Chapter 2 – Senior Amateur at North Berwick

My favorite trip of the year is always to the UK to compete in the Senior Open and Senior Amateur. If I don’t qualify for the Open, I always have a week before the start of the Amateur. And this year I needed to the week to figure out how I was going to walk three days in a row on very a very uneven surface at North Berwick.

My travel companion and I showed up in North Berwick in the early evening and decided to go check out the course and maybe play a few holes. I went to the starters house and introduced myself and inquired about playing a few holes. With a smile and wink, he proclaimed that he was leaving in 30 minutes, as well as the course Marshall. I took that as we could play a few holes after he left of course, which we did.

The beauty of playing golf in the UK in summertime is you can almost play till 10pm in June and July. We hit our rocks off number 1 at about 8:00 pm and quickly played about 14 holes in less than two hours. I wanted to stress test my ankle and see how it would feel the next day.

The hotel I stayed at overlooked the 16th and 3rd holes, with the bay in the background. The vista also included many Islands as well. MacDonald Marine is the place to stay in North Berwick if your there for a view and golf. The hotel staff was awesome as they kept putting my ankle wrap in their freezer to accommodate my icing schedule. Additionally I dragged with me across the pond a 10 pound bag of Dead Sea -Sea Salt for soaking in the tub. Additionally I had just purchased a Bemer (more on that later) for the electrical stimulus it provides for healing and health.

I HAD IT ALL GOING ON- Ice, heat, Bemer, and then I added a few visits to a acupuncture specialist that twice provided me with acupuncture and a tight wrap of my ankle. The goal was to play two rounds, make the cut (top 40) and play the third round and not lose ground in my world ranking (WAGR)

The WAGR used to not be relevant and only for ego purposes, but FINALLY like with the pro’s the WAGR ranking which can be sorted by age is now used for exempting senior players into the USGA Senior Amateur this year for the first time. The WAGR has been used for many year to exempt players into the USGA Amateur and Mid Amateur. The number one ranked player gets exempted into the US Open.

The trick to the ranking is that the Senior events have fewer points allocated as opposed to the regular amateur and Mid Am events. So if you care about your ranking you’ll try to play in events with high points allocated to the events based on how strong the field is. If you play in an event that has 20 players ranked in the top 1500, then the event will have significantly more points than an event with fewer ranked players.

So the Senior majors- USGA Senior Am, Senior Am will have the most players ranked in the top 1500, which means you’ll need to perform well in these to creep up the ranking. My goal for 2019 was to be in the top 15 world ranked seniors (over 55) to obtain one of the coveted exemptions into the USGA Senior Amateur. The cut off date for looking at the ranking list is always the entry closing. And I was thrilled when on July 10th I received an email from the USGA telling me I had earned a spot in this years event, therefore forgoing my scheduled qualifier which would have been the day after I returned from the UK in San Diego.

Now in North Berwick my focus was on being able to compete, while having to walk this very long walking course. I decided on one practice round on Monday, with rest scheduled for Tuesday before the event began on Wednesday. I also decided to hit the gym daily with a light weight workout followed by 20 laps in the pool. The challenge as you age is losing muscle mass, and at age 60 it begins to rapidly accelerate. My distance off the tee and with my irons is my advantage playing senior golf (but not against the kids and mid am players).

At North Berwick the course heads Straight south down the coastline for 8 consecutive holes, cuts back towards the water on the par 5 9th hole and then heads straight back north and back into the wind for the final 10 holes.

My attitude is always to look at whatever tee time I’m given as a positive, as you never know what the weather will be like when your tee time arrives. But when I arrived a week early on that Wednesday and saw that I had the second to last tee time at 3:28 followed by an 11:45 tee time the second day, I was less than pleased. The other top players had nice pairings with nice mid morning times, which felt to me a little disrespectful for a guy that was runner-up the prior year. I’m sure the R&A and pairing committee does not look at me as one of the top players, and therefore slotted me in with a late time. When I qualify for the Open, I am always sure I’ll either get the super early time or late one, which I fully embrace as a qualifier.

I’m pretty sure nobody that is involved assigning tee times in the Senior Amateur will ever read this and respond, but in my promise to keeping this real, I really wonder sometimes about the politics involved in some of the variable things in golf. In the end, the truth is I’m just thrilled to even be playing in a global championship, and every time I tee it up in an event like the Senior Amateur I never know when it will be my last. I cherish and take extra time to look round more, take some deeper breaths and enjoy every second.

I won’t even get into the fact that I don’t sleep well over in the UK. My jet lags lasts for weeks and I never can seem to sleep well at night. I find myself always wanting and needing a nap in the afternoons. But what the heck do you do with a 3:28pm tee time. I tried to sleep as late as possible, and woke at 11:00. After waking I did an 8 minute session with my Bemer, and then hit the pool for 10 laps to warm up my body. I thought perhaps a late breakfast around noon would be best, and supplement myself with snacks during the round. The R&A does a great job providing us with drinks and food on the course to stay hydrated and energized.

My strategy in assessing the course and what I needed to do was very simple. The front nine had 3 par 5 holes, all very reachable, and mostly downwind. The back had only one tougher par 5, and many challenging par 4 holes back into the breeze. This course certainly rewards the straight and long hitter, like most golf courses. But with severe fairways bunkers and very high and nasty rough just off the fairways, driving accuracy was at a premium, especially on the back nine holes.

I think I’ve provided enough build up to the start of the event, I was doing all my therapy to give my ankle a chance to survive walking the 54 holes over 3 days. Surprisingly the Senior Amateur is really the only event that requires you to walk the entire event. Which normally I like.

The first hole at North Berwick is this cool short par four that requires you to lay up well short on a flat area before the fairways goes down a small hill and into an area where you will most likely not like your thin lie. Everyday I hit 6 iron off the tee leaving me about 135 yards to the pin. Each day on number one I hit ok tee shots, but very poor second shots leaving very long birdie putts that had me hoping for two putts and an opening par. On all three days I had to make 5 – 8 foot putts to save my opening par.

On my opening round on day 1, I found myself in a nice groove on the front nine and made a solid birdie on the par 5 3rd hole, followed by another one on the par 3 fourth hole. All pars until I reached the downwind par 5 8th hole where it was a drive baby rescue to 5 feet for an eagle 3. Leaving me with only the par 5 9th hole to finish my front 9. Another good drive followed by a horrible rescue shot to the right left me a VERY tough third shot that somehow I managed to hit to 6 feet from the hole from a very bad side hill lie. After draining the 6 footer for a birdie and a -5 front nine, I tried not to look at the leader board but couldn’t help but notice my name near the top.

Like before in the Senior Open qualifier when I shot the low front nine of -2, here again I was off to a great start. But as before the ankle started to ache, and did not allow me to transfer my weight from my right back to my left, thus leaving to many arm swings with less power and accuracy.

My original goal was to make the cut and play on Friday, I was able to do that with front nines of -5 and -4 followed by back nines of +2 and +2. So I was -9 on the front and +4 on the back with no birdies.

The final round I was super pleased with my pairing with three time Senior Amateur champion Paul Simpson. If you looked at this 68 year old guy, you may think his best days are behind him, but I certainly didn’t think that, and knew that he would compete hard and probably have a chance to win the event. We started the round both at -5 with the lead at -8. That was certainly a lead that we could overcome, especially coming from behind and posting a low number with several holes left for the leaders.

Both Paul and I got off to good starts on the front. I shot -2 and Paul -3 to get us both in the hunt. I tried my best not to look at any leader boards at this stage as I wanted to just play golf. As Paul continued to play well, I began to struggle on the back nine with several bogies, followed by a few more. Paul had three very bad three putt greens and also played his way out of contention which I was sorry to see.

Now my goal was to finish in the top 20 (which gives you an automatic exemption into the event the next year) I struggled mightily coming down the last few holes and felt I needed to make a 3 foot putt on the last hole to stay inside the top 20. Joyfully I made the putt and finished t17.

My good pal Gene Elliott made a few bogies coming in and ended up tied with Southern California play Craig Davis. After 2 playoff holes Craig hit an amazing shot off a cement road to 10 feet on the 3rd playoff hole and made the putt to claim the championship. Gene Elliott had an amazing two weeks winning the low amateur honors in the Senior Open for the Silver medal, and followed it up with another silver medal in the Senior Amateur. Congrats to both of those great players.

Coming next- Chapter 3 – THE NCGA Match Play and the USGA Senior Amateur

STAY TUNED

CHAPTER ONE- DEALING WITH A NEW INJURY

When injuries start to creep into your golf game, nobody wants to hear about it, and likely nobody cares. We all suffer from the wear and tear of golf on our bodies.

Historically my issues have always been back related, then a couple of badly sprained fingers. I’ve had a few situations when I’ve had to dial the golf back, and even withdrew from a few events in the past.

In April while in Houston Texas preparing for an amateur event one evening my ankle began to hurt like hell. Didn’t sleep much, and thought something was seriously wrong with it. I was still able to play, and somehow probably have a world record for making a hole in one on the 17th hole, followed by a quadruple bogey nine on the 18th hole. Not real proud of that finish, and it certainly took the excitement out of the hole in one.

I thought all along this ankle pain would subside and that I’d roll into my summer events somewhat injury free. UNFORTUNATELY NOT THE CASE as I had to withdraw after one round of the NCGA Stroke Play championship after a 73 in the first round. I was unable to walk to the bathroom that morning let alone play golf. With my favorite trip of the year to the UK for the Senior Open and Senior Amateur I was getting worried about the ankle holding up in these events.

At age 60, you are in the countdown years of how many more of each of these events you’ll be competitive in. After my WD from the NCGA Stroke play, I drove 3 hours directly to the emergency room in the East Bay. Going to an emergency room is never going to reveal the problem, as you’ll not get an MRI unless its life threatening.

I withdraw on Saturday morning, with my flight to London set for Monday afternoon. Although I knew I would not be 100% I did not want to miss my favorite events of the year. That was the beginning of quite a shit show with British Airways. The good news for me was they had me in a business class seat that was also assigned to another passenger. They tried squeezing me into another business seat in the middle part of the plane. Of course I objected, and gave them my usual claustrophobic line. Usually works, but not always.

After they flight attendants huddled up, they offered me a full First Class seat, which I gladly accepted, however that was the end of the good experience with BA.

Upon our arrival in London, my travel buddy and I eagerly awaited our bags and clubs. Finally the bags came, but no clubs. Another traveler also was missing his clubs, so it seemed like BA decided to just leave all golf clubs behind. I think their little secret is, if the plane weighs too much, they off the heavy luggage (Golf Clubs) and never tell you the truth.

The fun began speaking with multiple baggage agents about where could our clubs be? How could they not know where they were? Still in SF? On the next flight that was 3 hours behind us? THEY HAD NO CLUE, and told us they could not call SFO to inquire either.

We tried to be super sweet and kind to the supervisor and asked if she could put a RUSH on getting our clubs to us, as we had a professional major golf event to prepare for. She said absolutely she would personally see to it that the clubs get delivered to our hotel in Southport, a good 4 hour drive away from Heathrow. She advised us to head on up, and the clubs would be there ASAP.

Off we went on the 4+ hour track to Southport, hoping to play a few holes at Hillside our qualifying course nearby. Upon arriving in Southport we were hopeful that BA would have an update on the status of our missing clubs. First you need to understand these airlines DO NOT WANT YOU TO CALL THEM, so they make you wait 30, 40 even 60 minutes on hold, before they tell you, you’ve called the wrong department and need to be transferred.

The next day we received an email that the clubs were found, and would be sent the NEXT DAY (Thursday) and we should have them in time for some afternoon golf. Of course that was WAY off as the clubs again seemed to disappear into their system. The next day we got word the clubs were finally being sent to MANCHESTER Airport at 7:00 am and would be sent over once they arrived. 12 hours later, and 4 days after we landed in Heathrow, we finally got our clubs. We had no practice or practice rounds over those waisted days, and certainly nobody at BA was looking after our lost baggage, and certainly nobody cared.

I guess the good news for me was that I was able to give my ankle some rest for a few days. The bad news was that now I needed to play practice rounds before the qualifier on Monday, when I had planned to rest over the weekend. Hillside is a very challenging golf course and a score over par will most likely advance into the Senior Open.

I came out strong on Monday, and headed to the 9th hole -1 on the front nine. A very poor second shot to the right put me in the right green side bunker. In my mind I was thinking, ok, even a bogey here and you’ll turn even par on the front. I know your never suppose to talk about your weaknesses in golf, but the honest truth is I am a poor bunker player, and this was not an easy shot. Upon striking the ball I thought I caught it a bit thin, but when I looked up, the ball was heading towards the hole, and then crashed in the cup for a birdie 3. I was quite amazed, surprised and pleased at this fortunate turn of events.

The bunker I found on the 10th hole was not so kind to me, after leaving one in the bunker, the next one I barely got out, and was left with a tough bogey chip. Somehow the golf gods were with me as the chip found the bottom for a head earned bogey. My thought was ok, I’m still 1 under and have the par five 11th coming up.

This is where the ankle decided no more torque please, and completely shut down on me. I battled hard, but this course has too much long nasty rough to allow errant shots to be played or even found. I was lucky to finish the back nine, limping heavily I signed my card with 34 on the front (The low from nine of the 120 qualifiers) followed by a whopping 46.

Life dealing with an injury like this was something I had not experienced before, and it was not fun driving off knowing that even if I had held on and shot a 40 on the back nine (74 qualified at Hillside) and qualified, I would not have been able to play the next 5 or 6 days in a row.

The only logical option was to drive North into Scotland to prepare for the Senior Amateur at North Berwick.

STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER 2 IT ONLY GETS BETTER FROM HERE

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Most competitive golfers know what it takes to play at a high level and be competitive. It takes more than a few casual rounds of golf to prepare for tournament golf. Tournament golf requires the type of preparation that any other athlete or business professional needs to dedicate to be the best they can be at their trade or sport.

So what are you doing to be the best you can be? Are you on a special diet? Do you work out 5 days a week? Do you practice your short game 5-7 hours a week? Do you play practice rounds under pressure to emulate tournament pressure. Are you stretching and doing Yoga to get your swing speed up.

There are ways to put a program together that incorporates many of the things I have suggested above. And that is to find a highly qualified TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Instructor that can also help you with nutrition. The first thing thing they are trained to do is measure you body to see where you are most deficient in your range of motion, and then they design a program to address your areas of weakness.

In addition to this, I also believe that reformer Pilates is one of the best uses of exercise time for golfers. I have been back going the last few weeks, and I cannot believe I ever stopped.

OK- those of you looking for a Helius update- here you go:https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/life-changing-surrey-brain-treatment-helps-woman-heal-years-after-hit-and-run/

Stay tuned

I AM BACK PLUS HELIUS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

Bouncing off life’s ups and downs, golf has been a roller-coaster for me over the past few months. After a very tough trip to Florida and Houston for the Coleman at Seminole, and then the Carlton Woods event in Houston, I considered taking some time away from the game and this Blog. We all go through life’s ups and downs, and between the significant drop in HSDT combined with some really shitty golf, I wasn’t sure I had much to write about here.

All slumps must come to an end, for both me and HSDT. What I’ve realized is that without the “rock bottom” we’d never fully enjoy the rise out of the hole. I’m not saying I’ve had any recent success, but I achieved a baby-step in finishing T6 in the NCGA Mid Am at Poppy Hills on June 8th and 9th with rounds of 72-70. Not quite in the same league as my best ball partner Jason Anthony, who lit it up with 67-67 for -8 total. Jason and I had some success in the USGA Four Ball at Bandon Dunes a the end of May qualifying T11 and making it to the round of 16. Jason is playing some inspired golf, and as a newly wed as of this past Saturday, he should have a great round today in the first round of the California State amateur at MPCC today.

So why today am I adding to my HSDT position? I’ve either been drinking too much of the HSDT coolaid, or I’ve found the next big thing that will eventually go up, stay up, and even perhaps go up 100X from the levels its trading at now. From everything I’ve heard, the device is working in Canada, and changing lives. They recently announced the addition of three new clinics, which I’m sure is due to the demand and results they are seeing in their first two clinics. Additionally the FDA is now only asking the company to run a 5 week PT (Physical Training) trial for 5 weeks. The FDA is interested in seeing the difference between just straight PT vs the use of the PoNS device combined with PT. My guess is at least 6-9 months will be needed to recruit, run, and present the results to the FDA. If then the PoNS device gets approval, there should be a significant rise in the shares (I think at least back to $10) I will admit there is a VERY negative stigmatism behind this company along with a very large short position. Who wins will be decided solely on the success of the PoNS device going forward. This is not for the faint-of-heart type of investor, but if you believe in their product, and its potential to help millions of people with any kind of brain disorder, then I would urge you to take a shot here, knowing that some patience is required. These share may trade all the way back to $2.00 or even lower, I don’t know. But as results keep coming out of Canada, I believe that we should see some buying coming in.

Since I am constantly in search of the truth, I will soon be sharing three things with you.

  1. A new and improved way to reduce inflammation and end your use of Ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs that are harmful to your body.
  2. I will share a device with you that I have found which is being used by professional athletes all over the world that creates better blood flow, and healing
  3. I will share with you a way to save on 90% of all your Hotel bookings as you travel the Globe (it could be 100% but I am being conservative)

And lastly I will tell you more about the benefits I am getting from seeing a top professional hypnotist.

So in summary in my next Post I’ll show you how you can get pain free while increasing your blood flow, extending your life whilst staying in better hotels for less.

STAY TUNED

ANYWHERE GOLF EXERCISES

The challenge with golf is always being able to keep up with your workout routine while away from home. The link below is 11 minutes long and will give you the most important key exercises that you need to maintain and increase your club speed.

https://18strong.com/resistance-band-exercises-for-golf/

Let me know how this works for you!

HELIUS UPDATE – FDA DENIES APPROVAL

 All aspects of application were fine except:

They want the company to distinguish benefit from the device vs physical therapy alone.  This contrasted with previous guidance that the voluminous history of physical therapy alone over the past 50 years and the fact that all patients in the trial had exhausted physical therapy would stand as a control group.  That is why they were granted co primary endpoints of difference between high and low stim groups (just fell short of statistical significance) as well as a change from baseline (highly statistically significant).  The FDA bought off on the trial design and endpoints and even now is acknowledging no safety issues and overall excellent results.  Management will meet with the FDA to arrive at a consensus on how they can do a study to isolate the effect of the device.  One idea is to do a crossover study at the existing sites which continue to enroll patients in a clinical experience program.I’m told that 40 paying patients are being treated in Canada and doing extremely well.

I’ve understandably have received a lot of harsh comments which perhaps I deserve. What you learn when investing in these tiny cap stocks is they can go up 10-100x or they can go to ZERO. I have no idea where this stock goes now. I estimate the company has almost $20,000,000 in the bank and will slash costs. Will the PoNS device end up helping millions of suffering patients from all kinds of neurological diseases? My guess would still be yes.

Back to the point of small cap stocks- 18 months ago when I recommended LFVN at $3.50 a share, I knew it had zero chance of going to zero, and a great chance of going to $10. It went as high as $17. One comment was that I had a winner 10 years ago, but actually I’ve had two winners in the past 3 years. One that went up 400% and LFVN that went up at least 400%. I don’t get paid to give these stock ideas out, these are companies that I know and like. Will HSDT survive this? I am not sure, and with my account at Schwab down $250,000 today, I am still in shock at this news.

I will continue to provide updates to those of you that took my suggestion to buy Helius, a company that is helping people now in Canada, and hopefully one day the rest of the world. If you want to tell me how awful I am, please fire away as I have tough skin.

I hope to get back to writing about golf, and ways to improve your game. I sincerely apologize to those of you that this news and drop in HSDT has hurt. I hope that we all see better days for this company.

Anyone with a GOOD cure for the YIPS, I’d like to hear from you so I can share with the others.

Stay tuned, better days ahead!

8 GREAT EXERCISES TO INCREASE YOUR RANGE OF MOTION

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this, as many of these exercises are my “secret weapon” in golf. Then I realized I mainly play against the older guys and they are too lazy to try these:)

If you want to improve, stop watching Martin Chuck give you something that doesn’t work, and try these exercises and tell me what helped you most? I give you a money back guarantee that these will. Oh, there is no money required to do these.

Jennifer is the best TPI trainer I’ve ever worked with, and she knows what she’s doing. There is one exercise not on here that I will video that is my #1 exercise (and Jim Furyk’s). So stay tuned for that. But in the meantime try a few of these, the are NOT EASY!!

These specific exercises will significantly improve your range of motion and length of your backswing. And give you a LOT more distance on all your shots.

8 GREAT GOLF EXERCISES

Let me know how they work for you!!