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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winter Golf Blues? Try This!

Has anybody else just about reached the end of their emotional rope trying to play golf on dormant grass, no grass, even mud?  I've come close to slitting my wrists more than once over the last month as I've skulled chip after chip and watched my ball perform what would in other circumstances be a stunning imitation of Hans Brinker on his Silver Skates as it zipped across the green, inches from the cup, coming to rest in what in April will be the second cut of rough but what is right now a snarled tangle of dormant grass, leaving me an impossible 4th shot just to get to the putting surface on a par-4 I routinely bogey.

Unless I could hole it from there -- not likely -- I was looking at a double bogey at best, and it hasn't been happening recently like that for me.

Just keep your head down and follow through, was the help I've been getting from my WGA playing partners during this crisis, but I'm fairly confident that I've had my down down and have been staring at the ball, and follow-through was only sending my ball further astray.

As is often the case in this game that sometimes makes me crazy, one bad thing seems to foster another.  As my chips and my trusty flop shot became more unpredictable, my willingness to follow Babe Zaharias's advice and "just loosen up your girdle and give the ball a good whack" also diminished, not just on my approach shots but on others as well.  (I don't even own a girdle, but you get the idea.)

By the time I hit my bottom in this descending downward spiral of incompetence the only working shot I still had in my bag was my drive, and you just can't card a very satisfying round if all you can do is hit the ball off the tee, a shot I've always been able to execute with some degree of dependability anyway.

Erica Larkin,
regular contributor to
I was thinking of putting away my clubs until spring when I ran into a swing tip by Erica Larkin in  She must have been reading my emotional mail.
Before you pull the trigger and take your swing, where are you looking?  At the ball? Which part of the ball? The top? The front?  The side?  . . . the majority of golfers would benefit from looking at the back of the ball . . .
I slept on Larkin's advice and re-read the tip while I debated whether or not to give golf one more chance today.  What did I have to lose?  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-40s.  If I stayed home I would clean bathrooms, and cleaning bathrooms doesn't do anything for my golf game.

So I put myself together and headed for the golf course.  I gave Larkin's suggestion a trial run on the practice range while I warmed up.  More loft, better distance.  But I had my doubts.  The practice range is overseeded with rye grass.  On my muni home course fairways aren't.  They're more or less on their own during the winter months.

The fix held!  My chip is back and so is my trusty flop shot.  It's an amazing little tweak, just a small shift in where I direct my eyes, no twisting and turning and yoga-like rearrangements of my body.  This old girl can manage that little shift in where I focus my eyes.

Thanks, Erica Larkin!  I'm looking forward to your next tip . . .