Quest to Single Figures: Practice makes perfect

The Scoop

It's been practice, practice, practice... and even a sniff of a rare sub-80 round until a late-round disaster as Craig Middleton's quest for single figures continues.

I know, I know. I’m a week late with my latest blog post on the quest to get down to single figures. Sorry, I’m sure you’re itching to find out how I’m getting on.

In all honesty, for the last few weeks it’s been tricky to get as much practice in as I would like. The weather has been pretty awful for starters, and I haven’t had as much time as I’d like.

The last seven days though have been more useful. They included a trip to Oulton Hall for a stay-and-play review courtesy of Q Hotels. I’ll get stuck into that round a bit further down.

Setting targets

I’m not deluded: I know that in order to get down to single figures I need to have a plan rather than just hitting 50 drives at the range.

I thought it would make sense to start setting targets for different parts of my game.

I shot a very respectable 82 at Oulton Hall at the weekend. But the frustrating thing about it was that I three-putted six greens. I could have easily broken 80, which is something I would love to do more regularly.

My up-and-down conversion rate was also poor, so I decided to get down to the practice area at Moor Allerton.

Simple 10-yard chips from the fringe were the place to start. You see good golfers make this part of the game look easy. The initial target I set was 35 out of 50 to finish inside the ‘gimme’ zone. On my first attempt I scored 37/50. A good start.

The next stage is to get to 40/50 every time. It shouldn’t be too hard to achieve that every time I practise.

Just one more par…

I have broken 80 three times in my golfing life. Once, a couple of years back on a par-66 course. And twice, more recently, at Whitburn Golf Club, a par-70 seaside course.

Breaking 80 is something I want to do on a much more regular basis, but I know that if I keep on making silly mistakes it’s just not going to happen.

I got pretty close again last weekend at Oulton Hall though.

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Two birdies in the first five holes gave me a really good start, but then a few mistakes crept into play. I’m usually pretty solid on the greens, but over the round I suffered SIX three-putts.

With just a par needed at the last for a 79, the excitement kicked in and I managed to make my first treble bogey in about two months.

A round of 82 that in all honesty could and probably should have been at worst a 78. Baby steps.

A moment of magic

We are lucky to be situated just a 60-second drive away from Moor Allerton Golf Club, so we took the opportunity to play a quick loop of four holes at lunchtime on Wednesday.

It’s hard to get any sort of rhythm when playing just a few holes, so I’m using that as an excuse for the car crash that was my first three holes.

A double, a bogey and a pick up on the 12th left me wondering why I wasn’t back at the office tucking into a Gregg’s Mexican Chicken with a bag of Cheese and Onion, washed down by a bottle of Coke.

But what happened on the 18th is something I won’t forget in a hurry. After tactically hitting my 3 wood into the trees for a better angle (honest) I had 135 yard left to the pin. Sounds simple, right?

I had a pond to get over, from a divot, with a restricted backswing due to overhanging branches. I couldn’t wait to duff it into the water to finish off what was a pretty lacklustre hour on the course.

Instead, I hit my best iron shot in a long, long time. Over the water to 10 feet. A quick glance over to my colleague revealed that he wasn’t even clapping. Selfish.

Steve is on form

You all know about my battle with my colleague and (former) friend Steve Carroll to see who can get to single figures first.

Well, his golf is looking pretty good these days. He’s even been getting some faults fixed down at The Shack.

Watch his first lesson below:

 

Obviously until I get my official handicap this battle can’t really get going. But in the meantime it’s good to check up on how the oppo is getting on. Trips to Lumine, Woodhall Spa and Kingsbarns puts Steve well ahead of me at the moment!

The next steps

I’m hoping to be joining a Winter League soon, but in the meantime I’ll be getting as much practice in as possible. I know I won’t become a single-figure golfer overnight.

The next part of my game to work on is putting. I’ll let you know how I’ve been getting on in a couple of weeks.

Happy golfing!

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