I was once told that to become great at golf is a 5 step process and I loved the idea.
1. Can you produce in the practice area (Ball striking, chipping and putting)?
2. Can you produce on the course?
3. Can you produce in a tournament?
4. Can you produce in a tournament on Sunday?
5. Can you produce in a major on Sunday?
For the first time in many years, I passed step one on Friday before I left on this trip. I stripped it on the range, found my chipping touch and finesse on all shots on the chipping green and sand area and I have been putting well for a few weeks now.
Sunday, I passed step 2 with flying colors. A blog reader who lives in Springfield played with me on Sunday (He is a very skilled and long hitter. He out drove the other two pros in the group consistently.). His quote…”You can win any PGA Tour event playing like that.” He was not patronizing me either. I was stripping 320-350 yard drives down the middle of every fairway. My iron shots were flying at the pin and several finished in gimmie range. My wedge and chipping game was better than it has ever been, even before my pre-Dave Pelz struggles and every putt I hit was the right speed and many went in.
I estimate I would have shot between 62 and 66…and definitely not higher than 66. Brett can chime in here and vouch for how good I looked.
Monday was a perfect recipe for putting me to the test on step 3. I didn’t sleep much because I was so excited and anxious to play after controlling all shots so well on Sunday. The best test was the pace of play. It took an hour and forty minutes to play the first five holes. That is not a typo 1:40 to play 5 holes.
I failed my first attempt at step 3 miserably. Aside from a pure 7-iron to three feet on the par 3 sixth hole, I was a complete chop. My rhythm was atrocious and I refused to release the club…which allowed me to miss in both directions.
I am not worried in the slightest. Sunday is something to build on and the failure on Monday shows me I have to work harder to make the Sunday swing second nature so it can withstand things like lack of sleep, slow play, a golf course I hate, or any other external factor that has gotten in my way in the past.
I have shot many low scores in the past several years, but Sunday was different. Sunday was easy. Sunday shows that I am moving in the right direction by simplifying my mechanics and thoughts. What Monday showed me is I am not there yet and still require too much thought on technique and not allowing me to direct my focus on hitting shots and scoring.
It also proves that stress brings out any bad habits that haven’t been purged yet. I hope none of this came off as if I am making excuses. I am searching for what I need to do to be a professional golfer again. The next two weeks I can be seen hitting 50-60 yard wedges until I throw up or pass out. Probably mix in a bunch of mid iron shots as well. I believe these are the two areas of practice that will groove a good swing and good rhythm. Pounding drivers for hours at a time was good for me to win long drive contests, but it does not make me or anyone else better.
BTW-everyone should be able to immediately improve their game after reading today’s post. What improves will be different from person to person. It’s all about improving your approach and having realistic expectations.