The Power of My Golf Princesses

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I was clueless how much power my princesses had over me until I took them golfing!

I’ve been so busy with my kid’s activities over the past month I’ve entirely left this site on autopilot. Not the best course of action for me as a blogger. But, being an active Father, I’m going to need some time as I adapt to my chaotic schedule.

The good news is softball season is winding down, and the PGA JR League is about to get going. Those long nights of practice and longer days of doubleheaders and tournaments will be behind me, and I can do my best to get back writing about my golfing exploits.

You may recall back in March (wow, that was so long ago) I wrote about exercising my golfing demons, that post helped me get over some severe anxiety I was feeling towards my game. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than feeling great about how well you been playing, then go out and stinking up the joint.

It was a simple thought which got me back on track. Relax. That was it. More than once I’ve written about relaxing while I’m on the course and when I can manage to make it happen. I played some great golf. On the other hand, when I’m a mental disaster, and I get caught up at the moment my train wreck of a golf game rears it nasty self, and I implode like a Vegas casino.

Vegas Implosion

The first outing I had after my re-self-realization on how I needed to relax more, turned out to be a very successful round of golf. I played with a friend of mine out a Boulder Creek, a course I’m very familiar with, and even though I made a few mental mistakes overall, I left there feeling much better about how I played.

It was a gorgeous spring morning, and I ended up shooting an 88 where I went out in 46 and came in at 42. Finding a little trouble off the tee on a few of the more difficult holes on the first nine we played led to a string of bogeys and even though I wasn’t scoring well, I was managing my mistakes better than I usually do. On the day I had three penalty strokes, and on two of those holes, I had putts for par. My typical mindset when I make big enough mistakes that lead to added strokes is to beat myself up over the next several holes and lose all my focus.

Doing my best to stay calm I was able to maintain my focus and hit some decent shots to help save bogey at worst. It was a unique feeling. Every weekend I watch the guys on Tour get themselves in and out of trouble with relative ease, but for me, it’s a challenge. After messing up the tee shots on those holes, I was able to stay in the moment and execute, for me that equaled a huge win not only on my scorecard but for my confidence as well.

The second nine we played I started grooving my new driver (The Cobra Fly-Z) hitting all but one fairway. Two long putts attempts after hitting the green in regulation, paired with some poor reading of the greens by me led to a couple of 3 putts. Because of those lapses of skillset I ended up with the 42.

Don’t get me wrong. After busting out a 54/49 the previous round I played, I was thrilled to not only break 90 but also come close to breaking 40 over nine holes, something I still hadn’t accomplish. Knowing I had the round coming up, I did my best in the week leading up to it to work on some of the drills Wade, and I had discussed right after my horrid out before this one, which mainly focused on getting me into the proper coil. The practice I put in throughout the week was outstanding, and my warm-up session was equally as good, it’s amazing what a clear mind can accomplish.

it was easy to see why I did so well when I put my focused brain to work and had an excellent practice session. One where I concentrated on elements of my swing that needed work and didn’t waste my time, It’s been a struggle for me to bring the changes Wade has made in my swing with me to the course. At home, I can hit 100 balls a night precisely the way he wants me to, but once I step foot on the first tee box, I seem to forget all that I’ve been working on, and I revert to where we were six months ago.

I continued to stay focused during my practice sessions at home over the next couple of weeks, and the more I practiced, the more I started to believe in the swing. When I played a few weeks later, I went into the round on a high,  a confidence high I had been missing for a while now. A few things took place during the round that has made me look at my game from an entirely different perspective. It’s taken me too long, considering how much I practice, but I finally started trusting the swing. Like I mentioned earlier it’s easy for me to swing correctly at home where there’s no pressure, but on the course, I get nervous and fall back to my safety net, the over the top swing, for this round though I didn’t allow it to happen.

Maybe it was all the practice I had put in to help reinforce the muscle memory or perhaps it was the success of the last round that had my head more clear than usual, but from the first swing of the club on the practice range I was trusting the swing, and I was in a zone. Before I mention what else happened that enlightened me, I’ll tell you how this round played out. We were playing the same course I played when I shot the 88 I talked about earlier and we were also playing the same 18 holes. Boulder Creek has three nine holes layouts, so you don’t always get to play the same 18 holes very often. I bested the 46 from the previous round with a 45.

Not fantastic by any means but hey, a stroke is a stroke, and I was pleased with how I played. The Eldorado nine at Boulder Creek is a challenging layout and can kick you square in the nuts if you don’t hit the right spots. It could have been worse had my putter not been on point, it saved me several times. I took the positive from the front and carried it over to the Desert Hawk nine where I shot a personal best 39.

My outstanding play off the tee continued, and because of where I was hitting my approach shots I was able to go at the greens, that wasn’t happening on the front. I hit some of the best long irons shots I’ve ever hit and with a few other excellent approach shots, arguably some of the best I’ve executed in a long time, I was lighting it up.

Finally broke 40 on nine holes! Personal best 39 today out at #BoulderCreek today! #golf #whyilovethisgame #bouldercitygolf A photo posted by Mathew Wangrycht (@thebreakfastball) on

For 17 holes I was in a zone and played without a doubt some of the best golf of my life, it’s a shame though there are 18 holes in a round.

I was blistering the ball off the tee with my driver, and because of that, my head got a little foggy. I’m by no means a long hitter but I on the back side I was averaging 270 off the tee and came close to a 300-yard drive twice. So when I walked up to the 18 tee box and looked down the fairway at the 265 yard carry over the lake the common sense portion of my brain hopped on out, said to me “You got this!” and proceeded to leave the scene.

For 17 holes my dear friend, “Common Sense,” hung tight with me and together we did some extraordinary things. “Common Sense” is no match for “Ego” though and when I stood there analyzing the hole with a steady 8mph wind at my back “Ego” awoke from his docile state and abruptly told “Common Sense” to get the hell out.

On my scorecard, I was at 33 strokes. I just need to make a 6 to shoot 39 and break 40 for the first time. This is when “Mr. Ego” showed up, and I instantly got pulled away from the zone. Panic set in and in seconds I was lost. Thankfully the power I was producing was still there, but all my swing flaws showed up with “Mr. Ego, ” and I proceeded to hit a high fading drive into the ditch on the other side of the lake. I was fortunate the ball carried the lake, hit a corner patch of the fairway and rolled into the hazard. Ugh, I took my penalty, scored a 6 and walked off the course in a great mood after finally breaking 40 over nine holes!

I was so close to completing 18 holes while maintaining focus throughout the entire round, but I can’t give all the credit to my hard work, There were two others there who helped more than I ever could have imagined.

My daughters bring out the best in me and my game.

The first time I played a round of golf where my oldest daughter accompanied me I had a great outing. She didn’t play that first time she just waited in the cart while I hit my shot and helped me around the green when there wasn’t a build up behind us. I wanted to see how she handled herself on a golf course and I also wanted to show her how a round of golf takes place. To her credit, she did fantastically!

The next time we went out together, she played just a few holes here and there, again only when there was plenty of time for her to hit without being a nuisance or bother to the other golfers on the course. She did wonderfully and impressed the hell out me with the way she was respectful of the rules and didn’t act like a seven-year-old could and should act. I played excellent that day as well but never noticed the pattern.

Princess Power

A few more times we’ve gone out and played, and each time, now that I’ve looked back at it, I have played better than my typical round of golf. This outing, however, I had both of my daughters with me, and I played the best round I think I’ve ever played.

When I started putting the pieces together about how well I play when I’m with my kids I began to wonder why. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is how they distract me from thinking too much about the game.

Turn on Daddy Mode

I’m in full on Daddy mode when they’re with me. I’m so worried they’re going to do something to upset someone or fall of the golf cart when I’m not looking, or slip into the creek when I’m about to swing. Consumed with those thoughts, I didn’t have any extra time to think about the shot at hand. I’d complete my pre-shot routine, hit the ball and go immediately back into Daddy mode.

I don’t want you to think my kids are crazy, out of control, wild children, that the furthest thing from the truth. They’re absolute angels, and I love having them with me, but I can’t help but be consumed with making sure they’re doing the right thing, respecting the game and not acting up.

Golf Princess Power

By being locked into Daddy mode for most of the round, I never let my game get out of hand, and I never allow my mind grab hold of my paranoia where it could have easily destroyed my entire day. Nope, because my two favorite people on the planet were with me and we were all out having a blast together playing golf the angst of performing at my best never stood a chance against Emma & Brooklyn!
I think this is a fantastic example of how mental the game of golf truly is. When my mind is 100% focus and locked into nothing but the round I find a way for it to destroy me. On the other hand when my mind is free, and I can enjoy what I’m doing and not be so focused on performing I do so much better.

It’s going to be interesting to see if I can find a mental state where I can focus and enjoy playing golf at the same time. If not I might have to start taking my kids with me every time I play, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing at all!

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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