Salvaging the Season

Thinking back to the beginning of the year, I was filled with hopes and to some degree some expectations that I placed on myself. I really felt that 2021 was going to be a very important year for because as of January 18th, 2022 I will be turning that magical 50. Ah yes, 50. A time in my life that I consider it to be the time where I get my “golf vasectomy”.

Golf vasectomy? What are you talking about? Well, for one that means no more thoughts of playing “the tips”. I’m sort of a little “long in the tooth” for them. Admittedly, I haven’t played the tips since I was dabbling a little on Mini-Tour’s. My swing was always having changes made, so my results were less than optimal to say the least. As badly as I played out there, I have no regrets. At the time, it was more about gaining experience under fire. The plan was always to get ready for life after 50.

But, fate can be a difficult thing to deal with. You just never know what’s going to happen when you go to bed and awaken the next day.

Not only does this sum up 2018 quite well, that September I suffered a Stroke and I had to fight and work my tail off just to be able to walk and use my left side again. I recovered (mostly) and as fate has it, I played the best golf of my life in 2019. It was my lowest scoring average ever. Then there’s the disaster that was 2020. A delayed start to the season (thanks Coronavirus-19) and even after things got rolling that May I was never right physically on the range or on the golf course. I was mired in debilitating arthritis and swinging the golf club just hurt too much. Not any joint in particular but it was my entire body. I hated swinging my clubs.

The skies are ominous much like the state of my game. But, sometimes hope can be seen on the horizon. Just before teeing off at Niagara National Golf and Country Club.

Enter 2021. With the golf industry knowing what to expect and how to handle themselves as far as COVID-19 protocols go, I was excite to get the season started. A warm March triggered the itch. Golf courses and practice facilities opened. Life was good, but, those who giveth can also taketh away. As quick as everything opened, golf was nixed. A setback. Golf re-opened in May, much like a year earlier almost to the day.

When the golf industry received the okay to resume operations I waste no time returning to Niagara Golf and Batting Cages to strike golf balls. My swing was clicking and I saw nice results early on. I was trending in the right direction with my game. I was striking the golf ball well and scoring. Everything was clicking. And then fate reared its ugly head, again. First, yet another diabetic foot ulcer that kept me off of my feet (I still have it and it won’t heal so I’ve played through it) and then there’s the issue of my back. Herniated disks are one thing as it turns out I have some growths and cysts on my spine that are having an impact on my everyday functioning. I have talked to a Neurosurgeon and surgery is imminent, but, I am trying to deal with it from a non-invasive standpoint first. So, I’ve played through it or shall I say trudged through it.

The results have been horrible. I’ve had no turn, my swing has become all hands and arms and the misses that have occurred have been a nauseating buffet of snap hooks, weak flails to the right, fats, and thins. It’s the thins that have totally derailed my game which are a direct by-product of my swing becoming all hands and arms. Not to mention that I’m afraid to get “down and through”. The thought of the jarring contact with “terra firma” makes me hesitant. So it got to the point where I had to make one of three choices.

  1. Quit, hang them up until after surgery.
  2. Accept it for what it is, and just go out and play when I feel up to it.
  3. Find an alternative way to swing to lessen the pain and create a playable swing.

The problem with the first option is that I can’t quit. It’s not in my fibre thanks to my mom and dad. The second option while being a somewhat viable option is a tough one to swallow. Yes, I love the game. Yes, I love to have fun. But, with the way that the season has gone with the “full body heave” that I very loosely call a “golf swing”, there’s no fun and only frustration. I’ve grinded my way through making pars and a couple of fluky birdies. It’s been worse than 2020.

But, I am happy to say that my search for #3 has gone well. Yesterday marked the first time this season that I had sessions on four consecutive days in 2021. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from my coach over the last several years. I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to pick the brains of top instructors like David Leadbetter and LPGA Hall of Fame Instructor Kay McMahon. So, I utilized a couple of nuggets from the latter two. Coupled with my own teachings and looking back at myself from before I had a coach an I’ve come up with a fix. Honestly, it’s nothing revolutionary. Here’s what I’ve done.

  1. I’ve narrowed my stance to allow for more hip turn and less restriction.
  2. I’m allowing the heel of my left foot to release from the ground.
  3. I’ve gone to Leadbetter’s “Prayer Grip” from his teachings of “The A Swing”.
  4. Early wrist hinge and wrist set going back.
  5. I’ve incorporated an “open stance” a la Ryan Moore (this takes the strain right out of the lower back. The issues are L1, L2, L5, S1, & S2).

In a nutshell, I’ve allowed my swing to become all “Loosey Goosey” and even though there is a boatload of pain still (especially afterward) my striking and ballflight have become stronger, consistent, and predictable. My last two sessions have been different in that there’s a renewed focus. I’m in a spot uring my sessions that I haven’t been in, in a very long time. A zone. As I’m working on the range I’m not noticing anything or anyone around me. I remember this feeling, a sensation that I last had in 2014.

There’s still plenty of golf left to be played between now and when the golf courses close until next spring. Maybe, just maybe I can salvage this season. It all starts today when I take it to the course followed by a day with the Golf Journalists Association of Canada (GJAC) at the exceptional Pulpit Club.

Either quit or find a way. Part of the #fightandgrind philosophy.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee