First Round of the season, AimPoint Express worked for me

Even with 40 mph gusts today I was able to begin putting AimPoint Express to the test. Good thing I did too, as it was the only thing that really worked in my game today and saved my round from being embarrassing.

Even with 40 mph gusts today I was able to begin putting AimPoint Express to the test.  Good thing I did too, as it was the only thing that really worked in my game today and saved my round from being embarrassing.

I started by going to the practice green and getting my calibrations, really feeling the different levels of slope so I could refer to how those felt during the round.

Last year I knew I needed to work on my putting. I felt it was an area that was really holding me back. Good rounds putting would usually lead to good rounds, but putting, well it never helped.

I’ve always found the greens at my home course to be challenging to read. I was always either over-reading the break or under-reading the break. Once I had “my read”, I never really felt certain about it. It was more of a hit it and hope kind-of-thing.

I was amazed at what it was like to go through the process of reading the greens with AimPoint Express. The reads were quick, and after I few putts I gained more and more confidence.  Amazingly every putt looked like it had a chance to go in. Every putt was on line. I sank a good number of longer putts in the from 8 to 15 feet, and these putts had some break to them.

I set a personal best today with 9 one-putts. Even better it also worked from the fringe and chipping. I read those as well and I almost holed a few of them, and if not I left myself some nice tap-ins. Looking back on the round and the incredibly windy conditions we played in today, it was tough out there. My drives were all over the place. My approach shots were completely rusty. But my putting was spot-on. It feels pretty good to step up to a putt, feeling confident about the line. Knowing that I have a really good sense of how it’s going to break. I will continue to use AimPoint Express and I’m interested in seeing how I can adjust as to faster or slower greens.

Practice unusual shots to develop creativity

Lately I’ve been having so much fun practicing my short game, that I almost don’t feel like going to the driving range.

I’ll bring my bag out to the practice area and I have a sleeve where I keep 10 practice balls.  The sleeve allows me to quickly pick them up, and drop balls anywhere I want to hit from.  It’s been a lot of fun just trying different shots and seeing which club and shot is easiest for me to get it consistently close.  Sometimes I’m surprised by the results.

For example, I picked a shot from the fringe off the green, with about 15 yards to the pin.  There was plenty of green to work with so I tried everything from 9 iron to 60 degree lob wedge.  I would hit a full sleeve of balls with each club, sometimes 2 or three depending on what I was feeling.  Sometimes it was easier to loft it high and land it soft, and other times it was easier to bump and run it up to the pin.  I found that I could get, on that particular shot, roughly the same results with the 9i, PW, 52 degree and 56 degree sand wedge, while the 60 degree was just a bit less consistent.

Once I get going it, I’m constantly picking up the 10 balls and dropping them in a new location to try a new shot.  It’s really a lot of fun, but the biggest benefit is that you begin to develop feel.  The more shots you hit with different clubs from different lies, the more creative you start to become.

I picked a shot that normally I would hit a lob wedge pitch with.  The ball was in the rough, about 5 yards from the fairway, 10 from the green, and 13 from the pin.  I tried some bump and runs with the PW and some pitches with 52 and in both cases I was able to get the balls pretty close to the pin, averaging three to four feet away.  The fun part was that the trajectories were very different and I had to see the shot very differently with those two clubs.  It was a lot of fun just to try different shots and I highly recommend it.

The more creative you can be in your practice, the more fun you can have.  The other benefit of it, is that it takes your mind of mechanics.  It forces you to visualize more clearly and to concentrate more on the feel you are trying to achieve.  This is the kind of practice that I believe can translate well to the course.