>A precious few of you may actually be following this blog, and if you do you would know where this story is coming from. For the newcomers, allow me to summarize:
Picked up the game around 13 in the old country (Sweden). Got to a 9 handicap by 17. Moved to the US. Played on HS and minor College teams, somewhat sporadically. Allowed non-golf life to get in the way and didn’t play much for about 15 years.
Had back surgery in the late fall of 2008. Bored, I asked someone to bring me the box of golf books I had in the attic. Started reading, and fell in love with golf all over again. Been working on my game fairly ardently throughout the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
In 2009 I was having a hard time breaking into the 80s consistently. I’d shoot an 89 on a par 71 or a 91 on a par 72, but rarely would I beat the imaginary bogey man. For 2010 I set myself the goal of being at a 11 handicap by the end of the season, and being a sub-10 handicap by the end of the 2011 season.
In 2010 I played much better. Clearly the work I did in 2009 carried over, and I started beating the bogey man with fair regularity. In mid summer I lost my job, which had a neutral impact on my golf game. I did have more time on my hands to practice and play, but I also had less money laying around the cost of practicing and playing. I had bought a card at my local driving range, and I continued to use that up, and I was able to get a couple of really good rounds in in the middle of the beautiful Texas fall.
Here’s another twist I threw at my game around this time: I started walking and carrying my bag, and I moved back to the blue tees from the front ones I had been playing in my beer rounds.
Now, walking and carrying at age 45 is never going to be easy. I had several new playing partners ask just how old I was, and be shocked that I’m “still carrying”. I did explain to them that I was “carrying AGAIN”. It also takes a bit to get used to the different pace of walking the course when everybody around you is driving a cart. The first couple of holes are the toughest, then you settle into a routine.
Even so, all these things considered, I played some of my best golf EVER in these rounds. I shot an 85 and an 82 from the back tees while dragging my own bag across the course, and my handicap plummeted down to a 12.2 mark. MOST satisfying. Not to feign superiority, but the only term I could come up with for these rounds is “real golf”. You walk the course, you carry your bag, you play from the appropriate tees.
I’m still out of work, so there’s no telling what 2011 will be like. One of the key parameters that’s allowed me to improve my game over the past couple of years is that I had a driving range just minutes from work. I could go there for lunch and pitch for 3o minutes, or hit a small bucket of balls. The importance of touching the clubs regularly can NOT be overstated.
I still think I can get into the single digits this year, as my goal was at the outset of 2010.
In addition I’ve added another long term goal for my game. Going into my 46:th year at a 12.2 I would like to get to a 7.4 handicap by the time I’m 50, so that I could enter into the US Senior Amateur Championship. I mean, really … how cool would it be just to be able to compete for a spot?
I love my golfing friends, and I love the game and it’s players and fanatics. Until we meet again: Keep’em in the short stuff.