Wolf’s Progress-Part 1

Follow writer Mike Wolf’s quest to lower his 18 handicap through MetaGolf’s Player Development Program in this online exclusive:

Trees Get in the Way of Getting Better
I puffed out my chest, took a deep breath, fastened on my golf glove and headed for the first tee at Green Valley Ranch, a magnificent course east of Denver and host of the Colorado Open.  I was confident, ready to put my hard work with the folks at MetaGolf to the test.  I had made strides in the last few lessons in my bunker game, and my iron play was slowly becoming more consistent.  Little did I know, aptly-named Green Valley Ranch is the Boston Celtics of golf courses – ready to exploit any weakness in my game and willing to mercilessly attack it time and again.
Everything I’m learning at MetaGolf is tailored to my designation as a “rhythm golfer.”  Dr. Bill Campbell, the mental specialist, has been encouraging me to shorten my pre-shot routine to the point of standing behind the ball and counting to three, trying to make contact with the ball by the time I get to three.  It allows me to capitalize on my strengths as an athletic golfer and takes the mental jujitsu out of every shot.  It works great when I’m loose on the driving range.  Standing in a fairway bunker 130 yards from the first hole, having to carry the ball over another bunker in order to safely land on the green?  All of a sudden, I need more than three seconds (as any weekend warrior can attest, everything that can go wrong will pop into your head). 

As my round dragged on, my mental game got worse as I tried to remember all the minute adjustments my “entourage” and I had made to my game over the last few weeks: stand further from the ball, imagine strings attached to your pockets to slightly lift up your butt, stay on the balls of your feet, keep moving as you prepare to hit the shot, stay steep when hitting out of the bunkers, don’t think.

In the end, my scorecard looked like the refrain from Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” song.  Only the zero was in fact a ten on the tenth hole at Green Valley Ranch.  I had contracted a snapping duck hook like a nasty summer cold.  The old-growth trees I marveled at while coming up the first fairway I now wanted to chop down with the 3-iron I never use.  Alas, I had done enough damage hitting golf balls at them for four-plus hours.
Standing back on the range at MetaGolf a few days later, I relayed my troubles to Dr. Campbell and Nicki Poulos, my mechanical swing instructor.  “I like your swing,” said Bill.  “We just need to get your hips and your timing in order.  And stop thinking.”