It’s winter – time to work on my swing!

That’s what winter golf means for me – taking an aspect of my swing, maybe more than one, and working on it.

This year I am working on creating more lag and keeping that pesky left wrist in a neutral position throughout the entire swing.  I was collapsing it way too much last season and it’s the kind of bad habit that just gets worse if you don’t put a stop to it.  My instructor, Pete Black, caught it and reminded me of it.  I knew it while I was doing it but didn’t want to get deeply into trying to fix it while I was still posting scores and competing.

So I go out almost daily and no matter what, I keep that wrist neutral.  My neutral wrist trumps everything – distance, trajectory, even a good shot.  Fortunately, if my wrist stays flat like it’s supposed to, direction is pretty good no matter what the rest of the shot looks like, although with my long clubs I go right sometimes because I somtimes don’t get the club face round far enough yet, but that will come as I get more used to what this feels like.

If I have to collapse my wrist to fix a shot, it’s just not worth it anymore!

I did find a simple drill that helped me immensely to start to feel what I’m going for.  It is John Dunnigan’s video titled The Flat Left Wrist.  Just excellent.  It also is a great left arm “golf muscle” drill.  It has taken me a solid year to even begin to feel my left forearm and wrist getting stronger.

I also like this split hand release drill from golfdashblog to help me understand that my hands need to keep quiet!  Let the forearms do the rotating.

Happy winter golf!


I’ll Just Drop A Ball…

Today I begin a series about the rules of golf.  Now that I have a full season of truly passable golf under my belt I am able to look at the game with a more seasoned eye. Golf’s little details like etiquette, rules, things of that nature, swim around in my mind constantly.

In so doing, there are things that bug me – like how people don’t follow the rules and still post their scores.  I don’t think the infractions are intentional, I just think in many cases rules are fuzzy.  And to read the USGA official rules of golf booklet makes the rules about as clear as mud.  That publication has the overall readability of a legal brief or summary of hard science data.

Lost Ball

Today I’d like to look at the oft-occurring and very unfortunate lost ball scenario.  I examine this situation first because a few days ago I golfed with a couple of guys in the men’s club at my home course.  Though I don’t know for certain, I can only assume that on that day they played to post scores.  I joined them on their back nine.

On at least two of the holes, balls were hit and not found by one or both of these fellas.  In neither case was out of bounds an issue.  The balls just vanished within bounds.  So in every case, they dropped a ball in the area where the ball was lost and added one stroke.  What would be a par without a lost ball became bogey.  Is this correct?

Yes and no.

Yes, the penalty is one stroke but neither of those players put their replacement balls back into play properly.  A lost ball works the same way as out of bounds.  You are penalized a stroke plus the distance you gained by the ball that disappeared.  The new ball must be hit from back where you originally hit the shot that got lost – or as close to it as possible.

In other words, you don’t just drop a ball and take a stroke.

In the case of a tee shot lost, you count the first tee shot that got lost, add the penalty stroke, go back and tee it up all over again – in which case you are hitting three*.  Best advice:  if you even slightly suspect your ball may be lost, hit a provisional, whether it is your tee shot or second shot from the fairway.

So those nice little bogeys on the card were really double bogeys if the hole played two to get on with a two putt on a par four.  I kept my mouth shut but it was difficult to do so.  In the ladies club I would have been all over it.


  • Here is the rule from the USGA book:

c. Ball Not Found Within Five Minutes
If a ball is lost as a result of not being found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his or their caddies have begun to search for it, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).

Six Greens In A Row!

The golf gods are continuing to shower me with golf’s most wonderful blessings.

I am enjoying this fortune while it lasts!  I am hitting the ball better than ever, farther AND more accurate.  My woods are steadfast and reliable.  My irons have come back – at least mid to short irons.  Long irons only come out of the bag when I get under trees or land in nasty divots and for all else in that distance range I use my Taylormade 4 Hybrid burner.  Oh my that is one bad ass club.  I love it so much.

I played nine with Cindy again today.  The stat that has me beaming the most is that I hit six greens in regulation IN A ROW.  I couldn’t miss.  All my tee shots were at least decent and I was nailing the approaches – just nailing them.  Irons, hybrid, didn’t matter.  I’ve never repaired so many ball marks in a row.

I ended up shooting 39, a very good score for me.  Sadly I didn’t convert any of the six birdie opportunities I had but I did manage to par five of nine holes.  I made an unfortunate double on the first hole and bogeys on the three remaining because of putts that didn’t fall.  They were good putts – just didn’t drop.

This was a second very good day in a row.  I am sad to see the season coming to an end.  Will I be able to maintain this good place over the winter?  Well if I have anything to say about it, yes.  None of this is by chance.  I’ve worked my butt off at this game.

In a year’s time I have come a long, long, L O N G way.

No Double Bogeys!

Today I played a mellow nine hole round with Cindy, a gal from the club.  She is fun to golf with because she loves to talk course strategy and we compare notes.  She has a great mind for the game and is one of those rare golfers who expects all her shots to be good and when they aren’t she is surprised.  She claims to never have hit the ball in the lake on the seventh hole – a lake that has claimed many a ball from the likes of me.  She also is one of the best putters I’ve seen and claims she never practices putting.  On club play days when we count our putts she has more one-putts than anyone.  Incredible.

But these days I beat her nine of ten times.  Mostly because I hit way longer than she does and my approach game is more diversified.  I have a solid short-iron and wedge pitch and she does not.  She bumps and runs everything – long and short – and it doesn’t always work for her, although I must admit that sometimes her results are spectacular.   For the most part though, she is a one-trick pony with her bump and run from as far out as a hundred yards!

My post today is to report that my scores have been pretty solidly lower again lately.  Lower than ever.  Sure I still have a bad round now and then, yesterday in fact, but for the most part, I’m in a new place. My putter is my friend again (fourth putter I’ve used in the last two months!).  I bought a Taylormade White Smoke and I love it!

You know there has never been a Taylormade club I didn’t just love.  I use a 4-Hybrid Burner as my go-to club.  I watched a Lydia Ko video in which she explains three different shots she regularly makes with the same hybrid club – only by choking way up or way down on the club.  I took the advice to heart and am killing it with this club.  It rarely fails me.  It has replaced my four iron – though I still carry my four iron in the bag for under tree shots.

Anyway, today on this nine with Cindy I shot 41.  What I am really happy about is that I didn’t get even one double bogey!  My home course front nine is a par 34 because it only has one par five and three par threes.  Making all bogeys throughout the nine holes will earn you a 43, and that plays to my handicap and is totally respectable for me.  Today I made two pars and the rest bogeys for a 41.  I putted 15 strokes – with no three-putts.  Generally a fine outing for me!

Cindy mentioned that it is highly likely that our state golf association will recognize me as the most improved golfer of the club because my handicap has dropped so significantly since the beginning of the season.  That would be great but even if I don’t win that honor, I know that I have made huge strides this year as a golfer.

I am very proud of how far I’ve come this year.  This experience has taught me that if I put my mind to something, I can still achieve what I want to achieve!  Just yesterday I turned 56 so I know the time is now – for all the stuff I still want to do!


Best 9 Holes Of My Life

Today was marvelous.

I went to my home course to practice.  Pete Black, the pro was there with his girlfriend, Laura Cole and his recognizable bright orange alignment rods.  They were working on her chipping.  I had just golfed 18 away with Laura the day before and she had lamented that her chipping was killing her so it was nice to see her getting an always free lesson from her PGA pro boyfriend.  (Must be nice).

In all honesty, I am quite fond of both Laura Cole and Pete Black and we have begun to get together in a social fashion.  I actually played bunco the other night at Laura’s house.  Pete was there rolling dice with the best of them.

Anyway, they shared the green with me and eventually, Pete had to go because his shift as starter was beginning.  I told him I was going to golf seven through nine, as the practice area is off the sixth hole.

I went to tee off on seven and had to wait for a single golfer wandering about the fairway doing I have no idea what because he wasn’t hitting any balls.  Meanwhile, one of the marshals and two other men’s club members showed up ready to tee off.  Lee, the marshal asked me if I wanted to play out with them.  Sure I did, thanks.

This is where it gets sweet, folks.  The seventh hole is a difficult par 5 with a lake and well-placed obstacles.  These fellas were pulling out their big sticks and hitting the ball to China.  I hit a nice drive, a perfect 4-hybrid second shot, and then a six-iron approach shot that landed seven feet from the pin.  While they were over-shooting the green and knocking putts twelve feet by, I went about my business making birdie.

Okay they said, she’s a player.

We played out eight and nine and I made bogey on both, which is fine because they are both long holes.  My car was parked on a road just off six and Lee kindly offered me a ride in his cart but I wanted to play from the first hole out to the sixth to get nine holes in.  As luck would have it, three ladies from our club were teeing off on one so Pete Black sent me out to join up with them.

I knew I felt it today.  I knew I was playing well.  I went on to birdie the second hole.  Long story short, I shot the lowest nine-hole score I’ve ever shot at my home course:  38!  Many pars, a few birdies and a few bogeys.  Best of all, only 14 putts!

I tried to call my husband to come down to play the back nine with me but he was out in the front yard doing yard work so I came home.



Dealing With The Yips

I’m going to talk about putting again today.  It is my new favorite topic.  After much research, much fretting, much thought, after talking and putting with my instructor, it comes down to this:  I have developed an unfortunate case of the yips.

I recently bought the book “Putting out of Your Mind” by Bob Rotella, then also went to the library and checked out Dave Pelz’s “The Putting Bible” and an intriguing little book called “The Three Degree Putting Solution” by Michael Breed.  In addition I checked out another Rotella book. (Rotella’s  approach is very similar to the “Inner Game” books by Timothy Gallwey.)

Bottom line?  For me, putting is the most difficult part of golf.  It is the part of golf that scares me the most.  I golfed with a friend yesterday and she said, “the closer to the hole you get the harder it is.”  I don’t know if she made that up but it is simple and so true it stings.

We played 18 at an away course, my first time there.  I counted 16 putts on the front nine, 23 putts on the back nine.  Ouch.  The pin placements were ridiculously tricky and I fell apart.  My tee and fairway shots weren’t the problem.  My approach shots weren’t the problem.  My putting was the problem.

What I need to putt well

I need a putter that feels right, a putter that fits, and a putter that looks good to me.  I need a steady, consistent stroke that doesn’t yip and most of all, I need the ability to let things flow when I putt under pressure.  If I have all of that, my putts will drop.

I am currently using my third putter in three weeks!  The funny thing is that years ago my son had a set of junior clubs when he used to go to summer golf camps.  I sold his clubs and bag at a garage sale but for reasons unknown had pulled out the putter and kept it all these years.

I am a petite woman, not quite five feet two inches, about the size of an 11 or 12-year-old.  I’ll be damned if that junior putter doesn’t fit me.  Of all things, it feels right, looks right, is weighted right for my stroke and I am putting better with it.  So yes, I switched from my classic Wilson Tour Special I to a too-heavy, Carbite ZH cavity back that I picked up cheap, to my son’s old blade style, heel and toe weighted junior putter – a nameless off-brand.

When I buy a new putter, the latter will definitely be the style of putter I buy.  I feel like I’ve found my putting tribe.  (I did in fact just order a new Taylormade White Smoke IN-12 in the same style as the nameless junior.)

Grooming me for next year’s championship?

A week or so ago I was finishing a nine-hole practice round on my home course and one of the starters was putting on the green near the pro-shop.  He came up to me as I was repeating several putts on the undulating ninth green (it was a slow day) and said Pete Black, my golf instructor, sent him over to check on my putting stroke.

He then went on to say that Pete Black and he want to “groom me” for next year’s club championship.  Isn’t that cute?

So I grabbed my golf buggy and headed to the practice green.  I set up with my new cross-hand grip and open stance putt (which had been working until yesterday) and let one roll to the farthest flag 40 feet across.  The very first putt had absolute perfect speed and dropped.

I know I have the ability to putt well locked inside me somewhere.  Years ago when I didn’t know much about golf mechanics, I putt the lights out.  It was the strongest part of my game.  No matter how many strokes it took me to get to the green, I was confident I could sink a one-putt once I got there.

The more I’ve learned about golf, the worse my putting has gotten.

And now, the yips.

Next year’s championship is a goal for sure, and an attainable one at that.  But I’ve got to putt!

Club Championship Hopes Dashed


The bad news:  I was dead last in my flight.

The good news:  the second to last person only beat my by one stroke.  I guess someone had to be last.  I had two really good rounds and two stinkers.

More good news:  My last round of the tournament took second in day’s play low gross. If I’d have played that way all four rounds I’d be club champ right now.  I did the numbers and it is true.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

When I post here, I like to have good news.  Unfortunately there has not been much of that lately.  My golf game has gone south on me.  For about the past month-and-a-half I’ve been in a serious slump.

Today was the second round of our club championship and I pretty much took myself right out of it with the way I played this morning.  I four-putted the first hole and tried to move on and play good golf but I ended up with about a stroke extra per hole.  Just awful.

The whole experience reminds me of something similar to what an Olympic skater experiences when he or she falls on the first jump of the routine!  That “what just happened?” feeling is hard to shake off.

I am in the top flight but bringing up the rear in flight scores.  I’ve had a lot of very up and down golf lately.  Four days ago I shot the best round I’ve ever shot but unfortunately, this great game was flanked by two very poor ones and that is pretty much how it has been going – only the poor rounds are out-numbering the good rounds.

I know this will pass.  I’m just in the doldrums right now.  I am still working very hard on my game.  Our club pro monitors my progress.  I’m not making major mistakes and I know I can score better than this.  I’m just showing my inexperience I guess.

This is the first club championship I’ve ever played in.  It is clear that this is not my time.  In the first round I was just a few shots off the lowest scores but with this second round disaster, well, reality check.  No one else in my flight has had a bad round yet.

Maybe next year!

“Not On My Watch!”

I haven’t posted in awhile.  Why?  Well, probably because my golf has been just – just kind of meh.  Not good.  Not bad.  Definitely not better either.  I started getting poorer contact off the tee and fairway and it was costing me strokes.  But nothing major.

I attend weekly clinics with Pete Black, our club pro.  The best thing about these clinics is that he keeps an eye on me and catches bad habits I might be developing.

We were working on lob shots last week.  Ugh.  Not my favorite shot.  But the BEST thing about the clinic was that Pete Black caught a left-hand grip problem I was developing.  I am so thankful he did!  I was pulling the pad away from the grip, so that just my fingers were holding on – causing my wrist to get into a really bizarre position during release.  It was UGLY.

And the thing is, I had no idea I had started doing this.  I would have just kept on wondering why my ball striking suddenly tanked.

Bad habits can creep in so easily in golf.  You don’t see them coming and while they’re happening you’re like, why can’t I make good contact all of a sudden?  I am grateful to have someone watching my progress.  Pete Black even used the term “not on my watch” when describing how he looked out for bad habits developing amongst his protoges.

It was kind of sweet.


Apparently My Swing Is ‘Developing’

I’ve been in a bit of a slump.  After seeing my scores and handicap dropping drastically over a period of several weeks, things have not only leveled off, but my last few rounds have been less than stellar.  A flubbed shot here, a missed putt there and my scores have been higher.

I’m not too worried about it. Everyone knows golf is a game of ups and downs.

I also attended a clinic yesterday that covered a three-quarter/full swing with short irons and I was surprisingly relaxed and nailing my shots.  So I knew if the pro was watching me swing, he would certainly set me straight if if I was messing something up.  I was focused only on a square stance and simple little inside to inside swing path.  Let gravity and the club face do their work.  Well, Pete Black, the pro who like, NEVER gives compliments said that my swing was “developing”.

I almost did a cartwheel.  Coming from him, that is huge.

He said it after watching me hit several nine-irons in a row from about 75 yards out – all of which landed within 15 or so feet of the pin on our practice green.  He was actually taken aback, speechless for a moment, which also NEVER happens and he asked me if I usually hit this shot with a pitching wedge or nine iron.  I told him nine iron because a wedge still isn’t quite getting me there.  Maybe someday.

Hey folks, I wasn’t terrible.  Whoopee!!!!!

So I can endure some higher scores for the time being, knowing I’m still hard at work and scores will drop again.

At the end of yesterday’s clinic, at which Pete Black’s girlfriend Laurie was also in attendance, I was invited by Laurie to a couple’s golf outing tonight.  A quick round of nine, then some beers and dinner afterwards with a group of about 12.  Bring my hubby.  I accepted the invitation and secretly hoped I didn’t have to play in a foursome with Pete Black.  Oh my God I’m not ready for that.

Now I just have to hope my husband will accept, because he doesn’t know any of these people.


A Birdie & Some Putts

My last post was about playing in my first ever chapman tournament which pairs up ladies and men’s club members.  My partner, Nick, and I didn’t win low gross or net, but we thought we had a shot at lowest putts.

I had to leave right after the round so I didn’t go to the award dinner but turns out we did win second place in lowest putts.  The winners only out-putted us by one stroke.  I got back in prize money what I paid for the tournament.  Not bad.  I’m still ahead this year on what I’ve won versus what I’ve put out.

Today was regular ladies club play day and finally, finally I got a birdie on actual club day.  It’s my 4th birdie of the season but I hadn’t gotten one on play day yet until today.  I’ll get a cute little pin for it.  It was such a conventional birdie too – par 4, on in two and a 25-footer that DROPPED.  Finally!!!

Didn’t play my best round overall though.  Had an OB penalty on the seventh but because of a fortunate one-putt I still managed a double bogey on the over-water par 5.  I like to think of it as a nice par that I had to add a few useless strokes to.  I also made a couple of silly double bogeys along with some pars and bogeys.  Pretty much what I always do.  I didn’t play poorly – just really only went wrong with the unfortunate two extra strokes.

All in day’s play, right?