In the final round of Project Joe, can our beginner golfer break 100 for the first time with his improved swing and using his new Cobra clubs?
Project Joe Blog Entry 3 – Last Chance Saloon
Watch Joe attempt to break 100 in his final round of the series at the tricky Wellingborough Golf Club
Football, Bill Shankly once declared, is a simple game complicated by idiots. Well my name is Joe, and I am an idiot.
Golf has turned out to be a complicated sport for me – much more than I’d ever anticipated when taking it up. As it turns out, it’s also a lot harder than I thought it would ever be and, boy, do you need to invest serious time to make yourself better.
With a six-month-old son and full-time job, that hasn’t been quite as easy as I’d hoped – for some reason, “Goodbye, see you in four hours” doesn’t always go down especially well at home with the wife.
Since beginning this series with Cobra Golf, though, there’s absolutely no doubt that I’ve improved significantly; everything from basic posture to my swing is better than it was three months ago, thanks to the help of coach James Whittemore and my own practice.
RELATED: Joe Gets Fitted For New Clubs
The custom-fitted clubs have been an absolutely dream – hit them as sweetly as I know I can, and you’re still thinking about the connection hours later. There’s also a hell of a lot to learn, though, and it’s mostly swimming around my head: are my knees bent too much? Is my grip relaxed? Am I rotating enough? Am I snatching too quickly? What on earth are my wrists doing? Am I lined up properly?
So, going into my final round at the lovely Wellingborough Golf Club, there was the nagging sense that I wasn’t going to crack my 100 target – and on a tough course I’ve never played before with a slope rating of 139, perhaps not even my previous best of 115.
For starters, my two weakest areas just happen to be quite important: anything off a tee, and putting. With much more focus going into my irons and wedges, I hadn’t managed to learn a solid driver swing that was going to get me anywhere productive, nor had I put those valuable hours in on the putting green.
When you can’t consistently get a bit of distance up the fairway in a straight line, you’re a) immediately hampering yourself and relying on rescue shots from the off and b) that’s even if you avoid a penalty in the first place – especially on a course with only two par 3s. It’s not conducive to a good score and will hold me back until I can get it right.
But as I teed off (well, a 6-iron off the floor) on the opening hole, things didn’t begin too badly. If I could putt anything near half-decent, double-bogeys might become pars and the odd disaster hole (hello, that ten over there) could be reduced in severity.
Alas, my fatal mistakes – mainly overhitting on speedy greens I wasn’t used to – kept holding me back. Still, I improved as the front nine went on and actually ended fairly strongly. At the halfway mark I’d shot 56: not in 100 territory, but on to beat my best score at least, and looking to shave shots rather than limit damage. It wasn’t impossible.
But it’s amazing what this game can do to your head. Start thinking about the score and you’re in with a somehow-better-than- expected 66 on the back nine for a frustrating 122 finish. And yet strangely, I didn’t walk off the course with an impending sense of early retirement.
Quite the opposite, actually – I was only thinking about the positives. Some pretty good bunker work; mostly strong wedges; learnings about club selection around the green and how to create a divot. I’d got plenty of pointers on the day and I came away from Wellingborough with some incredibly useful takeaways for next time. I already knew where I was weakest, and it was exactly what stopped me carding a better score – cutting out three and four putts could have legitimately shaved off about 15 shots.
I’m constantly feeling like I could turn a corner at any moment, which I think is good because it suggests improvement. Once I get the right feelings and everything becomes a little more natural, I’m hoping to get much closer to my target of 100.
It’s all part of the journey ultimately, and no one thinks it’s easy – just speak to any club golfer who’s still constantly searching for something more. It can feel lonely when you’ve just chunked one into a bunker, but such is this game that’s become my new obsession. A game this idiot is trying to make much less complicated.