While the off-season is a great time to re-charge the batteries and catch up on knitting, there isn’t a more exciting time of year than when those new season golf vibes officially kick in. For barely being a month into the Calgary golf season, I’ve already learned a lot and have things to say:
Winter lessons help – who knew?
In an effort to start the season with a refreshed sense of confidence and continue down my path of improvement, I dove into a few lessons this past off-season with my instructor, Fred Teno. I love working on my swing in the winter. It’s nice to have the time to work on new things without worrying about losing a sleeve of ProV1s in the process.
While I won’t bore you with all the intimate details of my lessons, I can report that my iron and wedge play in particular has seen significant improvement, the best it has ever been to begin a season.
As an instructor, Fred does a lot of things well, which I believe are things every amateur should look for in an instructor:
- Things are kept in simple yet effective terms. Unless you’re teaching Bryson DeChambeau, the student probably won’t be impressed or learn much from overly technical jargon.
- He always starts from the ground up and monitors my grip and setup, because without a solid foundation of basic fundamentals, most other things are moot. In fact, the first thing we did was tweak my grip to get it a little stronger and more in the fingers. I noticed an immediate improvement in the quality of my strikes.
- While discussing ways I can improve, he also pumps my tires and points out the things I already do well. Good for the confidence.
- He provides me with enough information to push me but not so much to send me into an orgy of confusion and fear. When he smells fear he immediately switches gears and finds a different way to approach it.
As Tiger loves to say, working on the golf swing is “a process”. I’m sure at some point Fred will see my swing on the range and wonder what happened to the work we did in the winter, but that’s part of the fun.
I’ve been diagnosed with match play fever
It’s match play season and I have my first competitive match under my belt. Fred and I are once again playing in the Riley’s Best Ball Match Play event put on by the Calgary Golf Association. It’s a gross best-ball event so it counts towards my goal of playing in at least five competitive events this season.
After sailing through the first round with a bye (hey, a win is a win), we played our 2nd round match this past Sunday with home course advantage at the Calgary Golf and Country Club.
Fred declared nuclear war with a missile off the first tee as far as I’ve ever seen anyone hit it on that hole. This set the tone and gave me a jolt of confidence, so I followed suit down the fairway, albeit a solid 25 yards behind him. It led to a two-putt birdie to halve the first.
When I decided to take a few holes off midway through the front-nine, Fred hung in there and kept the tee for us. In fact, we didn’t lose the tee all day.
After making the turn with a 2-UP lead and a beer in hand (as any respectable competitor would do), I rallied with birdies on the 10th, 12th, and 13th holes to essentially put the nail in their coffin, which has us headed to the 3rd round for the second straight year.
I’m also looking forward to some other upcoming match play opportunities at the club, including a low-handicap Ryder Cup style event in June and a mixed alternate shot event with Beth where I put her ability to hit recovery shots to the test.
The Road to Scratch is tough but no longer intimidating
I used to put players with lower handicaps than me on a pedestal. The more opportunities I’ve had over the past couple years to play with or against better players, the more this tendency has worn off.
I think the main reason is that it took some experience to realize that the difference between a 4-handicap and a scratch player is typically pretty narrow from a skill perspective. In many cases there may not be any gap in skill, but simply a gap in things such as experience, course management, or confidence.
While the road to being a scratch golfer isn’t a cake walk, it feels more achievable than it ever has, and I no longer feel intimidated by those who have already made it.
Red pants are a way of life
There are two types of people in this world — those who are willing to wear red pants and those who would never wear red pants. There’s really no in between, and I was presented with this fork in the road recently.
They say it’s important to venture out of your comfort zone once in a while, so I did just that and sported these red pants that my friends at Peak Performance sent me. They are actually starting to grow on me — plus — I figure being “in the red” on the golf course is always a good thing.
What do you think — am I pulling them off? Are they worthy of an appearance in a match to distract my opponents?