Stop the misery: Take a lesson
There comes a time when you have to face reality when it comes to your golf game.You can only use the excuse so long that “I’m a beginner golfer.” Eventually, you must transition from beginner golfer to “I stink worse than a pile of Rocky Mountain oysters.”I have been playing for seven years or so and I fall into that latter category. I sniffed 100 a few years ago with a 104 at Eagle Ranch. I opened one season at Cotton Ranch with a ghastly 142. (Sadly, no alcohol was consumed during the round – much was after.) And now, I’m in a good 120s groove, primarily at Eagle-Vail.The good news is that I don’t damage many fairways because I’m rarely in them.So, dear reader, you are likely asking, “What in the heck are you doing writing a golf column?”First, I’m the sports editor, so I can. Second, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all duffers and it’s not an oncoming train.
Whenever I play golf or something akin to it, I keep score, but I also take notes. Do this every time you go out. At the bottom of my card, the first row is for fairways and greens hit. Give yourself an “F” for finding the short stuff and a “G” for hitting the putting surface – and do fix your divot mark.Or give yourself an “O,” as in over the water, when you’re playing Vail’s 15th or my personal nemesis, Eagle-Vail No. 5The next row is for putting. This should be self-explanatory. Write down the number of putts you have on each hole.Row three is often the most critical. It’s for your short game. How many chips with your wedge did it take you to put the ball on the green? Was your 7-iron errant on your approach? Did you have a good iron shot that nestled tight? I write down “GC” or “BC” for good and bad chips. I’ll mark a “G7” for a nice 7-iron, though it is a rarity. Or I’ll jot “U8” for a well struck 8-iron that unluckily fell off the green or just ended up in a bunker despite my good swing.Speaking of bunkers, in the fourth row of my card, I’ll document my sand play. “GS” is applied for a nice splash shot that rolls onto the green well. “BS,” no not that, is for those shots that stay in the bunker or for those which are skulled and nearly kill one of the unsuspecting members of your foursome. (Not that I would know anything about that. No.)
Also use “LS,” for that lucky sand shot like the one I’ve patented. I have a tendency to skull my ball, but it often smashes into the side of the bunker and somehow spins up on the green. By noting all your shots, you can find out what you’re doing well and where you can start shaving strokes.And that brings us to the moral of the story. Take those cards to your local PGA pro and get a lesson or five. You’re not going to fix your game by keeping on playing and repeating the same mistakes. And, though obviously well-intentioned, the bit of advice from one of your buddies (unless he’s Tiger Woods) in your group is only going to provide a temporary fix at best.My current agony is my short game. My card is littered with “BCs” and “B7s.” And so earlier this week, I bit the bullet and took a lesson from “Mack Day” at a golf course located near the Vail Daily. (I’m disguising his identity because he is likely in therapy after what he saw from me. I also encourage you to see the likes of Brent Redman at Vail, Alice Plain at Eagle Ranch and Sean Riley down at Cotton Ranch.)My issues with my short irons are apparently balance and follow-through in my swing – or a complete lack thereof. Mack Day was fighting a battle against generations of Freudian athletic incompetence.I did come away from the lesson with an improved grip, better posture and an idea why every one of my short shots trickled to the right. I played a round Friday and there were some good shots and some bad shots. Rome was not built in a day.
From my experience of taking lessons, it usually takes a few rounds to make the adjustments because often you’re thinking too much in that first round after instruction. But it’s worth it and, if Mack Day is not curled up in the fetal position, murmuring, “Redrum, redrum,” I’ll continue to take lessons.You should too.When not butchering local golf courses, Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado