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Monday, May 24, 2010

Par 18 Scoring

3 Good Shots is working very well. Every morning I get an email with the details of one of my good shots to give me a very positive memory bank of shots to take to the golf course. Another thing I have been doing and is recommended by Jamie Edwards and Dr Karl Morris is Par 18. The aim of this is to try and get up and down 9 times for a score of 18. Chip + putt, Chip + putt. There are a few reasons this game is great

- gives you a great short game if you do it 2 or 3 times a week

- keeping track of your par 18 scores shows if you maybe need attention to your chipping

- it gives you great confidence in going for greens because you know you have a great chance of getting up and down because your short game is so good.

I’ve just added the ability to be able to keep track of your par 18 scores on 3 Good Shots. Click on the ‘Add Par 18 Score’ and input how you’ve done. I’ve added 2 different par 18 games right now of chipping and long putts, but the aim is to add more such as ‘25 yards out’ etc.

Check out my profile page, there’s now a graph showing how my par 18 scores are going:

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

3 Good Shots – helping you improve your mental approach to golf.

I’ve got an exciting new project to announce called 3 Good Shots. Here’s a little background to the idea…

I’ve read many golf books on improving your mental approach to golf. A lot of them recommend keeping a shot diary where the idea is you get back from 18 holes and write down in good detail your best shots of the round. Recording information such as:

- who you were playing with
- what the weather was like
- what hole the shot was on
- what was the playing situation
- your thought process behind the shot
- how you felt while executing the shot

etc

Writing these good shots down builds up a diary of good shots you have hit around many different golf courses. Writing them down is just half the work, you then have to re-read them so that your brain can remind itself of the shot and how you felt when playing it. I have found writing the shots down to be the relatively easy part, remembering to re-read them however is not something that I am too good at.

This is where the web site 3 Good Shots comes in:

www.3goodshots.com

At the moment you need a FaceBook user account to register and log in (we’ll soon be adding more ID providers). Once registered you can go to ‘Add a Round’ and enter details and a description about the round, and then the 3 best shots you played. There is also the option of adding more detailed stats such as fairways hit, greens in regulation and number of putts.

Then every day you’ll receive an email from 3 Good Shots with one of your good shots for you to read. Read the email, close your eyes briefly and remember all the details of the shot and how you felt. Then next time when you come to play that shot again, or something similar – you’ll have nothing but strong positive emotions to help you execute another great shot!

This is something I have built for myself, but I hope you might find it useful as well. If you have any feedback or ideas please email it over to nick@golftribe.com

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Best scores this year on new courses

One of the things that has been bothering me this year has been why haven’t I been scoring well on the two courses I play the most. I’m a member at Theale and Sandford Springs and so far this year I have been scoring 2 – 3 shots over my handicap each competition round.

It hasn’t all been bad though, here are my best three rounds of the year

1, Oake Manor – 78

2, Basingstoke Golf Club – 77

3, Bowood – 78

So I have been playing some good rounds of golf. But how come it is at golf courses I am playing for the first time (and may not play again) ?

A couple of theories:

- no course knowledge means no fear

- always shooting straight at the pin, again because of no course knowledge

- putting is much more intuitive as no bad memories of missed putts

 

I’d be interested in your thoughts. I’d love to be able to take these scores onto my home courses and get my handicap down.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rounds of golf ruined by one hole

With the weekend over it is time to reflect on the two competition rounds I played on Saturday and Sunday. In April I have been struggling to play to my handicap of 10. Always two or three shots above it, meaning I’ve been creeping up from 9.6 at the start of the year to 10.0 now. The aim for me this weekend was to play around to my handicap – nothing more, nothing less. And apart from one hole on each round I managed it!

On Saturday I played in the May Medal at Sandford Springs. The weather was sunny and warm with a light wind. I set off with the aim of playing to my handicap and came pretty damn close.

Fairways : 40%
Greens in Reg : 28%
Putts : 32

Stoke Score : 84

I completed the front 9 at six over par which I was pretty happy with. A good back nine and I’d complete today’s goal. Unfortunately on the 16th hole I hit a hook drive and found myself at the bottom of a tree with a bad lie and only enough space to make a tiny back swing. I thought I’d be able to knock it out a couple of yards and then be able to hit at the green but unfortunately a couple of duffs later and after another bad lie and I walked off with a 7. I managed to bounce back and par the remaining 2 holes which made me feel better. On reflection I put the bad hole down to a bad drive, but it was also a bad decision to try to hack out. The only thing I could have done was take the ball back along the line of the flag with a penalty drop which would have meant a probable 6, so I think making the choice I took didn’t cost me too many shots in the end.

On Saturday night I was thinking about what I had to do to play to my handicap. On reflection is was obvious. Par 4 of the front 9, and 4 of the back 9 – with bogies on the rest would mean I play to 10! So this was my game plan for Sunday – it didn’t seem to hard and certainly something I could accomplish.

The weather man was unfortunately correct in his prediction for Sunday with stronger northern winds and heavy rain all morning!!! A number of people dropped out before hitting a ball and 4 walked in after 9 holes! The ones that were left to battle it out with the conditions were the brave ones!

Fairways : 69%
Greens in Reg : 28%
Putts : 32

Stroke Score : 85

The par at Theale is one extra than Sandford so with that taken into account the scores are equal.

I started off great! +1 gross after 5 holes meant that I had got my 4 pars very early into the round. I could now bogie my way to the 10th and I would be half way there. Unfortunately on the par three 6th I made a huge mistake. We all hit our tee shots into a strong wind and it looked like they all made it over the ditch before the green. We got down there and I saw a ball that was covered in mud, but I could just make out the Srixon logo. Pete, who generally doesn’t hit the ball as far as me concluded his must have gone in and so dropped and chipped over. It wasn’t until I had hit onto the green and cleaned the ball that I realized that I had played Pete’s ball! :-( We were both playing Srixons, and although we had uniquely identified them we didn’t declare them at the start so didn’t realize we were playing the same make! With the mud covering the ball I couldn’t see the number or make out the individual markings. So mistake made, and realizing it was my ball that had landed in the ditch I had to take a 2 stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball, drop behind the ditch for another penalty – and play out the hole for an eventual 8!

Generally an 8 on a par 3 would be card ruined! But I decided that given the hard conditions there wouldn’t be low scores that day and if I could get back to playing the way I started I would still have a chance. I managed to play the next 3 holes in par which meant I was only 6 over for the front 9, 1 more than my actual target – but considering the 6th hole a very good score!

With the weather conditions worsening over the back 9 I completed it in 8 over par which I think was reasonable. Much to my surprise my net 75 was good enough for second! Everybody found the conditions really tough and the scores reflected that. Everybody except Jason Burton who came in with a net 67!!! An awesome round, I can’t wait to see what his handicap gets cut to! So even if I had got a 3 on the 6th hole I’d have had no chance of beating Jason, which meant the overall it didn’t matter.

So I’ve learned a couple of valuable lessons this weekend. Always make sure you are hitting the correct ball, even when it is covered in mud, and never give up because you never know how everybody else is scoring! I am going to use the same tactic this week of trying to par 8 of 18 holes as it seemed to work well, and if it wasn’t for the bad hole each day I could have played to my handicap or even better.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Golf Chipping Practice Progress

It is great knowing that summer is finally getting here. The temperature is getting warmer and the sun is rising and setting earlier and later. The extra daylight hours give you so much more time to get out on the course and practise. I managed to get out 4 times in 5 days during Monday to Friday. I only took my driver, 9 iron, 60 degree wedge and putter – which I felt would ensure I had some fun by trying to hit different types of shots over different distances, and also concentrate a lot on my short game. I’ve decided to use my 60 degree wedge for all shots within 60 yards presuming I have a reasonable lie. I came to this decision after reading Phil Mickleson’s ‘Secrets of the Short Game’ book while watching him win the Masters last weekend.

image

Buy from Amazon.co.uk

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By deciding to use my 60 degree wedge for most shots

1, It removes doubt over club selection

2, I can practice in the garden

3, It makes chipping and pitching fun

The fun part of it comes from trying to play different types of shots with the same club. High and low shots, chips that bite or run out. By having the ability to play these different types of shots with the same club you certainly have to visualize the shot before playing it. Where to land the ball, how you want it to rollout to the hole etc – this fits in very well with the work I did a little while ago with Neal Granville.

Each time I went out last week I did Par 18 short game practice (9 holes – 9 attempts to get up and down chipping). My average score was 21. This number gives me so much confidence when playing my second shots into greens as I know if I am off target and leave myself a chip, the chances are I will still be able to get up and down to save par. This allows me to swing with much more confidence.

It’s the first competition of the season at Theale Golf Club on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to it and will let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shoe Review : Nike Air TW Golf Shoes 2010

As golf is my main hobby I don’t mind spending a bit of money on the equipment I use. Previously I had always bought Adidas golf shoes. I’ve had 4 pairs of the Adidas 360 shoe in various versions and limited editions, but after around 12 months of heavy use each of them has split or started leaking. Adidas are good enough to offer a replacement pair within 12 months if your shoes start letting in water but having done this twice I decided it was time to try out a different make. It was the first day in Cornwall last week when it rained and my Adidas shoes got wet through. I knew they wouldn’t be dry by the next morning so set myself to buy some new ones.

In the Pro Shop at Launceston they had the brand new Nike Air TW 2010 golf shoes.

 

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As soon as I tried these on I was surprised at how rigid they felt. I actually thought they’d be too stiff to walk in but it turned out not to be a problem. This stiffness does certainly help add a lot of stability when swinging a golf club. Putting my old shoes on now makes me feel like I am trying to swing a golf club while standing on jelly!

I’ve not had to take time to wear the shoes in either, they have fitted like a glove from day one with zero blisters. They are quite honestly the most comfortable golf shoe I’ve ever owned.

We’ll have to see whether this stiffness and stability of the shoe remains as I wear it more – I’ll certainly report back here in a few months. If you don’t mind spending money on your golf equipment I’d definitely suggest checking these shoes out. I’m even considering getting them in white now!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Golfing in Cornwall

Last week I had the pleasure of spending 5 days golfing down in Cornwall with Dave, Pete and Andy from Theale Golf Club. Many thanks to Pete for organizing the week and Dave for driving me down – Andy as always was great company and my main competition for the week! :-)

We played 5 courses in total:

Oake Manor
Trethorne
Launceston
Bowood

We had a competition setup for the four of us during the week for:

Total strokes over handicap
Total stableford
Birdies
Kerchings (birdies, sandy pars etc)

Oake Manor

On the drive down we stopped at Oake Manor Golf Club in Taunton. We had a tee off time just after 8 am so had to set off from Reading at 5! The early start meant we missed all of the traffic around Bristol and even had a chance for a breakfast stop at a service station. Oake Manor was a great course to start the week on. It has a lot of water with big lakes running alongside fairways and streams weaving through the course. Amazingly I managed to start off very well with 40 points! I could quite happily have stayed at Oake Manor all week but we had a tee off time booked at Trethorne for the afternoon so had to set off once again.

Trethorne Golf Club

Trethorne was to be our home for the week. They have accommodation for over 70 people so it is ideal for golf society’s to go to. The weather forecast was for showers on Tuesday afternoon and it turned out to be correct. This was good as it gave me a chance to wear my new FootJoy water proofs, but also bad as they had just dressed the greens that morning which meant large lumps of mud were sticking together on the wet green which made putting impossible. Dressing the greens is a very important part of course maintenance so you can’t complain that is has been done, it was just a bit of bad luck and bad timing with the weather. The good news was the rain helped wash the dressing in, and by the end of the week the greens were in great condition and very fast! The course at Trethorne is great – one of the best I’ve played. The area is very very hilly which makes for great holes that you are hitting up or down to. This always makes you have to think about your shots and where you want to be playing the next one from. I managed to have some great sets of 9 holes while playing at Trethorne, but unfortunately never a great 18 holes all in one go. As this was our base for the week we played it 5 times while moving around to other courses for the other 18 of the day. My stableford scores for the week were 32, 31, 35, 32, 35. The two 35 point round were particularly annoying as on both rounds I messed up the 17th or 18th meaning dropping a point and not playing around to handicap.

Launceston

According to the locals Launceston is a flat course! When compared to Trethorne I can understand this statement, but it still had a number of considerable hills on it. We played here twice and although I enjoyed the course very much, this was my worst scoring course. I managed 34 points on the first day which I was happy with, but only 28 on the day we returned. The second time we played Launceston was Thursday afternoon and it was our third day of 36 holes. Although we had buggies I was pretty knackered both physically and mentally which is the excuse I am using for my lowest score of the week.

Bowood

Bowood was the course I was looking forward to playing the most as it was the only one I had heard of. The course was set in a beautiful location with the par 4 12th and par 5 13th possibly being the two best looking holes I have ever played. The use of huge old trees and water was simply stunning – I could have quite happily parked my golf clubs and sat by the water for the rest of the day. Thankfully my golf round was going well so I was motivated to carry on. I managed 38 points which I was delighted with. I was very happy to get a par on a 585 yard par 5 (with being on the green in regulation!) and also a birdie on the back 9. Overall the course did not disappoint. It was long, hilly, testing, big greens and bunkers with nice fluffy sand in it. Bowood also has accommodation on site so if you are looking to travel down to spend a week there it is definitely a place to consider.

Overall

We all had a great time down in Cornwall which was thanks to great courses and the hospitality at Trethorne. I was very happy with how I played overall considering I was playing the courses for the very first time – especially the 40 and 38 points at Oake Manor and Bowood. Due to these 2 good rounds and playing relatively consistently for the other rounds I was lucky enough to win all the mini competitions we had going during the week! Although I was really happy to have played so well and won it was definitely a bigger bonus to have great company, great courses and great weather during the week. I kept stats for 7 of the 9 rounds during the week – here are the averages:

Fairways in reg : 67%
Greens in reg : 40%
Putts : 35

Average Stableford Points : 34

As you can see from the stats driving was definitely the strong part of my game during the week and I’m pretty happy with the greens in regulation number. The average of 35 putts a round does make it look as though my putting was woeful, but the part of my game that let me down during the week was definitely my short game. I simply didn’t get up and down enough times during the  week which led to a high number of putts per round. We were constantly playing golf so I didn’t get a chance to practise par 18 at all. I think being able to do this once a day would have certainly helped – although I’m still very happy with the scores overall based on the fact that these were away courses being played for the first time.

We all had an excellent week – and this was great preparation for the upcoming season which starts properly this weekend.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Rounds of golf in the 70’s

Happy to say that today was my third round in a row in the 70’s. Despite the amount of rain we have had this week I got out yesterday at Theale and today at Sandford, and although the courses were wet and boggy in places the greens were in very good condition.

Yesterdays round at Theale was an early game as the weather people were predicting rain from around 11am onwards. I tee’d off on my own at 7:30am planning only to play nine, but the weather held and a pal called John caught me up so we played most of the round together. On the front 9 I did par 18 pitching, and the back 9 was par 18 chipping. I’d say I was playing good consistent golf on Saturday, nothing amazing but also nothing bad – the sensible strategy certainly seems to be paying off

Fairways : 46%
Greens in reg : 39%
Putts : 29

Score : 79

Par 18 pitching : 25 
Par 18 chipping : 23

Today at Sandford I played in the Handicap knock-out competition against a great chap called Harry. He played off 19 so I had to give him 9 shots. Having noted these on the score card I noticed that he didn’t get any shots on the last 2 holes so my game plan was to make sure I stayed no more than 1 down as I thought I could win those last two. We had a great battle, never more than 1 hole between us. I’m happy to say I managed to go one up on the 17th and halved the 18th so my plan worked very well. I’m now into the third round which is quite exciting! Here are the round stats:

Fairways : 60%
Greens in reg : 29%
Putts : 32

Score : 79

I’m very pleased with the greens in regulation stat. Last year I was happy if I hit 2 greens in a round but now I am averaging around 7. There is definite room for improvement with my chipping and pitching as you can see from the par 18 games. Unfortunately I only got to do these once this week due to the weather (2 or 3 is the aim), but once things start to dry up and the evenings get even lighter I’ll be round the greens chipping, pitching and counting to see how I improve.

This week I’ve also been running 3 times. I used to play loads of football (soccer) until a few years ago, but my cardio fitness has not been so good since taking up golf. I’m planning on running a half marathon later in the year having been inspired by my girlfriend and so plan to keep the running up.

Next week will be exciting as I’m off to Cornwall for 9 rounds of golf in 5 days! Thankfully we are using buggies for some of the rounds (that’s if they are still in use due to course conditions!). I’ll have lots of stats to report on next week.

I’m in the process of building a web application to keep track of all these stats. It will help me (and maybe you) keep track of practise and playing stats. I’ll post some more information up here as soon as I have it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Before each golf shot, make a bet with yourself

The good round of golf I have been threatening to do has finally happened. I managed 76 on Sunday at Theale which I was very happy with. Someone came in with 42 points and so beat me in the Stableford Rollup but I’m not too bothered about that! Here are the stats from the day:

Fairways : 54%
Greens in reg : 28%
Putts : 28

Stroke : 76
Stableford : 40

The funny thing is, compared to how well I have been driving and striking the ball with my irons – today I felt I was swinging pretty badly. The difference was how I approached the game mentally and my course management, plus I had the short game to back up the decisions I made.

I can’t remember whether this is something that was mentioned in the Trained Brain seminar or if it is something I’ve invented myself so I’m not going to claim it as my own! :-) When I was evaluating what shot to play, I would make a £50 bet with myself as to whether I could pull it off or not. This meant I hit the shot that I was most confident in getting the result the club could give. Here are a couple of examples:

1, The second at Theale is a 180 yard par 3 with hazards running all the way down the left and right, and now water at the back. Also just before the green, and the first part of the green is a downslope so if your ball hits there you know you are going to shoot straight through and risk going in the water at the back. I estimate that last year I probably managed to get the ball on the green in regulation twice! With the hole quite often costing me a 5 because I’ve put it into one of the hazards.

So standing on the tee I thought to myself I could hit my 5 iron this distance to the green, but would I bet £50 on myself being able to get the ball on the green. Based on what I reckon from last year that is a definite no – so I didn’t want to do that shot.

Could I hit my 7 iron 150 yards and land it just in front of the green (with a good chance of making a 3 with a chip and putt) – I’d certainly bet £50 on myself being able to do that, so that is the shot I hit and it finished exactly where I thought it would. I was an imaginary £50 up! :-) What was even better – I chipped in for a birdie!!!!!! I did the same process with the chip – would I bet £50 on a shot with my PW or 60 degree. I took the 60 degree as I had to get over a bit of rough and the corner of a bunker and it landed exactly where I envisioned it and rolled out into the hole :-)

2, I put my 6 iron over the green on the 13th and really short sided myself. I had about 10 yards to the green, and about a further 3 yards of green to the flag. I had quite a tight lie although a flop type shot was possible. The downside of taking such a big swing at the ball would be catching it thin and seeing it shoot over the green. I wasn’t willing to bet £50 I’d be able to pull off a flop shot and land the ball within 6 feet. The other shot was to play a chip/punch type shot with my 60 degree wedge. The chance of getting a good result with this type of shot was much better and so I was happy to bet myself £50 I could get within the area I wanted. I picked a landing spot for the ball, focussed on that and executed a good shot. Then rolled the 4 foot putt in for par.

 

I find this £50 game really helps my decision making. As was mentioned at the Trained Brain seminar people are always scared of playing the sensible shot. I don’t think there is anything wrong with laying up on a par 3, but it does take a strong mind to do it especially if your playing partners are taking longer clubs and having a strong swing at it.

I’m off to Cornwall next week for 4 days of 36 holes – can’t wait to put this process into practise then. If anybody else gives it a go or has any thoughts on the idea let me know!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trained Brain Seminar

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Trained Brain Peak Performance Seminar with Jamie Edwards at Sandford Springs. Jamie did a session like this last year as well but unfortunately after buying a ticket I forgot to put it in my calendar and so didn’t make it along to the event! I was kicking myself as everybody was saying how good it was. I learned my lesson by putting 1 or 2 day alerts on all my calendar items now. Thankfully Neal arranged Jamie to come back again this year and I made sure I wasn’t going to miss him again.

The seminar went on for 3 hours and I took 6 pages of notes so I’m not going to share everything with you here. If you do get the chance to go and see Jamie speak make sure you take it up as you won’t regret it. I’ll mention just two of the points I took from last night.

Turn Social Games into Pressure Situations

One of the points raised by people at the start was how can they translate the good rounds they have with their friends during social games into good competition rounds. It all comes down to the difference in pressure. During social games you are relaxed and calm where as competitions put you under pressure which affects the way you think and feel. What you need to do is get used to playing under pressure so when a competition comes around the pressure is something you are familiar with.

Golf Mission are a set of cards that give you 6 challenges that will keep you under pressure and concentrating for all 18 holes of golf. I bought a set just after Christmas but haven’t started using them yet. Next time a social game comes about (probably Sunday) I’ll definitely have a Golf Mission card with me to see how things go.

Short Game

We know it is important to have a good short game, but how many of us really (really) do something about it. Spending an hour on the chipping green hitting the same shot again and again doesn’t count as this isn’t like real golf! You only get one chance to hit each shot on the course. I’ve been introduced to Par18 before where you use the chipping green to play 9 holes where each is hopefully just a chip and one putt.

Par18 is good as it puts you under pressure when you are practising. If you’ve played 8 holes and your score is 16 you are going to be under pressure from yourself to get down in two to make the score of 18! This is the kind of pressure you will be under during a competition round so it is a good thing to get used to.

Once you play Par18 you need to record your score. This then becomes a record of your improvement, or if it gets worse maybe an indicator you need to refer to your coach.

Par18 obviously helps your short game, but it will also make you more confident with your iron shots into greens. If you know that statistically you can get up and down from a missed green you are going to be able to make a much more confident swing with your irons, and confident swings will get good result.

 

I’ve written up all my notes from yesterday in my journal and will keep referring to them throughout the season. Overall I need to stop playing so much social golf without a purpose. As an immediate plan of action I’ve put together a weekly activity card so that I can track my weekly progress with chipping, long putts, bunkers and pitching. I plan to build a small web site to keep track of these stats – more news on that when I have some code down as I hope it is something others will find useful as well.

 

 

Copyright © Nick Swan