Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 9:00 AM

Viewer Mail: Intlvagabond Writes...

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The following grouchy golf observation was submitted by a grouchy golfer from Hong Kong named "Intlvagabond." It's a great story that we can all sympathize. Thanks Intlvagabond, and may your stocks and golf game go on a bull run!

Golf and Stocks

The sudden realization that I was destined not to improve in golf happened quite inauspiciously at the end of a round in Taipei, almost 10 years after I took up the game. I shot a 108. It was perhaps one of the most indifferent moments in my life. The sense of caring just disappears. There is no more emotional energy left.

It's like buying a stock and watching it drop. At the beginning of the trade, you're all hopeful, you've done the research, and you're ready to get rich. You buy the stock that all of your friend's have recommended you get, kind of like the latest illegal driver by Callaway, and then you start to wait. But it doesn't happen, and then you just start thinking all the time about it. Then suddenly, the stock starts to rise and you start to mentally spend. You think about the new Porsche that you see in the magazines. And illusions of a better way of life starts to appear, the idea of business class over economy - how did you ever handle it in the past?

Then it starts to drop. It goes below your entry price and you think, if it just goes up to where you got in, you'll sell and at least be even. But it never goes back to par, it just keeps sinking. The feeling of sickness at the pit of your stomach becomes more and more unbearable until you have to turn off the screen.

In golf, that feeling is called a quadruple bogey. It’s confirmation that you've blown your round, par is no longer possible for the round. It's over.

When I started golf, my father insisted I take lessons. Best advice I ever got. I supplemented those lessons with magazines, books and videos. I became a student of the game. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf was ingrained in my mind. I patterned my swing after Seve Ballesteros through imported magazines from Japan. They had all these sequential photographs taken at 1/32 of a second. Somehow, through Hogan and Ballesteros, I managed to hit my forged blades straight and consistent (nobody told me I wasn't supposed to hit blades).

It was 1992 and my golf game was about to take a detour... and not the direction I wanted. Fred Couples just won the Masters and every time a tournament occurred it seemed like it was the Couple's swing clinic. He had the smoothest, silkiest swing. It was hypnotic in a rhythmic even tempo'd way.

And there began my demise.

From a Japanese golf magazine CHOICE, I learned that Fred used a MacGregor Eye-O-Matic 845 Persimmon driver (later to a Boom Boom 9 degree driver) - x/stiff flex, Ram Laser Fx Bore thru 13 degree w/ Dynamic Gold X100 steel shaft (borrowed from Tom Watson), Lynx Parallax 2-PW, 56 and 60 degree Cleveland Classic 588 wedges and a Ping Anser 020 putter.

Guess what I got?

My fundamental, flat, elbow-tucked-in back swing now became an upright, outside-in take-away, looping, flying-elbow back swing. Of course, in reality, I had no where near the timing, eye-hand-coordination that Couple's did.

But I tried.

For a while, whether it was the energy of youth or just not knowing better, I got away with it. My score hit a low of 89 and I was truly happy.

But it was short lived.

Just like stocks, my score took a turn, and I was back into the high nineties.


Blogger Miranda said...

This viewer sounds so much like a guy I work with that it scares me. Only my co-worker isn't into golf, he's into electronics. But the same worry over things and going out and getting new stuff is the same :)  


Blogger Eric said...

I think I've just had one of these realizations, also about 10 years after taking up the game and shooting one of the worst scores I have in YEARS after thinking I've improved (at the range).

Maybe I should just go out there and play for the love of the game and not for a score?  


Anonymous Wedgehead said...

Poor guy.

I don't buy it though. Golf is just like anything in life, the more time you put into it, the better at it you will get. You can't buy a golf swing. The only way you can learn how to hit a golf ball is by hitting balls. (Sure, a little guidance helps too)

Every time I play, I try to reflect on my round and learn something. Even during my round, good or bad. A rarely go to the range. You can hit buckets upon buckets on the range until you pure every shot, but you can never truly simulate the situational golf shot on the range.

The best practice is to play, and to look at it that way, as practice. Every shot is experience, good or bad. Par 3 courses are perfect for this. I haven't been hitting it well lately, especially my driver, bad. On Saturday, I played a 9-hole par 3 course, not using my driver once. Just tempo and touch. The next day, I played a 6400 yd course and hit 12 of 14 fairways. Crushing it 275 all day.

Why? Confidence.

My game has been steadily improving for the last year and half, ever since I got serious about it. I may be a little more athletic than most, or have above average hand-eye coordination, but golf is a mental game first and foremost. The day you don't believe in yourself you are done.

I know I will break par one day, and when that happens, I will try to get better in my mind. Not by buying a new putter.  


Anonymous Phil said...

The fundamental problem all us golfers have is that we truly believe we can tame this beast. It is untameable. Always has been, always will be regardless of your skill level. Just look at Goosen in the US Open.

The best thing you can do is just enjoy it when you truly hit the perfect shot. Of course, Hogan said that he only hit one perfect shot a round so I have no idea where that leaves us.  


Anonymous rob w said...

Intlvagabond's post speaks more than golf or stocks. It speaks to a very real human condition. For me, it's a familiar sense of what to do after attaining that next level....the one you experimented with, practiced, and made work through commitment and desire.

I've come back to golf after years of grinding the job, being fair to my wife and nuturing my kids. And the desire to do better, each time at practice or at play is the dilemma. And it's a scary thought because I've gotten better.I've reached a level where it's a whole new ballgame in where I want to go.

Now is when success demands more work, more commitment. While my clubs gathered dust for 15 or so years, I was involved in staying close to home. I got lucky at stocks and even sold a few oil paintings. I found that I could sense the crowd with stocks and understand complimentary colors in painting. Like you Intlvagabond, I reached a level.The stocks started to stag and the last painting was a portrait of my late young sister, five years ago, and felt I couldn't top it. So I quit, not consciously,... the landscapes and still lifes and the everything I was enjoying and advancing in just left.

The burning question is, did I hit the wall or did I erect it?

Now I know the last post to this thread was a few months ago, but if you found this blog recently, like I did, I'd love to hear thoughts on sticking to and attaining that 'next level'.

Mr. Grouchy...thanks for an enjoyable site. Cheers to all.  


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