It’s been a couple weeks, time for a quick-ish golf update.

I have played three times since I last checked in; two nine-hole rounds and my first 18 of the year. On the 9’s, I shot 52 and 48. On the 48 I actually played the entire nine without losing a ball, which may never have happened. I should note that on one hole I blasted my drive way right and figured it was gone. Two holes later I found it sitting near my tee shot on that green. Neither time did I hit the ball as well as in my first round a few weeks back. But both times my short game and putting was outstanding.

That’s the lure of golf. One day you hit it well off the tee but suck everywhere else. The next you can’t keep it in the fairway but once you’re inside 100 yards, you’re money. Next thing you know you’re thinking, “If I could just put those two halves together!” and you get obsessed.

For my 18, I went to a new course. Another fairly open, pretty generic public track. I went out last Thursday and there was almost no one else out. There was a single in front of me, who let me play through on the second tee because he was walking and playing two balls, and a twosome in front of me who I passed at the turn. With that space, I spent a lot of the day hitting two balls per hole. I needed to do that, as I was all over the place again. There weren’t a ton of trees, but I kept finding them. It was a bit distressing how often I found myself either in the trees or lining a shot off a limb.

Playing the two balls was key. I’m not turning my scores in for a handicap, so I had no problem counting only the best ball from each hole. With that in mind, I finished with a 97. I’m not officially counting it as my first ever sub–100 round, but I think it shows my improvement. Again, I putted pretty well and I chipped well on about two-thirds of the holes. Tee game was garbage. Fairway game came-and-went. But, still, progress. Somewhere I read that high handicappers should add a stroke to par on each hole and focus on playing to that number. Doing that I actually had eight pars and two birdies. Only one really bad hole, where I lost two balls and carded a nine.

A Scummy 97
A Scummy 97

I reminded myself that not only have I never broken 100, I generally shot in the 110+ range back in the day. And that was with a lot of lie improvement, not counting every penalty stroke, etc. I’m certainly not adhering to the official scoring rules 100% yet, but I’m playing closer to those rules than I used to.

I also had to remind myself that according to pretty much every source I can find, the average amateur golfer in the US shoots 100. It’s easy to get lost in the scores of friends who are single handicaps and break 80 routinely. It’s a good reminder that the majority of people out there are in the same fight I am. And that if I keep working and improving, getting down into the 90s is a big deal, not only compared to what I used to shoot, but compared to the average golfer.

I had my second lesson today. At my first lesson back in July, I felt like I could barely hit the ball. Today I was hitting it well from the start, getting lots of compliments from my coach. Just as he had me hit driver for the first time, the owners of the range came over to say hello to him. They are old friends and hadn’t seen each other in a while. I was taking a three-quarter swings with the driver and on one just murdered the ball, hitting a low, straight rocket that didn’t carry all that far, but did roll forever. “Not sure why you’re taking a lesson from him with a swing like that,” one of the owners said. That was about the only driver I hit well in the session, but it was obviously well-timed!

We honed in on a few areas I had been struggling with. I have no idea how to hit a hybrid, so we worked on that a bit until I was generally hitting decent ones. When I’ve played for some reason I struggle hitting irons off the tee on par 3’s, so we spent awhile working on that as well. I never got that locked in, and as tends to happen when I hit a series of bad shots, that get me out of my groove and the final few balls of the session with driver were all violent slices.

Despite that poor finish, both my coach and I were pleased with my progress. I hit a lot of good shots today, where back in July you would think I had never swung a club before. He said a lot of my swing is good, it is mostly about focusing on a few small areas to bring it all together and make it more consistent.

So, again, progress. I’m going to try to get out and play on Friday (tomorrow is parent-teacher conference day at St. P’s) at one course or the other, hopefully a full 18 again. In addition to locking in the swing areas that are deficient, I need to learn how to make good swings over 18 holes. I have a tendency to lose it then fight for a stretch of 3–4–5 holes trying to get it back.