Back on the Road Again

Encountered a couple of setbacks since my last post, including an increasingly old and unreliable car and a series of coughs and colds entering the house since the kids returned to school. Am back up and motoring along now with the practice hours, partly trying to catch up but also accepting that over the years these types of setbacks are naturally going to occur. More important I’ve realised is the reaction to such setbacks and the ability to learn from them and where possible work to stop them reoccurring!

I’ve also officially joined Hunley Hall Golf Club as a Par-3 member now, so I’m able to use their facilities daily for only £99 for the year. It really was an easy decision to make as the travel time for me is low and the facilities are ideal for my practice. These include: driving range, putting green, short game area and Par 3 course. And, they also offer unlimited range balls during the winter months for £90 which is going to allow me to groove my swing over the coming months for a fraction of the cost of normal range balls. I’ve experienced such a friendly welcome, with lots of members passing on their thoughts about the project and advice on how to improve at a quicker rate. I’m grateful of every comment and appreciate all the support I’ve received so far.

Interestingly, the Par 3 course uses holes twice the normal size to help kids learn the game. Instead of this being a drawback, there are opportunities to incorporate deliberate practice. For example, I’ve only been competing a hole once I’ve made a one putt on the green. Or the ball has to enter the exact middle of the cup. There’s a story that the legendary cricketer Don Bradman undertook early practice hitting a golf ball with a cricket stump; transitioning to hitting a cricket ball with a bat was easier as a result. Similarly, achieving another challenge point has been through teeing off from divots instead of new tee ground. A drive does not always find a perfect fairway lie but I’ve never in the past thought about practicing from such a lie. There are of course stories of Tiger practicing with coins and keys being jangled nearby and him standing on his ball in the bunker before playing it. I’m keen to hear of any other suggestions like these to make practice deliberate through introducing challenges at a level commensurate with golfing ability.

In a similar vein I’ve also been thinking about what forms of practice drills transfer to the golf course. While at the range recently I’ve seen a number of techniques being used and now I find myself asking if what I see transfers to on-course performance. For example, a series of small stones placed after the ball to encourage a straight club path during impact? It’s a visual aid which can’t be used in play. But, if it helps with ingraining  a swing change then it’s productive right?

I’m also increasingly attuned to the depth of feedback that comes with both good and bad golf shots. These range from feel of the club in the hands, contact sound, ball fight, divot size and direction, ball landing, spin. I’m trying to utilise as many of these as I can as a means to understand the flaws in my swing and over time help correct each one. For the time being I’m focusing on being aware of how much feedback is available without considering external input from a coach or video. That’s for the future. For now, the trail of the ball through the morning dew on the putting green is a perfect reminder of how golf is surrounded by valuable feedback . The ball and the speed at which it is travelling interacts with the slope differently as it approaches the hole: