I returned to Mesa on December 26th after a nice Christmas vacation home and hit the ground running. I have been seeing my coaches, Terry Rowles and Michael Pinkey, about twice per week. We spend some time hitting indoors, some time at the range, and some time out playing on the course. These two have made an incredible difference in my golf game. Their extensive knowledge of how to assess the golf swing with technology (Trackman, 3D AMM, SAM putting lab, Titleist Performance Institute) has allowed them to quickly and accurately diagnose problems in my swing and find the proper solutions. I have seen my ball striking improve at a faster rate in the past two months than I have ever seen before. For those of you who enjoy hearing the technical side of things, I have improved my swing's efficiency by bringing the difference between my swing path and club face closer to zero. My natural tendency is to swing left with an open face which produces an inefficient strike and makes it difficult to control ball flight. Now, I swing more down the line with a square face. This shallowed out my angle of attack and makes it easier to hit solid shots more often and work the ball left or right. A lot of these improvements came simply by Mike and Terry helping me to better understand the laws of ball flight and the golf swing. Then, we made adjustments in my set-up, reduced some sway in the backswing, and designed programs in the gym to promote the stability and mobility that I needed. I am starting to make more good swings on the course, and most importantly, I am getting better at self-diagnosis. Now that I know what produces each of my misses, I can assess and correct while on the course or range.
I have also spent time working with Kristine Reese and Tiffany Yager, the wonderful people at Vision54. I participated in one of their weekend workshops in January to kick-start the year and was provided with enough learning material in those two days to last me years of competitive golf. Their purpose is to help golfers improve their mental skills similar to how they typically work to improve physical skills. For example, one of my biggest takeaways from the weekend was understanding how balance, tempo, and tension can affect the golf game. When most golfers hit a bad shot, they immediately start analyzing what they did differently in their swing or what kind of position they were in at the top, when in reality, the swing simply does not change that much from shot to shot. What changes is your balance, tempo, and tension. By being aware of these factors, what makes them change, and what they are like at your best, you can bring out your best golf more often.
As you can see, I have been digesting a great deal of information this off-season. I absolutely love having the opportunity to learn how to make myself better as a player and person from these incredible teachers. Mike, Terry, Kristine, and Tiffany have helped me come up with an important focal point that touches everything I do: process. It is far too easy to get caught up in the "good" or "bad" of each shot, scorecard, tournament or year. When my only goals are results, I experience great emotional highs and lows which are simply not sustainable or productive over a long period of time. I am now trying to view each moment with a learner's mind. I frequently ask myself, What did I do well there? What did I learn? What am I going to do about what I learned? These questions encourage me to view everything I do as one more step in the process towards achieving my dream. I don't need to label everything I do as success or failure. Rather, I just learn from the situation, get better, and move on.
I have played two Cactus Tour events in the past three weeks in order to dust off the tournament rust before starting the Symetra Tour season. I am so glad to have done this, because there was definitely rust to dust! I shot 72-74-76 at Foothill GC to finish T15th/32 and then 73-75-70 to finish T15th/57. Although my scores were high, the tournaments were successful in that I learned a great deal during each one. In particular, I learned what kinds of misses tension will cause in my new swing and how to fix them. I also slowly got back into the swing of creating confidence and scoring.
I am absolutely thrilled to start up tour life again. I will have my parents, coaches, local friends, and even my former Husker team out watching this weekend in Mesa. There is no better way to start the year than sleeping in my own bed with all of that support cheering me on. Next week, I hit the road to play at Industry Hills outside of L.A. I will then have two off weeks back here in Arizona before driving to Florida to start the bulk of the season. The Symetra Tour is getting better every year- we now have 19 events (up from 15 last year), improved geographic flow from event to event, and the highest ever average purse size. You can view the full schedule and follow each week's scoring at www.SymetraTour.com.
Thank you all for the continued support and love! I promise to have more regular updates as the season gets started.