2015 Goals

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Catching Up; BMW Pro-Am; Back to Good Habits

I have obviously taken a little break from blogging. It wasn't intentional, but over the past two weeks, I haven't sat down to spill my thoughts on this forum. Not doing so is actually bad for me. My ramblings on here are both cathartic and motivational for me, and I can tell a difference in my mindset when I neglect this useful form of journaling. That's not to say that I haven't been plenty busy. I'll give you an update of what the last couple weeks have looked like, but, more importantly, I will talk about what I'm going to do moving forward. 

Two weeks ago I was off from competition. I did a little bit of everything, though. I traveled to Orlando for a day and a half and spent some good time with Mitchell. I also had some good practice home in Knoxville and spent a great morning with Jake Reeves emphasizing some of the keys that have had me playing so well this year. I completed my Light Practice Schedule that week, and though it wasn't my most thorough week of golf, I felt good about the work that I did. Off of the course, I had a fantastic week of workouts and completed my Full Fitness Routine. I even got some extra workouts in as Alicia and I re-arranged some furniture in our house. That was fun, and I'm actually pretty excited about the finished product. But, getting back to golf, I feel like I had a productive week off and was excited heading into last week's event. 

The Web.com Tour was in greater-Greenville, South Carolina, last week for the BMW Charity Pro-Am. It was my first time playing the event, but I knew that the format mirrored that of the PGA Tour's Pebble Beach Pro-Am in that each professional is paired with an amateur or celebrity for the tournament rounds and the tournament takes place on three different golf courses. Pro-Ams can be fun, and this one was, but it makes for a very very long week having to learn three different courses and then playing six-hour plus rounds during the competition. I decided early in the week that I was going to use my week off from practice requirements and have just a light week of fitness. By the time I got to Wednesday afternoon, it was clear that I wasn't even going to complete a Light Fitness Routine. I did all of my stretching for the week and one light workout on the Thursday evening, but that was it. Not completing my Fitness Routine is bad, but for this particular week, I can justify it. It was a grueling seven days. 

As for the golf, I have to say that my performance contributed to the grueling nature of the week. I felt good heading into the tournament, but after a solid start on Thursday, I started to misfire badly. It began with the driver and eventually bled into all of my clubs. I was just hitting the ball way off line, and it made me work very hard on golf courses that should have been quite score-able. Fortunately, I sprinkled stretches of stellar play in with my erratic shots, so I was able to stay in the tournament. I'll share just a few of the highlights and nightmares. I hit two balls out of bounds on my 16th hole during the first round and made an eight on a very short par four. The errant tee shots were definitely lousy, but they were as much the result of poor preparation as they were poor execution. However, after suffereing the quadruple bogey, I came back and birdied the next hole--a 220-yard par thre. So after posting a very poor one-over-par 73 in round one, I moved on to the tournament's "host" course for round two. I birdied the first two holes and felt like I was ready to play great before having a bit of a rocky stretch through the middle of the front nine. I continued to battle, though, and after going birdie-eagle on holes 15 and 16, I found myself at six under par for the round. I quickly bogied the final two holes, however, to limp home with a four-under-par 67. As I began round three, I knew I needed a great score to make the 54-hole cut. I was determined not to think about that because I simply wanted to have a great plan and execute one shot at a time. I again birdied the first two holes and felt great, but my erratic play was far from over. A couple of horrific shots and some poor putting had me back to just even par for the round through ten holes, and making the cut seemed far-fetched. My mind wondered to a bad place, and I once again found myself obsessing over making the cut. My trusty caddie, Alicia, came to the rescue with a very appropriate pep talk and got me back on track. I needed the help of a couple of long putts, but I played the final eight holes in five under par--including an eagle on my 14th hole and a perfect nine iron to one foot on my 17th hole--to reach eight under par for the tournament and make the cut on the number. It was a great feeling to dig myself out of some negative thought patterns and achieve something good. So, I was on to the final round, and unfortunately, it was more of the same pattern from the week. I had a fantasitc start with birdies on holes 2-5 to stand at four under par through five holes. I proceeded to hit two absolutely horrific shots over the next three holes, however, and gave a couple of shots back. I fought hard and grabbed two more birdies on the back nine and had two reach-able par fives ahead. Unfortunately, I lost my steam, and once again limped badly home with pars on the two par fives and a pair of bogeys on 17 and 18. It was disappointing to finish on a downer note, but it was appropriate given the up and down nature of the week. I was definitely closer to bad than good throughout the four tournament days last week, but I still managed to do enough good things to be around all week with a chance at doing something good. 

My overall analysis of my performance at the BMW Charity Championship is that I feel like I was playing badly, and I still shot eleven under par for the week and finished tied for 41st in a field of 168 pros. That's not all bad, and it means that if I can continue to do the things that I did well and eliminate some of the errant shots, that I will be right back where I want to be. So I am highly encouraged!

As a cool side-note, my amateur partner was actor Lucas Black. Luke and I were buddies during my college days at Mizzou, so it was cool to play with an old friend. I made a lot of birdies and two eagles during the week, so I helped Luke's cause a little bit, but as I was limping in on Sunday, he played the final four holes in three under par (four under par with his handicap), including a dramatic birdie (net eagle) on the final hole to win the Pro-Am portion of the competition! It was really fun to be a part of that!
Now it's time to get back to being me. I don't regret anything about the practice or fitness routines I put in last week because it was an exhausting week and energy conservation was a big part of preparation. With that said, I did not pass my three part standard of success last week. That standard is: Have I prepared properly for this week's event? Did a commit to a smart plan on every shot? Did I hit every shot with the belief that I could win the tournament? Obviously, I don't literally mean that I should be thinking I can win the tournament when I'm twelve shots back and have only four holes to play, but I should approach each shot with the mindset that I still can accomplish a lot and achieve something positive. This past week, I feel that I was lazy in my practice rounds, which affected my ability to have a smart plan on every shot, and also feel that I hit several shots thinking about the cut-line and the money list rather than winning the tournament and doing my best. So I would have to say that this past week did not meet my standard of success. I am motivated to get out there and do better!

I'm excited moving forward. I have this week off from competition, and it is my last one for quite a while. I am ready to have a Full week of fitness and a Full week of practice. I'm already off to a good start as I had a great afternoon or work yesterday. 

Despite what I would call a poor week last week, I still feel really good about the state of my game. I feel like I am playing well and am really enjoying playing and practicing. I woke up this morning and went in my work room, and I wrote down a few motivational points. Some of these align with the goals I published at the beginning of the year, and some of these are simply thoughts to keep me pushing forward, but here is what I wrote:
I am ready to get after it!

Thank you for following me and for caring about my progress. I appreciate your support! Keep it here as I continue to work towards my goals. More great stuff is coming--and I'm going to share about it more often on here!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sorry about the Font

I don't know why my last post is showing up with the difficult font to read. If that happens again I'll try to figure it out and fix it. For now, I'm just calling it an anomaly, so please accept my apology and keep reading!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wrap-up From Victoria National

It is a very good sign about the state of my golf game when I walk away from a tournament tied for 14th place and am very disappointed.

I had a great week in Indiana at the Web.com Tour's United Leasing Championship. The host course for the event, Victoria National Golf Club, is an incredible (and incredibly difficult) venue. I certainly had my share of ups and downs during all of the rounds, but through 69 holes of the tournament, I was at five under par, which is the score that ended up in second place. Unfortunately, I played the final three holes of the tournament in four over par and tumbled into a tie for 14th place at one under par. Despite the disappointing finish, I am able to remember the the solid play from the first 69 holes, and I leave Victoria National feeling as encouraged as ever. 

And there is plenty about which to be encouraged. My short game was on point, and, for the most part, I was quite happy with my putting as well. My iron play was quite good at times, and I continue to be pleased with my wedge play. I showed some real mental fortitude in some tough spots throughout the week and gutted out a lot of great bogies after finding some of the trouble that exists on every hole at Victoria National. A lot of the hard work that I have put in really shined through the demanding test of last week's event, and that is exciting to see. 

Victoria National also revealed some question marks about my game that have me motivated to keep striving for improvement. On possibly the most intimidating tee-shot golf course I will play all year, I drove the ball quite poorly. I finally got it to start clicking a little bit on Sunday, but for most of the week, I was missing fairways both directions and causing myself lots of trouble. In addition to my struggles with the driver, I found that my iron play became shaky on a couple of the most intimidating looking holes. Actually, I am thinking specifically of the 16th hole. The picturesque par three absolutely ate my lunch. It features a very narrow green surrounded by water on three sides, and I found myself highly uncomfortable on that tee each day. I hit two five irons and a seven iron into the water on that hole during four rounds of tournament play. I attribute the uncomfortableness I experienced on that tee to not quite fully "owning" my golf swing yet. I know I am on the right track, and in anything less than the most intimidating of situations I can rely on it, but I still have work to do to truly trust my swing. As always, my shortcomings from Victoria National don't feel like failures so much as a nice reminder to keep grinding. I am excited to keep getting better. 

Speaking of getting better, I debuted my new "tournament-week" edition of my practice goals at Victoria National and really enjoyed them. I still felt just as good about my preparation as usual, but felt less stressed and tired due to my practice schedule. I completed a Full Practice Schedule and a Light Fitness Routine last week, and I feel great about both. 

I have no tournament this week and am excited for the chance to work on my game. I am currently traveling to Florida to spend Tuesday morning with Mitchell, and I also have a day set up to spend time with my boy Jake Reeves back home as well. I am going to keep getting better, and that is exciting given that I am already seeing good results.

Thank you for following me and for your support. I'm sorry for not giving any updates during the tournament in Indiana. I'll do better moving forward. Keep it here for a practice report from home later this week!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Feeling Good on a Great Course

I am excited for this week's Web.com Tour event in Indiana. My ball-striking has actually been a little bit off at times early this week, but I got things clicking a little better in the Pro-Am today. The work I have done on my game allows me to self-diagnose and make some productive adjustments on the fly. I really feel comfortable on this golf course, and I think that I am going to play great this week. Remember my new standard of success? I have prepared well. I will commit to a smart plan on every shot. I will hit every shot with the belief that I can win the tournament. It's going to be a successful week. 

Oh, and have I mentioned I really like this course. Here's why:

Pure. Keep it here for reports from Victoria National. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Practice Report and Process Goals Update

This has been another great week at home. I was pretty lazy early in the week but necessarily so after a long tournament in Mexico and a nightmarishly long day of travel home on Monday. I did some fitness work on Tuesday and Wednesday and played a fun 18 holes with some friends on Wednesday, but I did not do any practicing until Thursday. I have since made up for lost time. The weather has been nice, and I have had great days of work the last three days. I feel like all areas of my game are good, but I'm excited because I feel like my ball-striking is continuing to improve and I can tell that my short game and putting both have plenty of room to get better. I am nearly done with a Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule for this week, and I am ready to have a productive Sunday afternoon and achieve both. 

In addition to a lot of good work over the past few days, I have once again been able to soak up some great time enjoying the pleasures of HOME. I have spent some quality time with my family, and we even had some friends stop by to enjoy an early dinner from the grill on Saturday. We had my parents, my sister Laura, and two of my golfing buddies who live in the Carolinas, and it made for a fun Saturday afternoon! After dinner, my sister stayed in Knoxville with Alicia and I, and we needed something fun to do together on a beautiful evening, so we all went to the driving range and hit some balls. Alicia and Laura teamed up to beat me in a chipping contest and a putting contest, but that is okay! Here are a couple of cool pics my sister took of Alicia and I at the driving range:

That was great fun! Alicia says her goal is "to be bad at golf--because right now I'm so awful I don't even register on the scale." She makes contact almost every time now, and that is great progess!

As for me, I make contact most of the time, too. I am very proud of the work that I have put in this year, and I feel like my game is showing the results of my dedication to my process. The tournament week in Mexico marked the final week of my third five-week segment of the year for my Process Goals. For the entire five weeks, I came up one six-foot putting drill and one holed bunker shot short of completing all of my Process Goals. I obviously want to complete them all and don't like coming up short, but the effort was once again there to finish everything. I feel very good about the work I did over those five weeks and am excited to keep at it. 

I am going to make a change to my Process Goals moving forward. I feel like my current practice goals require too much time and mental energy during a tournament week. I am not the least bit afraid to put in hours and hours of work; in fact, I quite enjoy it. However, when I consider that in a typical tournament week I play five official rounds (the Wednesday Pro-Am fields are selected based on the money list) plus a full practice round, that means I spend a lot of time on the golf course. That is not a bad thing at all because I believe that on-course preparation is some of the most valuable for me, but when I combine that time on the golf course with my rigorous practice schedule, it leads to very long days that can become counterproductively taxing. So, here is the challenge: how do I lighten my practice load without feeling less prepared. I think I have a good solution, and I am excited to try it out. I will continue to do all of the same drills and the same number of drills as before, but during tournament weeks, I will lower the number of reps per drill. For example, I typically have to make 24 of 24 three-foot putts to complete that drill and 18 of 24 six-foot putts to complete that drill, so during a tournament week, I will instead have to make 12 of 12 from three feet and 9 of 12 from six feet. I will still do the same prescribed numbers of each drill for the week, I will simply cut the reps when I'm at a tournament. I will apply similar cuts to other drills as well. By lessening practice in this way, I will still have daily work to do to keep me feeling sharp and fully prepared, but my drills will not be quite as taxing when I am at a tournament. When I'm home, I will continue to follow my original Practice Schedule. I am excited to try out this change and see how it affects me. My hope and expecation is that I will be as prepared as ever and will still feel mentally and physically sharp at the end of each week. 

I am excited to keep improving. I am obviously quite pleased with the start that I have had to the year, but there is still much to accomplish. I can't wait to keep getting after it! Alicia and I are off to Evansville, Indiana, this week for the Web.com Tour event at a great course called Victoria National. It's going to be a very good one. Thank you for keeping up with me and for your support. Keep it here for more reports moving forward. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lots of Positives from a Tough Weekend in Mexico

As the 36-hole leader, I could taste another win this week on the Web.com Tour. I was a little bit erratic over the weekend, however, and I ended up in a tie for eighth place in Mexico. Given some of the adversity I caused myself on Saturday and Sunday, I am pleased with the way I stayed tough and finished strongly. It stinks not to get the win, but a top-ten finish is never a bad thing, and I definitely have plenty of positives on which I will build from this week.

I also have a lot of motivation to keep working on my game. I made a few nervy swings over the weekend and hit a couple of costly shots. Never was that more the case than on the island-green, par-five eighth hole on Sunday. An aggressive drive up the watery right side of the fairway left me with just a six iron to the island green. Unfortunately, I never settled my mind over the shot, and I made my worst swing in recent memory. I semi-shanked the shot well right of the green and into the lake. This was by far the worst shot I hit all weekend, but there were others that reminded me that I still have work to do on my game. I know that getting better is a process, and I also know that I am on the right track, but this weekend has me hungry for more improvement. 

That shot on eight rattled me a little bit, and I did something on that green that I have never done before. I gave myself a decent chance to save par, but my par putt stopped on the right lip of the cup--less than an inch from the hole. My head was spinning as I walked up to tap it in for bogey, and I swung my putter over the top of the ball. I was attempting to tap my ball in the hole, so that whiff counted as a stroke and I made double bogey. I honestly don't even know what happened except to say that I completely lost focus in that moment. What a valuable (and costly!) lesson! But, I will indeed learn from that and absolutely never make that mistake again. 

Now, to the positive stuff. I played some great golf this week, and I overcame some great adversity. Even though the weekend was disappointing for me, I still accomplished something great. Playing in tough and windy conditions, I played my final 12 holes in two under par on Sautrday after bogieing five of the first six holes. Then in even windier conditions on Sunday, after having a shank and a whiff on the same hole, I played the final ten holes bogey-free and three under par to climb back into the top ten. That took some mental fortitude, and it required a golf game that was pretty sharp, too. I am disappointed not to have played better overall on the weekend, but I have plenty of reasons to still be encouraged. 

I'm excited to be heading home and to have a week to work on things. I'll be back with a Process Goals update and a practice report by midweek. Thank you for following me, and please keep up the support. I really appreciate it! 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tough Day on Saturday But I'm Still in It

I was tied for the lead and in the final pairing as Saturday began. I bogied five of the first six holes to quickly change the "tied for the lead" part. I was in a bit of shock, to be honest. I practiced beautifully before lunch and then had a great warm-up session prior to my 1:00 tee time, but things were just a little bit off from the start. I thought I hit a great wedge into the par-five opening hole, but I over-played the wind, and my ball sailed just over the green. A mediocre chip and a poor putt led to a bogey. Over the next five holes, I hit a few more poor putts, got a few strange bounces, and took a long ride on the struggle bus. I was definitely rattled, but after a solid par on the long par-three seventh hole, I rallied my powers of positive thinking. I knew I was playing well, and I needed to get my mojo going in the right direction. I hit two great shots to reach the island green of the par-five eighth hole and two-putted for a much-needed birdie. I went on to play the final 12 holes of my round in two under par to post a third-round 75 (+3). That is not a very good score, but I am pleased with the way I gutted out my round. 

I will now begin Sunday's round in a tie for sixth place--but just five shots behind the leader. I definitely want to win this event, but I need to approach tomorrow with the mindset that I want to play as well as possible and then let the results fall where they may. If I try to press and make it happen, bad things can happen on this golf course. I will be patient and follow my plan tomorrow, and I am confident that I will have a great day. 

Come back for a good report in the evening! Thank you for your support!