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hit it straight, you can find it

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I think it had been around 4 weeks since I last had a chance to golf going into last weekend. The weather had been marginal the prior weekends, but it warmed up last week and while things were somewhat gray and mucky on Saturday, I got in 18 holes. Sunday was okay enough to golf, but the fog was thick. The forecast had been for the fog to lift by noon, but it never did. So it never really warmed up so much on Sunday, but I still went out and played 9 holes in the afternoon.

I shot an 85 on Saturday, and 44 on Sunday’s nine holes. Was fairly pleased with how well I was swinging after 4 weeks of no practice or play and the only warmup coming around the putting green for 15 minutes on Saturday. The big challenge, and a pressure of sorts on Sunday, was to hit balls straight, because the ball would disappear into the fog after about 100 yards. You didn’t want to hit any big benders, because it would be harder to track down where the ball might have ended up. But I did that pretty well on Sunday. The only ugly tee shot came at the second hole, where I elected to hit the hybrid off the tee — I squirted it off the toe. Other strokes were lost due to a 3-putt at the second hole and a bad bunker lie at 4. Look, people, I know the course has removed the rakes from the course during winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least use your feet to smooth over where the ball was and where you anchored your feet. It only takes about 10 seconds. It maybe doesn’t do as good of a job as a rake, but at least you can make it so someone’s ball doesn’t end up in the bottom of your heel print. But after mucking around some over the first four holes of those nine on Sunday, I finished up with 4 pars and a bogey over the last 5.

One part of my golf game I’m getting excited about now is putting. It all stems from something another player said after a round we had played. He said that my swing reminded him of Zach Johnson’s swing. That might be true. I’ve never taped my swing, but my impression of how it feels and from what I’ve seen of Johnson’s swing, I think I can see how mine might resemble it. But I said putting, didn’t I? Then I start talking about Johnson’s swing. Ahhh, but since I am a golf fan freak, I have seen that Johnson has an unusual difference in how he grips the putter, and prior to me actually trying it, I’ve always respected the fact that he can putt really well.

Anyhow, that comment about my swing resembling Johnson’s got stuck in my head, and the next weekend, when I was playing on my own, it was a miserable day with my crosshanded grip. Couldn’t put the ball on line and yipped a few too. So at the 12th hole, I said to myself, “Let’s putt it like Zach.” So instead of the left hand being low and the left wrist flat, I put my right hand low, and flattened it while bowing my left wrist. From that, I drained a 15 foot putt really nice and smooth. Then the next hole, I drained a 10-footer for a par and to finish the day since it was getting dark by the 13th hole. It was a huge moment.

I thought a lot about that during the week, about how when I set up like that, it gave me a sensation like I was using my dominant right arm to control the putt, and just roll the ball. Plus, with the left hand bowed like that, it very much shut up the tendency of either my left wrist to break or my left side to pull my body around in a rotary fashion — a couple of glitches which have always plagued me. The next weekend on the practice green I began to be amazed at how many more putts I was sinking from 5 to 15 feet, and it’s been happening out on the course too. Anything inside of 20 feet now I feel like there’s a chance of sinking it. And I’ve been sinking more putts in that range than ever, over a number of rounds now, so I don’t think it’s just one of those fluky one round aberrations. Changing my putting style like this has finally enabled me to let my much more coordinated right arm control the stroke, control the line and speed.

I think it may effectively take 2 to 4 strokes off my putting average, and that along with the increasing confidence I feel with the full swing, will at some point combine this year and I will break 80. That reminds of another great sign with the full swing the past weekend. I had a good follow through and finish on every swing. I’m not shutting swings down anymore, which had plagued me a lot during the problem with frozen shoulder. I did have a couple of swings where I spun rather than shifting my hips forward, but I still had a full follow through.

So it’s all coming together, and once the weather starts warming up, it’ll be a matter of time before I get more fully in form, and I’ll break 80.

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