STRESS AND GOLF

Golf is suppose to reduce stress and give us all an escape from the crazy world we live in. Usually that’s the case, especially when I drive into the front gate at the beautiful Olympic Club.

But yesterday was perhaps the most stressful and disappointing day of my life, and fortunately I am writing about this today and not yesterday as the title would have been -“I’ve quit competitive golf”

As indicated in my last post I was playing in a major amateur championship in the Los Angeles area, the SCGA Senior Amateur with a very strong field being held at Red Hill CC near Ontario. The course is very tight and tricky with deep rough, so deep that many balls were lost just off the fairway.

I started off day 1 and 2 with solid rounds of 72 and 69 giving me a 4 shot lead heading into the final round. Wednesday evening I didn’t sleep well and woke with very dark circles under my eyes, along with a unrested feeling that worried me. I started off the final round in the lead which I have written about previously. There is casual golf, golf with small wagers, tournament golf when your way out of the lead, golf in a tournament when you are in contention and THEN there is golf when you have a lead you are trying to hold onto.

Why does the mind not allow us (or really me) to not extend the lead, with the confidence that you are playing the best golf in the field and that everyone else is playing for second. I have not won many big events in my career because I let fear, stress and pressure migrate me to the medium, which can be the cut line, or the qualifying score, or the guy in second.

But on this day I decided not to look at the electronic scoring that would have shown me that I had a 5 shot lead with 7 holes to go. Would that put me at ease, or crank up the pressure? On the 12th hole I decided to tee off with my 3 metal and finally found this tight fairway. With 265 to the green I waited till it cleared and then launched a missile just short of the green avoiding the trouble both left and right. My chip shot was very precise and almost went into the hole. While waiting my turn to putt, I tried to look around and not focus on the pressure and importance of the the putt. It was only 2.5 feet from the hole slightly downhill and straight in. With eyes shut I pushed the putt to the right and hit it ONE FOOT past the hole. Now I was reeling from the missed 2.5 foot putt and didn’t know that to expect with the one footer, yes the length of my shoe, a putt you should never ever miss. But on this day I was not in control of my nerves, they felt frayed and I yanked the one footer to the left missing the cup completely.

Because I didn’t know I still had a four shot lead I played with a deflated and defeated. After missing another 3 foot putt on the 13th hole, I totally lost my will to win, and just flared my tee shot into the right woods on the par 5 14th hole. I was up against a tree and tried a stupid shot and hit a tree and had my ball bounce backwards. Instead of just making a bogey I compounded my mistake and eventually missed a 4 footer for bogey and carded a 7. Again at this point I was now 1 shot ahead and still played reckless and 3 putted the par 3 15th hole from 25 feet away, again missing a short par putt.

I had birdie tries on 16 and 17 that were both missed badly, leading to the final hole. A very good uphill par 4 playing about 425 yards long I hit an 8 iron to 10 feet from the hole. Again my very kind playing partner asked if I wanted to know where I stood, leading me to believe that I still had a chance. Up on the hill there was about 30 players and officials watching the last group come in, knowing it matter what we did.

When it was my turn to putt I went with eyes closed, and missed the sweet spot of my putter leaving me 1 foot short of the hole. I marked, waited my turn and then missed the last one footer of the day to ensure that I didn’t win this major championship. I started the day 3 under par, and the winning score ended up being +3 or 6 shots higher than where I stood starting the day.

I’ve blown many tournaments in my career, but never quite like this. I am actually sorry you have to read this story as its not what this BLOG is suppose to be about. But in keeping it real, I need to report the good, the bad, and the super ugly.

I have choices to make- quit competitive golf, keep doing what I’m doing, or make some drastic changes in my life and putting technique. It’s strange how many people have spoken of my side saddle putting as something magical and that I am one of the best putters they have ever seen, and now I am quite positive that my playing partners would say the opposite. I am not looking for pity I am just reporting the facts, and the facts in this instance are very disturbing and ugly. I am quite sure that Craig Davis (The 2019 British Senior Amateur champion) was shocked when he found out he had won the event.

The 400 mile drive home was torture, followed by a sleepless night I now have today to reflect and decide what to do next. I am happy to help others with side saddle options and solutions to their putting, but can nary help myself. I will have to make some drastic changes before its too late for me to win a USGA Senior Amateur, a British Senior Amateur or anything BIG.

So what can you do about a shot nervous system that fails when you need it most. I am going to read some books recommended to me, and look for a different way to putt (new putter, different grip, etc) I did have some Kava Kava in my bag, some Ashwaganda, mood pills, etc I’ve tried the Hypnotist, the sports psychology and of course eyes closed. Now perhaps I need to give up Alcohol, caffeine and eliminate all other stresses in my life.

I LOVE THIS GAME, but the game is all about making your last shot your best shot. If you drive the ball well, hit your irons beautifully and chip like a demon, its all wasted on a missed short putt. There is no hiding from your putter. Off the tee you can always go to a 3 metal, or iron. You can always chip with many different clubs. But with putting there is no hiding, you either hole the putt or not.

One of my mentors has recommended a book written by Hank Haney on this subject. I plan on reading it soon, and I’ll report back.

The California State Senior amateur starts on November 9th at Poppy Hills, I have basically two weeks to get this shit figured out. But for today I am not wallowing in self pity, just gravely disappointed that after winning over 200 amateur events in my life, I wasn’t able to draw on any of that to help me stabilize the leaking ship that sunk like it was hit by a scud missile.

Adding insult to injury I had to listen to the Presidential debate one my drive home, I leave my political views to myself.

STAY TUNED FOR HOW I AM GOING TO FIX THIS PUTTING SLUMP AND GET BACK ON THE HORSE

CHIPPING MADE SIMPLE

There are many different techniques that are used to chip a golf ball. Good chipping technique is essential to scoring in golf, especially under pressure in a golf tournament. My video below it may be hard to hear me, as I do not yet use a microphone. I am basically just showing the difference between moving your torso through the chip, as opposed to leaving your torso still. You will see immediate progress if you begin to turn your torso through your chip.

This second video is quite good as well. I like that he has his students stand close to the ball with a narrow stance. Follow these tips and I believe you will see major progress in your chipping game, which is critical in scoring.

I’m currently playing in the Southern California Senior Amateur Championship at Red Hill CC

You can follow live scoring here

https://scga-2020scgasenioramateurchampionship.golfgenius.com/pages/2331486

Stay tuned

Hitting Solid Shots Into the Wind

Many of you are PGA Class A teaching pros, and perhaps you’ll agree or disagree with me. I’ve had the opportunity to receive instruction from some of the best instructors in the country, including Tommy Jacobs at La Costa while I was attending San Diego State.

Despite all of this great instruction I have my own philosophies on how to play better golf. I think it is very difficult to make major swing changes if you’ve been golfing a long time, your swing is your swing. Minor tweaks and different positions are all good, but I have found that to maximize your distance and consistency you need to focus on your ball contact, meaning hitting the ball in the center of the club face.

Even on the PGA tour you have many different swings from Bubba Watson to Jim Furyk, but what they all do very well is hit the ball in the center of the club face. One thing that is available to you are these face tabs you can put on all your clubs to see where you are hitting the ball. If you are hitting the ball low on the driver trying teeing it up higher, and lower if your high on the club face.

But where amateurs really struggle is flighting their ball especially into the wind. Very rarely do I just hit full shots on the driving range, with my 7 iron I am hitting low 100 yard shots, then high fading 165 yard shots going to some slight low draw shots. This is teaching my body what it feels like with the rotation and release to hit these without guessing on the course.

My favorite golf is in Ireland and Scotland because there you MUST flight your ball down. Most golfers from the USA just hit high full shots, head over the pond and get crushed in the windy UK conditions.

Hitting low solid shots is a must in this game, and practicing them is enjoyable and rewarding. Here is a short video on just a few things I do.

Hitting it solid into the wind

Stay tuned, next I’ll give you a MUST DO for all chip shots

GOLF & COVID 19

As this pandemic continues to rage on with no clear end in site, one of the few bright spots has been GOLF.

Golf can be safely played with all the protective guidelines for social distancing while being outside in the clean air. However the air here in California is not so clean, we’ve been hit with another round of devastating wild fires burning uncontrollably.

The world we live in has dramatically changed, mainly for the worse. We have serious social, economic and political issues with vast differences of opinion and policy. This is not a political forum, and I will keep my personal views private. But I think we all can agree that we miss our old way of doing things with the freedom to move about without the worry of contracting this deadly disease.

Golf has been the one solace that many of have found during this pandemic, besides all the series on Netflix that I thought I would never have time for (my Favs are Breaking Bad, Billions, Ozark, Longmire and a few others).

With golf we’ve seen record numbers of players coming out to enjoy one of the few sports that should keep you safe, or at least very low risk of contracting this virus. Last Saturday the Olympic Club had its single biggest days for rounds played with over 500+ rounds.

When I go to practice at Tilden Park which is atop the Berkeley Hills, I find the three tiered driving rank packed with golfers of all ability, and people teeing off as late as 6pm to get in a few holes (yes they do pay a fee to play that late).

Golf has kept many of us somewhat sane during this difficult time of uncertainty and caution. We must use this down time to reflect on the lives we’ve had, and the life we now have and how to safely and cautiously move forward knowing that everything is on the table.

If anyone would listen to me about golf preparation I would tell then to use this down times to better oneself in all the ways possible. It’s not easy to change routine, especially when the routine is not the healthiest. But for me I got to the point where I could not lay on the couch anymore eating pie and ice cream depressed about the world.

Golf tournaments are back, and I have made a commitment to be the best I can be. Its not easy when your appetite is used to sugar, fat and bad carbs. So I ordered an expensive Peloton bike (arrives Oct 15th) and I am now on a GOLO diet eating healthy bowls and drinking 3 times the amount of water as before.

I did cheat yesterday after a -1 70 at the Olympic Club Lake from the back tees, I then had 1 glass of Cab at the club, at Vals I had three pieces of bread, the fish and veggies. I followed that up with my first movie in 7 months at Daly City Century 20 in the good recliner seats with my buddy. We ate popcorn, red vines and some chocolate candy.

Today of course I am disgusted with myself, and will start this new diet all over again. The diet though is the best I have ever tried because is combines all the healthy food groups into a bowl like meal, that keep me very full and satisfied. Combined with 3X more water than normal I stay quite full and happy.

I am also a big believer in the 6 hour window of eating, so my meals occur between noon and 6pm and then I shut it down. Lost 6 pounds so far in a week, and will continue to roll on my exercise ball, do my free weights and wait for my bike to show up.

To compete at your highest level in golf you need an edge, you need to mentally have something that you can draw upon that makes you stronger mentally and physically than the competition. You’ve seen Bryson do it with his program, which I think has given him as much a mental boost as a physical one.

Don’t be afraid to do something radical with your behavior patterns, those that can and will, are usually the winners. Take advantage of these tough times to better yourself and give yourself the mental boost to compete at the level you aspire to compete at.

I could give you chipping technique tips, or tell you to keep your weight on the right when trying to hit your driver further, but in the end the changes that will help most are the ones that will give you a mental edge and keep your focus and confidence at a high level.

And if you find you crash late in your rounds of golf, the #1 reason is usually you have become dehydrated and/or low blood sugar has hit you. YOU MUST stay hydrated throughout the round, otherwise you’re toast.

STAY TUNES FOR – More on the upcoming major events and what I’m doing to prepare

THE FUTURE OF GOLF

I’ve written a lot about Bryson and the power he possess, and how the game has changed because of it. He clearly demonstrated that hitting fairways is not required to win a US Open if you can fly a golf ball 325 yards in the air.

Lets examine this new phenomena – lets take a 500 yard par 4 with graduated rough on both sides of a 28 yard wide fairway. Lets say the graduated rough is 10 yards on each side of the fairway. That gives these bombers almost 50 yards to enable them to have a lie that most likely they can advance to the green.

Additionally if Bryson flies a ball 325 yards with no roll, he then has 175 to a pin, but only needs to fly that shot 150-160 yards in the air, that’s a pithing wedge for Bryson and Wolff. The average tour pro is flying the ball just over 285 yards, which in this example would still leave 215 yards to the green. Even with a 7 iron out of the graduated rough its a very tough shot with over 10 degrees less loft. THAT IS NOT A FAIR FIGHT

So what will the USGA do to combat this length that these players possess rendering their rough almost a joke to them. They have three choices in my view.

  1. The USGA decided to cut the primary rough on Tuesday making it a lot easier for the bombers to negotiate, they will need to make the rough so deep that even the strongest golfers will need to chip it out. This I do not see possible, you’d need rough at 6-8 inches high to accomplish this.
  2. The USGA can roll back how far the ball goes, but still this will allow the bombers to have an advantage over the other players and would hurt the shorter hitters more than the longer ones.
  3. US OPEN course would need to be redesigned with more hazards and OB catching errand foul balls. Most USGA Open venues have very few hazards and OB. Torrey Pines the site of next years US Open is very similar to Winged Foot, with very few hazards and OB in play.

I sent a congratulation text to Bryson and today received a thank you! back from him. We connected when Bryson was only 7 years old, and then later in his career when he decided to try side saddle putting. If you ask him today, he still says that side saddle is a better way to putt than his current awkward way of putting.

Bryson is not the most liked player in world, but I have huge respect for him. Like I’ve always said, nobody knows what goes on behind doors, and Bryson has certainly put the work in to transform his body into a powerful machine that thumps a ball into the stratosphere.

I’d love to hear more on what you think about what the USGA can do to protect the course from the bombers?

My text to Bryson on Sunday eve was almost this”Dude, we both won golf tournaments today, you the US Open and me the Tracy City, I’ll trade you…lol”

More on this subject later- stay tuned!

US OPEN PREVIEW- BEST BETS

Now that sports gambling is totally legal in the USA, you may want to enjoy some extra motivation in rooting for your favorite player. The information below I pay for, and has been very accurate. My own personal picks for this years Open do not include Dustin Johnson or John Rahm.

The best bets are not the odds to win (that’s very tough to pick the winner unless it was Tiger in his prime) but easier to pick the matches. Below you’ll see he likes Colin Morikawa vs. Bryson. I totally agree with this pick as Bryson will be bombing the ball in the rough which you CANNOT do at Winged Foot.

I played in the USGA Four Ball at Winged Foot a few years ago, and its very tough with the narrow fairways and the very tricky greens. I think his pick to win of Web Simpson is a good one, although Web is a very boring player (to me he is because he is not a bomber and just plods along, which is why he’s already won a US Open at Olympic Club in 2012)

Winged Foot is very similar to the Olympic Club with relatively small greens to fire at where shots must be coming from the fairway, not the rough. r

Read below and let me know what you think?

2020 U.S. OPEN: DATA SCIENTIST REVEALS PICKS TO WIN, PROP BETS, MATCHUP PLAYS

Golf handicapper Rick Gehman, who nailed Webb Simpson winning the RBC Heritage at 30-1, gives his best bets for this week’s major championship at Winged Foot.ByRick Gehman@RickRunGoodSep 15, 7:44AM PDT . 6 min read

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With his data-driven approach to betting golf, Rick Gehman routinely crushes sportsbooks. Over the last 18 tournaments, Gehman’s bets are up almost $2,300 for $100 players.

At the RBC Heritage in June, Gehman told SportsLine readers to bet Webb Simpson at 30-1, saying he “certainly appreciates the books dropping Simpson all the way down to 30-1” following a bad performance the week before and noting Harbour Town was the perfect course for Simpson’s game. The result? Simpson fired a 22-under to win the RBC Heritage! 

At the Travelers Championship, Gehman played Doc Redman to make the top 20, a +750 longshot, and Redman cashed easily with an 11th-place finish. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic last month, Gehman put Bryson DeChambeau atop his rankings. DeChambeau fired a final-round 65 to win by three strokes.

And at the Tour Championship, Gehman cashed his 12-1 bet on Xander Schauffele winning (without strokes) in the FedEx Cup playoff finale.

Now Gehman, whose models have produced 11 outright winners in the past year, has analyzed the latest U.S. Open odds from William Hill and revealed his picks to win, top prop bets and head-to-head picks. We can tell you Gehman loves Collin Morikawa  (-118) to win his matchup over Bryson DeChambeau (-106). Gehman said DeChambeau’s grip-it and rip-it game is unlikely to succeed at Winged Foot, and Morikawa “has a game that translates everywhere.” 

Gehman also has isolated three players to win, including a 40-1 play who has been trending toward victory the past several weeks! This player thrives on tough courses and has the grinding mentality a U.S. Open requires. You ABSOLUTELY need to see who it is, along with Gehman’s detailed bets and picks, before you bet the Tour Championship!

Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) is a co-host of The First Cut podcast (CBS Sports) and a regular contributor to The Pat Mayo Experience (DraftKings). 

Here is Gehman’s writeup (posted Tuesday): 

Last Event’s Recap 
(Tour Championship)

Mackenzie Hughes was a big mover at the Tour Championship, and while he missed out on cashing our top-10 ticket, his matchup victory over Cameron Champ added to our winning week. The big chunk of our success came from Xander Schauffele winning, without strokes, at +1200. It was good for +3.79 units on the week and +15.92 units on the season, and we’re at +22.92 over the past 18 tournaments..

Event Preview

The U.S. Open won’t be for the faint of heart. All reports and expectations are that Winged Foot will play incredibly difficult, with challenging greens and rough that will be extremely penal if you miss the fairway. Not only will it take a complete game to contend, you’ll also need to be mentally tough to deal with four days worth of challenges.

Winner – Webb Simpson (+2500) – 0.55 units

Once they walk off the tee box, Webb Simpson becomes the best player in the world. He gains 1.76 strokes per round in the approach, around-the-green and putting categories. It’s the most of any golfer in the field. And while Simpson’s lone detriment is that he is not a long hitter, being able to find the fairway will be much more important than bombing it over 300 yards at Winged Foot. Simpson hits 67.3 percent of his fairways, which ranked him 18th on Tour last season. Already with one U.S. Open Championship on his resume, Simpson will look to add a second this week.

Winner – Collin Morikawa (+1600) – 0.60 units

The recipe for success at Winged Foot is very clear. Hit the fairway and turn this into a second-shot course. Morikawa can certainly find the short grass off the tee, and when you put an iron or wedge in his hand, he’s one of the best players on the planet. He’s answered every question we’ve asked of his game and continues to improve on a weekly basis. 

Winner – Tyrrell Hatton (+4000) – 0.40 units

Hatton definitely has the “grind” mentality needed to find success at a U.S. Open venue. He was the winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. That was actually the most difficult course played on Tour last season, and Hatton was the one raising the trophy on Sunday. He’s trending in the right direction, with three consecutive top-25 finishes, culminating with a fifth-place finish at the Tour Championship. 

Top 10- Matthew Fitzpatrick (+500) – 0.45 units

It’s not pretty, but Fitzpatrick finds a way to get it done. The more difficult the course, the better. Fitzpatrick played well at Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields this past season. Those were three of the most difficult courses played, and Fitzpatrick finished T-9, T-6 and T-6, respectively. His back-to-back T-12 finishes at the U.S. Open prove that no stage, course or field is too big for Fitzpatrick.

Top 10- Brendon Todd (+600) – 0.50 units

At first glance, you’d cross Todd off your list of considerations for a major championship, but U.S. Open venues are different. There’s a premium placed on hitting the fairway, which Todd accomplishes 71.36 percent of the time (fourth-best on Tour). There’s also a premium placed on great putting, since these greens are so difficult. Todd ranked 20th in strokes gained putting last season. When you dig deeper, you realize that Todd’s unique game does indeed create a path to success.

Tournament Matchup – Collin Morikawa (-118) over Bryson DeChambeau (-106) – 1 unit

DeChambeau is committed to a strategy that emphasizes distance over accuracy. That works well the vast majority of the time on Tour, but it is untested at a U.S. Open venue like Winged Foot. Morikawa, on the other hand, has a game that translates everywhere. Morikawa’s floor is as high as any golfer on Tour, which usually comes in handy when wagering matchups.