The Early Season Golf Blues
By bkuehn1952 on 3/2/12
The man needs no introduction by now, but at oob we believe those who deserve to be recognized should be recognized. Therefore, it's is my greatest pleasure to share with you Brian "bkuehn1952" Kuehn's latest submission. And in case you missed any of his 30 previous posts, I've linked them out here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Enjoy!

Golf season is just around the corner here in SE Michigan. We had such a mild winter that several courses remained open through the months of December, January and February. Our regional Golf Show is next weekend and that typically kicks off the season barring an unusual weather pattern.

Unfortunately, slogging around the courses in less than optimal weather, wet shaggy fairways, bumpy greens and churned up bunkers often make for a less than happy experience. All too frequently my initial exuberance is quickly replaced by depression; a condition I have come to call the early season golf blues.

The rational part of my brain understands that my loss of distance off the tee is primarily a result of the ball plugging in the wet fairway. It knows my lack of ball striking ability is not entirely the fault of my swing; the soggy thin lies I am forced to hit from make a major contribution to the result. Lastly, the inability to get my ball up & down from around the green is more a factor of iffy lies, wet, unraked bunkers and bumpy, uncut greens. Of course, if I ever listened to the rational part of my brain I would probably be playing tennis. So despite all the evidence to the contrary, I usually conclude after carding another score 15 shots over my handicap that somehow I managed to lose my game over the winter. I will never play well again.

As the black cloud of the golf blues descends upon me, I start to think about buying one of the latest driver offerings from the major manufacturers. Surely a $500 investment in a golf club would find my long lost game. A switch to a rock hard distance ball is also contemplated as a band-aid to my power outage. Meanwhile, the tinkering begins: play the ball closer to my back foot, play the ball closer to my front foot, strong grip, weak grip, swing more upright, swing flatter, swing slower, swing faster. You guys know the drill.

Then one day the temperatures will top 60 degrees, the sun will shine and the fairways will have dried out. My round will start with a couple solid drives that actually bounce and roll. With no expectations of playing well, my swing will be relaxed. Suddenly a few greens will be hit in regulation and some putts will fall. At the end of the day I will discover that I beat my handicap by 3 shots. Halleluiah! Good bye blues, hello golf.

If you, like me, find yourself suffering the early season golf blues this spring, here are a couple of things I have found that will hasten the re-discovery of your game:
  1. Move up a tee for a couple rounds. You need practice with all your clubs. Hitting driver and then fairway wood/hybrid on most holes won’t help find your game. Play at a distance that will give you a few wedges and short irons into the green.

  2. Remember that many of your first few rounds will be “out of season”. Don’t worry about a ballooning handicap until early to mid-April. Also, if you play in handicapped tournaments like I do, a ballooning handicap has a silver lining.

  3. If you find yourself on a fairly empty course, turn the round into a practice round. Many ranges won’t open up their grass practice areas until late April or May so use these times to work on approach shots and your short game.

  4. Remember that for many of us, golf is like a roller coaster. There are going to have some down periods but you are virtually guaranteed that up ahead there are going to be some more thrills. Keep plugging away and that ability you were convinced was gone forever will return.
So, does anyone ever get the early season golf blues? What is your recipe for beating golf depression? Let’s hear from you. We can all use the advice.

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Flickr, Ryan R

[ comments ]
DaRupp13 says:
Such a crucial article, couldn't agree more. I actually played a few weeks ago on a day that was decently warm. Wind was blowing a bit and you're exactly right, distance was unpredictable at best, greens were about a 3.5 on a stimp, though actually the bunkers were in decent shape. I ended up shooting an 89 which is only slightly over my handicap, but that was with 6 3-putts. I went out and spent $200 on the 2011 technology driver so obviously my distance off the tee was outstanding. Putting was the biggest issue for me, nothing got to the hole no matter how hard I hit it and would bounce left and right at random times.

Sorry for the long post, last anecdote then I'll be quiet. my bro-in-law texts me a couple weeks ago, "golf tomorrow? I just killed it at the range." I had to quickly bring him back to reality for many of the reasons above but also, good range visit does not equal good course visit. Poor kid, so much to learn.
guzzlingil says:
Move to is currently 72 degrees can play year 'round
joe jones says:
Brian, Being a former resident of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana you brought back painful memories about praying for half way decent weather so I could hop in my car to drive south in search of the first open course. Living in the Phoenix area we take great weather for granted. Sunny, 50 degrees with a little wind is our worst case scenario usually. Great article. Better times are coming. They always do.
DougE says:
Brian: Good points and all true. I have tried to play here in CT over this mild winter when the temps got above 45. It hasn't been very satisfying. It is so difficult to strike the ball cleanly, and when you do, so disappointing to see it travel only 75-80% of what you expected. My 7i, my normal 145-155 yard club, has become my 130-135 yard club this winter. I feel like a weakling. And forget putting---that will really ruin your day. Thankfully, the courses I have played here since Dec. have had their tees all moved up to the front. Yet, sometimes it still takes me an extra shot to get to the green. It's very discouraging.

Thanks for bringing it up, Brian. It's nice to hear it's not just me.
GBogey says:
My first three rounds last year were awful, averaging about 7 shots higher than normal, so I'm telling myself that the first 3 rounds this year should be considered practice rounds. The interesting thing about it was that when I charted the rounds, 100% of the 7 strokes were related to the short game, not the full swing, so another thought is to have a dedicated short game practice session before going out.
CeeBee says:
Brian, every winter the weather gods beat the hell out of us. Trying to play a game resembling golf can have dire consequences. Starting over again each spring is somewhat painful. Many a time I've said to myself "WHY BOTHER"?

But we don't give up.

Here in Md we have had an awesome winter for golf. No snow to speak of and fairly mild temps. Almost havn't missed a beat.

However this is like fantasy land this year. reality is we are lucky to get in 10 rounds from Dec- March. 2 years ago we had so much snow the courses were closed for over 2 months.

You northern boys deal with this every year. To hell with that.
Jbeck says:
Great article, thanks for the tip. I will take this into consideration as I beat my head against a tree for leaving another iron short of the green. LOL
Spaceman_Spiff says:
I often forget this as well and run into the same problem here in colorado. But this time, I've taken a different approach. I started just swinging 100x a day. This has helped immensely. I already know the low-flight range balls are a big disappointment, but to see the flight is more important at this point anyway. So distance be dammed. I feel I might be up for my best golf season ever considering the work I've put in this 'off-season' though all in all. Just got to keep it until like you said; early/mid April.
jcstoll says:
The shrinkage (in yardage) is due also to cold (golf) balls. You can lose probably 10-20 yds off a driver at 50 degF compared to 75 degF.

But instead of getting frustrated with crappy conditions in winter golf, I choose instead to get frustrated working on the swing via indoor golf lessons.
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