Tag Archives: better golf

The New Season Begins!

Freshly mown grass abounds.  Flowers starting to bloom.  The birds are back, and so is the golf season!  I know the winter allowed more golf this year, but the spring is what I always define as the new golf season.

The goal during the winter was to maintain and maybe even improve slightly before the first round of the year.  I didn’t want to walk onto the course rusty and need to build back to where I finished.  I will admit, I didn’t follow the winter schedule perfectly and got closer to 3 days a week than 4, but I succeeded in starting strong!

My first round happened last week.  I played the optishot most weeks during the winter, but the optishot isn’t the same as the course.  The adrenaline pumps a little harder when staring down a flag at 150 yards.  I was ready for the round, but I needed to get into my game quickly to stay on track.

My first tee shot flew high and down the middle.  The ground is rock hard right now in Oklahoma, so I also received a nice roll.  I only had a wedge left into the green.  I hit a thin, terrible wedge shot that settle right next to the green.  My chip was crisp, but I 2 putted for bogey.  Not a terrible start.

Similar shots on the second hole, but I made the up and down for par.  The 3rd hole is a longer par 3.  I pulled my hybrid and hit a high, beautiful, drawing shot that bounced, hit the flag stick, and stopped 10 feet from the hole.  2 putts from 10 feet for par.

I continue with another par on 4 and 6.  My driver was high and near the target.  My irons are a little short, but mostly high and moving slightly right.  Contact is as good as I have hit a golf ball in a couple seasons.  I had 3 GIR on the front 9, which is 2 more than I averaged a whole round last season.

The back 9 wasn’t quite as good, but my stamina isn’t perfect yet.  I had 2 pars, and only 1 GIR.  However, I hit 5 straight fairways.  I ended up with 9/14 fairways and 4/18 greens.  I shot an 84, which is better than most of my scores last season.  This is a great start to the year.

My goal was to begin the year as good, if not better, than last year.  I believe the winter was a huge success.  My swing is continually getting better.  My contact is more pure.  I think this year will see huge improvements.  No regression from last year.  I can’t wait to create my new spring and summer routine to keep improving.  Keep coming back to check out my progress.

Gain Perspective to Stomp Out Apathy

Creating routines is a great start to improving, but we all experience falling off our routine.  The resolution to eat better falls apart Super Bowl weekend when we gorge ourselves on chips, salsa, cheese dip, hot dogs, burgers, and everything else at the party.  Splurging isn’t the problem.  The problem arises the next week.  If I ate everything in sight, I feel terrible and think “what is the point of continuing to eat well if I messed it up?”  That mindset causes us to fall back into bad habits.  I almost fell victim to that phenomenon last week.

Last week was terrible for my routine.  Since creating my off-season routine, I haven’t followed it perfectly, but I generally reach at least 3 days of golf work and a couple days of exercise each week.  My swing isn’t completely leaving me, and I think I will start spring in a better position than last spring.  However, I completely missed the mark last week.  Work became incredibly busy that took away time at night, and I spent no time on golf or exercise.  The bottom fell out.

Work is still busy, and this week started with apathy.  My mind thought the routine is done, so why not just relax with the little time I have.  It is easy to fall into that trap.  The key is to not let 1 bad week prevent me from continuing on the path to success.

The critical steps to not letting the apathy continue is to gain perspective and get started.  Last winter, I did nothing to prepare for the golf season.  I played a round or two when the weather was nice, but I didn’t work on anything inside.  My perspective now must be that anything I do now makes a difference.  Getting back to the full routine is not necessary to improve.  Anything more than last year is improvement.  Doubt creeps in, but the key is to catch that thought and realize an improvement perspective is what matters.

After regaining perspective, do something.  This week, I am not perfectly back on my routine.  However, I spent a little time on the full swing taking shots.  Not perfect, but I did something.  Gaining steam to combat apathy makes a difference.  We all know it is easier to continue a trend.  My trend will be to reintegrate practice on the schedule.  I get a new opportunity every day to have fun with golf.  I plan to take that opportunity.

Last week didn’t go as planned.  I will not let that keep me from improving this week.  Every day is a new day.  Keep coming back to see my progress.  Post on Facebook and Tweet out my article to help others get back on track!

Real Improvement Happens in the Offseason

We hear the clichés all the time. Champions are made in the offseason, or the best athlete is made during the offseason.  Every coach talks about the offseason being the foundation to success.  If all of that is true, and I believe it is, then why do many of us treat the offseason as a break from golf?

I usually always take a winter break from golf. I would play the few times the temperature rose enough to play while wearing a few base layers, but improvement plans slipped my mind.  This year, I will take a different approach to my offseason.  Since failing to plan is a problem, I created an offseason plan to improve my weak areas.

My offseason plan focuses on 2 areas for improvement, my swing and fitness. My swing needs the work to start the season more consistent.  However, fitness might be the biggest area I can improve during the break.  Here is my plan for the winter:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day Off Full Swing Work Putting Work Day Off Workout Day #2 Chipping Work Simulated Practice on Optishot
  Walk on the Treadmill Workout Day #1   Walk on Treadmill to Finish Workout Day #3  

 

The plan seems like more work than during the season, which I had trouble reaching 5 days. However, I plan to adjust when I do some of the work.  I have kids, and one of the best ways to teach our kids is through modeling behavior.  Saving my fitness and workout for the evening while they are in bed doesn’t provide the extra benefit of teaching them fitness is important.  Since my kids are still young enough to find playing anything with me as fun, I plan to have the workout days with them.

Golf fitness is a little different than just lifting weights, so I designed 3 workouts that are 15-30 minutes that will help me become a better athlete and be fun with the kids. Here is the plan:

 

Workout Day #1:

Warmup

Squats with a Medicine Ball

Agility Drills on a Speed ladder

Jumping Hurdles (the progressively taller banana step hurdles)

Frog Jumping Race

 

Workout Day #2

Warmup

Medicine Ball Throws

-Squat Throw High

– Side Throw

Pushups

Crab Race

 

Workout Day #3

Warmup

Medicine Ball Spikes

Medicine Ball Jumps

Planks

Sit up throws with medicine ball

Plank Race

 

I know some of the activities sound silly, but making the workout fun helps motivate me to actually do it. Fun workouts will also get my kids involved and they will also encourage me to do the work.

The golf work will be similar to during the season. I will pick a specific area to work on, but will continue to focus on interleaved and variable practice with the testing effect to build my new motions.  I recently subscribed to Golf Science Lab, and they provide a ton of information on proper practice.  My next post will be my first thoughts about their product and how it will change my practice.

Post your thoughts or your own offseason plans. Utilize the offseason to have a great next season!

End of Season Stats Check. Did I Improve?

Fall is here, or should be here at least. We have unseasonably warm weather.  My goals were set for the end of October, so while I may squeak in a couple more rounds, I will review the conclusion to the season.

My original goal this season was to decrease my handicap to 14. I planned to spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week practicing.  I started around a 16 handicap, and I believed I could shave 2 strokes off my handicap.  As my mid-season report indicated, I failed to realize my handicap was artificially low due to older scores.  My most recent scores averaged between 18 and 20 index.  I revised my goal mid-season to get back to 15.8 where I started.  While I didn’t drop it to 15.8, I decreased my handicap from 17 to 16.2 since July!  I am on the right track!  I may not be at 15.8, but a declining handicap is what matters.

I set the number goal at the beginning of the year, but research indicates focusing on the number does not lead to success. Numbers are the measurement, but focusing on the process makes the most difference.  My most important goal was practicing 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I hate to say it, but I didn’t meet that goal as often as I hoped.

30 minutes a day is harder than I anticipated. I know that sounds silly, but all my activities combined with exhaustion make adding more work in difficult.  However, I did meet the goal about half the time.  I did much better in the summer and right after my mid-season report.  I struggled more during the fall due to my teaching load.  However, I never went a week without practicing.  I completed a simulated practice or real round nearly every week.  I reached 4 days a week the vast majority of the time.  Rarely did I practice less than 3 days a week.  I know I didn’t reach the goal every week, but I practiced significantly more than before.  My stats show continuous effort with the decreasing handicap.

My stats illustrate my improvement and areas to continue to work on. Below are the stats from April:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
May 2015-April 2016 42% 17% 10% 1.9

 

The work paid off this summer in most areas. Here are my stats since I started my plan:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
April 2016-Present 59% 11% 25% 1.8

 

Fairways and scrambling dramatically increased. Playing from the short grass must inevitably lead to more GIRs.  While I missed more greens (down to 2 per round), I scrambled for par on 2.5 more holes per round.  Scrambling alone decreased my handicap to the 16.2.  My glaring weakness is still GIR, so I will continue to work on approach shots to score better.

My winter improvement and workout plan will begin shortly. As I think through the plan, I hope to set it up to include activities my family can get involved with to increase my chances of completing the daily tasks.  Come back in the next couple weeks to check out the winter plan.  Enjoy your last rounds of the year.

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!

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.