’t interact all that well with others.

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Today’s one of those dreary winter days. A light snow/rain mix is falling. I woke up around 4 AM and only semi-dozed til the alarm went off at 5:30. Then I got up and went to make coffee along with dropping a roast beef in the crockpot along with potatoes, onion, carrots and celery. So hopefully that will make for a good hot meal when I get home after work and after I do my planned workout with zercher squats, some swings, and snatches.

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that thawing shoulder

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I just found out that I can put a barbell overhead again. Well, almost. I can’t quite get my left arm back far enough that my head gets through my arms, but I did lift a 50-lb barbell up. And that’s a far sight farther then what I could do with the left arm a year ago, or even 6 months, or 3 months ago. It’s such a relief to feel the shoulder coming back that I could almost cry about it. External rotation is still the worst with the shoulder, and I remember it being like that with the right shoulder when it froze up and then thawed out years ago. Still, overall I feel very much like the shoulder is getting into the home stretch now and 4 to 6 months from now I should have back almost all of my range of motion.

Also I noticed the other morning I can get both hands on my hips. The left shoulder still lurches forward on that, but a few months ago I couldn’t do that, couldn’t get my left hand on to the hip.

In addition to the shoulder slowly coming back, I’ve also been making progress on hip mobility. I’ve been working on the various stretches and can definitely reach a bit better than before, can turn my trunk a bit more, and maybe feel a sense of freedom there which has not been there for a long while.

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Still haven’t matched that 80 I shot on the golf course back in October. But I’m still pleased with the progress I’m making in understanding my swing, plus I’ve gained some better insight on the effects I suffered while playing through the frozen shoulder. One aspect I understand now and have to work on keeping out of the swing is that restricted left shoulder hurt my followthrough. I had a tendency to shorten up on it to avoid discomfort in the left shoulder, and that sometimes caused me to spin my hips in a circle and when that would happen, I would pull the ball well left of the target.

But now that the internal rotation of the left shoulder is getting better, this past month I’ve had another little glitch creep into the swing which was driving me crazy some for a few rounds — I began having trouble with a shot that was blocked to the right. Way right. Terrible. I finally figured out what was happening when I asked myself, “Okay, so how does the ball go that far right?” The answer of course has to lie in the direction that the clubface is pointed towards. So if the ball was going right, the clubface had to be getting opened way right. And then I finally felt what was happening in one of my swings. I pulled the club back, tried to maintain a sensation of the back of my left hand to the target, but on the transition I would lay the club off. I lost the flat left wrist and bowed it back some along with the clubhead dropping towards the ground. I would then pull the club through on a nice inside path but with the clubface wide open the ball would balloon out to the right. Or sometimes I tried to unconsciously save it, maybe make clean contact or maybe overcorrect and hit a duck hook to the left. So the lesson was pretty obvious for me, stop laying the club off. I’ve focused on that the last couple of times out and I’m getting much better contact again.

And now with the ways I’ve improved how I think about the swing, how I select targets, I’m almost always having at least some shots which go almost exactly like I imagine, I will have a couple of shots which go firing right at flagsticks that are open to being aimed at directly. I’m gaining an increased confidence that I can aim at things on a golf course and hit the ball to them. Especially now that I’ve identified how that laying off move had set me back some.

Of course, I still don’t make perfect swings every time, but I’m getting closer to removing most of the bad ones, getting closer to where I won’t string together a series of bad shots. There will still be bad shots, but I feel more and more like I can get back on track quickly.

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I got a haircut last week. There’s nothing amazing or unusual about that, except for one small detail. During the haircut, while the stylist used the clippers on me, she would put her left hand on my left shoulder. That brought back a flood of memories about the few times I have had women who I would allow into my personal space like that. It was almost sad at how much I enjoyed a sort of voyeurism into my own memories about how good it would feel to be touched by someone who wanted to touch me. I’ve seen stuff that says that people who don’t get much physical touch from others can be deprived in some ways and that it can influence them in negative ways. Has that happened to me? Has it always been that way? I don’t know. How can I know?

It doesn’t really matter in the end. No one is guaranteed happiness, and maybe there are some who are disadvantaged in certain ways to find happiness only in fleeting moments or instances. I hope I’ve tried and done my best when I’ve had opportunities. But maybe I haven’t. Who knows? Is it possible for me to answer those questions? Or anyone else really? There are no hard and firm answers there, and a grave difficulty is that in a world where people can lie, they can lie to themselves just as much. You can’t escape the problem of self-deception, it’s always there, it’s always in how we look at ourselves in the mirror — it is never a true portrait.

Oh well, maybe tonight I’ll sleep okay enough, will feel warm in a cocoon of blankets and find tomorrow to be fair enough.

ambushed

If I’d been smart and foreseeing, I would have called it a day at the 14th hole and walked to the parking lot which was close. But I wanted to play 18 because I had been golfing better and wanted to finish out the round.

A few drops started splashing down while playing 15, which went well. Decent drive, lost a little bit to the right but still in good shape. I then faded a 4-iron to put me in range of the green with a 9-iron, but I elected to hit 8-iron to try to get to the back of the green where the flag was. Hit it really flush and it hit the green, but then carried into the rough just off the green. But I was able to choke down on the lob wedge and chip it out to only a few inches from the hole and a par.

Then the skies opened up on 16. In about 30 seconds, I was drenched and even if I had had raingear with me, it happened so fast that it wouldn’t have saved me. Since I was soaked and now almost as far from the parking lot as possible, I just played on. And the downpour continued. On the 18th, there was about 30 seconds of small hail pelting down. Then finally as I came up the final slope to 18, it pretty much stopped.

I was chilled too. For the ride home, I turned on the heater in the car. Even so, when I got home, I had a cold wet shirt clinging to me and it seemed to sting as touched my back and ribs. It was a bit awkward pulling the shirt, thank goodness my shoulder is loosening up more, if my shoulder had been locked down like it was last year, it might have been nearly impossible to get the shirt off. Then I toweled myself dry, got into dry clothes and heated up a grilled rib and leftover vegetables in the microwave.

Even so, I still felt a memory of that chill this morning and took as hot of a shower as I could stand.

But I golfed better some yesterday and I’m pretty sure I know why. Some time back, I figured out how to make the ball draw, and that was fun some to play with, but a bad idea for me. Playing only once a week, the changes in setup that I would use to go from hitting a fade to the draw made me too inconsistent in how I would swing the club. It had gotten to where only 1 out of 3 or 4 shots was really doing well. So yesterday I played with the conviction I would go back to playing my natural tendency to fade the ball and the rewards were obvious. Much more consistent contact and seeing the ball move like I would expect it to.

So I’m going to retired the idea of playing for both the fade and draw, and go back to working on trying to hit the consistent fade. For the first time in a long time yesterday, I had 3 straight holes where I made par — because I was able to get the ball on the green, once, or near the green and then make the pitch shots stop close to the hole and make the par putt. The way it had been going lately, too many times I wasn’t near the green with a chance to get up and down for bogey, all too often it was only near the green where getting up and down would save bogey or double-bogey. So I made 5 pars yesterday, which was much nicer than recent rounds where I was only making one or two.

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The left shoulder has thawed some more. I’m now at the point where I can hang from the pull up bar, although you can tell the shoulder still isn’t really settled properly into position. But it seems to get a bit better each day after I hang a few times from the bar, or try to pull myself up. When I first started hanging there, I could hardly budge upwards. Now I’m getting the elbows to about 90 degrees before I lose pull upwards. I can’t do chinups though. My left arm won’t rotate enough to allow my left hand to get a grip with the palm facing towards me. Still, maybe in a month or so I will do a genuine pullup again.

My left arm has weakened a lot. I saw it in the mirror the other day. My left arm is noticeably smaller than my right arm. The muscles have really weakened and shrunk. Hopefully in a few months time I will have a functional enough arm again that I can work again on being stronger. Only a few years ago, I was strong enough to do one-arm chinups with my right arm from time to time.

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Lots of sad and strange dreams lately.

couple of notes

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Lots of memories over the past few days.

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The stretching and yoga poses are slowly opening up my hips and all-around flexibility. On Wednesday for the first time I got a stretch going where I was able to reach my toes with the tips of my fingers. But I am a bit lopsided. Thanks to the left shoulder and its slow recovery from being frozen, first my right hand touched my toes and then it took a bit more of stretching after that for the left hand to reach.

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I went to a putting green after work yesterday to work on putting and chipping. On the PGA tour, the players make about 99% of the putts 3 feet and in. Lately, I’ve noticed it seems like I maybe miss at least one putt of that length every round. Sometimes 2. So I’ve been losing strokes with that.

Began with practice of 3-footers last night. I put 6 in a circle around the hole and made 5 of those 6. Set it up again and made only 3 of 6. There was  a sensation like I got tense when I went through my usual putting routine of line up the putter, take stance, then look at hole, look at ball, look at hole, look at ball, look at hole, look at ball, make stroke. I noticed the sensation something was being lost during the 3-looks part.

So on the next circle of balls, I went to line up putter, take stance, look once, look ball, stroke. I then made 17 of the next 18 balls I set up. So a total of 25 of 30. What I would like to do is get that to where I consistently make at the very least 28 of 30. If I get that, then I’ll feel a lot more confidence on the course about stroking in those putts of 3 feet or less.

I also tried some 6 foot putts, made 12 of 20 there.  That needs to be higher too, more like 15 of 20.

Then I practiced some chipping. I found something in there which should help. One problem I have some is a tendency to yank chip shots to the left. What happened sometimes is that the right elbow would pull away from the body, and I would end up doing a small out-to-in golf swing. So I worked on keeping the right elbow tucked near the body and I saw much more consistent results of the ball going towards the target.

Hopefully putting in some practice like this will help me start to shave some strokes around and on the greens. I need to begin putting in some practice with the mid-range putts and improving my distance control on those. On the PGA, it’s not until putts reach 35 feet in length that the putting average goes above 2 putts. It would shave off some strokes if I got to where if I was 3o feet away it’s an almost sure 2 putt, that is, putt the first one inside of 3 feet and then knock that 2nd putt home.

So a couple of things were learned. On short putts, trust that the line and setup is good, go ahead and make the stroke with just one look. I don’t know if mid-range I’ll continue to look at the hole 3 times first. For chips, work on keeping the right elbow tight to the body. I got much better results, both in line and consistency of clubhead contact when I did so. When the right elbow drifts away from the body, bad things are more likely to happen.