The first true spring day arrived with temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties, and everyone else got the same idea that I did. Wakonda Club’s greenskeeper, Mr. John Temme, did something magical last fall and the results are apparent. After being covered in a blanket of 3 to 5 feet drifts as recently as two weeks ago, the greens and fairways emerged and almost instantly greened. The turf is near perfect despite it being so early in the season and everything is green. The greens haven’t been rolled to Augusta speed yet, but challenging nevertheless. It’s the fairways though that have finally come to fruition, nearly two years after the club pressed a giant reset button on the whole course and resurfaced the whole course from tee to green. Last year, the greens came into full bloom, but it is this year that the fairways are back to true form. It is fully 3 years since the project was proposed and now we are enjoying some of the best conditions I have ever played on so early in the season.
I wandered into the Lower Grill and ran into T who invited me into his group. I grabbed an Arnold Palmer and marched out and met his playing partner K and we marched along, a happy company. Blogging and operating has made me a social retard because I can no longer make polite small talk.
Me: So K, do you think any differently about Tiger when your wife is not around?
K: You have a way of asking socially awkward questions to complete strangers.
Me: It’s been stewing in my mind for a while.
K, smiling: I think that I admire him for his talents and achievements on the golf course.
Me -looking for ball: Have you ever seen those bears in the Russian circus? They get that way from conditioning -from a life of negative and positive reinforcement from the time they were cubs. I think Tiger’s pathologies only mirror the pathologies in his development. I question the place from where his golf comes from…
Let’s say we have a whole professional tour based on people who love to balance on a ball and they practice and compete out of joy of walking around on that ball, and all of a sudden this bear comes in to compete. He takes all the prizes.
From this whole sad season, it’s become clear to me that Tiger is not unlike this trained circus bear who must be a bit sad and lost when he’s not walking on his giant ball. For Tiger, golf is what he does well. Come two weeks, and we’ll see him take the trophy. I’m rooting for it.
So I shoot a 48, not too bad for a peripatetic round of a triple, bunch of bogies, and three long putts for birdie missed by a hair, missing comebackers through carelessness. It was too fun an evening to care. That is probably why I am a much better surgeon than I am a golfer.
My spring effortts are firming up. This included a series of sessions with my father whose short game is spot on when it’s going. He gave me a system to concentrate on. The pitching wedge and the 52 degree gap wedge are full swing clubs. He controls distance by feel, knowing how far the P and G will fly on a full and half swing. The sand is for everything fifty on on by half swinging. Distance control is by choking up for shorter shots. Direction is paramount. The lob wedge is for getting out of sand only and special short stuff when the ball is teed up. This has given me direction.
Putting improved with his tips, but the putting rug has also helped. The big thing is vision. Seeing the line takes practice. The rug helps.
I’ve settled on the R9 Quad driver. It gives me the ability to shape shots. The Sumo straightens me out too much and the offset results in too many hooks. The power fade is a very important bail shot and a technical driver like the R9 lets me do it naturally.
The move to a 4 wood was great. I can jack it almost as far as 230 yards on the fly and it is forgiving. The Nike SQ feels wonderful at address. The previous 3 wood gave me only distress. Carrying the 4 let’s me drop my 5 wood which was my bushwacking club. The hybrid 3 and 4 have the small head that run through rough well and go at least as far as the 15 year old Taylormade steel wood went.
The putter has been moved back to a more traditional putter and is a Never Compromise bought on eBay. I have gained respect for the putter that I never really had before. If you want immediate impact on your game, you need to produce on the green.