Making an eagle on the 1st

Golf is a lifetime pursuit that changes with each stage in your life.  So I take my golfing more seriously during my season between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends — that’s when it’s time to play and accrue the test results for postseason evaluation.  Outside those 16-weeks are for offseason “tinkering”: the usual apparel, equipment, and swing changes, but also the physical and mental preparations to address last season’s weaknesses.

By the end of last year, I replaced my Odysee putter (liked) with a Scotty Cameron (love) and replaced my Adams 9.5 driver with a lighter Callaway 10.5.  This year, I added a Ping fairway 3 metal and will introduce Taylor Made Speed and (a) golf balls with my Callaway Chrome+.  I continue to maintain a suitable strength conditioning and flexibility regimen to lessen the diminishing returns that come after middle age.  😛

Last season, my weaknesses were to improve accuracy out of the tee box (41%) and reduce 2+ bogeys (33%) scoring, thus the easier driver to swing and a 3W over a 2Hy change. I also made a minor swing change that promotes a more solidly-hit shot and can make for hitting a draw-on-demand more attainable: it mainly has to do with my setup (posture and stance) and making a deliberate one-piece takeaway to get the shoulders turning early.  I have not been able to cut-on-demand with this change, but I’m willing to shelve that shot shape for only when the situation demands it.

To generally improve upon my scoring, I broke it down to three new approaches:

  1. GIRs: consider the approach yardage number to the back of the green first, then to the middle number to avoid under-clubbing.  Then pick the straight line in — and away from any trouble — that allows for the widest miss.  And for when only the target or shot conditions absolutely warrant it, factor in any ball shape and/or flight.
  2. Scrambling: technique and confidence carry-over from last season (added a 58 lob wedge) with all three wedges; but just had too much stress in the chipping part.  This year, I am using the Ray Floyd’s method (reinforced by Jim Furyk in a Golf Fix show): putting with loft whenever the chipping lie and shot does not demand for the “hero” shot.
  3. Putting: my approach has always been speed first, then line (which seems to be worsening with my eyesight).  To improve upon the “physics” for reaching the hole, I visualize a paper cup covering the hole that I want the ball to bump into — that added “nudge factor” helps me to forego the target visualization of dropping it into with rolling it through the final destination.  To improve upon the “relaxed motion” required to start the ball rolling pure, I internalize these positive thoughts:
    • Right after landing the ball on the green from an approach shot or chip, regardless of where the ball is relative to the hole, start the positive reinforcement process with a rewarding smile and thought: “the first roll is a free shot at the hole”
    • Then to start the preshot putting stroke, internally declare putting score (+2), making score (+1), i.e, “putting 5, making 4”.  I find that lowers my expectations at the same time reinforcing the opportunity.

I got rewarded early yesterday.  I started off my season by making an eagle on the 1st hole at Blissful Meadows Golf Club.  A par 4 hole-out from a properly struck 7-iron out of the fairway that gave me a good view of it rolling and disappearing into the pin.  What a great start!  I did make a birdie once before in my prior 28 seasons on a 1st round / 1st hole start, so this memory gets to trump that one better.  🙂

Including this start and despite my current struggles with par-5 layups, I am encouraged by my last 5 rounds and will continue to stay my course throughout the remainder of this spring and summer ahead:

Fairways Hit Greens in Regulation Recovery
fairways gir recovery
Putting Statistics Scoring Statistics Scoring Breakdown
putting par score

Source: Golfshot Pro statistics