We’re well into 2017 now and while the golf clubs continue to sit idly, except for indoor dome or simulator action, I know it’s only a few months now until the season begins. But I am not spending of the off-season quietly sitting and waiting for spring’s arrival. A new year brings optimism but also a plan and a commitment to improve. So here are some thoughts, projections and plans for the year ahead:
- Getting my mind and body fit.
Reflecting back, I don’t think I’ve looked at my off-season preparation for golf in a truly holistic manner. I’d try to hit balls as often as I could and workout every now and then but it never was truly effective. A late summer move to my childhood hometown has helped me get into some more healthy habits. Combined with a couple health apps on my smartphone and an investment in new exercise equipment I am giving 2017 a chance to be more healthy, happy and successful on (and off) the golf course.
Better sleep, better diet, an exercise regime which will focus on my heart and my overall flexibility are already helping me feel better. I am reading more often – golf and non-golf books – and am starting to learn French. All this to say is that my view on improving my golf game is being viewed physically, mentally and emotionally now. I am continuing my golf lessons over the winter months and feel once I get to the middle of April I will be ready to build on my successes of last season.
- More Champions and LPGA golf, less PGA Tour
Ever so slightly, I am starting to sour on the PGA tour. Where I am finding enjoyment on
TV is through the PGA Champions and LPGA. Here I see players who hit it only slightly farther and play courses closer in length to what I do. It is increasingly difficult for me to relate to PGA stars that hit the ball so far and are seemingly automatic around and on the greens. I understand on TV we see the leaders play and those are the players who are playing the best. But seeing pros dissect 500 yard par 4’s with driver and 9 iron just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe part of it is that in 2017 I become eligible for the Champions Tour (age-wise anyway. Yes, it’s a milestone year). Don’t get me wrong, like you I’ll be glued to the Masters and all the important tournaments and I’ll still get more than my share of PGA Tour viewing in. But with weekly scores of 59 or 60 now, and tour players’ relentless commitment to training the game is not what it once was to me. My issue is not the players, it’s the ball…but that’s another rant for another day.
- Business Travel Plans
My 2017 business schedule is locked in. I have extended visits to Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal lined up. I certainly plan on tacking on some time out west to play Sagebrush and maybe one or two others on my Bucket List. I have yet to explore the options (time or courses) for Ottawa or Montreal but the clubs will be coming with me and my habit of mixing some pleasure after business will continue. I will do my research but not hesitate to put a call out on Twitter or FB for recommendations of places to play to help build my itinerary. I’ll be hard pressed to match my success from the 2016 season which had me play in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick. There, I was able to knock off 5 courses off the Bucket List as well as play two others. This year I’d like to knock off just as many on my revised list.
- Membership has its privileges
It’s possible I’ve buried the lede here but I have joined Hidden Lake Golf Club in my hometown of Burlington, ON. As an associate member I can control the value proposition for myself but still get all the benefits of belonging, including the chance to play in the Club Championship in August. The membership structure is such I can still make a commitment to play public courses in the area from time to time (I will not abandon my pursuit of my bucket list) yet have access to practice and playing facilities close to my home and at a fraction of the cost of other area courses. It’s been over 35 years since I was a member at a club so this will feel new but will also be exciting. I expect to wear out their short game practice area over the year. But even in terms of rounds played, 20 rounds is simply not going to cut it (that was my total for 2016, one of my lowest numbers in some time).
- Practice with purpose. Play more competitively.
My index is currently 9.6 but that is not consistent throughout my game. My weakest parts of my game are irons and short game (I’m more a 15). I’ve worked hard to become an average putter and my long game/tee game has vastly improved (here, I’m closer to a 5). So, to get better I feel I need to focus 3/4 of my time inside of 150 yards and most of that inside of 50 yards. My new course will provide me great access and space to do so. Through my instruction with Brian McCann I will create a plan to review and address areas of my game which are weak. I love practicing and get much from an hour or two on the greens, range or short game area.
Also, I am hopeful to play more competitive golf in 2017. I wrote about my experience in 2016 at the Golf Ontario Baka Public Player Championships. I won’t be eligible for that this year and will need to focus within my new club to get the competitive experiences I now crave. An August Club Championship and weekly Men’s night will be a good starting point. I’ll explore other options too as I love the competitive nature of golf. But even with that, my filter for golf will always be to have fun. It’s an amazing game.
Like New Year’s resolutions (which I no longer make) I don’t want to set a firm goal for 2017. I strive to be a scratch golfer and break par regularly. I have never broken par, my best round +3. However, if pressed on the issue I’d like to see if I can get my index down to 5.0 This is a milestone I am seeking to achieve. I have much work to do to get there…we’ll see how things go!
It’s going to be a fun 2017 golf season; I hope it’s an enjoyable and successful.