30/04/18 - Final Travel Blog - honestly!
Hopefully this will be the last blog that I write while on a plane - HKG-LHR this time.
I have, however, been able to maintain some consistent practice over last 6 weeks while travelling, largely using the “Explanar in a suitcase” Sure-Set swing device.
I’m looking forward to a few weeks of solid golf during May then its back to a couple of weeks of travel before getting ready for Club Championships, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Society Day at Manor House and their Gold Day at Woburn.
After that its then a chance to get some proper playing through until early October - target Project 75, and Vegas with Virgin Atlantic!
It’s also been terrible weather in the UK of recent and the course has been on and off open/closed due to water logging
I did get to play though - first medal of the season at SWGC - gross 92, net 81, par 73, CSS 74, -7 points; handicap crept up to 10.6
My driving struggled over first 5 or 6 holes; while waiting for a group on the 7th tee I had a think about it. I had been lazily reverting to my old swing style and getting too wrapped up in the competition instead of focusing on what I’d been practising all winter. A couple of moments later, having recalled my Explanar process, at the front of my mind was then: long takeaway, wrist hinge, forearm roll, shoulder turn; hand position at top; then just swing through.
Suddenly I was back to hitting off the middle of club face and I could feel a huge difference: long, high flight, soft right to left drives
The driver felt really good; irons felt really good; putting good as well as I started to get the pace of the greens and the AimPoint process slotted into place - reading greens is so quick using that method.
The only drawback I experienced was with fairway woods/hybrid/crossover - I just couldn’t get these going - I kept topping the ball
Maybe I’m missing a swing plane during practice on the Explanar? I’m using a flat setting (level 1) for driver, and a much steeper setting (level 4) for short wedges and chipping; but nothing in between - on the course I felt like I was hitting fairway woods like a driver with an upward rather than downward/flush swing hence the tops. Maybe I was simply out of match practice on real grass with real lies and real golf balls?
All in all, I felt ok with the round considering I’d spent more time on flights than hitting golf balls - I was really pleased with ball strikes and putting; I just need to get those fairway woods going again. I’m also starting to learn my new course - there are more holes that suit my eye and swing shape than don’t suit; I just need to work on approaches and best angles, lay ups etc - its still so, so wet that there’s no roll at all on the fairways; that will be a big change once the ground firms up
I felt ok, but I didn’t score ok - this has been a typical end of round reaction for me for several years now. I need to change that mindset in order to improve my results and scores. Although I don’t think that having a medal card in my hand makes any mental difference to me and my game, maybe in fact it does? Every stroke counts one on the card and I gave away several careless strokes from mid-fairway lies by: being too aggressive? Not concentrating? I was taking two/three shots to move 200 yards from the middle of the fairway from a great drive - just inexcusable!
While I’ve been in Japan I’ve watched a few rounds of PGA and LPGA golf on tv alongside a few general golf magazine shows - all were in Japanese, but there was one that had subtitles for a UK pro who was teaching. The pro asked two simple questions to the student:
What shot do you play the most?
What shot do you play the best?
What an amazing thought approach! Without being able to understand the following commentary that continued in Japanese it was very simple for me to deduce that the point of this was to get the student/me to hit my best shot more often during a round
If an 80 yard SW is my best shot, then keep putting myself in that range of the flag;
If a 130 year 8i is my best shot then stop leaving driver with only 70yds to go.
Start thinking about my game and stop simply copying what my playing partner (4, 5, and 8 handicappers) are doing; let them belt driver and then (2 out of 3 of them) struggle to hit a 40-60 yard chip to anywhere within 25 feet of the hole; I’d be much better hitting 5W off the tee to dead centre fairway and then nailing that perfect 9i or 8i
One to think about and start putting into effect.
Anyway, I’ll be landing at LHR in 3 and a half hours; back home late morning then full plan is to get out for 9 holes this afternoon
For the rest of the week I’m working on ATL time so that leaves a few hours in the morning for 9 holes every day, or a focused practice effort; then its competition time:
Friday at Walton Heath for the second Virgin Atlantic golf society day and my first opportunity to meet up with the Explanar team in real life, and with other Virgin Atlantic golf friends this season
Saturday at SWGC for May Stableford competition
Sunday at SWGC for Summer pairs first round match play
Then another solid week of practice and play