Summer has arrived here in Big D with a vengeance. Yesterday, I was able to get out early at Golden Bear and miss the really hot part of the day. Still, I sweated like a pig, as there was little breeze to compete with the bright sunshine and oppressive humidity.
I started off in the short game area, hitting short pitches from a mound just off the green in the rough. My pitches were all long, but I soon got the swing speed right and hit some really nice shots. I’m using a Stan Utley style pitch (square, narrow stance, quick set of the club and using the bounce) with my sand wedge. Next, I hit some longer pitches from the same area but to the flag just on top of the Pete Dye style bunker. My distance control wasn’t as good with the longer pitches, plus I tended to hit them right of the flag. Next, I went into that bunker and hit about 20 or so balls out of the bunker. I got the majority of them out, and about half the balls were hit really nicely.
After the short game practice, I went to the putting green. First, I hit a few balls from 12 ft just to get a feel for the speed of the green. Next, I hit 3 footers until I hit at least 10 in a row. I then ran my usual speed drills, hitting putts from 6 to 18 ft, making sure all putts went by the cup if missed (and re-doing the putt if left short), then hitting lag putts from 24-45 ft. Since I’ve gone back to the TWGT S2R model 3 putter, I’ve putted much better than with the Odyssey 3-ball. That club is in for an extended stay in my closet.
After putting, I got a large bucket of balls. I did my usual “Every Shot Must Have a Purpose” warmup, followed by extensive work with Tour Tempo 27/9. My ball striking went from terrible to mediocre, but hey, that’s an improvement. My driving was still erratic, but distance was good; just need to get the ball to go straight. Finally, I hit half pitching wedge shots to the purple-flagged green, and managed to get that nice tempo and rhythm that I’d found before I hurt my back back in April.
This morning, I was up rather late due to staying up way too late the previous night. The heat was already in full blast furnace mode by the time I got to Golden Bear. This time, I started out on the range, after getting a full bucket of balls. Since I was already warmed up and ready by the oppressive heat, I hit 5 sand wedges to get going, then hit 3 balls to each of the five greens, followed by 5 drives. I then tried to recapture the smooth rhythm I’d found at the end of my practice yesterday, but after hitting about 20 balls, couldn’t quite get it going. I took my driver out of the bag, and boom! Now, I had my rhythm. I hit the driver quite well, mostly right down the middle of the range at the 250 yd marker (measured at 234 yds with my laser rangefinder). I even was able to work the ball a little, calling draws and fades with pretty good success. My distance was a bit short, no better than 220 yd carry, but I was pleased that I was hitting the driver so well. I hit a lot of drives, taking a break or two to cool down, and then played a mock round of the front nine at Coyote Ridge.
While my driving in the mock round was not perfect, all of my approach shots, with one exception, were really good. I even made mock birdies on the par-5 4th hole, hitting the green in 2 after a good drive and a perfect 7-wood approach, and hitting a perfect 2nd shot on the par-4 6th hole after a poor tee shot. My mock front nine was only marred by a hooked approach into the water on the ninth. Still, a really nice 39 on the front. (I have a really good imagination ).
After running out of balls in that mock round, I rested for about 5 minutes in the shade, before going to the putting green. I started out hitting ten 3-foot putts in a row, missing several times and starting over, but eventually getting 20 balls in a row before I moved on. Next, I hit a few balls from 12 ft, making 3 of 5 to start off. I moved out to 18 ft, and still managed to put 2 of 5 in the cup. Next, I practiced lag putting from 24-45 ft, hitting a lot of balls from 30 and 45 ft. My 30 ft lag putting was good, getting almost all of the balls within 2 ft of the cup, but from 45 ft, only a couple of balls were within 3 ft of the cup. I still need a lot of work from 30 ft and out.
My game is starting to improve again after my long layoff due to my back injury. I was happy to see some improvement, and I hope to get back to where I was in time for the away tournament next weekend.