It has been 3 years since I golfed regularly. When we moved, it simply was not a priority. I was able to get out a few times in the UK, but the focus was on travelling, enjoying the greater London area, a new job that was very time consuming and a shift in family focus to tennis (we all started it for the first time …) meant that golf was a distant memory. So I have slowly watched the handicap climb from a low of 11 (just could not break 80) to the current 20ish level.

Now that we are back in Canada, living beside a golf course, golf is back for our family. I say our family as I am a pretty lucky guy, my wife started golfing when I did and loves the sport. So it paints a great picture of what retirement holds in the future.

But golf has not been a part of my life for a long time. I started a little over 12 years ago out of necessity. Despite having a brother who was a golf fiend (he was one of those golf course rats, playing since he was 12 and spending his summers playing, and then working on the golf course .. and is still a nutty 4 handicap). I never got into the sport until I was at Dell. As a Major Account Rep, it became clear that golf was part of the job. So one day, after much discussion, I put an order in for 2 sets of Callaway clubs and we started golfing.

I have a good friend who also started golfing late in life and he was a good coach, although we have different levels of detail orientation. His approach can be summarized as this:

  • Spend the first 12 months reading every book written on golf, ever. Do not touch a club.
  • Take lessons and implement a rigorous and gruelling practice regime.
  • Never let up on the above 2 points (you know who you are).

I went somewhere in the middle, with his coaching:

  • The first year was focused on learning:
    • Lessons: I took a bunch, but I found them confusing. The problem is that different coaches use different methods and in the 1990’s, they were ‘feel’ based. Not data centric. It was not until I found Virtually Perfect golf, which maps your swing via computer to a wireframe that it really helped – as science was applied.
    • Books: I read a bunch, my favourites:
      • David Pelz Short Game Bible.  The bibles on the game. As they say, it is 100 yards and in that wins a match (not that people on the range, driver in hand, pay attention to that). The Putting Bible is also a ‘must read’.
      • Little Red Book.  A great book on edict and the basics of the game.
      • I read about 6 or 7 others, and subscribed to two golf magazines .. but they were less memorable.
    • I did not take my driver or any wood out that first year. I would only hit 3 iron off the tee. It was painful sometimes, but it helped.
  • The second year, the driver came out. I kept reading and practicing. Started breaking 100 regularly.
  • The third year, I read the book ‘How to Break 90’. I should have read it earlier. It changed the way I played the course. I started breaking 90 that year. Of interest, according to the National Golf Foundation the average golf score remains at around 100.
  • The fourth year and fifth year were years where I worked in Financial Services and golfing was part of the culture. I had the opportunity to play a lot of golf, consistently hit below 90 and into the low 80s. One day I attempted an 18 inch putt on a long, championship course to break 80 for the first time … I missed it.. Had I known I was putting for a 79, I would have taken 5 minutes longer to aim that putt … and then probably missed it again (smile).

And now, after not really playing for 3+ years, it starts over because I am surely not breaking 90. It is all about practice in this game. Although I will not be gunning for the 11 handicap, I know what that takes and it would require a time commitment that I am not willing to make at this point. But being around 90 is definitely in the cards.

After a 20 degree weekend that felt like 25, sun shiny brightly and a family foursome (boys have started too) on late Sunday afternoon .. it looks like this is going to be a great summer ….