On Friday after a difficult week I fronted for the 9 hole "chicken run". By difficult I mean one of very bad pain and discomfort from a combination of activities, which were unavoidable and the painful results not unexpected. Sunday's round was tiring and the effort to play well in 30-50 kph winds was a significant strain. In itself not an issue. Monday I had a 240 km round trip followed by a 350 km trip on Tuesday. This is too much for the back injury to cope with. Tuesday night was horrific there is no other way to explain this to people who have never experienced 12-14 hours of back spasms, pain, discomfort, cold sweats, in short f@cking agony. This was the result, even with the moderating influence of prescribed opiate medication assisting comfort.
A back rub Tuesday morning relieved the worst of the residual pain and got me through to a booked massage at noon. Still some residual discomfort until Thursday but nothing debilitating. Back home Thursday and a good hour chipping and putting late in the afternoon and all was feeling good enough. Friday 'Chicken Run' is fun and it was only two holes in when I realised that was going to be my approach, the score meant nothing I wanted to play for fun. With no real focus on all shots required, I decided to see what I could do off the tee with the driver.
This is a shot where I keep "a lot in the tank" when playing a competition round, rarely if ever go above 75-85% of what is comfortably possible. In my game 200 metre drives are fine on most holes and that is effortless to play, sometimes a little more effort to accurately reach 210-220 metres off the tee is required and that is not too much to step up to. Yesterday though with the shackles off, distance was removed from the calculations and just played the full swing with accuracy the only component demanded. Finished the day with no physical discomfort from the extra effort. End result drives all finishing around the 240 metre measure and with accuracy!
To have done this yesterday was not all that unexpected, there has been a question in the back of my mind for several weeks that I have added distance off the tee. In my practise routine the only specific distance work I do on the range is my irons/hybrids/fairway woods. Establishing these club distances, that combined with accuracy is what delivers my "greens in regulation" improvement which sets up birdie and par results. Which of course improves my handicap and game enjoyment. So I practise what matters not whims that will not benefit my game. The Driver is a moderate range club, done only to settle the rhythm, tempo and shot execution to be reliable in accuracy first, distance does not even come into these sessions.
The Driver though has always been in the "careful you can really hurt yourself" category and has been developed with severe limits imposed. This disciplined approach has also been able to travel through my game and overall improvement so it has never felt like a restriction. I have won two match play rounds against golfers who average 250 metres and reach 270 metres with ease playing like this. One win was after 11 holes, the other, after 12 holes played. Whilst my golf game may look like surgical tempered play, that is the facade over a ravening Beserker with an axe cleaving through opponents. From observing golfers like these two though I also picked up future game tips which have been added to my game, in particular using the Driver off the fairway on par fives and long par fours.
In recent rounds I have noticed matching or out driving several of the clubs longer hitters off the tee has been a regular feature in my game. This is not even a consideration in my game approach at all, it has been an observation of results. Which all came to fruition in the fun approach to playing the "chicken run" on Friday. Today I am still evaluating what is going to be the outcome of the recent results. After a decade of having to be very careful to simply being able to play golf, the improvement is very noticeable. The competitive game is still a passion and I do not want to waste the improvements developed from all the effort. Mentally there is a major barrier, avoiding 'f@cking agony' is a big motivator. Patience as always will win and deliver more success.
In reviewing my recent game statistics and rounds I already have noticed that my game play has had a particular change. When my golf began began to improve 7-8 years ago, the 15th hole was set as when I would begin to make a charge for a handicap breaking round or play to match or better it with a lesser degree of intensity. This would all depend on how I was set after the 14th hole 2-3 under handicap a charge, the rest play to do the best I could. This year from hole one focused on the target to break my handicap. No matter how I am set after the 14th hole I charge to the 18th these days. This is due to two specific golf attributes I have practiced and developed, first of all fitness and second capability. The two combined proved a stable and reliable platform to play my best golf.
Hit the ball, find the ball, hit the ball...