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Handicapped

handicap

I remember the 2002 golf season. I was really struggling with my weight and I was also really struggling with back issues. The back pain was so severe that I had to stop playing golf for most of that year. I only had 12 games that season.

When I finally resumed playing towards the end of the 2002 season, my handicap really had not changed very much — I was still playing to a 6. I had not lost my swing and that was due to an awful lot of coaching and practice.

Golf cost me. Not just in money but also in time.

I was taking lessons from one of the top teachers in Canada, Bruce McCarrol. During most of my years playing golf, I was working with Bruce on a weekly basis. He helped me bring my handicap down from an 18 to a 6. He helped me develop a strong and repeatable golf swing. And he taught me many things about the game of golf.

I stopped playing golf in 2008. It is a very tough game for a perfectionist like me to play. To keep a low handicap required a lot of hours on the course. Time away from family and from other interests. If I didn’t shoot a strong score, I would get frustrated. Sometimes even angry with myself.

During 2008 I was changing jobs and moving to a new city. I was making a lifestyle change. I closed off my golf membership at King’s Riding Golf Club and I packed up my golf gear.

I did play a round of golf with my son down in Arizona back in 2010. I’m not sure why but I played a surprisingly strong round given that I hadn’t picked up a golf club in a couple of years. I played a rental set of clubs and I had a wonderful time.

I missed golf.

As we have been purging things around the house, I found my golf clubs. My beautiful set of Ben Hogan forged blades and TaylorMade drivers. I brought them out from storage and cleaned them up. The clubs are in great shape.

It may be time to lift sanctions against the game of golf this year. Golf is not a game of perfect and I think I might be in a better place with golf. Young enough to still play reasonably well, old enough not to care if the score is off.

Too Much Technology

The week-end marked the official start of the golf season: lessons. I have been working with Bruce McCarroll, a highly regarded teacher, for the past six years.

Bruce has recently moved to the Golf Institute at Bond Head. When I arrived at the school, construction work was still underway. But what an impressive facility. Modern. Very high tech.

Bruce gave me a tour of the facility. There are three large rooms that resemble the kind of service bays that you might see at a very high-end dealer. Each room has a large opening out to the driving range which allows for indoor training if the weather is poor.

One room is dedicated to biomechanical assessment and training. More on that in a moment. One room is dedicated to more traditional golf instruction. And the last room is equipped with a comprehensive virtual assessment system. The student puts on sensors and the computer tracks all movement through the swing as well as complete information at the point of impact. With six cameras, the computer can create a virtual image that shows the swing at any angle. The computer can assess all aspects of the swing including angles, rotation, clubhead speed.

Remarkable. And a bit intimidating. I’m not sure I want all that information about my swing.

And so I had two sessions for the afternoon: a biomechanical assessment and a golf lesson.

The biomechanical assessment was really a physiological assessment of my 50-year old frame. Sad to say I have a few crooked angles. My spine has a pronounced S-shape curvature both lateral and vertical. My feet have an 18-degree angle. The muscles in my hip area have shifted to compensate for the posture.

All of this means that it is nothing short of a miracle that I can break 80 on a regular basis. My anatomy is working against me. Although it was a tad depressing to hear about the imperfections in my body posture, the exercises and massage therapy were really quite magical. Changes in left-side muscle strength were dramatic. And muscle tension also changed dramatically.

I fared better with the golf lesson. The swing has held up pretty well after a long lay-off. Just not sure if I will have much time this year to invest in the game.

Bermuda Par

I prefer to play golf courses rather than take pictures of them. However, there seems to be a desire on the part of some of those that follow this blog to confirm the presence of golf courses in Bermuda. So, here it is. A picture of the golf course that was on the property of our Bermuda resort. Note the absence of snow and ice.

Bermuda Golf

Canadian Open

My wife and I went to the final round of the Canadian Open today. The event was held at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. What a tough looking course.

I always enjoy seeing the professionals playing live. It is amazing to see how well they can play. Jim Furyk won the tournament although Bart Bryant played some pretty impressive golf. I played a round with Bart a few years ago and so it was fun for me to see him in contention.

He lost by a stroke today.

Wonderful weather and a wonderful day.

Hamilton Golf and Country Club

Driving Away

Golf season has started and I have been out to the driving range a few times. A few kinks to work through but all in all, not too bad giving the lack of practice over the winter.

I was talking to a friend this morning about average driving distance. And it turns out that the pros are really making great strides in driving distance. The average player is not.

The typical amateur is still struggling with about a 200-yard standard for average drives even if he thinks and says he hits it 250. I have not come across one 15-plus handicap golfer that can hit a consistently long drive hole after hole. The PGA tour driving distance average has jumped from 260 yards in 1993 to 287 yards in 2003. Almost a 30 yard gain in a decade.

The driving distance of the PGA tour can be found here. Loren Roberts is the shortest off the tee at about 265 yards. Hank Kuehne has a 56 yard advantage in driving distance at 321 yards. Absolutely amazing.

Golf Digest schools show that typical amateurs average about 195 yards. I think I will keep a log of driving distance this season. Might be a surprising result.

The biggest reason for the largest increase in tour driving distance has been the advances in golf ball technology. When the majority of tour players switched from Titleist wound balls to Titleist’s solid-core Pro V1 in late 2000, driving distance increased by more than six yards. That more than doubled the largest one-year gain since stats were first kept in 1980.

It Begins

A few months back, as part of supporting a charitable event, I was asked to predict the opening day for Rolling Hills golf course. Rolling Hills is a local public course. The course tends to open a few weeks ahead of the private clubs.

I predicted March 29th. I won. Unlike my friend who, rather optimistically, predicted a March 1st opening date. March 1st? What was he thinking?

Rolling Hills Opens Today

Very Soon Now

Lorraine and I took a stroll around our golf club today. Opening day is only a couple of weeks away. Time to start getting ready for golf.
Clubhouse

Empty Carts

Las Vegas

I have been really sick the past few days. I have some kind of flu. Inevitable really as so many people around me have been sick as well. A mini pandemic.

At least it happened now. In a few weeks time I will be heading down to Las Vegas for a conference. I will be taking a couple of extra days to take in the tourist attractions.

My wife, who will be joining me, has her agenda. I am hoping that I might convince her to see the real sites of Vegas. Like the Johnny Miller designed Badlands course.
Badlands