Four Balls and an Empty Bag
My theory on winter golf is this: The winter is there to allow you to improve. I liken it to the off-season in the NBA. Remember how Michael Jordan came back with a jumper in 1991? I am looking to come back to golf in 2006 with added dimensions to my game.
That is what I tell myself when my tee shot hits the green, bounces 30 feet in the air, and finally stops 30 yards later. As much as I like the mild climate of the great North West; it is not Los Angeles, and frost is finally becoming a big problem. Temporary greens and rock-hard tee boxes are getting into my way. Judging chips and pitches has become impossible on the frozen tundra, and my only recourse has been to refocus myself on “off-season improvement.”
Ball flight has been a major focus of mine lately. On the course, I am constantly trying to produce different flights. Some of them are appropriate for the circumstances, and some of them are just for the practice. Regardless, I stopped carrying a card, so I can allow myself to practice. Practicing on the golf course is liberating. I had always been of the school of thought that practice was done at the range, and the course was for playing. Well, winter golf has doubled my practice time and I hope it will help my game during my playing time come this spring.
The reason I’m writing is to share a practice drill I have started at the range based on my limited success “working the ball” on the course. As recently as 4 months ago, I would have told you I could hit draws and fades on the range, but couldn’t reliably carry it onto the course. I would have been telling you the truth, or at least, I would have thought so. Then I found myself struggling to do it on the course and decided to really test how well I could do it at the range. Everyone always says routines and goals are important when practicing, so I cooked this one up to give me a true indication of my progress.
I place a bucket of balls down next to me without pouring them into the tray. I pull 4 balls out and place them on the mat. With my PW, I try to hit a high straight shot, a lower punch shot, a fade, and a draw. If I am successful, I put the club back into my bag. If I don’t pull it off, I put the club against the rail, and move to my 9i. I will do this with every club up to a 4i. Whatever clubs are still against the rail get a second shot as I start over: rinse-repeat. I have yet to get every club back into my bag before finishing a bucket, but I am making progress.