Lesson: Your are good at what you do.

It has been a little over a month since my last update, and a lot has taken place. I began the month of July in Arlington Texas visiting my beautiful girlfriend Rachael Hess. We celebrated the 4th with a Texas Rangers baseball game, which included hot dogs, lemonade, and an outrageous fireworks display! The ballpark honored our US troops stationed overseas with a very touching video tribute displayed on the Jumbotron. Rachael and I left the park that night feeling blessed and honored to be an American.

My plane touched down in Gainesville July 10th, and it was immediately back to business. I had a little over two weeks before my next tournament and less than a month before my Hooters Pro Golf Tour debut. I had to divide my time between working the pro-shop at Haile Plantation, and working on my golf game. I am fortunate to play and practice at Haile Plantation, but in exchange, I work about  20 hours per week in the  shop. Those 20 hours, on top of guaranteed thunderstorms every afternoon, make each practice session very valuable.

The days leading up to my Florida Players Tour event in Jacksonville  did everything but  boost my confidence. I was hitting the ball the worse I had in over three months, the putter felt awkward in my hands, and I was fighting against bad weather and a busy work schedule. In my two years at Brevard one of the fundamental things I learned is the value of preparation and how to take full advantage of it. Twenty-four hours before my event I was cursing myself for feeling very unprepared. Insert learning experience here:

If you have ever had a steady job or career, odds are you’re good at it. Maybe you were somewhat lucky to get to where you are, maybe it took hard work and sacrifice, but either way you wouldn’t be doing it if you weren’t good at it. I shot 75 in the first round of my tournament, and for the five hours I was on the course it never occurred to me that I am good at golf. I fought my swing, didn’t trust my putter, and didn’t have the confidence to shoot a low score. Although 75 certainly isn’t a horrible score, it wont make a pay check. That night is when the realization occurred. I have been playing golf for ten years, I have honed my skills and prepared well for countless events in the past;  my profession is golf because I am pretty good at it. I went out the next morning, trusted my game, and shot a solid 69. There are certainly no excuses for lack of preparation, and not everyday you show up to work are you going to be at your best, but its important to remember your there because you’re good at what you do.

NEXT UP:  Hooters Professional Golf Tour at TimberCreek in Daphne, AL. This will be my first 72 hole event as a pro and offers the chance to play for a $200,000 purse. A pay check is much-needed as my bank account is drying up fast. You can follow live scoring on the Hooters Tour website beginning August 11th.

“The value of a shot”

This past Tuesday and Wednesday I competed on the Florida Players Tour in St. Augustine, FL. The first event was played at St Johns CC, where I shot  two under par, 70, and finished 2nd. The second event was played at South Hampton GC, where I again shot  two under par, 70, and finished in 5th place. My total earnings for the two rounds was $400. If  I had scored one shot lower each round, I would have earned $900. That is a substantial difference in earnings at this stage of the game, and brings me to the title of this blog post: “The value of a shot”.

“The value of a shot” was a phrase i regularly heard from my coach Ben Hannan, while playing golf for the University of South Alabama. Every practice  he would constantly be reminding us that each shot holds the same value and is as important as the next one. At the time, I felt like I got his point and played golf with this in mind. However, after the past two days I know for certain what the value of a shot really means.

Essentially, each shot for me is a business decision. Attack the par5 in two or lay up? Hit a full 7iron or an easy 6iron? Aim for the flag, or for the center of the green? These are basic questions that I have to ask myself on every shot, and the decisions I make ultimately lead to the size of my pay check. Some might view this as pressure, I find it extremely exciting and empowering. Gone are the days when I would halfheartedly slap a 3foot putt at the hole without committing to a line. Gone are the days when I pull out my range finder, get a number to the pin, and recklessly hit my shot. Now, I am going to work on having a process for each shot that will help me make the best decisions in the present moment. Of course, this method doesn’t mean I will never shoot a poor score again, as I still have to execute a swing on each shot and battle against difficult conditions and sometimes unfavorable bounces. But what it does mean is that I will have  more consistency in my game and a new means to analyze my scores based on the decisions I made that day.

Overall, these past two events were filled with great golf and greater learning experiences. I do not have another event for three weeks, so I am going to take the time to improve my decision making process, my short game, and enjoy the Fourth of July Holiday!

Reeso Putters

I recently made a trip to Ocala, FL to visit Mr Sandy Reese, the creator of Reeso Putters. I heard about Reeso Putters after reading the book Golfs Sacred Journey by David Cook, a story about a  young tour pro struggling with his game and in search of answers. In the book, the young pro uses a putting technique called Face On Putting. This unique and more natural way to putt peaked my interest so I decided to find out more.

Last week, Mr. Reese was kind enough to invite me to his workshop and let me experiment with some of his putters. I spent several hours putting with his Face On model, long putters, and conventional style putters. Ultimately, I stuck with the conventional style model simply because I putt well with it and saw no need to change. However,  I did see how a first time golfer or higher handicap player could benefit from the Face On style. Face On simplifies the putting stroke and allows the player to look at the hole when putting instead of the ball. This eliminates a lot of anxiety that new players have when standing over putts.

I owe a special thanks to Mr. Reese for his time and energy last week. It was a great experience working with him in his shop and learning about Reeso Putters!

Why we love the game of golf

I competed Sunday in my first Florida Players Tour event at Black Bear GC in Eustis, FL. Coming off a career low 62 on Friday, my confidence was high and my game felt great. I went through my normal preparation routine, putting together a hole by hole game plan for the course.

Five holes into Sundays round I found myself three over par due to two misses from 6ft  and a poor iron shot. I also found myself with a great opportunity to bounce back. In practice I have been working on staying in the present and playing one hole at a time; two essentials for getting the most out of your game when you’re not at your best. I played the next 12 holes one under par and bogey free. A true testament of the hard work I have been putting into the mental side of the game.

However, I still ended with a 76 for the day due to a lost ball off the tee on 18. Walking off of the course I was frustrated to say the least, but then it occurred to me why I love the game as much as I do: Golf is always a challenge and can never be mastered. As hot as my putter was on Friday when I posted 9-under, it was equally as cold Sunday. Over time, it is my goal to shrink the difference between my great rounds and poor rounds, and  learn how to score when I am not at my best. But even with improvement,  I think its important to remember that golf and all of its intricacies make it impossible to conquer and that’s why we love it.

My first professional tournament win!

I started my pro career today competing in the Ronald McDonald House Charity Pro-Am. The event is held to raise money for the families of critically ill children staying at medical facilities in North-Central Florida. I was fortunate enough to play with the amateur teams of Burkhardt Distributors and BE&K Building Group. Two great companies supporting a great cause.

I started my round off hot with three birdies in the first four holes. I then went on to make two more birdies and a HOLE in ONE (ACE) on the 175 yrd,  par 3, eighth hole. Today marked the fourth Ace I have had in my life as a golfer, with each one getting a little sweeter than the last. I finished with a front nine score of 7-under par, 29. I cooled off a little on the back, making two birdies and 7 pars for a 33. The end result was a personal best 62, and a first place pay check! I could not have asked for a better way to begin my professional golf career.

Up next: Florida Players Tour event at Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis, FL on June 12th. I am thankful beyond words for the opportunity I have in front of me, and I am going to take advantage of it to the fullest.

 

Graduation 2011

Today is the big day!  Thank you to everyone for all of the support over the past three years at the University of South Alabama!

If you want to watch the commencement live on the web, you can do so here: http://www.southalabama.edu/commencement/

….fair warning, the excitement level of viewing online will most likely be comparable to watching grass grow.

Rachael and I at the University of South Alabama Athletic Banquet last week.

“I guess this is Hello World”-TW

Although I am not making a grand entrance into the professional world of golf, like Tiger Woods in 1996, I am very excited and ready to begin my professional golf career in the upcoming months. However, I first  need to take care of business in the classroom and grind through my final two weeks of classes. May 14th is the big day- Graduation!