December 1, 2013

This Isn't The End...


Haha, well it's time to reveal the big news in detail.  A few months ago I was approached by the head honchos of and they graciously offered me the gig as their lead writer for their website's blog.  The blog is called "The Hogan" and it's shaping together quite nicely.  For the most part I'll be doing what I've been doing here, but centered mostly around my thoughts on courses they run deals on.

I'm going to continue posting stuff here whenever there's something I want to get off my chest that isn't appropriate for The Hogan, but for the most part I'll be posting stuff over there.

This blog has been a huge part of my journey so far and I'm not letting it go, but for now, with finals, the tail end of law school, BigDGolf, jiu jitsu, and the inevitable job search, I probably won't have much time to write stuff for the Lords of the Links.

But like I've said before, I will be producing content for The Hogan on a very regular basis.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words!

The Hogan

November 21, 2013

November 8, 2013

October 30, 2013

I'm in Love...

Wow. Seriously have not had such strong feelings for an inanimate object since I first saw an F-14 Tomcat. The guys at posted an article about the leaked 2014 Cobra catalog and in it I found, seriously, THE hottest piece of golf equipment I have ever seen.
I bought my Ping G15 driver because the driving range I practice at had a big banner by the entrance with a picture of the G15 that said "Gold Rating by Golf Digest" and "Editor's Choice." That's it. That's the reason why I picked my driver. I never got fitted for it, I never tried it in the store, I saw that banner and thought to myself that it must be good if Golf Digest was willing to print a banner that size for it. What do I know about drivers?  I had just started playing golf, I couldn't hit the Cobra S9-1 tour driver I got off Craigslist to save my life, and wanted a more forgiving driver. Luckily, it worked out beautifully. The G15 is a beast. The stock stiff shaft that it came with was really weak though, and my shots were ballooning up even on good hits in the middle of the face. Reshafted it with a tour-stiff Xcalibur shaft from Arthur Xtreme Engineering, and problem solved.
I never got into the white crown look of the R11s and their ugly bottoms just didn't appeal to me. I thought the matte black look of the Ping i20 was super sexy, but I wasn't about to replace my G15 for the i20 just because of the matte finish. So, I bought some matte black primer, some clear matte finish, and presto. Matte black G15 driver. I love the way it looks. But then I saw the Bio Cell+ Driver... Now I kinda don't love the way it looks. (end of backstory)
Seriously... The white and red... This one

The white and red... Cobra. Just take my money now. I don't even care how it performs. Next year. As soon as this driver comes out I'm buying one. Going to reshaft it with the XCalibur shaft and gonna blast some balls into the trees and adjacent fairways.  Can't.  Wait.

October 20, 2013

I Miss Breaking Bad

No golf related post today.  It's Sunday.  A Sunday without Breaking Bad.  Last few years there were lots of Sundays without Breaking Bad; but at the end of that Sunday, you knew something.  You knew you were one Sunday closer to the next season.
All Hail The King
Those days are no more.  Never again will I wonder what happens next with Walt and Jesse.  Never again will I hope that someone tells Marie or Skylar off in the next episode.  Never again will I wonder if Walt Jr. stumbles (no pun intended. Seriously.) across his father's empire and joins him, showing an aptitude for chemistry the likes of which the world had never seen before. 
I love you Bryan Cranston.  Is that weird?  No it is not.
It really was the best thing I've ever watched on a screen of any size.  And I seriously hope that some day I'll find a show that I enjoy as much as I did Breaking Bad; I doubt it. And so do you.  The Bryan-Cranston's-head-shaped void left in our hearts will probably forever go unfilled.  The acting was incredible, the pacing was perfect, and don't even get me started on how amazing the writing and directing was.  To me, Breaking Bad was the most perfect form of non-interactive entertainment ever produced by man.  Unless Vince Gilligan turns out to be some kind of meta-human, which would explain a lot.

In case you're in the same predicament I am--floating in limbo wondering what to do with your life--here's my plan for the future with some other info that I'd like to share as we mourn the loss of our dearly beloved show:

  • My Top 5 Favorites of All Time:
    1. Breaking Bad
    2. Archer
    3. Game of Thrones
    4. Modern Family
    5. Doctor Who
  •  I've been told that Sons of Anarchy and Scandal are very good.  I might check them out once I'm done grieving.
  • I plan on spending the entire month of October revamping myself as a morning person.  My goal is to rise & shine at 5am every day.
    • So far, not happenin'.  So this plan might eventually include November as well.
  • Golf is still awesome and you can use it to wear yourself out Sunday afternoon to justify sleeping early to avoid the times that remind you of Breaking Bad.
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also awesome and can be paired up with a regular strength & conditioning routine to help with the going to bed and waking up early plan.
  • Video Games.
  • Lastly, if distracting yourself by trying new forms of entertainment just isn't working out for you:

October 14, 2013

Yeah... Nevermind...

Yeah, yeah.  I know, I know.  In all fairness.  Moving the ball farther back in my setup DID help the pull at the range and the last two rounds!  And if you look closely, the pin is just behind my calves so the perspective of the shot is a little skewed.  But yeah, not that much.  Guess this is the problem causing the pull, too. Pretty serious one from the looks of it.  I missed this green way out to the right.  The way I got the screen shot of my downswing was totally by luck too.  I was looking at our latest YouTube vid and just happened to pause it here.  It's as if the golf gods were like (in a sexy James-Earl-Jones-esque baritone), "Thou shalt quit making lame excuses and finally learn to attack the ball from the inside."  You can see the ball flight in the video, the ball faded back to the left a bit, but yeah I still had to chip.  Not good.  But I'm glad I caught this.

I can feel it.  This stupid screen shot of my horrible downswing on the 3rd hole at Grand Oaks is the beginning of a new era.  The era of the high draw.  I can feel it.  Can you?

October 11, 2013

The Return of the Swing

Played another round at Grand Oaks in Grand Prairie, with Thomas.  This time no mud!  T's been struggling with his swing for a bit, but found it again and asked me to go play with him so we could test it out.  It was really nice to see him playing well and having fun again.  We all know how frustrating those inevitable lows can be when you're in the process of implementing changes to improve your game.  But perseverance always pays off and it really showed.
Enjoy the video:

Yo, check it out! Your boy snagged dat top comment on Mark Crossfield's video! Lol.

October 10, 2013

New Writing Gig with!!!

Check it out!!!

I'm so pumped for this! Details will be revealed in the near future, but let's just say that this is gonna be extremely awesome for everyone involved.

Almost makes the pain from saying goodbye to Breaking Bad go away. Almost.

October 9, 2013

What a Dumb Movie. (Repost)
I was reading through old posts and found this one and thought I'd move it up to the front because it made me laugh. 
I actually rewatched parts of this movie just a couple of weeks ago.  My review still stands.  I was having a bad day and needed someone to make me feel better about my golf swing.

(Originally posted on Aug. 5, 2012)  I watched The Back Nine today. A movie about Jon Fitzgerald who, in his 40s, decides that he wants to be a touring golf professional. Midlife crisis much? (He even addresses this in the movie with "This isn't a midlife crisis." Yeah right Jon. Sure it isn't, Jon.) 

Everybody knows, or should know by the time they reach adulthood, that there are certain personalities you just can't get along with. After high school, college, failed relationships, jobs, hobbies, you eventually develop a pretty specific roster of personalities you like to surround yourself with. Consciously or not. This guy, Jon Fitzgerald, is a not-surround-myself-with for me. Maybe you would, in which case you might actually enjoy this film. Bet money you won't tho.  Fitzgerald is a monster narcissist. He has to be the center of attention all the time because he never was, growing up. Before you say anything, that's not the main reason why I disliked this movie.  Most (read: All) people who know me would probably (read: definitely) describe me as a bit of an attention-whore. To be completely honest, in some bits I almost envied the guy. How fun would it be to play St. Andrews with your pops and learn about the origins of the game? Seriously awesome vacation idea. But here's the part that just didn't sit well with me. His wife. Pregnant. Baby was due right around the time homeboy planned his trip to the motherland. Seriously?  That's what really bothered me about The Back Nine.  This guy put his ambitions way ahead of his wife and children. 

This movie did make me ask myself a few questions: What are my goals with golf? Why do I play? What level do I want to reach? Most importantly, what am I willing to sacrifice in order to play?
I'm willing to sacrifice some money, nothing more. Would I ditch my pregnant wife for a chance to play in Scotland with my dad? Hell no. If I worked 50-80 hour weeks would I travel on the weekends to play golf? I like being married.  Maybe Jon doesn't. Way I see it, if you're a married man, you chose to be a married man. You can't live life like a single guy with no responsibilities just because you feel like "[you] just HAVE to do this." (Fitzgerald J., The Back Nine, 2009.) If you're a father, good or bad, how your kids remember you is all about the choices you make.  To me, setting a good example for my children is not only my main priority, it goes hand-in-hand with all my other ambitions in life.  I don't think Mr. Fitzgerald and I are on the same page with that one. Back Nine... More like The Crap Nine. I think even the title is misleading. Here's what this movie was truly about: An ego-maniac who got super lucky and found the most patient wife on earth with whom he bred the most understanding daughter to have ever walked the face of the planet.  Then, spent his entire marriage doing nothing but pursuing his own dreams. Maybe it's just me reading between the lines, but I think this guy Fitzgerald made up an intricate (to the point where he put together the funding to make a movie) excuse to cover up his true desires: spend all free time after work playing golf. After sitting through this idiotic self-portrait I think it should've been titled differently. A better title would be, "Jon Needs a Vacation from His Responsibilities So Let's Put Some Fake Ambition Behind the Truth: Golf is the Shit and I Want to Play as Much as I Can Without Getting Divorced. Part One" 

 Thank you for the suggestion, Netflix.  To those looking to watch a golf movie, do yourselves a favor and avoid this one. F- 


October 7, 2013

Diagnosis: GIR Deficiency

If it ain't one thing, it's another.  Right?  That's why we love this game.  There's always something to tinker with and no matter how good we swing one day we always want to do better the next.  

100 Balls, 100 Divots
I went to the range today and only brought 8-iron and below.  My goal was to work on my accuracy from 160 yards and in.  Ruining perfectly good tee shots by constantly missing the green is getting a little old.  My goal at the range up to now has always been to flush it and make good contact.  This strategy helped a lot with distance and basics but I want to take my game to the next level.  I need to start sticking my approaches closer to the pins.  At least get them stopping somewhere on the dance floor.  Even if I leave myself a lengthy putt, it's better than hitting a wedge from an awkward distance.  Right now, pretty much every hole my inner monologue goes a little something like this, "No problem Juno, you can get up-and-down from here for par/bogey/double..."  
Nice form, but ball's still on the tee.
Luckily I'm not fighting the pull as much as I was last month.  Moving the ball back in my stance was a really good decision.  I'm also setting up with much less forward press at address.  Hopefully getting more comfortable with these changes will improve my accuracy and we can get back to breaking records.

Salman played a round at the Stonetree Golf Course in Killeen, TX.  He said the course was gorgeous but he had to play on super fast greens because the course hosted a tournament earlier in the day.  The layout reminded him a bit of The Resort in Fort Worth.  Still did well despite the green speeds and shot a solid 44 on the back nine.  He scored his lowest round for 2013.  Looks like someone's game is coming along nicely!

October 2, 2013

Muddy Round at Grand Oaks in Grand Prairie

Heavy rain all week = twilight prices at Grand Oaks, in Grand Prairie, and SUPER MUDDY GOLF SHOES!
Played Grand Oaks a couple weeks ago with dad, Soks, and Salman.   Fun round as usual with dad and my dudes.  Big congratulations are in order for Soks who shot his lowest round to date!
The course was very muddy that day after heavy rains throughout the week.  It didn't really pose too much of a problem with play, but they said cart path only for the carts.  Dad, Soks, and Salman rode carts and I walked it.  Really annoyed that I didn't get Salman getting stuck in the mud on camera!  That was pretty funny.  Cart path only means cart path only, buddy. 
The round was the usual affair for me.  Garbage front nine and pretty good back nine.  I didn't get to implement the work I put in to fix the pull in this round, but I'm happy to report that I did kinda fix the pull. (For now... I think?)
Last post I talked about how I assumed I was swinging out-to-in but I had a hard time fixing it with that thought because I already kinda feel like I do attack the ball from the inside'ish. Nevertheless, I tried a drill that Ted shared with me on Twitter and still managed to pull a few shots with my driver with the stick in the way.  Then I remembered the tip in my last post that said ball position can cause a pull.  I took my swing to the range again and just moved my ball back closer to center on all my clubs aaaaaaand VoilĂ ! Problem Solved!  Moving the ball back straightened pretty much all my shots out, most significantly the driver.  Huge relief for me because big changes in mechanics are a pain, especially when you're feeling really comfortable with how you're swinging it.  

...Now if only I can find a line of text that will help me putt better.

September 25, 2013

Fixing the Pull


That pretty much sums up my last few golf outings.  I pull shots way less on the range, which is weird but I guess kinda makes sense since I'm worrying more about my form than the result.  So instead of pulling nine out of ten, I usually pull six out of ten.  But on the course we all kinda just let it all hang out and play fast & loose.  Right?
I tried implementing a few changes but nothing really stuck. I knew deep down that I was just ignoring the biggest and only reason for the pull. It took a YouTube reply from the fellas at Me & My Golf to get me to finally come to grips with it:
"[T]o hit a straight pull, the face will be square to the path and the swing path will be left (for a right handed golfer)"

Yup. Out-to-In. I was hitting a good draw consistently about three months ago and I thought the sudden appearance of the pull was from me over-drawing it(?) But I kinda always knew that my pull came from the same problem that caused the slice I rocked when I started playing golf. I was coming over the top so much back then and corrected it by trying keep my elbow completely attached to my ribs from address all the way to impact till my shots consistently turned right. I guess I got too comfortable lately and started reverting back to my old habits.
The foot twisting out still really bothers me, but its mostly just aesthetically. I want my swing to not just be effective but also to look nice. 

I found this neat little bit of information on written by golf instructor Roger Gunn (emphasis added):

Diagnosing the Pull

The grip is not normally a factor with a pull.
Make sure you are not aiming too far left, or that your shoulders are pointing too far left.
Ball Position
You might have the ball too far forward in your stance. This causes you to catch the ball when the club is swinging back to the left.
The club is likely being pushed outside the target line on the way back. The club should track a gentle arc on the way back. The club should be over your shoulder at the top, not over your head.
Your arms are likely pushing away from your body at the transition. Keep your arms in so that they pass close to the right pants pocket on the approach. Make sure your head doesn't move toward the target until after impact.

I highlighted the two things I feel really apply to my swing.  I've been teeing the ball up a lot farther forward in my stance because the new position was yielding me a few extra yards, but now that I think about it I started hitting the pull right around the same time I made the change.  The head thing is kinda tricky, and I feel like this type of tip is easily misunderstood by most golfers.  "Making sure your head doesn't move . . ." is NOT the same as "Keep your eyes on the ground/ball."  What I think Mr. Gunn is referring to here is lateral sway towards the target.  I try to get my hips moving laterally towards the target at the top of my backswing, but honestly I never pay attention to keeping my head from moving toward the target as well. 

Looks like I'll be putting in some time on the range this week.  Good thing I still have that bucket of balls in my trunk that I didn't finish last time I went out to Lake Ridge.  

September 23, 2013

90% Sand 10% Grass

I played Cedar Crest Golf Club in Dallas last week with some classmates.  The round was pretty tough.  Started the day seven over par... after three holes!!!  Somehow managed to miraculously scrounge together an 87.  Pretty happy with the score but was really bummed with how I was hitting the ball.  Tons of shanks, still struggling with the stupid pull, and super garbage putting on 17 holes.
The greens were crazy bad; there was so much sand on them that even landing chips from just around the greens sent sand flying.  On top of that the greens were pretty wet from the morning dew.  Totally my fault for not getting the ball closer to the hole, but still... judging distance was super difficult.  My buddy Zack carded a solid 86 with some solid play, solid putting, solid solid'ing pretty much everywhere from tee to green.  We were pretty much even till he drained a bird in my face.

Overall, Cedar Crest was pretty nice.  Good price, nice layout, difficult walk and crappy greens tho.  I don't know if I'm gonna be back there anytime soon unless someone invites me.  C+.

Here's the vid.  Enjoy!
Had 'Sell Out' by Reel Big Fish playing while editing this video so I went ahead and added it since I was listening to it anyway.

Can you believe Breaking Bad is ending in a week?!?!?!?!

September 12, 2013

Stevens Park in Dallas and Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure...
I was going to take two weeks off to rest up and spend some time on the range, but looks like I might be playing sooner than expected...

Played a round with three buds from school last Monday.  We played the Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas.  It was a really fun round but also a brutal physical challenge.  Stevens Park is probably the most hilly golf course in the area.  Tons of elevation changes and very steep hills.  We walked the course and combining the heat with the uphill and downhill treks we were all experiencing some heavy cramping towards the tail end of the round.  Despite the workout it was a blast.  Had some good laughs and saw my buddy Will one hop it into the cup from off the green!  
Made another video and spotted a few things in my swing that I need to fix.  The biggest thing being the difference between my iron and driver tempos.  My irons are pretty controlled and I'm balanced after the ball leaves.  My driver is still pulling right and still too rough. 
I'm gonna start working on creating more of an in-to-out club path again next time I go to the range.  If I get it under control I should be able to shave a few strokes pretty soon.  I feel like my long range game is putting me in positions where I'm forced to (unsuccessfully) get up and down instead of comfortably(read:unsuccessfully) two putting for pars.  Putting was decent on Monday, short game was awful, but luckily Stevens Park is pretty short and I was able to take advantage of the par 5s to make up for my doo-doo play on the 4s and 3s.

Enjoy the vid!

September 4, 2013

Taking Time Off

Been playing too much lately.  Need a break.  I've been playing pretty decent and I really felt like my game was progressing nicely but I decided to take some time off because I developed a bad pull the last two or three rounds and it's causing my front nines to go in the toilet. 

If you watch my swing during the Riverside & Golf Club of Dallas vids you can see that my front foot is spinning out pretty violently after impact.  I've been trying to fix it at the range but the pull still hasn't gone away.  I ended up playing a fade on the entire back nine at Golf Club of Dallas.  I prefer hitting the straight ball because my misses are still pretty much all over the place.  Sometimes left, sometimes right, but lately I've been hitting balls straight right and it's been driving me batty that I haven't been able to fix it. 

My dad suggested that I try swinging slower, but I wasn't sure that was gonna fix what's going on with my lower body.  Plus, whenever I try slowing my swing down it muddles up my tempo and my short game suffers (100% of the time, every time.).  PLUS, I've been going to the gym a lot lately... what's the point in working out if I'm not trying to crush the ball.  I'm glad I started putting together the videos of our rounds so I can see what my form is like on the course.  The scores aren't ever really indicative of what you need to fix in your swing, and a lot of times a hot stretch of 9 holes on the front or back can really mask your problem areas in your mind.  E.g. you pull every ball on the front nine and shoot nine over and end up playing a cut on the back nine to shoot a solid four over.  The 83 would suggest solid play, when in fact all 18 holes were pretty much hot crap sprinkled with decent putting.  

So after a few rounds I realized I was just going after it too hard.  Now, there's a big difference between playing with finesse and swinging slow.  Tons of golfers out there swing at less than 90mph and it looks like a violent mess.  There's also a good amount of golfers out there swinging at over 110mph that make it look graceful and balanced (see Ernie Els).  Graceful and balanced is what I'm trying to get, but my ego oftentimes gets in the way.  Unless you have Bubba Watson level coordination and experience, swinging out of your shoes like I do just isn't a good way to send the ball on its way.  I know that the feet spinning wasn't the cause but instead more of the result of the main problem causing the pull; but I think fixing the feet will force me to swing more in control even if I keep the swing speed that I'm comfortable with.

To fix my problem areas, namely the straight pull to the right, I did the following:
  • "Keep that right foot still" was my only swing thought when I went to the range today;
  • Hitting a few straight pushes to the left intentionally;
  • Focus on holding a solid finish without falling in any direction;
  • Focus on committing at the top of the back swing on the in-to-out path;
  • Not accept a shot shape on the range that I didn't fully intend; 
  • Ask Ted for help on Twitter;
  • Listen to Ted's advice;

Overall my session at the range today was pretty successful!  I pulled a few balls here and there but I knew immediately what I did wrong.  For the most part it was forgetting to root myself into the ground at the top of the downswing and put too much juice into my hip rotation.  I'm already smelling some low scores in the near future! Can't wait to play again.

August 29, 2013

Golf Club of Dallas with Phong

Phong & I played Golf Club of Dallas last week.  The round was a MESS.  But, it was a really fun day regardless and got to hang out with a good friend.
I was fighting a pull (straight right shot for me) all day.  I blew up on the front nine because of it and ended up having to play a cut to compensate for it on the back nine.  Back nine ended up being really good at four over par.  I was hoping that the video footage would provide some clues about the origin of the pull. 
I think my hips are turning a bit quick but most importantly, my footwork is. a. mess.  Pull means I'm coming in over the top, and that's probably because I'm just going after it too much with my upper body.  I never realized how much my front foot spins out.

Enjoy the vid :)

August 28, 2013

Riverside Golf Club, Grand Prairie, TX

Awesome day at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Prairie, TX.  Played with my dad, Salman, Thomas, and my step-mom Ela.  Super good times!  Probably most fun I've had all year.  Round had its ups and downs, but what matters is that we had a ton of laughs and were blessed with a cool breeze throughout most of the round.  Doesn't get any better than that. 

August 17, 2013

Ninja Golf Swing

Having a little fun at TopGolf, Dallas. Trying to copy This Guy. Kinda. I'm missing the sunglasses and the fantastic hair.

August 8, 2013


Played Country View GC in Lancaster, TX today.  It was a scorcher.  Felt like the temp was easily 105*F.  Thomas and I thought that maybe if we started our round early the heat wouldn't be too bad until the end of the round.  Nope.  Texas summer is here in full effect.  I'm dealing with a bit of a cold right now, so the heat and sunshine was actually pretty nice to be in.  Got a good sweat going and felt a lot better after a few holes.

The round was pretty decent.  Thomas was just practicing today so he didn't keep score but he played very well on the back nine.  I actually don't know how to feel about my round because despite almost breaking 80 again I felt like I played pretty poorly.  For the most part it was all bogies and double bogies.  I think I carded three double bogies and several bogies with only a few pars.  What really saved my round were back-to-back birds on both the front and the back nine.  If I didn't get those four -1s the round could've really gotten out of hand.  I had a few errant drives but honestly my ball striking just wasn't very good today.

Still had a blast tho!  Score doesn't/shouldn't dictate how much fun you have, but it would've been nice to shoot another sub-80 round, especially with 4 birds.  That's the most I've had in a single round to date so that alone was a big victory for me.  Ended the day with an 81 and my first almost-eagle putt.  There was a super narrow 393 yard par 5(I know right? Short. But I'll take it!) and I knew if I crushed it straight down the line off the tee that I could give myself a good look at eagle.  Ended up drilling it down the pipe about 290 something yards and had an easy wedge into the green.  Ball stopped about twelve feet from the cup and I missed my eagle putt by half an inch!  Here's the footage; Thomas is sporting the navy blue Puma gear:

I don't know what's going on with my camera today. I think it's time for a new one. All our footage looked like it was from the 1970s. I think the lens is busted too because there were some squiggly lines cutting across the entire picture.  At first I thought it was just the display in the back, but obviously not. Might've been the crazy heat...?

August 6, 2013

Gaming the G15 and Breaking 80

I did it!  Just shy of the 2-year mark!  I shot a 78 at Old Brickyard in Ferris, TX (From the men's tees no less!).  Granted, par at OB is 70, but I'll take it!  Out of all my accomplishments, breaking 80 is definitely one of the ones I am most proud of.  It took a lot of hard work and practice, but it really feels great to have that round under my belt. 

I've been working on quite a few things with my game, but probably the biggest change is that I started playing with my G15 again about a month ago.  Lately I've been feeling like the shaft on the Burner 2.0 is super wobbly during my downswing.  It's a stiff shaft but from my experiences trying out Taylormade clubs, their shafts are just a bit more flexy than other brands.  I originally switched away from the G15 because I was going through some major changes in my swing and lost some club-head speed in the process (not to mention the driver was super cheap!) but I'm finally comfortable with the new swing and despite this started getting a ton of sidespin with the Burner.  So I'm gaming the G15 again and it's feeling great so far.  I lost about 20 yards to my drives but I'm much more confident about where the ball is going regardless of how much juice I put into it.  I reshafted the G15 with an Arthur Engineering Xcalibur Shaft with tour stiff flex a while back and I feel much more comfortable with it now than I did when I originally purchased it. 

I've been averaging in the mid 80s for a few months now and I felt like with just a few tweaks to my short game and a good bit of luck that I could at least break 80 once before the year's end.  What a gift to have done it by July!  I've been fortunate to receive some really great advice from friends that helped my game tremendously.  Here are some tips that I make sure to keep in mind before I tee off on the first tee:
  • It's all about getting up-and-down.  The key to breaking 80 was reducing my total number of putts and that meant I had to make par despite missing a few greens with my approaches
  • Course management is crucial.  Closer to the green isn't always better.  Hitting a full shot at 120 yards is sometimes easier than an awkward 60 yard pitch.
  • Don't take unnecessary risks.  This kinda goes hand in hand with course management.  It's important to keep my ego in check.  I spent a good amount of time working on my weaknesses on the range and I make sure to be realistic about my expectations on the course.  E.g. I've been struggling with my 5 iron recently.  Instead of forcing a shot that I know I'm not 100% with yet on the range, I set my ego aside and either club up or lay up.  
  • Keep it playful.  This is absolutely the most important piece of advice.  If you take yourself and your round too seriously, it's very easy for it to quickly get away from you.  I know that sometimes double or triple bogeys WILL happen.  I'm not good enough to avoid them completely.  What I also know is that if I waste time beating myself up over bad holes all the way to the next tee box, then I'll probably continue playing poorly for the rest of the day.  Shooting a high score on one hole hurts, but if you want to keep that score low you gotta learn to laugh it off and play your game. 
It's good to emulate your favorite professional golfer, but remember that a bad hole for them should be A LOT more painful than a bad hole for you.  Don't feel obligated to hurt as much as they do when a drive slices into the trees or a putt refuses to break.  Pros are playing for potentially thousands of dollars per stroke.  Keep it playful, and keep everything in perspective.  You're in the beautiful outdoors, enjoying some fresh air in the company of your friends.

July 24, 2013

The Return to Twin Lakes in Canton, Texas!

After a year of golfing around the DFW metroplex, we have finally returned to one of our favorite public courses: Twin Lakes in Canton, Texas!
My Old Man & Me
We planned this trip about two weeks in advance and booked two afternoon tee times.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  As if the golf gods wanted to ensure perfect playing conditions, North Texas was blessed with rain the entire week leading up to our sunny afternoon in Canton.  The grass was gorgeous, the greens were just the right speeds, and the lakes were full of water (in Texas we actually experience drying up of water hazards during the summer).
First Tee Jitters (Salman, Soks, & Thomas)
The course lived up to all our expectations, again.  It was just as beautiful as last year and the staff was very welcoming.  Since we're all a little more experienced since the last time we visited Twin Lakes, we really got a chance to appreciate the challenges presented by the course.  Overall, I'd rank Twin Lakes in the top five in terms of difficulty.  The layout isn't always narrow, but there are significant elevation changes on almost every hole, and the greens are guarded or completely separated from the fairway.  The holes don't ease up towards the end either.  The eighteenth hole was a kick in the pants.  A lengthy par 4 with a lot of water between the fairway and green.

Lessons learned from Canton: 
  • Always eat something before a round
  • Stay hydrated
  • Bring high calorie snacks in your golf bag

Look Out Fairway!
I started the day feeling great and confident, but my energy dropped at hole 4 and I was dizzy with hunger throughout the round.  I couldn't grab a bite at the turn because we started late and I didn't want the sun to set before we finished; unfortunately there wasn't a cart girl roaming the grounds that day. 

Total bummer that our round was marred by slow play.  It took us over five hours to play all 18 holes because we were stuck behind several groups that were struggling just as much as we were.  This isn't something I can hold against the course tho.  Last time we were there, the place was deserted and it was nice to see that they were getting a lot of players.  The great thing about Twin Lakes, is that slow play, bad shots, missed putts, and other typical golfer gripes don't affect you as much because the vistas are absolutely beautiful.  If you're ever in need of a place for a golf outing with friends, be sure to check out Twin Lakes.  You won't regret it.

June 16, 2013

New Putter and Driver for Me!

Lots of news! Got a new putter, new driver, and overall feeling very comfortable with my game. Unfortunately a few injuries sidelined me for a while and caused me to lose a bit of my edge, but I'm almost 100% and can't wait to play in this Texas heat!

First off, the putter.  My dad surprised me for my birthday with a 2012 Scotty Cameron Newport 2.  It's an absolute dream.  The putter is so perfectly balanced that it feels like it's on rails.  The impact with the face is firm, but soft enough to where distance control is easier than with any putter I've ever played with.  My dad got me the 34 inch model and I'm loving it.  It gives me confidence and an added bonus is that I think the putter is so damn beautiful that I don't really mind missing putts because it means I get to use it for another stroke.  Total surprise, thanks dad!

Next, I found an amazing deal on a Taylormade Burner 2.0 on  Less than fifty bucks for a used driver and a box of Taylormade Burner balls.  I really love Taylormade balls, but I was kinda on the fence with their clubs.  The reason why I was browsing through drivers in the first place though is because I felt the XCalibur shaft on my Ping G15 was just too stiff for how my swing is now.  About six months ago I was really trying to bomb it with the driver and I felt like the extra stiff was a good fit for me because it gave me a ton of control on the club face throughout the downswing.  However, recently I've toned my swing down quite a bit and I'm playing more for finesse than power.  My angles into the ball with my irons is less aggressive and I'm throwing the club head through the ball way softer than before.  After the changes to my swing I could tell that I was fighting to shut the club face and I ended up developing a nasty pull hook that I'm still trying to get rid of.
Long story short, I bought the driver and I really enjoy it.  It takes way less effort to swing through the ball and I've gained about 30 to 40 yards in distance averaging between 280-290 yards which is great considering I'm also hitting it straighter than before.

Overall, the last few months have had their ups and downs, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing more golf and taking my game to the next level.  I was hitting the low 80s pretty consistently, and I feel like I'm just a few good putts away from finally breaking 80 for the first time.  

February 5, 2013

Putting Woes

I played a private golf course in Cleburn last weekend and as usual, my putting remains by far the weakest part of my game. The golf course was SPECTACULAR. The property is called The Retreat, and the golf course is an exclusive course reserved for owners of property within the community. My dad said the course was "so beautiful that your score at the end of the day doesn't even matter."  It was a perfect day for golf, with some really great people, a country singer, and horrendous putting by me. 

I'm really struggling on the greens.  Probably because I never do drills and I change my grip, posture, stance, speed, rhythm, etc. on an almost-weekly basis.  To shave strokes I really need to spend more time chipping and putting and less time hitting shots that I already know I have in my bag.  It's not that I dislike practicing short game, I just enjoy the stress relief when blasting balls down the range more.
Odyssey Metal-X #9
I thought about it the day after and it all boils down to me not feeling comfortable with my putter.  I feel like a good stroke will only get me close and not in the hole.  The putter feels out of control and I have no feel for the club head the way I do with every other club in my bag.  Dad suggested I look into getting a new putter so I'm standing over a club that inspires confidence.  New club? Why not?  I absolutely love the Odyssey Metal-X #9.  I think it's a beautiful putter, the metal insert is a bit firm, but it feels like I'm placing the ball on a path instead of hitting it towards a general area.  I thought about taking the plunge and purchasing the new Odyssey Versa #9, but I just couldn't get myself to pull the trigger for $169.  Luckily, I found an Odyssey White Hot Tour #9 for a really great deal and it should be arriving in the mail within a week!  I can't wait to work on my putting with the new club.
Odyssey Versa #9
It's really difficult to feel okay with my score on Sunday. I don't feel like it accurately reflected my play for that day.  I felt great about my long range game, my irons were solid, and my shots from 100 yards and closer felt really good.  What totally killed my score were all the 3- and 4-putts!!!  I had so many birdie opportunities and every single one ended with at least a bogie.  

Odyssey White Hot Tour #9
From now on, I'm going to make sure that for every one hour I spend on the driving range, I spend at least three hours on the putting green or putting at home. 

January 29, 2013

Getting Matched with Randoms

This weekend I played Chester Ditto in Arlington with Salman & my dad. I played the course last week too - the back nine absolutely destroyed my face.
Our group of six was too big for one flight so Salman and I were paired up with two randoms. Random #1 was nice but random #2 was super unpleasant. He threw his clubs on the ground after bad shots, didn't crack a smile, just constant brooding.  #2 ended up leaving after a bad tee shot on the tenth hole and that made the rest of the round more enjoyable.  The fact that I shot two over par on the back nine didn't hurt either (^-^).  #2 reminded me of how rare it was that I enjoyed the company of randoms (maybe it's me...). Playing golf with others means I'll be spending the next four to five hours with them and I always try my best not to ruin their time away from the real world.  Maybe it's naive of me to assume others feel the same way because bad tempers and foul attitudes happen more often than not.  But if there's anything I learned from watching Les Miserables, it's to never give up hope.  Especially if Wolverine is on your team, or if Catwoman is your mom.  But I digress...
Guaranteed slice with that backswing
Picture this:  Fred works 40+ hour weeks and devotes whatever spare time he has to his family. Fred's wife suggests that he take an afternoon off to play golf with his best friend, Barney.  Fred's twosome gets paired up with Tiger and Phil. Tiger and Phil claim to be 11 handicappers but in actuality they rarely shoot under 95. Fred and Barney are enjoying their round for the first few holes but Tiger's constant complaining and Phil's moping is beginning to affect them. Fred's finding himself walking on eggshells because of Tiger's short fuse, and Barney feels uncomfortable joking with Fred because of the cloud hanging over Phil's head. Before they know it they're on the 18th tee box; Tiger is blaming poor course conditions for his weak play, Phil is still dragging his feet, and poor Fred and Barney are both silently hoping that their next round (whenever it may be) will be more enjoyable than this one.  Fred returns home feeling like he should've just gone to work instead, lists his golf clubs on craigslist, and cries himself to sleep.

I know golf is a 1-player sport.  It's just you, your level of sobriety, your equipment, and the course.  But consider this - you would be hard-pressed to find a golfer who considers their time on a course as anything less than sacred.  Therefore, it should follow that golfers appreciate that other golfers see their time chasing par as a sanctuary away from the stresses of life as well.  It does not.  Temper tantrums and whining are too common; and although potentially hilarious once or twice, one to four hours of constant negativity can absolutely ruin a beautiful day outdoors.
Do yourself and everyone around you on the first tee box a favor:
  • Keep it playful
  • It's just a game
  • Realize that your foul mood will ALWAYS affect your playing partners.  ALWAYS.
TL;DR:  A round of golf is sacred. Don't screw it up for others.

January 25, 2013

New Years Resolutions!

It's 2013! This year I have one goal!
I want my full swing to look super nice by finishing with perfect balance every time.

Last year I was too focused on shooting low and I'm realizing that that's not gonna happen consistently if the golf swing is a complete mess.  I also realized a big flaw in my game and something I never really considered before this year:  With every good shot my first thought was always "I got lucky that the ball went where I aimed."  It needs to be the opposite.  I need to expect that my shots will go where I intend for them to go, and I need to be surprised at my faults.  I won't ever be perfect, but I need to stop feeling like I got lucky for sending the ball where I meant for it to go.

In 2013, I will get my swing under control.  Scores don't matter this year. 

  • In-to-Out club path
  • Relaxed grip
  • Club face control through impact
  • Maintain the spine angle until the club pulls me out of it
  • 80% power at most
  • Hold the finish
  • Hold the finish
  • Hold the finish