6 holes with a 7-iron

May 12, 2012

In keeping with JK’s recent advice to mix things up, and because my back probably would have given out had I tried to carry a full bag of clubs due to straining it at the gym, I decided to play a few holes with only one club – my 7-iron.  I’ve toyed with this idea a few times since reading about it in a post on the Sandtrap forum almost 2 years ago.  My reason for waiting this long is mainly a lack of time to play generally.  It’s hard to convince myself that I should spend the 9 holes that I get once every other week doing anything but playing real golf.  The results from the “tin cup” experiment, however, suggest to me that this might be as pure a golf experience as any other.

One of the more interesting results of this experiment occurred nowhere near the course.  Most people could not believe anyone would actually go out to the course with only one club.  Even a guy in the parking lot gave me a double take.  The starter in the clubhouse gave me a quick laugh and said “good luck.”   I was paired with three other regular shoreline duffers.  Halfway up the first fairway, each of the three players had offered to lend me clubs at least once.  They simply could not believe that I, by choice, had come to the course with only one club.  “Are you going to putt with it too?!?”  Yes sir, I am.

So what did I learn?  Well, I can do a lot more with a 7-iron than I thought.  Though I normally carry my 7-iron about 165 yards, I learned that I can purposefully blade it about 200 off the tee, bump and run it from about 30 yards (not very well), and can actually get pretty solid roll on the green with it when I pin it to my left arm a la Matt Kuchar.  Most importantly, I learned I can hit my 7-iron a lot farther than I thought I could when I’m not thinking about how far I need to hit the ball.

The first hole at Shoreline measures 489 yards from the white tee.  I teed off with my trusty 7, laid up with my trusty 7 to about 130 yards, and hit my approach with my trusty 7.  Unfortunately, hit it a little too flush and the wind took it over the green.  My first pitch was my first miscue of the day, but I lined up a nice 4 footer and dunked it for a bogey.

The second hole showed me exactly how far I could hit a 7 iron.  When I think back now, I hit a poor shot off the tee trying to get as much distance as possible.  From the left rough, I took a nice, smooth swing and left it about 20 yards from the green.  The total distance on the second was at least 180 yards (into the wind) on a nice low trajectory.  I guess it’s true – when it’s breezy, swing easy.

Having only one club afforded me another advantage – I played a virtually light speed.  I was able to tee off before the group in front of us had hit their second shots (most of the time), my rhythm was not interrupted by the slow play of my group, and I had nothing to carry with me!  Talk about taking all of the annoying parts of muni golf out of the game.  I played so quickly, in fact, that our group of 4 ended up skipping holes 3-6 because a three-some and a two-some were holding us up!

It also took a lot of the guess-work out of the round.  Other than never having to think about what club I was going to have to hit, having only one club made every shot clear.  Off the tee, there was no stress.  I was ALWAYS  going to hit the fairway with my 7-iron.  From the fairway, if I couldn’t get to the green, I had to leave myself in position where I could bump and run the ball onto the green.  This meant playing the green, not the flag.  Putting was a different story.  Admittedly, I only figured it out after finishing the 9th hole, but I was able to hit a couple of nice chip/putts to save bogeys.

While I don’t think it’s something I’d do every day, playing a round with one club was a lot of fun.  It completely took the pressure off the round to play well and let me have more fun.  If you’re stuck in the golf doldrums, try playing 9 holes with only one club.  Without a doubt, you’ll find yourself in new places on a course you’ve played hundreds of times.  If you’re like me, the one club experiment may help you realize that golf is just a game.  Forget the swing thoughts, forget the mind games, just hit the ball.  It’s going to go straight.  It’s going to go a predictable distance.  After that, take what the course gives you and try to awkwardly slap in a putt.  The best part is that, bogeys/doubles are great scores!  I’ve made worse than bogey at one several times at 1 with 14 clubs!  I proved that I only need one to do better than all of those previous attempts.

This is a crazy game sometimes, but I feel like I figured out a little bit more of that craziness with this little experiment.  I recommend grabbing whatever club you can use to comfortably carry any hazards you know of on your home course.  Then, play one or two sets of tees farther up than you usually do.  Interestingly, I doubt anyone would have said anything had I played from the red tees.  From there, just grab a couple of old golf balls and make your way to the first tee.  Even if you don’t play well, who cares?  You should have had 13 other clubs, right?




Play of the Week 31

May 7, 2012

This week’s POTW is an obvious choice. Rickie Fowler finally broke through after two years on the PGA Tour, capturing his first victor at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, beating D.A. Points and Rory McIlroy on the first hole of the sudden-death playoff.

I’ve been critical of Rickie in the past….particularly, https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/fail-of-the-week-4/. What’s worse, he’s taken his douchy-dressing to a new level.

Can you say “child molester?” I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw the replay of the Saturday round with Jim Nance and Nick Faldo (wearing full suits and ties) interviewing the little punk dresser with his backward cap, molester stache, and bright yellow outfit.

People keep saying “he’s great for the game.” And, while I wish he weren’t SO far to the bright colors and outlandish outfit side, I’m starting to come around. Dude has incredible game. Nothing he does is really over the top or completely polished, but he manages no to make big mistakes and he manages to put it together for great rounds and exciting golf.

What’s more, the tournament yesterday was rivetting. Webb Simpson almost broke through, but came up just short. A 3-man playoff and Fowler nailed a 5-footer for birdie on a 460-yard par 4 to take home the trophy. Dare I say it? Is golf becoming exciting again? Even….without….Tiger?

Even better, for the first time in a long time, a major champion is at the top of the World Golf Rankings: http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/rankings/default.sps. And even Tiger Woods is now back in the top 10.

LG and I often romanticize the idea that Tiger Woods will come back to make the game exciting again. But we’ve had several nailbiting tournaments this year, and they didn’t rest solely on Tiger’s performance (as the PGA Tour has for so many years). I’m starting to find myself following players that, previously, I had no interest in. If Fowler wants to dress like a d-bag, go ahead; the kid can play the game.

So, to you, Rickie Fowler, we salute you. Many congrats on breaking through for your first win, and thanks for helping keep the US in the winner’s circle.

God that stache is horrid.

The Doldrums

May 4, 2012

Golf is a game. It’s mean to be fun. It’s meant to be interesting, challenging, and, occasionally, exciting. The frustration of playing the game leads to joy at moments of achievement. Hours of work paying off for the benefit of the scorecard and the handicap, all leading to lower, better scores.

And then, there is this.

There comes a period in every golfer’s life that he or she simply is not excited by the game. So often, we hear exciting reviews of new products, scintillating stories of the “perfect round,” or humorous tales of a round gone sour. Even the worst rounds, though, don’t feel like this.

This is what I call the doldrums. The doldrums is the feeling of doing it just because you have to in order to get better. So many times in this game, we’re so excited about it that we can’t see how anyone could ever feel like the game is uninteresting. But, at some point, you will. This is rarely discussed in the game–in fact, I’ve been playing for 20 years now, and I can only recall one conversation, maybe two, where I discussed this topic with someone.

You play this game, you get better, and one day it’s like you don’t know how to play it any more. You can’t focus on the right things. Nothing good happens. You spend the whole day playing mediocre golf. You wish you hadn’t gone to the golf course, but, instead, had stayed home and knocked a few items off the honey-do list. And, worst of all, it keeps happening.

LG and I have both felt this, and all I can say to you out there that do feel it is–it goes away, eventually. There are basically two ways to approach it–keep playing, or step away for awhile. For those who step away, I can totally understand. It seems like every Winter I leave the game and every Spring I feel renewed, like I’m going to have my best year ever. There’s value to walking away for awhile; absence makes the heart fonder, and that’s definitely true of the game we love.

But, in the Summer, you don’t want to waste your nice days when you get them. Spend the time at the range; mix it up on the course and play from a new set of tees; try taking a different route on the holes–go for shots you wouldn’t normally and lay up on shots you wouldn’t normally; try a new ball, or a new setup of your clubs.

For some of us (LG, achem) the problem is putting. Not draining your putts can be a real drag, especially when you know you’re hitting the ball well enough to score. All I can say is this: don’t change your setup, your equipment, or your approach just because the putts aren’t dropping. If you’ve had success before, try to do what you used to do, but do it better. If you haven’t had success before, I would agree that there’s something to change, but that’s a rarity. Most of us that get this feeling know what a good putting round feels like.

As you go through it, know that you will make it to the other side. There’s nothing like conquering the game, especially when you’ve felt like you couldn’t. Our best wishes on making it through.