If you’ve never seen this before, its worth taking the time to watch. All about the crazy game we love!
Golf can be a brutally revealing sport, when its going good, its bliss, but when your off, its a brutally difficult sport. For anyone still reading this bizarre golf blog, I appreciate your patience during my absence. I have been through quite a roller-coaster with my game. Many issues have gone into the steep decline in my performance, but this blog has never been about my performance, but more my experiences and preparation for attempting to play this game at the highest level possible.
Playing well for a long period of time will all come crashing down, if you do not put the time and effort into keeping, mentally, physically, and emotionally sharp. The desire to practice and compete need to be burning deep inside, and sacrifices need to be made. I basically just lost all of these aspects necessary to compete at a level that I desire to compete at. I started shooting scores in the 80’s on occasion, and didn’t ever grind out rounds, just wanting to quit and walk off the course.
My recent trip to the UK was a disaster, I only managed to play 9 holes in the Senior Open (a tournament that I have qualified for 4 times and have made the cut three times) My back gave out after nine holes, which probably was more a result of the 42 I shot on the front nine holes. During my three practice rounds I was golden, and anticipated a good round in the qualifier. But the lack of getting off to a good start really in any event, has me in a tail spin. This blunder was followed by another poor performance in the British Senior Amateur at Ganton. Although my clubs got lost for three days, I cannot use that as an excuse to shoot an 84 in the first round, followed by a 76 for a 160 total. I did make the cut and had a chance to shoot a final round 80. Although this may have been the hardest course I’ve ever played (next to Oakmont in the 2003 US Amateur) I normally like the tougher venues, and feel they play to my advantage.
Everything about my game has been weak in competition, poor driving, iron shots, chip shots, and poor putting. Each putt I am not sure if I will hit it with my eyes closed or open. Finally I just decided that this 3 year slide needs to come to and end, and I should either quit competitive golf and all the frustration, or get back to what once worked before. What worked before was simple, I was confident.
A few weeks ago, I played a round with a good buddy of mine Stan Morrison. We played the Olympic Club Lake course from the tips, and after nine holes I decided that I had enough of the sloppy focus, and pitiful play. On the back I made a purposeful effort to focus, visualize, and extract the putting issues. I played solid, and carried it into Monday’s USGA Senior Amateur qualifier, where standing on the 17th tee I stood -7, a career best in a USGA event. I didn’t finish strong, but still shot a solid 66, and was low by 3 shots.
The difference was I didn’t carry the fear about “oh my lousy game” waiting for the bad shit to happen. I made a 6 foot putt for par on the first hole, and I was off and running, not missing a putt inside 10 feet through 18 holes.
I also must admit I have a new secret weapon, its a simple new weapon, its food for the brain function, and focus. I’ve had this food twice on the course, once after 9 holes in the US Open local qualifier at The Preserve (played the back first and shot 39) then played the front in 31. And this qualifier my breakfast was this product that you can read about at http://www.cognutria.com
It won’t cure the putting woes, but you will be more focused, aware, and into making better decisions. I will never not play without taking one (or two) of these delicious baked bars, which is the genus of its founder Allan Lees.
After a 10 day layoff, I again played the tips at OC Lake and shot a 67 (although not in a tournament) for my last 36 holes I am -10. This after shooting half my rounds in the 80’s. We all can get better, you just need to believe you can do it, and that the sacrifices will pay off. Don’t waste your time wishing for something magical to happen, it never works that way. If you put in the time to be better mentally, physically, and emotionally, combined with better nutrition, you will play better golf.
And yes, I have a TPI trainer, I’ve recently been to a Hypnotist, I work with one of the best golf instructors in the world, and I again am making sacrifices to play better golf. I have many more stories and experiences to share with you, but for now, I am focused on the USGA Senior Amateur being held at Big Canyon CC from Sept 13-18th. Everyday I am visualizing holding that USGA trophy high over my head at about 12:30 PM on Thursday September 18th. Stay tuned for how I plan to prepare for this grueling event that has 6 matches over 4 days on a very tough track!!
Hard to write about a tournament that has just ended for me in an early exit. But this is worth writing about. This years event is being held at the beautifully renovated Omni La Costa Champions and Legends courses in Carlsbad. The match play portion of the event starts tomorrow with the featured match going off at 7:30 with medalist Jason Anthony vs. defending champion Cory McElyea in match one number 1 seed vs. #32. It a testament to how deep this field was in quality players, that over two tough tests, 147 +3 was required to move onto match play.
I hate to give you the same old update about my sad game, I drove it poorly, I hit my irons poorly, I chipped it poorly and putted poorly and finished 3 shots out of match play. YES I am 55 and only three players in their 30’s made match play, zero 40 or 50 year olds make the cut. But I had the pleasure to play with 54 yr old John Pate, and past State Am Champ Don DuBois. After a fine 72 yesterday, I thought John Pate would cruise into match play, but today was tough for John. We all have had our moments on the links, and it was a pleasure to play with these guys. So our group was 164 years old, while other groups combined age (pairings of three) were less than 60. The beauty of golf, is the old saying, the ball does not know how old you are. But unfortunately our bodies ache more, we don’t hit it as far, and its frustrating to have been dominant in the amateur ranking and now struggle to be relevant.
So the choice is either give up playing against the kids, or succumb to playing against the older generation. Quite honestly, I am not ready to give up on the dream of playing against the best amateurs in the world. So the plan is to get better, easier said than done!!
I have a lot of respect and gratitude for both the NCGA and the SCGA, I’m sure it is challenging for the SCGA to provide venues equal to what the North provides in its State Am venues. Honestly other than Rancho Sante Fe in 2010, the venues we’ve played in So Cal for this event have been less than adequate for an event that for almost 100 years was held at Pebble Beach, and its early days, was played at Cypress Point and Pebble. For those of us to remember those days, its hard to get fired up to play La Costa, with its resort style course. Quite honestly, its not in the top 25 courses in California, and has many mediocre holes. I am sure some will not enjoy reading this critique, but the deal here is to be honest about the venues we play in this historic event.
The tong line up of players in this event is impressive, and the match play portion is grueling and intense. I love match play, and I am pulling for my pal and best ball partner Jason Anthony. I played a practice round with Jason on Sunday, and all I can say is his game is ON. After a fresh win in the Fresno City, I think Jason will be tough to beat. But match play never goes as slated, so anyone of these 32 players could be holding the trophy on Friday afternoon.
I did have a pleasant consolation prize in being able to visit my favorite place in Carlsbad, the KINGDOM, where you go to get fitted for the best and latest and greatest Taylor Made equipment that I believe is the best made for both great amateurs and pros. If you aren;t playing Taylor Made clubs, you are at a disadvantage to those that are. Don’t take my word for it, try the new Taylor Made Clubs!!!
Day one I bogeyed all 4 par 3’s, and had 3 three putts from fairly short range. Today I hit a shank into the Lake in #9 and made double. I ended my tournament by firing a 34 on the toughest 9 to finish with 150, not good enough. Now its rest the back and get ready to play the homies on their home course at Green Valley for 2 spots into the USGA Senior Open.
Stay tuned for my comments on the upcoming events, USGA Senior Open, NCGA Stroke Play, British Senior Open, British Amateur, NCGA Amateur, and many more up and around the world.
AND finally people seem to be very interested in side saddle putting, soon I will be doing video on a few lessons that will help you with technique, if your putting sucks, you may want to try saddling!!! It works!!
I know that I haven’t written much over the last year, but everyday I think about golf, and my game. I want to get better, get back to the days I once enjoyed, and perhaps didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. But now looking back I realize how lucky and fortunate I have been to have played this game at a level that I could only dream of.
I have outperformed any expectation I have ever had, I have traveled the world and have played some of the best courses in the world. What I can tell you that my round of 77 at Del Monte in the NCGA Masters championship was a huge disappointment, and I hope I will benefit from this tough go. Despite winning the Olympic Club stroke play championship on the weekend by six shots, when tested in a major event again I was unable to perform like I’ve done previously.
What is the problem, well golf is a tough sport. Some of us like Chip Lutz and Mike McCoy play well day in and day out. The are the guys that I respect and think of as true amateur champions. They both are class guys, and always are a joy to play with.
In my first round of the NCGA Masters I played with a player not to be named that was a walking narrative. He doesn’t shut up, everything is all about him, and he moves and makes noises all day long. The game is tough enough without having to be distracted by someone that really doesn’t care.
But to help you become a better player, I have this to say to you. Once you start to lose your club head speed, you are in serious trouble. If you think you are losing your speed, write to me and I will recommend a TPI trainer in your area. This will be a game changer in your life, and you will become a better player if you take this VERY important step and dedicate yourself to making your body and mind stronger. I have failed in this department, once mentally tough, I have let myself become quite weak minded on the course. I can assure you this will change.
SOME WORDS OF ADVICE- If you back or body hurts, don’t hit range balls, think mentally about each shot and visualize. Your body needs to be rested and fresh to compete at the highest level. Don’t over-practice, but prepare physically, mentally and emotionally.
This is a very hard game when you are struggling, but remember that can change VERY quickly. Up next the California State Amateur and the US Senior Open qualifier.
I used to enjoy writing about golf when I was excited about playing, competing, practicing and traveling to play in events around the world. This joy has wavered over the past two years for several reasons. ONE is that I have not performed consistently over this period of time, and have struggled mightily with my side saddle putting.
But instead of whining about my poor play, perhaps I can write something interesting that won’t be a waste of your time.
SUCCESS is not playing well for nine holes- US OPEN LOCAL QUALIFIER at the PRESERVE, best field I’ve ever seen at a local Open qualifier, and to top it off we were 6 players short of a 5th qualifying spot that all the other Nor Cal sites had. After a good start off #10 with three pars and a birdie, the 14th hole has always tortured me, with its green and angle of approach to the green. I chose a 5 iron from 190 out and hit a solid shot to the back of the green. After three putts walked off with my first bogey of the day. The 15th hole is an uphill par 4 that we played from 475 into the wind. After a perfect drive I have 205 to the pin uphill and into a one club breeze, again I took the bigger club (I am 55 now) and fired a rescue over the green and fought to make bogey. 16 was routine par, I ran up the hill to 17 tee and blocked a drive straight right into a field of tall weeds and proceeded to make a double bogey seven. The thought process was okay here we go again, a ruined round with one bad shot, but I decided enough of this negative shit, get positive and play hard for the next ten holes.
After a solid par on 18, I was faced with the one shot I do not enjoy at the Preserve, the tee shot off number 1 is elevated to a fairway that pinches down to a narrow opening. I decided to take a drive deep, as I have nothing to lose. After a pull cut perfect I ended up with a sliding 20 footer that I made for birdie (now +2 on the day). The second hole was almost a hole in one from 195 downhill to with a six iron, now +1. Number 3 was a missed 6 footer, still plus 1. Number 4 was the most exciting hole I’ve played in many years. I have played in 13 Stocker Cup events at this great course and every time I’ve had this second shot into this green, you need to hit it over a tree left and have it bounce down and onto the green. FINALLY I hit the shot I’ve been trying to hit since I started playing here, the result was a ball that looked like it was going in for double eagle, but hanging on the lip I settled for eagle and moved to -1 on the day.
The 5th hole gave me another chance at birdie, I missed a makable 10 footer. The 6th hole was a glitch, as I hit a 6 iron over the pin to 25 feet, followed it up with a three putt bogey. But birdies on 7 and 8 got me to -2 on the day and a chance to get one of the 4 spots. After a good drive and wedge on the 450 yard 9th hole, I had a 15 foot birdie putt that I knew was important, and it was. I missed a little high, and saw my fate sealed as the 4th score below 70 came into the scorers area with only one group left.
39-31 is not the kind of scoring consistency I am looking for, so what do I do to fix this?
The answer is simple, work harder, practice smarter, exercise more often, and fix what is making me flinch at my longer putts. All easier said than done. I have had hundreds of people ask me about Side Saddle putting, and most are looking for a quick fix, but like anything there is NO quick fix in this game. There is no tip that is going to make you a scratch player. Its all about hard work and making baby steps. In the end, its how bad you want it, and what your willing to sacrifice to get there. But if you do not believe in yourself, it will never happen. I have my own doubts about wether or not I will ever get it back to where it was in 2011. And sometimes I’m not sure I care, but I know that deep down I care a lot.
Life is complicated and tough, and this game can make life more enjoyable, and certainly more frustrating. It is the game of great revealing, it will expose us of all our weaknesses, our frustrations and what is going on in our lives. Patience is not always an easy thing for some of us, but if you put the time and work into this game, you will see results. In the end, nobody really cares but us, and nobody will ever really know the sacrifice of time and life that some need to make to play at a level the aspire to.
Coming up are many exciting opportunities to play amazing courses in amazing events, here is the upcoming schedule. Olympic Club Stroke Play Championship June 7&8. NCGA Masters June 9&10th at Del Monte and Spyglass Hill. California State Amateur at La Costa CC JUne 16th-20th. US SENIOR OPEN QUALIFIER – Green Valley June 24th. Monterey City Am at Del Monte July 4-6th. US SENIOR OPEN 10-13th at Oak Tree where I played in the 1984 US AM. July 15th leave for England for the Senior Open and the British Senior Amateur, back Aug 9th. NCGA Amateur championship Aug 11-15th.
Thats enough for now, I will be back to tell you what I am doing to get my game back in shape. The keys are mental preparations, diet, exercise, proper instruction, and stress testing what I’ve learned.
On a Blustery day at Seminole, the fine play continued for Patrick Christovich who cared a solid 72 final round to become the 2014 Coleman Champion. Bryan Norton also fired a final round 72 to break the Senior scoring record of -1 (215). The course played extremely tough today, with higher winds, and tough final round pin placements.
My day wasn’t particularly pleasant, despite being in the company of two former USGA Champions (Trip Kuehne US Mid Am Champ & and his brother Hank Kuehne a US Am champion was following along). After 3 glorious rounds at Seminole I am physically and mentally a bit fried, as I commonly tell people that its always going to be my toughest venue of the year with its 188 daunting bunkers, waiting for any slightly miss hit shot.
I don’t want to sound like a whiner, as I just got to play in one of the elite amateur events in the world, with a group of the greatest guys and players in the game. For us all, we like to compete, but even better yet we enjoy seeing the people in the game that we enjoy competing against and forging the life long friendships that are developed at these events. But lets be honest, it suck to play poorly, and you always worry about the next years invitation if you finish in the bottom portion of your flight.
But regardless, Seminole always seems to be the real winner in this event, as it has the respect of the players, and makes us all realize that a course does not need to be 7700 yards to provide a tough test. This gem is probably about 6800 yards, and will test every aspect of your game.
In the final analysis, the putter needs to be in good form to have a chance on these firm and fast surfaces. Your touch needs to be keen and able to anticipate the roll out that you’ll get on this very tough downhill putts. I happily now head to Spyglass for my first ever senior event in the NCGA Senior on Monday and Tuesday. Although I love Spy, I must say I am not so fired up to play senior (am) golf quite yet. I am sure it will be two great days at the Glass, one of my favorite courses in the world.
For those of you considering putting Side Saddle, I want to caution all of you on the time it takes to adjust to this completely different style of putting. BUT if you have no other options, it is a good alternative for sure.
Stay tuned for comments and results from Spyglass