Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Golf Diaries: Keep Swinging Like That, You Won't Be Playing For Long

Hit, Cry, Lather, Rinse, Repeat
So I'm at the range yesterday, working through my usual large bucket, and trying to find the distance that has been slowly eroding from my game for the past couple of years. I'm lengthening the back swing, quickening the pace, and trying to increase the club head velocity... and, of course, it's going all over the place. Eventually I get it a bit under control, near the end of the bucket, and I see a guy checking out my swing.

It turns out he's an instructor. Who is, of course, hustling for work. And twenty years older than me. I'm in a reasonable enough mood, having ended the bucket better than I started it, and I always feel better after some kind of workout. I ask him for his rates and his card, not that I'm very interested -- money's tight enough to make me not play golf very often, let alone pay to try to play it better -- and if he's seen anything. He tells me that I'm clearly not afraid to turn my shoulders, but that I've got too much going on. Then he asks me my age, and after I tell him, he says the header. (As if that's an actual threat? Many days at the course, I *dream* of not playing golf any more...) I chuckle, pack up my stuff, and head over to the gym to complete my evening with running, lifting and ab work.

Clearly, this guy hasn't got the point of the range, dammit. The range is where you experiment, try to cement or expand your yardages, test out new clubs, work out the fairway wood and so on. The course is where I cut things down, manage the course, accept my limitations and so on. Screw that guy.

Except, well, overnight, when I hurt just like I played a full round, rather than just hit a bucket. But that's just the workout, right?

Today, I squeezed in another bucket, as I'm playing tomorrow morning at a course I haven't been to in forever, and the back nine is a bit of a bear, given that it's 600 yards longer than the front. I need to get that fairway wood down, even if I hurt... so what the hell, I'll do something new at the range. I cut down the back swing, throttle down the expectation of how hard I need to hit the ball or generate club head velocity, and just concentrate on a consistent direction and shoulder turn.

And, of course, the ball is jumping off my club, and I've got the distance I'm looking for, and the fairway wood is consistently in the air and good freaking grief.

I'm also, inevitably, wondering if I'm using up all of my good shots for tomorrow, if I'm going to be stiff as a board from three straight days of hitting (and working out, and running, and so on), and if I'm going to remember any of this calm and cool mindset after my first crap shot starts the cascade of crap that is, well, golf when you are a 30+ handicap.

Wish me luck. And clarity, and wisdom...

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