The value of patience
By mustang6560 on 10/15/12
I learned a valuable lesson on the golf course yesterday — you have to let it (your score) come to you.

I set two goals for my 2012 golf season: 1) break 80 and 2) make it through an entire round at Deerfield (my second home course) without a three-putt. I accomplished the latter goal two weeks ago but I've yet to shoot in the 70s.

I was on fire through 16 holes at Colonial (my home course) yesterday. I felt like Rory McIlroy must have felt during the final round of the PGA Championship. I was wearing out the center of my clubface faster than Lee Westwood. On hole 1, I hit GW past the hole and spun it back to five feet like it was on a chain (I missed the birdie putt though). On hole 2, I hit a punch PW from the rough to three feet and drained the birdie putt. On hole 3, I hit PW to three feet again but missed the downhill right-to-left putt. All in all, I had eight legitimate birdie chances through the first 16 holes but I was only able to convert one.

Then hole 17 happened.

I was 5-over-par when I reached the 17th. Hole 17 is a trick dog-leg right. You don't have to hit driver because it's a shorter par-4, however, it's not an easy tee shot. If you hook the ball left, you're out of bounds. If you slice the ball right, you're in a forest of trees. The best play (in my opinion) is to hit 3-wood and line up five yards or so (it varies depending on your shot type) inside the tree line on the right. I've been playing a draw with 3-wood lately so I lined up all five yards inside the tree line to draw it back (which I successfully pulled off on Saturday). Unfortunately I wasn't able to repeat my success Sunday and I hit a fade. My ball landed just inside the tree line so I had an easy punch to the middle of the fairway. From 40-yards, I'm supposed to be able to at least get up and two-putt for bogey.

Well, I guess it wasn't meant to be because right before my pitch shot, two of my younger brother's high school classmates pulled up on the tee box of the 15 (which is next to the 17th green) and they walked over to say hello. Boom — my concentration went out of the door. The fact they wanted to chat was fine but I wished it could have happened 30 seconds later. Not before my awkward length pitch shot into a narrow green with bunkers guarding both sides! I proceeded to duff my pitch shot short of the green, then I skulled my chip shot, and then three-jacked from the back of the green. I went from 5-over to 8-over-par in one hole.

I was so angry I was on the verge of tears!

By the time I reached the 18th tee box, I was checked out. I hit my drive right and it took my five punch shots to get out of the trees. I picked up my ball and took a triple (otherwise I'm pretty sure I would have broken every single club in my bag). I'm not using the fact that two of my brother's friends were trying to be friendly as an excuse — it's just the reality of the situation and it exposed two things: 1) I need to further develop my mental stamina and 2) I'm want to break 80 too bad. The first issue is something I'll continue to improve on, but I'm more interested in the second issue. It's good to set goals for yourself, however, you can't become wrapped up in them. And the fact is I've let the focus of my game be on breaking 80 too much lately and it back fired yesterday.

If I don't break 80 in 2012, "great" and if I don't "oh well". It's an arbitrary deadline. The goal behind the goal of breaking 80 is to continue to improve and I've made great leaps in my game in 2012. But as three people have told me since last night, "you have to let it come to you". I've got to remain patient in my quest to improve as a golfer. I've got the talent and the determination to break 80 and eventually it will happen.

After I cooled down (with the help of a couple beers in the 19th Hole), I decided to give the closing holes another go. I went birdie, double, par. On a different day, I break 80.


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Image via Flickr, Steve Bowbrick


[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
As you said above, you will accomplish your goal and soon. You have knocked on the door enough that the result is inevitable.
10/15/12
 
Banker85 says:
ouch so close. I would smack my brother in the face.
10/15/12
 
Banker85 says:
You should have said "Guys, not now, trying to break 80 get the F*ck outta my sight, we will talk later."
10/15/12
 
Duke of Hazards says:
i'm not sure I can top advice from Mr. Fortune Cookie and Belligerent Banker
10/15/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Thanks for sharing Nate. I feel your pain, we've probably all been there. You gave up too soon though in my opinion. The 18th hole seems long and tough yes, but a decent drive and layup still gets you within semi-scoring range. On the 18th tee you should've told yourself Wow, what a cool story would it be if I were to bounce back from that disaster with a birdie on the last hole to break 80 by one shot? I know you were in a tough spot after the 17th but those are the kind of moments in which heroic comebacks are born. Also it sounds like you are quitting somewhat on this goal. Don't quit is what I say. It's a good goal. Keep charging as hard at it as you did when you first set it. You have been coming close and improving your handicap in the process. Don't let a couple bad holes change your outlook.
10/15/12
 
jfurr says:
You played very well, keep it up and it'll happen.
10/15/12
 
GBogey says:
Based upon my vast experience of breaking 80 (3 times-only on my 2nd home course), it helps to not be paying attention to the score. All three times I knew I was playing well but there were things going on that distracted me from knowing exactly where I stood until the 18th tee, and at that point it was a done deal. Looking back, it is actually helpful that the 15th and 16th holes are extremely difficult holes so during crunch time I have been totally focused on trying to par/bogey and not realizing that a slip would cost me.
10/15/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@beef- Don't worry, my desire to break 80 isn't going anywhere.
10/15/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@beef- Also, you're right. I shouldn't have checked out after the 17th. I want to be heroic!
10/15/12
 
Virtuaframax says:
Nathan, As you mentioned, it's 95% mental... I think you might have gotten nervous when looking at your score knowing you were just 5 over par w/ 3 to go... I've been doing a lot of that too... playing good and with no bad holes to break 40 in my league and fell short many times because thinking of the score and not at the shots I had to make.
10/15/12
 
GBogey says:
To commiserate, I am dying to break 80 on my home course. I've had 5 should haves this summer, 3 of which can only be called choke jobs, with the last one when I tried to hit a hard fade on the dogleg 15th (because I was playing so well) with the result ending up in the 2nd fairway and double bogey. Safe play leads to par and breaking 80. The last close call (no choke) I actually didn't know where I stood on 18. Got to my ball hoping for 100 yds to pin - it was 102 (I had just nailed 3 straight 100 yd shots). As I set up, my mind wandered to the fact that I had 1.5 hours to get to an appt. post round, only to chunk the wedge 40 yds leading to bogey. Only after adding it up did I realize the slip in concentration cost me 80 again.
10/15/12
 
Virtuaframax says:
i broke 80 once and it happened when i had no expectation (7 hrs drive and 4 hrs sleep) and I didnt keep my score in front of me (had a friend keeping it). Ended up checking my status at the 14th hole exactly when it started pouring and thinking of going back to club house: 4 over and there was no way i would quit the round! doubled par 3 15th... bounced back w/ birdie on par 5 16th and "cruised" with 2 bogeys at 17 and 18 for a 77. This time i was able to keep the cool and not let that double getting in my head
10/15/12
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@mustang you have to read "why bad golf happens to good people" must read and its only .99 cents trust it me it will help you. You'll break 80 weather permitting before end of the year.
10/15/12
 
Duke of Hazards says:
Nate - Just curious if your own app jinked you like it did this guy with the projected score...

www.oobgolf.com/content/golfer+of+the+week/3-473
10/15/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@DoH- LOL. No.
10/15/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@GS- Just bought it. I'll give it a read.
10/15/12
 
windowsurfer says:
So familiar! I had a bucket full of stories like yours after striving for sub-80 for two years at my new course. And a pile of 80s and 81s to go with it. Had three 90s in a row about two months ago and was as mad as the jammie dodger guy (warning language: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGxKhUuZ0Rc). Something broke loose in my brain after those three consecutive bad games and on my next hot round, I prevailed despite darkness and a bogey on 16 that required a par-birdie or better on 17-18. Made it with a 78. Soon after had a 75 on freshly punched greens (I could not miss a putt) and now I flirt with ol' Ms 70-something, pretty (knock wood) regularly. Grind on bruv!
10/15/12
 
KeithH says:
Hang in there Nathan. I kind of agree with GBogey that some times it works best if you are not focusing on your score. Just grind it out one hole at a time. Some of my best rounds have come when I screw up the first couple of holes and then just forget about shooting a low round. I don't like to add up the scores until I am all done with the round. I know when I have a good round going but I don't like to start thinking about what I need to shoot on the last few holes hit some milestone. I also don't like it when someone else is keeping score and says something like "you have a great round going, you are only X over par". That is like telling a pitcher "hey only six more outs and you have a perfect game". Instead of focusing on 80 just focus on trying to make as many pars as you can and no double bogies. One hole at a time.
10/15/12
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
Nathan, I've seen your short game - you will break 80 sooner than you expect.
10/15/12
 
Panerai111 says:
Ouch! Been there, done that. I had my best round ever going. I was 1 over going to 16. I doubled 3 straight for 79.
10/15/12
 
mmontisano says:
i'm in the same boat as you, Nathan. i've put a lot of pressure on myself to break 80 and this slump i've been in isn't helping.
10/16/12
 
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