Still a hacker!

Still a hacker!

After playing my first round of golf for three weeks today, it would appear I’m still a hacker.  Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to be out on the course again, I just wish I’d played a little better.

Here’s the frustrating thing…and many of you will be able to sympathise with me. Last week I went to the range for the first time after a 2 week lay up with my ankle injury. To my amazement, I hit the ball really well. My swing felt great too. Hit some more on Friday and the same happened, hit the ball great. That left me looking forward to my round on Sunday.

Did I hit it as well on the course? No. Not even close! I regressed to the old me on the course. The ‘hacker’. Why does that happen? Why is it great on the range and rubbish on the course? So bloody frustrating! You think you’ve got this swing really drilled in, then you hit it like a hacker again. Jeez…

In terms of the round, it wasn’t all bad. The first positive, was the 4th hole.  This is the hole at The Manor that I just don’t get on with…ever. Every week, it intimidates me. Well, not today Mr Par 3 with your scary narrow gap.

I opted for my trusty 5 iron, and stepped up to the tee. I began a rather bizarre chant in my head; ‘aim left, aim left’, which was rather odd. I hadn’t planned to do that, and I’d never opted for a tactic like this before. It just kind of happened. Thankfully, it was only in my head and not out loud (I don’t think?). I composed myself and hit the ball.

As it left my clubface, I looked up. It flew straight, right through the gap. Not even close to the trees. It was a marvel.  The ball landed just short of the green, but I wasn’t disappointed. My ball had just gone straight, right through the gap. The narrow gap that I’m scared of. That, is a huge deal for me! After a cheeky chip I putted for par. It’s been a long time since I’ve parred that hole!

Hacker

The 4th Hole

 

The rest of the round was distinctly average. I played like a true hacker…as demonstrated with the 8 I scored on the 12th hole. Then, out of nowhere, on the par 3, 14th I started to play well.

Hit a great iron to about 10 ft from the hole. Almost got a birdie, but settled for a par. The next two holes were equally successful with two more pars; maybe the hacker had decided he’d had enough for the day?! On the 15th (par 5) my birdie putt went around the hole before deciding it wasn’t quite ready to go in. Again, settled for a par, the next hole a par too.

The 17th was the best hole of the day. Hit a great drive, 110 yards short of the green. Hit a 9 iron to 12 ft, and I was looking at another birdie putt. Yet again, the ball went around the hole and scurried off past. Somehow, missed my par and settled for bogey. Finished the last 5 holes +2 gross…it’s just a shame about the other 13 holes.

What today has made me realise is that this challenge is going to be tough. Really tough. We are a long way away from turning me from a hacker into a consistent low single figure golfer, and the clock is ticking. My swing feels great at the range and Ryan our PGR Pro at the club assures me that its really getting there. I need to figure out how I take it onto the course. I really need to be getting close to playing to a 10/12 handicap in golf by the end of March if I’m to have any chance of success. That kind of score feels a long, long way away.

I’ve also realised that I’m going to have to take a more serious approach to this hacker to single figures challenge, and not just ‘nip to the range’ when I get chance. I need to find a regular place in the diary for golf and range time alongside work and family time…and my wife will just have to deal with it!

**(I’m being brave here as I know she doesn’t read the blog, I’d never be this brave in front of her!)**

Unfortunately, for now I must chant the following: My name is Kevin Paver and I am still a hacker!

 

I found a great article from Tiger Woods about his standard daily practice routine. No wonder he’s so good at golf!

 

2 Replies to "Still a hacker!"

  • comment-avatar
    Ryan Metcalfe
    17 December, 2013 (9:51 am)

    This is a very common problem both for the average club golfer and high level amateur, especially when going through any kind of swing change. Once the cycle of practice is broken by something like a holiday, family commitments or even a bust ankle most find that when play or practice resumes they will regress back toward the old swing.

    This is in part due to muscle memory but mainly down to the brain and the signals that it is sending to the body. The patterns of the signals determine the physical movements that we make.

    When Kevin first started to play golf he didn’t so much learn to play golf but he taught himself a new ‘motor skill’

    A motor skill is a learned sequence of movements that combine to produce a smooth, efficient action in order to master a particular task. The development of motor skill occurs in the motor cortex, the region of the cerebral cortex that controls voluntary muscle groups.

    The hardest thing for Kevin as it is for any golfer changing an aspect of their technique is that the motor skill they have already learned needs to be overridden.

    Wikipedia sums up the stages Kevin is going through very well.

    The stages to motor learning are the cognitive phase, the associative phase, and the autonomous phase.

    Cognitive Phase: When a learner is new to a specific task, the primary thought process starts with, “what needs to be done?” Considerable cognitive activity is required so that the learner can determine appropriate strategies to adequately reflect the desired goal. Good strategies are retained and inefficient strategies are discarded. The performance is greatly improved in a short amount of time.

    Associative Phase: the learner has determined the most effective way to do the task and starts to make subtle adjustments in performance. Improvements are more gradual and movements become more consistent. This phase can last for a long time. The skills in this phase are fluent, efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

    Autonomous Phase: this phase may take several months to years to reach. The phase is dubbed because the performer can now “automatically” complete the task without having to pay any attention to. Examples include walking and talking or sight reading while doing simple arithmetic.

    More from me soon. Keep up the great work Kevin!

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