The last time I left you all hanging was after a smooth 66 in the first round of the Florida Azalea, which I was defending champion. Although 66 sounds like a fabulous score, you always know when you got the absolute most out of your round, and I did.
This was my fourth round in a tournament under par, and sadly would be my last going into the two weekend rounds at the amazing Palatka Golf Club, which measures only about 6000 yards long, but is tough and tricky if you are off at all in your game.
What had worked the week before (putting with my sand wedge) was a bust at the Azalea event. On the final round I missed 5 ONE FOOT PUTTS and now am left rethinking this option.
Playing golf for fun with friends is great, the putter flows back and through and everyone is having fun. The next level is playing with friends in a $5 Nassau, and now the short putts count for something. This is where the fun begins. Next level you’re playing in a tournament, you are out of the lead, and have no chance of winning, but want to finish as high as possible. The putter is now at a level 5 on the stress and yip metric.
Playing in a tournament that isn’t that big, but you are near the lead gets you to a 7 on the measuring system. This is where you are missing putts you’d normally make from 2-5 feet, and your lag putts are stressing you out.
Next up is the event that doesn’t mean that much, but you are in the lead, and you want to win. This is where you hit an 8 on the stress and yip meter heading to the events that are VERY BIG. Like a USGA event, the Senior Amateur in the UK, or even a big event like the Florida Azalea that has many of the top ranked players in the world. This is when you get to a 9 when near the lead, and a 10 when you are leading.
It’s hard to breathe when you are leading a tournament, it doesn’t matter how many you’ve won before, its challenging. It’s why very few players win under this type of stress and pressure. And its why I have not done well recently in the bigger events.
Fortunately I met up with my longtime friend and one of my best instructors I’ve ever worked with Mr. Terry Rowles on Saturday. I went through with Terry my challenge with the putter in tense and important situations in my tournaments. He gave me some incredible advice that I will share with you. Yes without like an infomercial trying to sell you something that you don’t need, and most certainly won’t work.
Terry noticed when I was putting even just casually that I was clenching my jaw and mouth. He said “stick your tongue out and relax you jaw and mouth” OMG that worked VERY well. He also wanted me to get my fingers of my right hand off the putter and use my gap between my thumb and index finger to hold the putter. The only issue there is keeping constant contact with the putter as now you are not holding onto the putter, you are just pushing it.
I have not yet had a chance to try these new changes under the bigger pressure, but the $20 Nassau pressure it seemed to work quite well.
With huge world ranking events coming up, I need to have a reliable putter that is solid and not nervous and wobbly. Today with the new WAGR (World Amateur Golf Ranking) I am now at 24th in the world for 55 and older. I have heard that the top 25 WAGR seniors will be exempted into the USGA Senior Amateur in August at Detroit Golf Club.
That is the goal, to move up safely inside this number and hold onto it. There are many events coming up that will have huge weight towards this goal.
Next week is the Northern California Golf Association two man championship at Poppy Hills, my partner is the reigning NCGA and State Amateur Champion, both played at Poppy Hills.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE ON THE PHYSICAL TRAINING I DO THAT IS SPECIFIC TO GOLF