My handicap is on the rise – but I’m not panicking just yet
So why are the scores not tumbling? There are probably three reasons. In three of the five rounds, I’ve made a treble at a crucial time that has effectively wrecked my scorecard.
Secondly, I’m playing a golf course that – in all honesty – is probably too long for my game. It’s 6,700 yards off the whites and I’m using driver through 5-iron on more than 60 per cent of my shots (putter excluded).
As anyone will tell you, it’s hard to consistently hit greens when you are using hybrids and long irons for a lot of your approaches.
Thirdly, my putting has dropped off significantly. This was to be expected to some extent as my 2017 season was off the scale.
I made 38% of medium range putts then and knew that was unlikely to repeat itself. Even so, making just 13% so far this season – and only 3% of long putts (compared with 10%) is a bit alarming.
I’m going to ask Titleist to take another look. My custom fitting moved me from a 33 to a 34 inch Scotty Cameron Futura 7M with an extra half-degree of loft.
That necessitated that I stood up a bit taller to the ball but – now the putts count – I don’t feel truly comfortable with it. I just want to crouch a bit more.
When I do that now, the toe of the putter sticks up a touch in the air and I’m struggling to make a consistent strike.
It’s taking me 2.2 shots to get down from long putts and, while that doesn’t sound much, multiply that .2 over the course of a round and they are strokes I can’t afford to make.
I’m continuing to work with performance coach Duncan McCarthy, of Ignite Sports and Leeds Golf Centre, and we’ve been talking about committing to the shot and blocking out extraneous factors.
A decision made with a lack of commitment results in a poor outcome and I think far too much about the potential problems – that bunker, the stream, the out of bounds – in competition.
Duncan is trying to help me focus more on visualising the target and then executing the shot.
I’m still slipping into old habits from time to time but I’ve noticed, particularly with chipping around the greens, that this new mindset is having a positive effect.
We’ve also begun trying to curb my tendency to concentrate on the scorecard and look ahead to what’s coming. My last round shows that obstacle has not yet been overcome but I’ll keep trying.
I’m fairly convinced that many of my issues during a competition are about handing my emotions more efficiently and blocking out some of the negativity that is always bubbling around the surface.
Duncan’s told me to engage with the target and to try and rid the perfectionist behaviour that’s detrimental to my game.
My job is to hit the ball to a target, not to stress when I don’t hit the perfect drive.
A big month of competition lies ahead with the first board competitions of the year to play for. I’m hoping my game will soon be peaking at the right time.
About the project
Club Golf editor Steve Carroll has been fitted into the ultimate Titleist set – from the brand new 718 irons to the Pro V1 ball.
Having compiled stats, including driving accuracy, greens in regulation, sand saves and scrambling, for three months before his fitting, Steve is about to take to the fairways to see how custom fitting has improved his game.
After spending the winter getting used to his new clubs, he is now going to game them in competition – bidding to prove personalised fitting makes a real difference to club players.
Steve’s stats will be monitored using the Shot Scope performance tracking system. He will compare his numbers on a variety of criteria, including driving accuracy, greens in regulation and scrambling.
WITB: Here’s what Steve was fitted into
Driver: Titleist 917 D2, 10.5° (GDI G-Series 50 stiff shaft)
3-wood: Titleist 917 F2, 15° (GDI G-Series 60 stiff shaft)
Hybrids: Titleist 818 H1, 19°, 23° (Aldila Tour ATX85H – 2.8 – stiff shafts)
Irons: Titleist AP3 4-PW (AMT Black regular shafts)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 48°, 54°, 60° (Dynamic Gold shaft)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura 7M (0.5° extra loft, 34” shaft)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1