Monday, 11 June 2018

Sometimes You Have to Improvise

A good rule in golf is to save your tinkering for the range. But in my case, given my back issues, trips to the range are pretty much nonexistant, as hitting multiple shots in a short period of time leaves me crippled. Besides, my father seems to have passed on the tinkeritis gene to me, so I will likely always be prone to fiddling with my swing, both on and off the course.

I've struggled with my game this year. But I've discovered the last few years that my natural swing is the one I use to clip daisies, or the one I make with my eyes closed. It generally works quite well when I use it, instead of the four or five other swings I often resort to trying.

Yesterday was the Quinte Cup. It's a yearly matchplay event between four clubs in our area that has been held every year since the twenties. I just barely made the team this year, needing a playoff to do it. But the day before I had played using my natural swing and had shot 78. That's not normally a great score for me, but this year so far anything under 80 is good. 

So I set out to play yesterday determined to play with my natural swing. In the current format, we play all three guys at the same time in an 18 hole match. It's not an ideal format for match play. But, as Big Bob always says, it is what it is. Despite my poor play this year I was sent out in the number three spot which had me a bit nervous. I was also pitted against my old nemesis from Napanee, Rick Gerow. And I certainly didn't want to give him the satisfaction of beating me like a drum.

Well, my natural swing, after nine miserable holes, had me down six, four, and two in my matches. I was seemingly on my way to being skunked. Rick was struggling as well, so he only had me down two. But I was pretty sure Rick figured he had me in the bag, the way I was hacking it around.

Waiting to tee off on ten I decided that I was either going to have to change things, or accept being humiliated by my poor play and just quit. I know I had resolved to stick with "my swing," but today my swing just wasn't good enough. So I tried to find some sort of action that would keep me in play, and to just find a way to make a score. And I did just that. I chose a shortened swing where I just focussed on having the back of my left hand strike the ball straight down the target line. 

At the end of the day I managed to halve two matches and lost the other. This was not the result I'd hoped for. But, under the circumstances, I was happy that I chose to improvise and to keep fighting hard. As for Rick; he hit his tee shot out of bounds on eighteen and let me halve the match. 

Golf is ultimately about getting the ball in the hole. It isn't about making pretty golf swings. I'm sure the swing I used on the front nine looked much better than the abbreviated punch I used on the back nine. But in golf it's only results that matter. I will try to use my natural swing as often as possible. But I learned again yesterday that sometimes you just have to find something--anything--that works. If the game has gone off the rails, what do you have to lose? And again I learned that there is a great deal of virtue in simply refusing to give up. You won't always win. But you'll feel better for having tried as hard as you can.