Earnest Words

New Year’s Golf Resolutions, 2023

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Last year, I played 31 times, took 7 lessons, and got fitted and took delivery for new clubs: now the only not-new clubs in my bag are my driver and my wedges. My best playing stretch also corresponds to when I was playing the most: I took 6 lessons in 3 months while also playing 13 times in those three months – and 6 times in September. And that’s when I scored an average of 22 over par in 8 rounds, playing 135 holes. That’s also my latest golf peak.

I also tracked my practice regularly: I hit 7,621 practice shots (give or take), and I think the majority of them were putts. Most of my lessons were spent on full swings, since that’s my primary pain point: hitting every shot 150 yards max tends to be my issue and continues to be my issue.

Via Arccos Caddie, I’m a 23 handicap who loses 10 strokes a round to a 20 handicapper. I think that technically makes me a 30 handicap…

Goals for 2023

  • Break 90 on a championship course
  • Break 70 on an executive course or par 3 (I’ve shot 70 1 time before, incidentally after my first lesson ever)
  • Play 26 times
  • Play 9 holes at least 2 times (I did it 1 time last year)
  • Take 12 lessons

Why are your driver and wedges not new?

I got fitted for a driver and I didn’t get it because I thought it would be an $800 custom driver. I later learned that everything I fitted for was almost completely stock, with the only difference being that my irons are supposed to be 2 degrees flat (which I didn’t do because I wanted my new clubs so fast).

My wedges aren’t new because they weren’t in stock.

So what am I working on this year?

In order to break 90, I need to make a 5 on every hole. Making 5 on every par 3 has not been a challenge for me: for the last year, I’ve only averaged a 5 three times in the last year). The issue’s been on the longer holes:  Par 4s and Par 5s.

During my renaissance in September (does it count as a renaissance if you’re peaking for the first time?), I scored the best I’ve ever done on both par 5s and par 4s – which is kind of obvious. When you’re scoring well, you score well. But I was averaging 5.4 a hole on the par 4s and 6.5 on par 5s.

Additionally, I had fewer blow up holes during that apex, which also tends to correlate to success: when you don’t score poorly as much, you score better.

If I can keep those averages, then I can expect to make a 16 on par 3s, 26 on par 5s, and 54 on par 4s for a 96, which means I have to cut 7 strokes from my peak.

According to Arccos, I need to improve my approach play and especially on shots from the fairway. I don’t think the shots from the fairway thing is especially fair because I’m not shooting for the posted par on every hole: I’d rather try for a bogey each hole.

However, I see the approach play thing more of an indictment of bad contact more than anything else. My putting and short game tend to be pretty good, but because my drives are either penalized or short, that means I have extra approach shots.

What to practice

I have a lesson next week so I’ll update with what my coach wants me to work on. But my presumption is:

  • Contact with clubs over 8 iron (find a way to hit 1 to 2 consistently)
  • 4 to 9 foot putts (since I can practice at home and pace is most important)
  • 25 yard pitch shot that cannot be short

If I can improve, really with the first one, well…

How to break 90

So, looking at my Arrowood round with its 110 – how can I pick up 20 strokes to get to 90?

Well, first of all, I need to get off the tee. If I had just hit 8 iron successfully off the tee instead of anything else I would have saved 4 strokes:

1.       Hole 1 tee shot

2.       Hole 1s unplayable lie drop

3.       Hole 2 drop (since the ball wouldn’t have gone into the hazard)

4.       Hole 5 tee shot (where the ball went 40 yards)

On approach, if I had made better contact I would have saved 9 strokes:

5.       8 iron from the sand on hole 2 (cut a stroke by getting out in 1)

6.       8 iron hole 5 (if it had gone not shank, probably an easier approach shot)

7.       1 shot on hole 10 (wouldn’t have needed a chip into the sand at least)

8.       1 shot on hole 11 (probably wouldn’t have gone long)

9.       1 shot on hole 12 (over the hazard in 1)

10.   Another shot on hole 12 (over the hazard in 1)

11.   Save two strokes on hole 13 (no chunky 7 iron)

12.   Save two strokes on hole 13 (no toppy 7 iron)

13.   Save two strokes on hole 16 (a good strike doesn’t lay up into the water)

14.   Save two strokes on hole 16 (a good strike doesn’t lay up into the water)

If I had and used a 25 yard shot I would have potentially saved 4 strokes

15.   1 stroke on hole 1 (not chipping into the sand)

16.   1 stroke on hole 3 (no double chip)

17.   2 strokes on hole 10 (would have gotten over the bunker)

18.   2 strokes on hole 10 (if i still ended up in the bunker, would have gotten onto the green)

And then, if I had had better luck and made all my lip outs and the chip in on 6 I would have saved 5 strokes.

19.   Lip out 1 (hole 14)

20.   Lip out 2 (hole 5)

21.   Lip out 3 (hole 3)

22.   Lip out 4 (hole 17)

23.   Chip in on hole 6

So the change would be:

Front 9

 123456789 
First Score89557454653
Adjusted Score57354354642

Back 9

 101112131415161718 
First Score85686377757
Adjusted Score54465355744

So I’d go from 2 pars, 4 bogeys, and 12 double bogeys+ to 1 birdie, 4 pars, 11 bogeys, and 2 doubles+.

Lol – somehow, cutting 22 strokes in 23 shots would have saved 24 strokes. Incidentally, this is consistent with what Arccos says: I lost most of my strokes off the tee and on approach.

The way I should work on this is, apparently, to just attack the center of the green and also to try playing 3 balls, the Arccos recommended club, 1 club up and 1 club down.

I wish I could have that problem. I really need to just make contact with the ball.

Realistically, the change is consistent contact and working on a shot that carries 25 yards.

I think I need 2 or 3 lessons for consistent contact and then just to practice with my new gap wedge on a pitch shot. At this point, I’ve got it in the bag. Right!? Right.

Improving on my best

The other thought exercise is: how can I improve on my best? Here’s that best score.

Front 9

 123456789 
First Score55484565547
Adjusted Score44374566544

On the front 9, I’d need to cut 2 to 3 strokes. The simplest approach would be:

  1. Better approach on hole 1 (or 1 fewer chip) – either hitting the green or just chipping onto the green to allow for a two putt or 1 putt)
  2. Better approach, tee or chip on hole 2 (either hitting the green or just chipping onto the green to allow for a two putt or 1 putt – a better drive wouldn’t hurt either)
  3. 2-putt on hole 3 vs 3 putt
  4. Keep the ball in play on hole 4 (had an unplayable lie where I hit the ball into a tree and couldn’t knock it down)

That’d allow me to bogey hole 8.

Back 9

 101112131415161718 
First Score55639437648
Adjusted Score53537557545

Also need to save 5 strokes on the back to allow for a bogey on 15 and 16.

  1. Keep ball in play on hole 11 (hit the first ball shanked into the lake)
  2. Single chip on hole 12 (instead i chipped into the sand and then out)
  3. Keep the ball in the fairway on hole 14 (had 3 balls into the hazard mind you, only lost 1)
  4. Keep the ball in the fairway on hole 14 (had 3 balls into the hazard mind you, only lost 1)
  5. Keep it in the fairway on hole 18 (hit it under tree which made approach impossible.

So it appears as though keeping the ball in play, better contact, and a better short game would let me cut an easy 7 strokes. So – just overall improvement, lol.

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