Saturday, April 16, 2016

Round Reflections: A long way to go

Well, round one of my first time in a ladies league is in the books. I had such lofty hopes for how it would go – I dreamed that I would be the obvious contender for League Champion, a stylish newcomer hitting every green and sinking putt after putt. My, oh my, did I get a helping of humble pie. I loved everything about my morning, but my game just needs some improvement. And because I trust all of you not to tease me too much, I'll be open about my score.  In my first competitive round in four years, having played maybe 10 times total between then and now, and after recovering from the journey of birth, I shot a fabulous 23-over par. Eek.
I learned from the teachers at Vision 54 that the best way to analyze one’s round is to ask yourself three questions: “What went good? What could go better? How do you do that?” They call it “Good/Better/How.” At first the list of things that can get better might be longer than the things that went well, but if you make a conscious effort to track it over time you might find that your list of good things gets longer and longer. It also helps to make a positive light on even the most frustrating parts of a round and frame things in ways that feel more actionable.
I took care of all the tiny things well before this morning so that I could make it as easy as possible to simply wake up, get myself and the baby dressed, make breakfast, walk the dog, and take the kiddo to my neighbor’s house since she is graciously babysitting for me this summer so I can play. Several days ago I set aside my entire outfit for today down to my socks and underwear. Yesterday, I cleaned out my bag of extraneous items and repacked only the things I needed. I’m glad I took these meticulous steps, because the ease of my morning helped me get into a good mental and emotional state to play.
I also did not let bad shots get me down today. I felt like I was in a good place in terms of wanting good golf to happen but not “needing” it to happen. I allowed myself to be disappointed but I did not get super worked up about anything, which helped me keep my focus on the next shot. Some rounds feel like a roller coaster but today just felt pretty even keel.
I missed quite a few short putts today for tap ins – to be exact, I three-putted five times. I could have saved 5 strokes simply by not missing within 3-6 feet! I knew my lag putts might be an issue, but since I have a putting tool at home, I felt more confident than this at short ones. (How I’ll improve: I’ll work more with my weighted ball and putting mat to make sure my form is in shape)
My wedge game could also use improvement. This course is not too tough, but man were the pins in tight places! Somehow I seemed to find all the tight lies. This illustrated to me that I desperately need to get myself a sand wedge and lob wedge for these tough situations.
Let’s pause for a moment, because you’re likely wondering if you read that last statement correctly. Yes: I, someone who coached a college team and who myself wants to play as competitively as possible, do not have a sand wedge.  I know excuses are like assholes, but here’s mine (excuse): I was not fit for one when I got my set many years ago (long story), and because the frequency of my rounds decreased so drastically, I just never got around to replacing it. I’m actually pretty good with my pitching wedge out of the sand if you can believe it, but I also work to avoid sand at all costs. However it’s impossible to think that a pitching wedge can work for the tight lies I’ll encounter this summer on this course. I also know my scoring can improve drastically simply by playing the right clubs. (How I’ll improve: I’ll invest in some new wedges – maybe even a completely new set of clubs if I’m lucky. I’ll also practice the shots I think I’ll need from tough lies).
 Also, I felt that my swing was very fast today. I even whiffed a drive because I swung too hard. Classic hacker mistake! (Since momma didn’t raise no hacker, I’ll work on tempo and control so that I don’t lose strokes being a muscle head.)
Lastly, I wish I had asked the starter if the groups were on schedule. I arrived in time to putt and chip for a few minutes before I was set to tee off, but then incorrectly assumed that all was on schedule. By the time I had learned that they were so far off pace, I had waited by the tee in the morning chill for 30 or more minutes. At that point I only had 10 minutes left which wasn’t enough time to even wait in line to buy a bucket to hit. I ended up making nice conversation with other players, but I wish I was more warmed up (To avoid this mistake next time, I’ll definitely make sure to ask!)
I loved everything about today though, even in light of my errors. While my score wasn’t great, at least I have two more rounds before my handicap is set to improve my chances of getting in the best flight for my abilities. I am also so thankful for a number of things today: that the weather was ah-mazing, that my playing partners were so nice, that my pre-baby golf clothes fit, that we budgeted some money for me to get to play this year, and most of all, that my friend and neighbor offered to watch the kiddo so I could play. All in all, a great start to the season.

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