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!
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.