Round 1. Ding, Ding.

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Just got home from my first round of golf with the new clubs, the new passion I had lost and that was back, and the new drive to be a better player. Unfortunately, my old game came with me.After a few good sessions on the driving range I was sure I would be able to transfer some of that to the course. Not to be. We played at my old stomping grounds. I thought it would be a good start for me to go back to the last place that I still had a love for the game. It was great to be back out on that course. They renamed it Las Vegas National years ago, and I haven’t played there in God knows how long.

The morning air was refreshing and the course was in awesome shape. Randy was part of the foursome along with a friend of his and one of my co-workers. Early tee times are great, I love going off early. There is no pressure to finish the round and you can really absorb the entire experience.I hit the range early and had a really good warm up, everything felt great. I couldn’t wait to get on the tee. After the range I went over to the putting green and stayed there until it was our turn on #1. First tee jitters suck. There is no other way to explain it. No matter how calm and relaxed I am before I put that tee in the ground and place a ball on top of it they show up. THUMP THUMP, THUMP THUMP. You can feel your heartbeat resonate throughout your entire body.Maybe it’s because I have yet to developed a pre-shot routine, unless you count running every imaginable thought about a golf swing through your head before you swing as a routine. In that case I have!

First tee missed right, (I blame the jitters) second tee missed bad short and left. That one was all me! It all went downhill from there. 113 Ouch, that was counting all my strokes and penalties. No more gimmies and do-overs. I am going to play as legit as I possibly can from now on. Except for the Breakfast Ball, of course! One thing I can look at positive was my putting. Only 30 putts and that included a four putt on #10. I’m going to try and find something positive about every round. It would be easy to dwell on the bad. I’m just going to start working on the bad and get it fixed!

I never fully understood the mindset in counting every stroke unit I worked in the cart barn. One of the best players I’ve ever known, Chuck, was an employee in the cart barn too. We were on the same schedule so we played a lot together. Well let me rephrase that. Chuck played amazing golf while found new places daily to practice from! Chuck was +1 Handicap and at the time I had no idea what that meant. Until I saw him play, wow was he good. One afternoon he explained to me why counting every stroke, EVERY stroke was imperative to becoming a better player. Let’s say you go out and shoot 110. In actuality it was a true 120 (mulligan’s, within the leather, stuff like that). Then the next time you go out and shoot (on the same course) a 112 which was in turn a true 118. On your scorecard you added two strokes to your last game 110 vs. 112, but in actuality you improved your game by two strokes 120 vs. 118. You can convince your mind that you have gotten worse, when that’s the exact opposite of what took place on the course. I never got that and from that day forward (at least while I was still working there) I started counting everything!

That thought process all went away when I stopped working at the course and was just playing a round of golf every now and then. It’s no fun to go out for the first time in six months and count every stroke when you’re just out for a good time i.e. drunk, with the guys. But for me it’s now time to get back into the mindset of improvement through struggles and true score. If I shoot 120, so be it, if I have a 10 or a 12 on a hole so be it. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to tell if I’m getting better.

Back to the range I go.

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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