Chasing my dreams one shot at a time
I suppose I have been avoiding writing this blog. Its been eight weeks since I have had any type of golf result to (literally) write home about, but the rattlings going round in my head have reached a decibel I cannot ignore. So, here we are.
The last bright spot to which I am referring was my T-39th place finish on the LPGA in Indianapolis. It was an enjoyable week all around. I stayed with a delightful repeat host family (shoutout to the Lacys!) in downtown Indy, and I happen to like the Pete Dye layout that weaves its way inside the Brickyard race track for a few holes. I still don’t quite understand the desire to marry NASCAR and golf; however, they somehow make it work in Indy.
Three weeks prior, I sought the assistance of a new coach, Andy Patnou. I had dragged my feet in making a coaching change, but after months of unreturned phone calls and half-hearted help it was finally time. Andy started by addressing a few basics: my right hand grip had unintentionally migrated way too on top of the club and my shoulder turn was rather flat. One of golf’s greatest evils: a minuscule change means the difference between a weekend pairing with Lydia Ko and a weekend pairing with whomever you’re jockeying for elbow room in the center seat of the Southwest flight out of town.
Most notably, my caddie in Indianapolis was local sports psychologist Dr. Rob Bell. Rob and I have followed each other on social media for a few years and I had listened to some of his podcasts, but we did not formally know each other until the Brickyard. I was aware he had caddied for professional golf clients before, so I reached out. Turns out this was one of my rare brilliant ideas.
Plenty of people are capable of providing a yardage to the bunkers and not losing head covers. The true differentiation between looper and proper caddie is their competence in the sports psych department. Rob’s cues were simple:
Take a deep breath here. Reset.
Just focus on this first tee shot. That’s it.
How are you feeling? Tired? We’ve got five more holes. Stay with me and be mentally tough for just five more holes.
His guidance was remarkably consistent and clear. Its like... he is a professional or something. My swing was gelling, the soft course conditions suited me, and thanks to Rob, I stayed unbelievably present. Eleven under par and a critical jump inside the top-150 on the money list. Surely, on the way up, right!?
Wrong. Oh, golf. I was in a fantastic place mentally next the two weeks at the Canadian Open and the Portland Classic with Rob’s cues still echoing in my head, drowning out the usual demons, but unfortunately my form didn’t match. I missed the cut in both, albeit with more grace than usual.
I reconvened with Andy in Scottsdale, and he provided more simple but necessary guidance. Turns out it is hard to make LPGA cuts when aimed twenty five yards right on every shot. I also recommitted to diligent short game practice for two weeks, tripling the amount of time I’m typically found on the putting green.
To continue Q-Series preparation, remain competitive, and visit even more exotic travel destinations, I shipped off for Symetra events in Prattville, AL and Longwood, FL. Unfortunately my form was lacking there, too. The sequencing of my swing has been so inconsistent for the last year that it feels each week I am either zero or the hero with nothing in-between.
Thus, Andy and I have worked on another technical tweak to make my sequencing more consistent. Golf is cyclical, and this tweak is a return to the motion I had mastered in my glorious and victorious summer of 2015, when I believe I best maintained a high level of ball striking for an extended period of time. I’m already pleased with the progress made and grateful to have a committed, supportive coach to guide the process.
Q-Series has morphed into an eight-round marathon in Pinehurst, NC. 108 women will play four rounds on Pinehurst #6 (Oct 24-27), take a three day break, then play four more rounds on Pinehurst #7 (Oct 31-Nov 3). There is no cut, and the scoring is continuous from the first course to the next. The top 45 finishers will receive 2019 LPGA status. There are no longer twenty “full” cards: all 45 will be placed in the same category and will be subject to reshuffles. However, finishers 21-45 will be at a higher priority level than they have in the past because 101-125 from the 2018 money list are no longer granted top status.
Whew- did you get all that? Probably not, so here’s what you need to know: I have a singular focus on getting the ball in the hole as quickly as possible every day between now and November 3rd. I’m relying on my usual toolbox for stress management: daily meditation, journaling, emotional support from friends and family. The addition of Dr. Rob to my team has been a valuable bonus.
Thank you to each and every one of you who continues to be a part of the ride. Whether I have crashed in your home, played in your group, heard your cheers outside the ropes, sported your company’s logo, or you’ve just texted a kind word- thank you. I could not do it alone.
An inside look at my journey in professional golf
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