A Little Reflection

Since I have just crossed the Canadian border I thought it was only appropriate to stop at the nearest Tim Horton’s to avoid the Friday rush hour traffic and also reflect upon my last couple months in Florida.  With over 12,000km driven, 19 tournament rounds played and countless hours at the range these past couple months have been filled with many experiences.

After the disappointment of my second tournament I made the conscious decision to not write any more blog posts as I found it difficult to write about the frustrations I was having on the golf course when the wounds were so fresh.  Now that I have had some time to reflect I am happy to share my experience.

Improving My Golf Swing

Within a couple weeks of being in Orlando I felt lost.  I knew there were a number of issues I was having with my swing.  Everything felt awkward.  While attending the PGA Merchandise show a colleague referred me to see Tom Jackson of the Core Golf Academy.

There is so much I have learned about the golf swing from Tom. It was a privilege to have been able to work with him while I was in Orlando.   At our first lesson he asked if I wanted a quick fix, where I will probably be shooting mid to late 70‘s in tournaments as I become more comfortable, or did I want an overhaul with the potential of excelling much further.  I, of course, chose the overhaul.  I trusted him from the get go as a number of the things he mentioned were the same key points that Mark Linton (the Head Teaching Professional at Weston Golf &CC) has brought up with me and so I felt like I was going in the right direction. He explained that I needed to be patient and that it would be very difficult to bring what I was learning on the range into a tournament right away.  Each lesson had a purpose with a specific goal in mind.  He knew I was only down south for a couple months so he jammed in about a years worth of lessons and knowledge in a 6 week time period.  Though this was a daunting task for me,  I learned a lot about the golf swing and also the importance of communication with students, and how, as an instructor, you need to adapt to how your student learns in order to be a quality instructor.  I am excited to continue working on the various aspects of my own golf swing but am also eager to bring this new found knowledge and insight to each and every lesson I teach.

Home on the Range

I have never been one that loves to practice.  I have always had difficulty dedicating a lot of time at the range because I love to play! In the summer time when I have some free time I will most likely pick a round of golf over a range session.  The great thing about my time in Florida is that I had all the time in the world.  I could practice and play!  Each week was quite intense.  The tournaments ran from Monday to Wednesday and I would put in a couple hours of practice each of those evenings.  Then Thursday would be my “day off” to relax and run errands etc.  Friday would be the day I would play my practice round for the next week’s tournament and Saturday and Sunday would be my marathon practice sessions at Orange County National.  The part I thought I would dread most was the marathon practice sessions but I found that as long as I was focused and practiced with a purpose those days would fly by!

Life on Tour

As you can see this playing schedule is very busy.  I had a stretch of 5 weeks of tournaments in a row and I’m not gonna lie I was a little burnt out by the end of that stretch. Since I was only in Orlando for a short period of time I made sure to play in every tournament I possibly could while I was down south.  This is not the case for the majority of the girls on this tour.  Most girls will play in 2 to 3 tournaments in a row and then will take a week off in order to recuperate.  The caliber of play on the Suncoast Series is quite good.  A lot of these ladies have Symetra Tour status; though the difference in caliber between the Symetra tour players and LPGA players was made evident when Paula Creamer entered one of the Suncoast Series events as a tune up.  Paula shot -11 over 3 days, winning by 11 strokes.

Dealing With Frustration

I personally, struggled in each and every tournament I played in.  Don’t get me wrong there were times where I was playing quite well but after going over the stats for my rounds I found a trend.  What separated me from the scores that were in and around the lead were 5 holes.  On average I played 13 holes of good golf, maybe not great golf, but good (1 or two over par). Unfortunately there would be about 5 holes throughout the round where this was not the case, usually being a double or worse, and a number of them due to penalty strokes.  This was something different for me as maybe I’ll lose a ball here and there but during these past couple months I lost ALOT of golf balls.  Maybe Tiger Woods was onto something when trying to avoid the “big miss” ;)

Though my results did not vary much from the first tournament to my final one, I believe I am coming home a better golfer.  I have become more comfortable in a tournament environment and I look forward to feeling nervous.  Learning how to cope with my nerves and turn the nerves into a positive energy is difficult for me but I am becoming better at it.  For all the missed shots there were also so many great ones.  Whether it was sinking a 40 foot putt,  hitting 14 out of 14 fairways one round, or executing the best bunker shot of my life, they are all shots I will save in my memory bank.  I have made it my motto to learn from the bad shots but it’s the good shots that keep me coming back!

Overall, these past couple months have been quite unique and I am happy that I made the decision to play on the Suncoast Series this winter.  I have gained experience and knowledge and it only makes me more excited for the snow to melt so that we can get this golf season started!

2013 PGA Merchandise Show

The last few weeks have been jam packed with golf, golf, and more golf.  That being said, I got to break up my golf time a week ago with the PGA Merchandise Show that took place in Orlando.  I had never attended the PGA Show and was excited to see what all the hype was about.  The PGA Show ran from January 23rd until January 26th.  It is a golf expo where people such as  industry professionals, buyers, golf course owners, etc. get an inside look at what is the latest and greatest in golf equipment and merchandise.  The PGA Show is set up at the Orange County International Convention Centre.  Over 1000 vendors set up for the show and pretty much anything you can think of that is related to golf will be there.

Highlights:

DEMO DAY

The show starts with a demo day that takes place at Orange County National Golf Centre, where I am practicing out of.  The 360 degree range has the space to accommodate all the vendors.  I was finishing up a tournament that day and drove over to the event afterwards.  The place was a zoo! Cars were parked about a mile down the road and there was also a shuttle available from downtown Orlando.  Using my Canadian charm, and also because it was later in the day, the police officer at the entrance let me drive in to see if I could find parking, and that I did.  Every major golf company was set up as well as lesser known companies.  I’d say Cobra had the coolest set up with free beer and red bull! I sauntered around, tried out a couple clubs here and there and just really took it all in.  Here is a picture of the Taylormade area, which was a very popular place to be.

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DAVIS LOVE III

The next day was the launch of the PGA Merchandise show and Davis Love III opened the show.  I made sure to get there with plenty of time because I did not want to miss this! It was a nice moment, standing amongst all of these golf industry professionals looking up and listening to Davis Love III address the crowd.  After he addressed us a couple of junior golfer had the privilege to hit golf balls into the crowd, and with that, the show had officially begun.

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SO MANY VENDORS. SO MANY PEOPLE.

From one end of the show to the other spans a mile, filled with vendor after vendor.  There were also a number of workshops that took place over the three days but I did not attend any of them.  I still had my own practice I had to get back to!! Other than the obvious equipment and clothing that is featured there are also a ton of booths that feature specialized products such as new types of golf tees, cooling towels, or ball markers. My personal fave was Abigale Lynn.  Abigale Lynn offers an assortment of visors but it was their ball marker bracelets that caught my eye.  Their bedazzled ball markers are super cute and they sit nicely on the bracelet for those ladies who would rather that than a ball marker hat clip.  You can visit www.abigalelynn.com if you’re interested in seeing the various mall markers they offer.

I met some great people at the PGA Show and it was nice to venture out and relax a bit after the grind of playing and practicing, I’ll talk about “the grind” another day.

Here are a couple more pictures. It kind of looks like one huge department store when looking at it from above!

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Putt Like Luke Donald

I have been a fan of Luke Donald for while.  He’s not the biggest guy around, he doesn’t hit it the furthest, but he is a great iron player and has an incredible short game, and of course this includes his putting.  In the 2011 season he went 449 holes without a three putt, that’s almost 25 rounds straight without a three putt!! Think about that folks… how many holes have you played without a three putt?  I remember when this streak was going on I went out to play golf and said to my playing partner that I was going to go out there and putt like Luke Donald, my streak ended before it even started as I, ironically, three putted the first hole.  But that was then and this is now and I came to Florida determined to improve all aspects of my game, but especially my chipping and putting.  With Luke Donald in mind I started researching putters before heading down south.  I found out that he used the Odyssey White Hot #7.  I thought to myself, “if it’s good enough for Luke, its good enough for me!”  Now I could be wrong but I don’t think the White Hot Series exists anymore so I decided upon the Odyssey Metal-X #7.  It features a modified mallet and has weighted alignment wings.  I love the feeling of this putter!  I have had some putting woes over the past couple years, and my confidence on the greens had dwindled, it was time for a change.  So I changed my putter and my mentality.

Putting is all about confidence, they say it in all the books, and they talk about it on the Golf Channel but you can’t simply create confidence, you have to build it.  And so a week ago I started building my confidence with help from the book Dave Pelz’s “Putting Games”.   It has helped me create a purpose to my putting practice and since I am a very competitive person I compete each day on the putting green using some of these games.  My confidence in putting skyrocketed within a week of structured practice and I was able to bring this new confidence to my first tournament on the Sun Coast Series this week.  Now, although I didn’t score well, 79-82-88, this scoring was not due to poor putting.  I may have struggled in every other aspect but putting was not it.  For the three days I was 29-29-28 in putting.  To put this in perspective, when I passed my PAT (playing ability test) for my CPGA card I had 34 putts round one and 38 putts round two.

Also, this week, I only had one three putt. This three putt took place during the first round and then I didn’t have any for the next two rounds. So currently I have gone 42 holes without a three putt.  It’s not exactly the streak of 449 holes, but it’s a start!

One would think I may be discouraged after my scoring performance this past week.  Of course I’m disappointed, but for all my bad shots I made some really good shots too.   I need to be patient with my progress, not panic when, one week,  the usual strengths in my game become my weakness. This is just the beginning of my time here in Orlando and I will continue to work hard on every part of the game.  I believe my drives will find the fairway, my irons will find the sweet spot, my chips will find the target and my putts will find the hole.   Ultimately, I WILL become a more consistent golfer…. kinda like Luke Donald.

Practice Makes Better

The last couple months I had been researching where I should base myself when living in Orlando. I wanted to find a home club that I could use to practice. There really are so many golf facilities here and I was finding it difficult to decide.  Then, with a great suggestion by Reggie Millage at The Golf Lab, I was introduced to the Orange County National Centre.  After making this discovery, when I mentioned OCN to anyone who knew of it I always received positive feedback so I was feeling pretty good about making this my home club.  They have a really good deal for Pros and for only $99 per month I have unlimited access to the practice facility as well as their 9 hole executive course.  I had looked it up online and it seemed amazing…. 360 degree range, 3 different chipping greens, and the biggest practice putting green I had ever heard of!  Well…. let me tell ya… when my GPS (whom I like to call Tildy) got me to the entrance of OCN I was not disappointed! This place is huge! It has lodging, a golf management school, it’s the home of COREgolf Academy, has 3 golf courses, oh and did I mention the ridiculously awesome practice facility?!

I signed up for my one month membership right away and couldn’t have been more excited to get started.  A little rain put a damper on going to the range on day one so I went back the very next day.

With my bag on my back and a bucket of balls in my hand I made my way to the range.

So many spots to choose from.  So many targets to aim to.  Which club should I hit first?…. 7 iron… definitely going with the trusty 7 iron….

chunk…chunk…thin… shank??? well that wasn’t the start I was looking for! I step back and breathe… must remember to breathe. I reset, do my signature wiggle and swing freely… the ball soars… that’s more like it! Now let’s get to practicing, and I couldn’t think of a better place for it!

If you’d like to learn more about the Orange County National Golf Centre visit www.ocngolf.com

eat.play.golf

Since making the decision to become a Golf Professional I have always had the desire to compete.  I have played in a couple tournaments here and there but I have always worked full time and then played and practiced on the side….. until now. Because I live in Toronto the golf season is relatively short so I made the decision this past summer to move to Orlando for 3 months from January until the end of March to play on a women’s mini tour called the Suncoast Series.  For 3 months playing and practicing golf will be my full-time job… how crazy is that??!  I’m sure this experience will help me become a better instructor and I’m definitely looking forward to working on my game.  When chatting with a friend a couple days before leaving for Orlando I described my 3 month adventure “kinda like my own little eat, pray, love trip just only with a whole lotta golf”.  And from that conversation the idea of eat.play.golf was born.

eat: I enjoy food…. and being celiac I guess I’ll be more specific by saying I enjoy gluten free food (most of the time).   Reading labels and asking about ingredients has become a part of my life – the gluten free experience has its ups & downs… and I’m going to write about them.

play: let’s have some fun shall we?! From fitness training, to music playlists, to practice golf games this could really include anything and everything my little heart desires

golf: that’s really why we’re here folks so follow me on my journey on the Suncoast Series, talking about encounters I have had, courses I have played, and emotions I’ve experienced…