Time to Dream About Next Year’s Destinations

The end of the season is near.  Time to think back on all the fun from the summer.  I had some great times, but I also started dreaming about next year’s adventures.  Thinking about where to play next year will help motivate me through my winter work.

Last year, I looked at my potential travel destinations and envisioned playing Bethpage Black, Pinehurst, TPC San Antonio, and Buffalo Ridge in Branson.  My best case included 2 top 5 courses and 2 more top 100.  I couldn’t wait.

My year didn’t reach the best case scenario, but I played great courses.  I wasn’t able to play a round in New York, so Bethpage will be later.  I did play TPC San Antonio, Buffalo Ridge, The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio, and Tobacco Road in North Carolina.  3 Top 100 courses, and a year to remember.  Check out my previous posts about the courses.  They are all must play destinations.

Now, I am dreaming of next year.  I may have the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, and Pinehurst again.  The possibilities in each city are interesting.

Los Angeles

I have never visited LA, so I don’t know what to expect (other than the national media narrative).  Of course, I will try every trick I can conjure up to access one of the exclusive private clubs (Riveria, LA CC, Bel-Air, etc.)  I haven’t had success getting on private courses in the past, so I don’t anticipate that working.  From there, I will probably look to Pelican Hill or Trump National LA as the highest rated courses.  I know ratings aren’t everything, but I found the ratings to guide me well so far.


Dallas is a tough call because I live reasonably close to Dallas.  The two on top of my list are Dallas National and Colonial, but again, getting access is difficult.  I may have a few contacts that could get a tee time.  After those, Dallas doesn’t have many high rated public courses.  I played Tour 18 a while ago, and it was fun.  The Cowboy Club is interesting since it has the Dallas Cowboy theme.

The Tribute at the Colony is a possibility.  The course is a Scottish links replica course with holes from most of the Open Championship Rota.  I will likely never play all (or many) of those courses, so the replica may be fun.  I enjoyed Tour 18’s replica holes, so The Tribute is a definite possibility.

I enjoy tour courses and the TPC Network, so I may try to get access to the TPC at Las Colinas without staying at the resort.  The Byron Nelson attracts quality fields, and the course will be near tournament conditions since I will be in Dallas in May.

Dallas may not have the highest ranked possibilities, but I like the options.


I played golf in Austin at Teravista Golf Club about 5 years ago.  That is my only round in Austin.  The course was well maintained, and you needed all your shots.  However, I didn’t find it overly memorable.  Barton Creek is the obvious choice in Austin, but I won’t be staying at the resort.  They wouldn’t let me on the last time I was in Austin, so I will probably still be out of luck.  After that, I honestly don’t know my options.  Post in the comments any great ideas in Austin.


We will likely head back out to Pinehurst next year.  The possibilities are endless in that area.  I loved Tobacco Road, so Tot Hill Farm, also by Mike Strantz, is on my list.  I know everyone will rave about all the Pinehurst Courses, but we don’t stay at the resort.  I may reserve a time somewhere else and then switch to one of the resort courses the week we are there.

Reading the rankings and literature, Mid Pines Golf Course and Pine Needles look like must plays.  Golf Digest ranks Dormie Club #43.  I could flip a coin, throw a dart, and no matter what happens, I will be happy.  The descriptions of all these courses evoke feelings of serenity and fun golf.

This season isn’t quite over, but playing new courses is always on my mind.  I am sure next year will be similar to this year where not all the opportunities pan out, but if I don’t dream now, what else would I do.  Add your thoughts on those cities in the comments.  Finish the season strong!

Can Fitness Really Affect My Golf Score?

Wow, the Ryder Cup last weekend was great. The excitement boiled over.  I enjoyed each day.  Watching golf inevitably brings the infomercials and quick commentary that sometimes highlights a weakness I need to work on, and last weekend was no different.

A couple years ago, I experienced the pleasure of playing Erin Hills, next year’s US Open site, near the end of the season. The weather started changing, and the course was beautiful.  Definitely one of my favorite courses, but I struggled mightily walking the course.  Erin Hills is walking only, which helps with the beauty, but walking it is climbing up and down non-stop hills.  It is the closest I have ever felt to the phrase, “walking up hill both ways.”  I played really well through 9.  On 10, I felt my legs completely lose strength.  I could walk and play, but my legs couldn’t stabilize my swing.  I ended up 6 shots worse on the back 9 with 1 birdie and the rest doubles or worse.

Erin Hills is a unique challenge. I never considered other courses to cause the same problems, especially since I ride a cart 95% of the time.  However, recent experiences made me question my assumption.

I started integrating the swing plane and weight shift on the course last round. The weight shift is working really well and creating better contact.  However, the back 9 saw similar problems as my experience at Erin Hills.  I didn’t shift my weight on 10, and subsequently, I pulled my approach low and left.  I did the same thing on 11.  My local course isn’t as penal as Erin Hills, so I still salvaged a decent round, but my lower body felt tired towards the end.

Every week, we hear the infomercials or announcers talk about a solid foundation. I always believed I possessed the solid foundation.  I am not in the best shape, but I am not terribly out of shape.  Last weekend it clicked though.  Hearing it after my experience helped me realize that even the slightest tiring can make a golf swing get out of sync.  Looking back, almost every round I feel like I lose my sync at some point during the round.  I sometimes get it back for a few holes, but many times, I finish without the same swing I started with.  My base may not be holding up to a full round.

My goal is a consistent golf swing, so being out of sync at the end of the round will definitely cause problems. I now realize that I need to integrate golf specific exercises into my routine.  I don’t plan on changing my routine yet, but after the end of the season, I will integrate off season training into my weekly schedule.

I purchased the Joey D workout program a few years ago and have multiple books on golf fitness. We still have nice weather here, so I have a little while longer to improve this season.  Come back to check out the plan I create for integrating both swing practice and golf fitness during the winter.  As the greats always say, great players are made during the off-season.  Enjoy the last few weekends of golf!

3 Easy Drills I Implemented to Crush My Slice

The joy and beauty of a finely struck golf shot is immeasurable. If you are like me, you strive for the shot to gently curve towards the target as a draw.  The most coveted shot in golf is the draw, and most amateurs struggle to hit it.  I fell into that category for a long time, but now, I consistently draw the ball.

Hitting a draw is similar to breaking a bad habit. It is difficult the first few times, but after a while, it is second nature.  I drink Dr. Pepper daily.  I know if I tried to cut that caffeine out of my system it would be a struggle, but after a few weeks, I would be fine.  I had the same experience learning to draw the ball.

After playing golf a few years, I finally took a lesson. My instructor painted a great picture for me related to swing plane.  He used the baseball analogy and taught me to hit the ball to “1st base”.  I worked on that move for a while, and it seemed to work.  I found a similar youtube video online from Brian Crowell that is a great refresher:

Unfortunately, I got busy and stopped working on drawing the ball. I didn’t play much golf for a few years, and I ended up coming from the outside again.  During a winter right after I started playing significantly, I went for a driver fitting.  An instructor in our area guarantees increased distance from either better fit club or better swing.  He bluntly told me I lose distance because the club comes from the outside.  Without a formal lesson, he told me I had to come from the inside to get better.

I began the next season determined to hit a draw. I spent a full day on the range hitting half punch shots to the right.  I remembered the baseball analogy and forced myself to start the ball extremely right.  After a few range sessions, it worked.  I could start the ball way right.  I then worked on squaring the clubface to get the draw, and that worked.  In less than 2 months, I consistently hit draws.  I use draw loosely because they were more like planned duck hooks, but the ball rarely crossed the target line.  Video of my swing showed the club came from the extreme inside.  Hank Haney has a good video illustrating a technique to get that path:

The best golf of my life followed. I hit longer shots and more GIRs.  I was on Cloud 9.  However, reality started to set in that my shot shape was extreme and my distance wasn’t consistent.  I believe drawing the ball is the best shot shape for amateurs, but watch out for quick fixes without more instruction.  After another session with the pro who fit me, he loved the swing plane, but he noticed huge flaws produced my draw.  I cupped the left wrist throughout, so my clubface was closed at the top.  He joked that I could serve drinks from the clubface it was so flat.  To compensate, I didn’t release the club through impact.  I held on hoping it didn’t turn over more and go too far left.

I loved the golf I played, but a problem arose when I didn’t play as often.  My timing got too far off and I missed both directions. I worked to try to flatten my wrist and release, but I became inconsistent.  I signed up for GolfTec, but you can read my previous post about how poorly that went.  I continued to drift farther and farther away from the draw.

I hit the breaking point this summer. I am focusing on weight shift, but I have a difficult time moving my hips independent of my shoulders.  As I got better shifting my weight, my club progressively moved more outside the target line in the downswing.  Since my weight shift is good, I am now working on adding the proper inside-out plane with the weight shift.  The focus reintroduced the closed club face in my backswing.  The continued dance of reacting to the new flaws brings me back around to near where I began.  Just like riding a bike, I have the draw back.  The goal now is a happy medium between 30 yard hooks to the target with lower trajectory and no stopping power and a high, short, stopping fade.  The following video is a great tool to force the inside-out swing:

Comment on the best tips or videos you use to create the gentle draw of your dreams.

Is It Possible to Improve Fairways and Be Disappointed?

Golf is a wonderful game with breathtaking views and fun with friends. Spending quality time outside and being more active is outstanding.  While beautiful, the golf swing is maddening.  Have you spent time making a change that causes other parts of the swing to go wrong?  It happens to me all the time, but the continual working generally leads to improvement.

My most recent round illustrated both the glimmer of hope and disappointment. I feel like my swing changes are creeping over to the golf course.  My fairways are showing improvement.  I played 9 holes and hit 4/7 fairways.  Over the last 7 rounds, I hit less than 50% of fairways only once, and in one round, I stuck over 70% of the fairways.

I am playing the majority of my approach shots from the short stuff. One key to success is in the bag.  Unfortunately, 1 key does not make a 9.9 handicap golfer, or right now, a 15 handicap golfer.  I am struggling to hit greens.  I haven’t hit more than 20% of GIR yet this season.  My approach shots must get better.  To drop my handicap, I need better iron play.

All of the sports psychologist information I read will now be put to the test. I know I can hit greens.  I know the swing is getting better each practice session.  I know the improvement is creeping into my game.  Every round with 3 or fewer GIRs is a little more frustrating though.  Honestly, it is easy to either scrap the current swing change and try to find a quick fix and/or lose hope in the process.

I resolve now to not abandon the current focus. The definition of insanity is to continually do the same thing hoping for different results.  The same thing for me is to try a new swing change when things don’t work.  I read about a new theory or think a different move will be better for me.  I then try to implement it the next range session.  The constant changing prevents lasting change.  I originally focused on my weight shift this summer.  The weight shift is getting much better, and I resolve to continue that progress.  I am now adding in a few repetitions focusing on swing plane with the weight shift.  Focusing on the small pieces will add up to a better swing in the long term.

I also know hope is not lost. Changes are hard to integrate and take more than a few rounds.  I played mid to low 80s 5-6 years ago.  I know how those scores feel, and I will stay confident those scores are in my near future.  The good news is I do see some good swings on the course.  My scores are decreasing over the last few months.  I plan to keep up all the positive self-talk and believe success is right around the corner.

While the old saying “fairways and greens” is more like “fairways and rough” for me right now, I can see a slight glimmer of light in the distance. I will keep going forward to get to that light.

Share my struggles on social media with others to get us all on the track to improvement.

No Club, No Problem!! 2 Easy Techniques to Improve at Work

Is working getting in the way of golf? It always does for me, but paying the bills and feeding the kids makes abandoning a job impossible.  I am finding ways to be at work and still get in practice time, sometimes even the 30 minutes for the day.

Practice at work? How is that possible?  No, I don’t work at a golf course, nor do I work near a golf course.  My first inclination would be to hit a bucket during lunch, but I don’t have that option.  However, I found a couple techniques could help me improve at work without losing my job.

The first technique I like is mental reps. I know it sounds crazy, but numerous authors and researchers say mental reps, which is imagining every detail of playing, can improve a swing.  Craig Sigl in his product Break 80 Without Practice discusses mental reps.  He tells a story of a POW held overseas for a significant amount of time.  When the soldier came back, he played amazing golf.  When asked, he said he imagined himself playing rounds every day.  The intricate details of playing allowed his mind to ingrain his swing without actual practice.  His brain went to the same place and made the same swings when he put the clubs back in his hands.

We can all do mental reps. As a disclaimer, I am not saying to do these instead of working.  I do them during breaks, lunch, etc.  Spend time imagining every aspect of playing a round of golf.  Go through the pre-shot routine, the swing, watching the ball fly, and walking to the next shot.  The more detail in the mental rep, the better.  I have also done this right before going to sleep.

The second technique I use at work is swinging without a club. Dave Pelz discusses this approach in one of his books.  He tells the story of one of the instructors he knows having a group of students practice certain moves without a club, many times at work.  The instructor didn’t do it intentionally.  It was his suggestion for busy clients who couldn’t get to the range.  They could also do it during the winter.  He found students doing reps without clubs made swing changes quicker.

I try focusing on 1 move during a week. I spend 10-30 minutes during lunch doing the swing without a club.  I am deliberate and not going quickly.  Once I get to the range, I sometimes do the same move without the club during my warmup.  Feeling the movements can help transition to the club.

Most of us have to work, but we can use small breaks to make big improvements. Every little bit helps and can lower scores.  Share this on Facebook and Twitter to help others improve while working!

Discover Some of Golf’s Emerging Technology

Golf Channel cuts away and on the TV someone screams “BOOM!” The next 30 seconds make you feel like your golf game couldn’t live without the product on the screen.  Every famous golf instructor sells something during the commercials.  Are any of the products worth it?  I have no idea, but I did find some interesting newer products to check out that could help your game.


IOFIT Golf Shoes:

This is an interesting product. Shoes that measure lower body movement to help become more efficient.  Sean Foley, among many others, states the golf swing starts from the ground up.  These shoes look like they could help immensely.  Information overload may happen, but I always want more info.  They already hit their funding goal on kickstarter.  You can check them out here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1325722173/iofit-the-first-smart-shoes-to-improve-your-golf-g


Copy Me Golf:

Sports psychologists talk about visualizing shots and success. The more the subconscious sees an action, the easier the action is to repeat.  Copy Me Golf created a FREE iPhone app using that theory.  You download the app and either use one of the golf models in their library or load in your own video.  The instructions have you watch a swing repeated 30 times to music.  They encourage using a VR box to focus better.  The designers indicate watching the correct movements will subconsciously transition our swings to the model.  Copy Me Golf says Olympic Swimmers use similar technology.  For free, I definitely plan on trying it.  I will even splurge for the $10 VR box from Amazon.  Here is the info:  http://www.copymegolf.com/


Ultra Base Systems:

Do you want a backyard putting green without excavating everything? I want a backyard green, but I have unique access issues.  I scoured the internet for ideas to build my own putting green, and UBS looks like a great option.  The system is a series of interlocking base units that turf attaches to.  They manufacture artificial turf with a few premade designs under pro putt systems and tour links.  However, you can use any turf with the bases.  This looks like a reasonable DIY project.  Check it out:  http://ultrabasesystems.com/


Pocket Bunker:

Everyone wants to get up and down from the sand. However, most people don’t have the means to practice often.  Pocket Bunker attempts to solve that problem.  The designers are fully funded on Indiegogo, and the product is intriguing.  More practice would be helpful, and this looks like it could help.  Info is here:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pocket-bunker-portable-golf-bunker-training-aid-sport-home#/


If you see any good technology or infomercials, add them to the comments. Enjoy a great round this weekend!

My Next Swing Challenge: Tackling Tobacco Road

My new swing traveled to extreme destinations again last week, and much of the sand hills of North Carolina traveled back with me in my golf shoes. However, my last planned golf travel of the year resulted in a huge SUCCESS!

I played Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, North Carolina last week. Tobacco Road’s reviews and terrain looked interesting, so I choose to take my progressing swing to Sanford.  In 2010, ESPN ranked it the #10 hardest course in America.  Many call it Pine Valley on steroids.  I wanted the challenge, and happily endured the humidity to experience it.

The starter provided the best piece of advice for my round. He said most of the holes and greens have collection areas.  The collection areas are conservative targets, but they provide the best path to stress free golf.  I decided to follow the philosophy of conservative target with aggressive swing.

Hole #1
Hole #1

The par 5 1st hole lays the blueprint for the rest of the course.  Not overly long, but constant sand with small windows to hit through.  The visual intimidation alone could persuade golfers to turn their carts around.  The fairway is large, if you want to hit a short drive.  However, a tiny sliver of fairway guarded by natural sand and wire grass right in everyone’s landing area tempts the aggressive.  Going for it could be disastrous or setup a good second shot.  The second shot has the same dilemma.  Great wide fairway in layup area or try a narrow pass to get near the green.  I hit a beautiful drive in the narrow fairway, put my second in some reasonable sand, and hit my third near the green.  Up and down for par.  Great start!


Hole #2 illustrates the risk/reward philosophy of Tobacco Road. Straight ahead is nothing but waste area.  Carry is anywhere between 190 and 220 depending on the tee, or the fairway to the right provides an easy target but longer 2nd shot.  The conservative approach provides a blind shot over a hill to the green.  I played conservative right and hit the fairway.  I then struggle through a few approaches in waste areas for a double.  I am sticking to the game plan.  Play to conservative spots.

Hole #5
Hole #5



My progress is apparent on holes 3-5. I played to the large parts of the fairway and greens.  I hit both fairways (#3 is a par 3) and hit all 3 GIRs.  That is my best stretch of the summer.  My iron shots weren’t perfect, but I shifted my weight well which resulted in decent trajectory.  However, Tobacco Road’s next line of defense crushed me, the greens.  I 3 putted all of them for bogey. The greens’ could only reasonably be described as an Olympic mogul course and blazing fast.  My conservative play led me to 30-50 ft. lag putts that weren’t close.  I thought my plan was perfect.  I failed to anticipate the trickiness of long putting on these greens.

Hole #8
Hole #8

Holes 6-9 continued the onslaught. The fairways were in immaculate condition.  They just aren’t level.  Every approach required stance adjustments and strategic thinking.  However, my ball striking stayed reasonably steady.  I doubled 2 holes and bogeyed the other 2.  Front 9 – 46.  For the difficulty, I loved it.  Not only that, I hit 5/6 fairways and 3 GIRs.  I couldn’t hope for better.



The back 9 brought more pain. I continued to hit fairways through #14, but I failed to hit any greens on the back 9.  I played from more waste areas than I knew could exist.  As the starter told us, every waste area was different.  I tried unsuccessfully to hit 20 ft. high flop shots from hard sand onto greens, carry gargantuan cliffs to small greens, and hit out of random native grasses.  I left more sand in my shoes than on the course, but I had a blast.  I tired the last couple holes but ended with a 94.

Hole #13
Hole #13


The course is amazing. The shots are visually intimidating, but successfully completing the shot feels that much better.  You need every club and shot in the bag, but the course is very fair.  Most holes provide both aggressive and conservative targets.  The greens roll true and are fast.  I completely agree with Golf Digest putting this in the top 100 and ESPN ranking it tough.  Truly amazing experience.   I also finished with a reasonable score on a tough course.  SUCCESS!

Hole #18
Hole #18

Mid-Season Progress Report: Doom and Gloom or Starting the Climb?

Progress and improvement is portrayed like a math equation. Add a little work here, do a few drills there, and lower scores result.  Incremental progress is the goal, and every ounce of work should get us closer to the goal.  If that is the case, results should follow the same incremental approach, even if the results are slow.  My experience is the progress is more asynchronous.

I planned to improve by spending 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week on different aspects of golf. Check out my Current Handicap Page to see where my handicap started.  I set 2 goals.  The first was to lower my handicap from the 15.8 to 14 by the end of the season.  The close to 2 strokes seemed possible with the work on each aspect of my game.  I believe extra work should lower scores.

Unfortunately, my handicap is not dropping right now. As you see, my handicap is now at 17.  17!

HCP 7-22 2

Not only is it not going down 2 strokes, it is actually up 1.2 strokes. My mind raced when I saw my trend up.  Is it possible that my effort is making me worse?  Would I be better off not practicing?  Should I change my plan?  What should I do?

After thinking all those thoughts, I remembered the important goal of completing the progress. Most research indicates focusing on the result doesn’t normally lead to success.  Focusing on the process is what matters.  My current situation is the exact reason why process is the most important.  If I succumb to the idea that practice isn’t working or my effort is in vain, I will stop practicing or drastically change my plan.  Revisiting a plan is periodically necessary, but continual refocusing diminishes results.

The real question should be whether I completed my 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The honest answer is the majority of the time I did.  I have weeks with 3 to 4 days, but over half the time, I get to 5 days a week.  The practice time and completion isn’t the problem.  If true, then maybe I am not doomed.

The bright side begins to light up. Comparing the score lists on my Current Handicap Page, I realize why my handicap rose this year.  My oldest 7 scores were calculated in my original handicap, and all those rounds happened in 2014.  Unless I played at a similar level, then my handicap would rise.  My handicap at the beginning of my process was not an accurate reflection of my current performance level.  The handicap was artificially low due to good scores from over 2 years ago.  I breathe a little easier.

I also notice my handicap differentials for this year. Since starting the process, my differentials are decreasing.  From the beginning of the year through June, my differentials ranged from 19-22.3.  My last 2 differentials in July dropped below 18.  Looking closer at the numbers, I am improving.

I also feel like I am improving. My contact is much better.  I am focusing on shifting my weight correctly to compress the ball.  My trajectory is up.  I hit my 5 wood and hybrid better than ever the last couple rounds, and my ball flight is much straighter.  My GIRs are slightly up over the last 5 rounds, and I am still hitting a similar number of fairways.  I am showing improvement.  This is exactly what I am looking for.

My handicap is up at the mid-point, but I believe the numbers indicate improvement. My handicap started artificially lower, and my last 5 rounds are showing improvement in all areas.  14 may not be realistic by the end of the season, but I should be able to get back in the 15 range.  However, I am not focused on that number.  My goal is to practice 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Share my story on facebook and twitter to help others continue the journey to improvement.

My Experience on a Different Kind of Tour Course

Walking in the footsteps of current major champions is awesome. Being humbled by major tour courses provides context and generates even more respect for tour players.  My destinations only followed the PGA Tour though.  I wondered if I would have the same emotions walking in the footsteps of slightly older champions at a Champions Tour stop.  I was not disappointed.

I took a trip to Branson, Missouri over the 4th of July holiday.  My family planned to enjoy Branson’s many attractions, but my main goal was to play Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock.  The 2 courses host the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Champions Tour event.  Buffalo Ridge is ranked on Golf Digest’s most recent top 100 public course list.  Top of the Rock is the only 9 hole par 3 course to host an event from any of the major tours.  My sights were set on taking my progressing swing to another tour stop.

We had tee times on July 4th at Buffalo Ridge for 9am and Top of the Rock at 3pm.  As we pull in to Buffalo Ridge at 8, lighting illuminates the sky and surrounding Ozark Mountains like a bad 1980s thriller.  When we made it in the pro shop, they pulled everyone off the course.  The lightning delay began.

For the next 3 hours, the sky opened and torrential rain came down. The clubhouse designer did an outstanding job.  The entire back wall is a series of glass doors and windows looking out over the range and first hole.  The first hole is a downhill par 5.  When the rain let up, the fairway had no fewer than 3 independent streams of water running to the drain.  I thought the course would be water logged for days.  I just hoped we could still play both rounds.

The great staff at Buffalo Ridge moved our tee times around for both rounds. They let us warm up at Buffalo Ridge at 12 to begin play quickly thereafter.  They moved our Top of the Rock time to 6.  The courses are a few miles apart, so we built in enough time to pack up, get quick food, and still make it by 6.   The timing ended up being perfect.

After warming up, we headed to #1.

Hole 1

I noted a couple things. First, the rivers down the fairway were gone.  The drainage system worked great.  The course was definitely wet from the multiple inches of rain in the short period of time.  However, I never felt water logged or that it affected my play.  The course was in great shape even with all the rain.

The second thing I noticed on 1, and throughout the course, was the size. The tour courses possess huge brawny fairways and greens.  Buffalo Ridge’s fairways weren’t as big.  The greens didn’t look as huge.  However, players must still possess every shot in the bag.  The bunkering is great tournament bunkering.  Generous landing areas in spots, but if you take a risk to go long, bunkers protect everything.

My swing felt pretty good. I need to be able to repeat it more, but I am confident focusing on weight shift right now.  My contact is improving.  I hit my drive slightly left.  I hit a solid 5 wood to wedge distance.  Wedge on the green and 2 putt for par.  Great way to start.

I hit the fairway on 2 & 3. Green in regulation on 3, so 1 over through 3.  Double on the par 3 4th wasn’t ideal, but still on a good pace.  I then walk to the par 4 5th.  The view is outstanding.

Hole 4

Playing through the terrain is interesting. My vision of mountain golf includes the desert with manufactured greens.  These are lush mountains with great vegetation. The golf course seems to just naturally flow through the landscape.

The elevated tee looks down to a hard to judge fairway going left. Water on the right.  The miss is clearly left, but the large drop makes aiming difficult.  I hit a good drive that missed left, but still playable.  Hit it around a little to need a 1 putt for bogey, and it dropped.  Other than a snowman on 8, the front 9 was on track with a 45.

Hole 14 is a nice par 5. The length felt like a medium par 5.  However, most people can’t reach in 2.  A creek crosses directly in front of the green.  Carrying the creek and staying on the green is tough.  Rock formations border the right with bunkers protecting short and long.  The approach must be perfect.  Mine was not.  Beautiful hole.  Sloppy bogey.

Hole 15 is another elevated tee with a great view. Small waterfalls from a creek are right.  I aimed left to a generous landing area.  I crushed a drive, but it was straight right.  The line was unintentionally aggressive.  My ball barely cleared the creek and ended up in the first cut on the right.  Miss the green and bogey.

Hole 15

The rest of my round followed the same pattern, which I believe is a huge success. We then rushed to Top of the Rock.  I don’t have a hole-by-hole because we were doing our best to get everything in before dark.  While it is a par 3 course, the holes had great variety.  Numerous water holes and an island green.  The bunkering is insane for a par 3, but the Champions Tour can play this course for a reason.  The course feels like a collection of great par 3s from around the country.  Great experience.

Top of the Rock

While my score isn’t what it needs to be, I can see the consistency. On a Champions Tour course, I had 2 doubles and a quad.  The rest were pars and bogeys.  I can handle that for now.  I shot an 89, hit 4 GIRs, and 7/13 fairways.  The GIRs and fairways are gradual improvements.  The process is moving in the right direction, and I am playing great golf courses.  I would definitely recommend Buffalo Creek and Top of the Rock.

4 Easy Putting Drills to Save Strokes

The old saying is “Drive for show, Putt for dough.” While a few researchers disagree that short game is the most important part of golf, putting is clearly important because that is when the ball goes in the hole.  Yes, everyone needs to get closer to the green or closer to the hole on approaches, but golfers can make up for many mistakes with a great short game.

Improving the short game is a little more of a challenge at home. Most of us don’t have putting greens in our backyards.  My next DIY project is an artificial green, but until then, my 30 minutes of putting work is at home most weeks.  I have a 4 drills/tools I enjoy that helped me improve the last couple years to where I normally average less than 2 putts a round.

Dime Drill

Putts roll in the hole if they are on the right line and are the right speed. While speed is extremely important, carpets at most homes prevent speed work.  Reading through different magazines over the years helped me develop a drill for putting line using a dime.

My goal is to start the putt on my intended line and keep it on the correct line to the hole. To focus on the line, I grab a dime.  I put the dime on the ground about 1 ft. in front of my ball.  I line the ball up to roll over the dime and stroke the putt.  If I strike the putt correctly, the ball will roll over the middle of the dime.  I practice soft and hard putts over the dime about 4-6 times.  I then move back to 2 feet and try to roll it over the dime.  I will keep moving back until I get to 8-10 feet.  The idea is to keep the ball on line as long as possible.

I vary the 1 coin drill with a 2 coin drill. I will put the dime a foot in front of my ball and a nickel about 4-5 feet in front of the dime.  I try to stroke a putt over both coins.  The 2 coin drill forces me to line up correctly over both coins and keep the ball on line.  Adds to the difficulty.

Face Tape

Distance on the carpet won’t be the same as a golf course, but you can still work on distance at home. Consistent distance comes from hitting the ball in the same spot of the club with every stroke.  I use putter face tape to check my strikes.  I put on the face tape and hit a couple putts.  I check the tape to see if the strikes were consistent.  Even if you aren’t hitting in the middle, hitting consistently will make the distance consistent.  You can always play shots that are consistent.


Yard Stick

The putting sword training aid that many, including Michael Breed, advocate using can be replaced with a simple yard stick. The idea is the same as the coin drill.  Try to keep the ball rolling down the yard stick as long as possible.  You can also use the yard stick as a stroke and alignment check.  Place the stick on the ground.  Place the club with the toe just inside the stick.  Putt balls trying to keep the putter moving along the stick.  It promotes the straight back and straight through stroke.  It won’t help those who have an arc stroke as much.


Drills on the carpet are good for practice, but I know everyone loves hearing the ball fall in the cup. I bought the accelerator putting green below to putt the ball in the hole.  It isn’t perfect, but I find it forces me to hit a putt hard enough to roll about a foot past the hole.

Putting is definitely an art form. Many ignore putting because they think a green is necessary for improvement.  I think you can significantly improve by keeping the putt on the intended line for as long as possible.  You can do that in your house.  If you have a great drill you do at home, put it in the comments.  Cheers for less putts!