Starting to get back into the swing of things here. And getting back to posting, mostly regularly. We're in the middle of an office move, and things have conspired to keep me out of my regular routine, and busy all at the same time.
I took some time to undertake a fairly large home project as well during the time away. Here is a before and after picture for you:
Yeah - pretty gross and embarrassing....
You can see the entire photo set here. If you care at all.
In other news, I haven't been taken out of the golf schedule. It seems we get to play a couple of times per week, most weeks, which is nice. Other days, it's time on the driving range to pursue change and improvement. That has paid off nicely for me. Over the weekend I finally broke through my 80-stroke barrier and carded a well-played 78. Yes, you read that right, a 78, besting my previous lifetime best by 3 strokes. And I did it while dribbling my first tee shot off the hozzle about 30 yards, making a double bogey on the first hole. All in all, I hit 8 of 13 fairways, and took 34 putts - with only one three-putt.
The glaring thing about my stats was that I only hit 7 of 18 greens in regulation, so that tells me where I need to spend my range time for sure. I've changed my swing this year, using my wrist-load to try to get more club speed, and committing more to the shot, as opposed to trying help the ball more than I should. That "commitment" (mostly to the follow-through) makes better club speed, but can be disconcerting at impact and follow through. But the practice has paid off - my drives are going farther, straighter, and are doing so with about 20% less effort than before.
I reached 2 of 5 par fives in two, and narrowly missed 2 others, landing just to the right of the green, pin-high each time. Before, I haven't been long enough to consider going for the green in two. There are also two 200-yard par 3's on the course, and I played well there too, where before I would spend a lot of time wondering which club was going to get me to the green. Instead, I was wondering which club would give me the best stopping power and playability once I got there, and that was rewarding as well.
In other golf news (sorry to the regular non-golfing readers...), we took the time a couple of weeks ago to go to the Champions Challenge. It's a charity event hosted by Johnny Miller. Usually he draws a pretty good field to his event, and this year we decided to go, because Jack Nicklaus was going to be there, along with Annika Sorenstam. Given the fact that Annika has announced her retirement, and Jack just isn't going to be playing for that much longer, we decided we needed to go.
I haven't ever been to an event where there are tour players, and this was a good event right here in our back yard. Ian Baker-Finch was there, along with a few other notables, and we just really wanted to go this time. It was cool to see Annika close-up, and she was by far the biggest draw at the event, carrying the biggest gallery along with her. It's a two day event, and we walked most of the first day, and sat for the second day. We started out at the first hole on the second day, watched everyone tee away, then moved to the ninth green, then to the 18th green to watch everyone finish up. A fun couple of days, drenched in hot sun.
Tale of two hats:
One of the highlights - for me at least - was getting up close to Nicklaus, and having him sign my hat. He's the best player ever to lift a club, and it was very cool to see him play. Although he doesn't move well, he still has very obvious elements of his old swing, and it was cool to see him play for sure. And did I mention that he signed my hat? Yeah, cool.
The other hat story comes to us from Indiana. A year or two ago I found a guy who posted old 80's music videos. Every day. Many of them were a pretty good blast from the past, and he took requests. It was pretty fun. He went (and still does go) by the moniker OneHungMan. While I can't vouch for any of that, nor do I plan to be able to in the future, he is a very nice guy who cares about a lot of things, while still being able to make a joke and have fun. We struck up a conversation and before long we discovered we both loved the frustrating game of golf. He's a better player than me, carrying a single-digit handicap, with mine in the low 13's. (though I'm hoping to see mine go down a bit if I can string together a couple more decent rounds in the next couple of weeks.)
He's given me good advice and encouragement along the way. It's hard to link to his blog because it's private now, because he doesn't want to be outed at work - he sometimes vents, shall we say. It may also be private because I once sent some beer to him, along with a tshirt, at work, and I may have offered a couple of clues to his co-workers as to his online identity. I feel bad about that, because now he's private, and only a few get to enjoy the fun videos.
We've talked a lot about real estate too. That's when I learned that he goes away for a week or two every spring to the PGA event in Florida, The Players Championship. As he got ready to go this year, I didn't think much about it, but right as he was leaving, I sent him an email saying that if he had a chance to pick me up one of their cool hats, that would be really cool. He picked me up a hat, and sent it along in a package after he got back from Florida. He asked me a couple of weeks ago if the hat has made me a better player. I have to admit that I have not worn it to play in, and I'm not sure I will wear it. It's a pretty nice hat, and I'm not sure I will be able to get another one, so until I do, I think I may keep this one nice, as opposed to sweaty and stinky. But I can say that I LOVE the hat, and it was a much-appreciated gesture. Thanks man.