Inspired by The US Open
Yesterday at The Manor wasn’t my finest golf. Actually, if I’m being totally honest, it was probably the worst golf I’ve played in a long time. I won’t give a detailed description of the round, as I don’t think you’d want to read it anymore than I want to write it! I will run you through a few of the high points of the front 9 though!
As you’ll know, before I went on my holiday / golf break I was playing some good golf. Over 9 holes I was regularly scoring between 4 and 6 over gross. The last round before I went away, I shot a 39 on the front in the medal, 3 over gross. Knowing that I’d not really played for 3 weeks (excluding a round in Kusadasi using horrible hired clubs!) I figured it would be sensible to go and play 9 holes on Friday, see if I could actually remember what to do.
Surprisingly, it went well. I mean, it was no US Open – esque affair, but I played pretty well. My swing felt good, my rhythm was good and I was striking it almost as well as I was before the holiday. After playing the somewhat trickier back 9, I finished with a 42, 6 over par gross. Pretty happy to be honest, and it certainly made me feel like my more solid game is here for good.
Then Saturday came, and the golfing gods gave me an almighty kick in the backside, and as they so often do when you get a little carried away, they knocked me down a peg or three. My game was awful. At the start, my ball striking was ok; it was just my distance control and club selection that was letting me down as I was over hitting all the second shots. Then, on the 3rd it started to go horribly wrong with a duffed tee shot. After that, I just never recovered. All the confidence I had, and had built up over the past few weeks just washed out of me within about 5 minutes. It wasn’t just one part of my game either; it was right through the bag. Bad drives, poor irons, awful short game and even my putting was pretty poor. Just to make my day even worse, I had a terrible run of luck! After the 7th, I probably should have called it a day. Had a good tee shot, followed by a decent steady 5 iron, leaving me 115 yards to the pin. Took a pitching wedge, which I though would be spot on. Struck it really well, but it hit something and bounced off to the back. From where I was, it didn’t look like it was too far off the green. However, when I got there, it had gone 30 yards past the green and was nestled under a tree, totally unplayable. Had to take a drop and carry on. I have no idea what it hit. On any other day, it would have been fine and would have stopped on the edge of the green, but it was just one of those days. I finished the hole with an 8. To make things worse, I then had a 9 on the next hole!
I finished the front 9 with a totally shocking 55.
The back was no better. To be honest, I’d given up by that point and wanted to do nothing more than call it a day, go home and lick my wounds. But my partner Russ was having a belter. I did hope at some point it would click back into place for me. It didn’t!
So, what was different? How can I go from shooting a 43 one day to a 55 the next?
I have watched the US Open over the past few days, and if you have too you’ll also have watched in total admiration of Martin Kaymer. He has been completely brilliant. Hugely consistent in every way, hence still having a 5 shot lead. How do these guys do it? They are professionals and are paid huge amounts of money, so they should be good right? Of course that is very true, but, I’m pretty sure not one single golfer playing in the US Open this week simply has a natural talent. You can bet that they have worked damn hard every day of their life to date to get to that level. Practice is something they will do day in day out, with military focus. Not even just on their golf, but their fitness, their mental game, even their diet.
So, with that in mind, why did I, Mr (distinctly) average golfer with my 17.8 handicap think I could play well and consistently having done no real practice for three weeks? Ok, what about Friday…? That was probably just a fluke, something to lull me into a false sense of security by the golfing gods! The reality is, I can’t. If these guys like Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and all the other golfers in the US Open field spend 8 hours a day practicing, surely I need to do 10% of that to improve at the level I need to?
I have had a big kick up the backside this weekend, but strangely, I don’t feel too bad about it. I think I needed it. My score was bad, but with no practice I couldn’t really expect anymore. That’s the reality. What the US Open and more specifically Martin Kaymer have done is inspired me. If I want to get this single figure handicap, I need to structure my practice. I also need to do more of it. If that means I have to go to the range when the kids are in bed, then that’s what I have to do. If I have to get up when it’s dark before work, then I must do it. If I want to succeed with the challenge and prove all the people who said ‘it can’t be done’, then I need to get serious.
So, this has been my wake up call. Tomorrow, Monday morning at 7am, I will be practicing. On Tuesday at 7am, I will be doing the same. On Wednesday…you get the idea.
I wonder if Martin Kaymer ever had to give himself a pep talk like this? I’m sure he didn’t during this years US Open, as he has now finished, wining by an amazing 8 shots! Mr Kaymer, I salute you and your friends…and thanks for the inspiration. Any chance of a sleeve of golf balls too?!!