With Lockdown in Wales being extended, here I am starting to forget what being on a golf course is like. It’s been 7 weeks since I was last at a golf course or driving range. As much as I’m really looking forward to being back out there it’s hard to picture when still.
I recently shared the below post on social media, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reflection during lockdown 3, in particular my golf.
2018 I started playing golf, started Rookie Golf on Instagram and Facebook and started this blog. Pretty productive year, right?! In May 2018 I joined my 1st golf club, and in June of the same year I had my 1st handicap of 23.
One month later I had broken the 100 barrier, playing 3 back to back rounds under 100 it was my only goal for the year.
As the rest of the year progressed, I was given a Shot Scope v2 which fitted in nicely after a few beginners’ lessons. Come the end of September I was down to 20.1.
I even played in a few club competitions, played in the “stones” league which is a team event for 17.5 handicappers and above. That was great as it was golf club vs golf club around South Wales. I even won longest drive in one of the competitions.
Overall I loved 2018 and I was 100% hooked on golf!
A really strange year, as you can see from the stats I had hit a wall. Minor gains in hitting fairways, greens and saving pars but I had not beaten my best round from 2018.
All that even though I was having regular lessons, it was February when I began having lessons at Royal Porthcawl.
Like when a new manager is brought into a football team there sometimes is a quick initial spike in performance. I saw that posting a solid round off the whites in competition at the end of February my handicap got cut to 19.6.
However from April of 2019 it all started to stall and go down hill my initial cut to 19.6 was now up to 19.9 and I even wrote an article titled “Frustrated Golfer” Frustrated Golfer – Rookie Golfer Blog.
Roll on May I moved to a new house and changed golf clubs for a few reasons, nothing to concerning but I’m not going to go into them in this article.
I moved to Neath Golf Club which is a challenging course, and a course that I thought would help me be a better golfer. In fact my handicap went up it was that much of a challenge, not by much though. I was still having lessons, but it was towards the end of the year that I decided to drop the driver out of the bag due to the lost shots, it was also not long before I had stopped having lessons down Royal Porthcawl due to the lack of progression.
I felt I was no longer getting anything out of the lessons and felt it wasn’t really helping my game. Plus due to the location they were not cheap lessons either. Neath Golf Club is a busy course and I really struggled as a member to get out some weekends.
As the year started to draw out i reflected on my situation I wasn’t happy at my club and I had completely plateaued with my golf. My strike had improved though, I do have to admit and in return I had a bit more distance. However a good strike straight out of bounds isn’t helping no one right?
Taking the handicap out of the conversation for a minute, 2020 was the year I had so many break through moments. The stats at the top and the increased yardages with out changing clubs shows a little bit of that. I played a few events with work that year where some of my colleagues are low handicappers, and the comments I had about my game towards the end of the year really showed how much I’ve developed. Let’s jump back to how 2020 happened from the start.
December 2019 (yes, I know the heading says 2020), I had a lesson with Rob Ryder from Derllys Court. My father had made some great improvements by having lessons with Rob, so I had my arm twisted to go have a lesson with him. Something I had refused throughout 2019 due to having lessons at Royal Porthcawl (arrogance right there!!).
Fast forward to March and I joined Derllys as well, it’s a family-owned course who are great, the members are really friendly and Rob is there what more could I want? Just as I was feeling optimistic, lockdown hit.
Fast forward past most of last year, I was improving no doubt about it. The stats at the top of the page prove that, I had stopped my handicap creeping up, posted my best competition round and thanks to the World Handicap System I was playing to an index of 19.8. That puts me to playing off of 18 in competition at Derllys due to the slope rating.
Since playing off of that I still manged a few good competition rounds with 28 and 33 points off of 18 in the Winter League.
The epitome of the year came with two back to back 9 hole rounds in December. The 1st was a +4 my best round (of 9) ever, followed by playing 5 of the 9 holes on the back 9 with my father to +2. I only played 5 holes as I was hole hopping as a warm up for a lesson.
Then lockdown 3 kicked it on the 20th December.
All of this without a driver, and without a 3 wood or hybrid for most of the year. A driver or 3 wood is part of the plan in 2021 as my greens in reg suffers as a consequence of not having a longer club off the tee.
The biggest reflection for me is 2019, I wasn’t happy! Not with the benefit I was getting from the lessons I was having, and I wasn’t happy at the course I was playing. This translated into a poor year overall. If it wasn’t for playing the top 5 courses in Wales I would of really struggled to get a positive out of the year as a whole. Check out the review section of my website for the course reviews i did (Royal Porthcawl – Course Review – Rookie Golfer Blog)
Partial down to me, I wanted to carry on the progression I saw in my 1st year and thought this would happy just because I was having lessons. I wasn’t putting any work in, for some golfers going low is natural to them. For me I have to work at it, and working with Rob has allowed me to change my mindset and in return play more consistent and better golf.
I now put such a huge emphasise on finding a coach that pushes you, but doesn’t try to boost your false ego because you are paying them. If you are not seeing the benefits stop, not every PGA professional is the same. Sure they might have to go through the same process as one another, but they defiantly don’t all teach the same way and not all are effective. It’s all individual so make sure you find someone that will work with you over the long run not just a season, and someone that will cut to the chase. No point chasing the dream of playing off scratch or your coach telling you can get there if they really believe you can’t. I like that blunt type of honesty, there’s not hiding from it!
I’m really excited about 2021, I found my spark for the game again in 2020 and I’m really looking forward to building on top of the foundation that I was able to carve last year.
Until Next Time, Stay Safe