Breaking 100: recent struggles

Un update on Play Your Best Challenger Paul Matthews, who is attempting to break 100

Paul Matthews

As I write this blog there remains a little over one month until the end of my challenge. It seems like a good point to reflect over the previous five months.

Way back in March, during my club fitting at PING, various people said to me that I'd have no problem breaking 100. Someone even said they thought I'd do it by May!

These kind remarks filled me with excitement and dread in equal measure. At that point I could stand on the tee of most holes on my course and have even odds of a par or a 12. It was that kind of inconsistency that kept my scores the wrong side of 100.

As it turns out, my first golf lesson wasn't until May but after two lessons I felt like a new man. My confidence was high and I was starting to see real improvement in my scores. I'd shot a 97 during a round with friends and a 105 in the monthly medal.

My confidence carried me into June and I continued to play better golf than ever before. I had a wonderful round on the Vilamoura Old Course in Portugal and looked set to really make strides in my Challenge.

Work, holiday and illness meant I hadn't played a single competition in June. No problem, I thought; July and August would provide plenty of opportunities.

Unfortunately, during July, the wheels well and truly came off. My scores slowly crept up and my confidence plummeted. I'm not one for excuses; I think a combination of factors led me to this point. I had starting to ask myself why I hadn't already reached my goal.

So many people, all far better golfers than I, had watched me hit shots and told me I'd ‘easily' break 100. But I wasn't finding it easy, it was getting harder. My practice had lost focus, perhaps I thought I'd done enough work in the first couple of months.

Whatever the cause, my confidence had evaporated and I wasn't even enjoying playing. At some point amongst my wallowing in self-pity, I had something of an epiphany. My score didn't matter. That might sound like a rather stupid to say, especially considering the whole purpose of my challenge is about scoring, but it's true.

In the last few weeks my practice has become more focused and productive and playing golf has brought a smile back to my face. Over the bank holiday weekend I played a round that felt as good as any I'd played before. I was achieving nothing spectacular, but my game had a rhythm and I was enjoying it.

Alas, on the 14th, disaster struck. On this 500 yard par 5 I was stood by the 150 marker for two shots, eyeing a simple shot in to the front of the green. I'm not sure what happened next (I may have blocked it out) but I walked off the green with a 10. I was initially furious, but set myself the goal of playing the final four holes for net-par. I finished on the 18th having shot those holes in two under my handicap.

I've no idea if I'll break 100 in competition. There are a couple more opportunities to try at my home course before the final day at Karsten Lakes. My plan is to just try and enjoy my golf and play the best I can.

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