Week 3 Update
Good Training + Bad Practice = Improvement?
Welcome Players! It was a great week in my Project Par pursuit. I trained well, recovered well, and shot 20 strokes better than my last round. A marked improvement! But I practiced like crap. So how did that lead to better results? Read on and find out in the Week 3 update.
Training Week in Review
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You don’t need to have a perfect practice to translate over to improvement in skill. Your brain actually learns more from failed attempts than it does from successful attempts. This week I had two days of not-so-great practice, combined with a solid week of training. Let’s get in to how it all came together for a solid finish at the Biltmore on Sunday.
Training Week in Review
This was a great weak all around. The beginning of the week is always harder to practice for me - mostly due to being busier with work + life demands - but I committed to hitting at least a few putts at home even when I didn’t feel like it. Especially on the 16th and 18th I was tired and just wanted to go to bed, but I stayed disciplined and spent 20 minutes rolling a few.
On Wednesday and Thursday I was able to make time to go to the driving range and continue practicing my chipping which was extremely beneficial to keep the momentum from last week going. On Saturday (the 21st) I made myself take a complete rest day, including from skill practice. I had worked hard all week and felt that a complete rest day would serve me better than a day of lazy or unfocused practice. It felt really good to give myself credit for a good week and be OK with not practicing. Just for a day though!
Wins: 2 full range sessions to continue working on chipping and short irons, plus daily putting practice on other days. Consistency was on par1 and playing a full round at the end of the week was a perfect cap.
Losses: Even though I went to the range and hit balls twice, I’m not pleased that I didn’t putt at all those days. Having three days in a row without a putt is not what I’d like to see. I’ll need to figure out a way to still practice putting even a little when I go to the range.
In order of day completed I did the following for physical training:
20 minutes of foam rolling and massage gun
Core workout/training session
100 minutes zone 2 cycling ride
30 minute open-ocean swim, light
Resistance Training session
No exercise, gameday with full warm-up & prep
Wins: A really good week of training. Two workouts, one resistance training and one core-workout along with a long cycling session and an open ocean swim. Really happy how this week stacked together.
Losses: None! Things weren’t perfect, but they’re not supposed to be. My program allows for flexibility within structure and I got everything done that I wanted to get done this week from the physical training standpoint.
The three main physiological metrics I track are Heart Rate (HR), Heart Rate Variability via rMSSD (HRV), and Sleep Opportunity (SO).2
Quick legend: Gray bars are daily scores, blue line is trend line, and green range is moving average.
This was a really, really good weak. I keep saying it because not only do I FEEL it subjectively in my body, but all the metrics I’m tracking back it up. My HRV hit all-time highs and sustained being above the top range for my moving average. This is huge - signaling that my body is adapting to my training in a positive manner. Not only that, but my energy levels are high, I feel great during my workouts - stronger in resistance training and my conditioning sessions are longer but feel easier! This is the effect of compounded gains.
Quick note on the elevated HR on Jan 21st: I lent out my polar heart rate monitor to a client so they could see the benefit of tracking their metrics during exercise. I didn’t think I would need it, but when I woke up and realized I wouldn’t be able to measure my HRV I low-key freaked out! Thankfully Amazon Prime same-day delivery had my back, and I had a new H10 delivered by 1pm (yes it was that important to me to not miss a day’s measurement). The elevated HR was because the measurement occurred in the early afternoon instead of my usual morning - but you can see my HRV was still above the top of my baseline range so all was good.
The only thing that didn’t go well this week was my practice. The first day I went to the range was Wednesday, and was a little hurried to get out hitting balls before it got dark. No excuse because the range had lights - but it got to my head that I should be hurrying up. I did a light warm-up but just wasn’t as focused as I should have been.
It was a rough practice session. To start, I forgot to bring my golf shoes so I was hitting in regular flat shoes. That didn’t help. I hit about 10 balls at 1/2 swing beautifully, keeping the face square making really good contact. When I felt ready for full swings I went and turned the camera on. Then it all fell apart. I lost all feel, was trying to swing too hard, and couldn’t figure it out. I was frustrated, I lost my cool (forgoing any sense of structured practice) and just started whacking balls.
I kid you not, I hit maybe 5 flush shots in the entire bucket of 60 balls. 5.
With that said, it was by no means a wasted practice. I wrote down my swing notes - what felt off, why I thought I wasn’t making good contact, my mental state during the practice. I reviewed my swing obviously seeing that I was starting every swing with my upper body leading me to come over the top and chop at the ball. I wasn’t rotating well, and because I was at a different height without my golf shoes (yes the 1.5 inches makes a big difference) I was standing too close to the ball and getting jammed.
So what’d I do? I went back to the range the next day with a better attitude and committed towards improving! Not “figuring it out”, not putting myself down, just saying hey yesterday was a terrible practice and I’m going to go right back at it again tomorrow with a fresh mind.
Here’s how that went.
I remembered proper footwear this time - and made sure to go to the range with the better grass and chipping green. I was the only person back there so was able to take my time and not feel rushed.
I’m still not getting the kind of contact I want - but it’s a work in progress. I’m really focusing on trying to start my swing with my hips and lower body and allowing my upper body to rotate through the ball in order of the kinematic sequence. This will correct my over-the-top swing fault and allow me to keep the club face square at impact. I know what I need to do - but I need the practice and repetition necessary to make it happen!
You can also see here that I do a good job of not letting bad swings frustrate me. If I hit a few bad balls in the a row - no problem. I’ll just change clubs down to a wedge and chip a few easy ones to get my feel back and then go back up. This worked out really well for me and I’ll incorporate this strategy more going forward.
To top off the week I jumped at the opportunity to play a round on Sunday and put my two weeks worth of range practice to use and see what carried over. I had been working hard on my chipping as a primary objective and wanted to translate that skill practice into a competition situation.
I played remarkably well compared to my last outing shooting a 101!
On a longer course that admittedly I was more familiar with here’s the stat review:
1 par*3, 1 birdie (holed out on a par 4! Hello chipping practice!)
4 GIR (up from 1 last round)
4 fairways hit (up from 3 last round)
41 putts (up from 40 last round)
Six 3-putts (down from 8 last round)
Scrambling 19% (up from 6% last round)
A drastic improvement on almost all accounts!
A subjective recount of the round:
I struck the ball much better off the tee box. Even though I technically only hit four fairways, I had at least three other drives that went exactly where I wanted them just a little too long on a dog-leg so ended up in the short rough. Those positions gave me a clean second shot and drastically improved my scoring especially because my fractional distance to the hole was so much shorter (even though I didn’t track this I know it to be true). This can be seen in the four GIR that I was approaching the green much better.
My misses were also a lot better. I missed 8 balls right off the tee-box compared to 12 right from Week 1. Better misses are signs of a better golfer!
My chipping was both better and worse. It was better in the sense that I didn’t chunk any chips; I struck the ball cleanly and hit the exact shot I wanted to most of the time. That’s not always a good thing though as a few chips on elevated greens I didn’t have proper distance control and left them a little too long without backspin so they rolled right off the other side (greens were rolling fast). I’m happy that I hit the shot I wanted to and could replicate it, but need to now transition to working on touch around the greens so I get the ball to a place where I can 2-putt to finish.
Speaking of putting, my stats were a little misleading here. I felt so much more comfortable putting thanks to my consistent daily practice. I sank multiple 7-10 footers, but still had way too many 3-putts (six). I had difficulty with 30-40 footers getting within 6 feet, leaving myself a very difficult second putt. And then once or twice I missed an easy 3 footer. Improvement is good, but need to continue working on putting daily.
Note here: I believe I miscounted my scorecard for the first hole. No way did I hit par on the first hole with 4 putts (par 5), that’s not possible. I don’t remember what I scored that hole so will have to assume a +2-3 stroke difference into that hole which would lead me to finish with a more accurate 103 instead of a 101. I must have entered it incorrectly or fat-fingered it.
Some other notes is that I just felt much more comfortable with a golf club in my hands. I hit my long irons better, especially my 6i which is usually a tough club for me. I hit my PW very well, sometimes too well getting my distance wrong on that club because I hit it so flush. I stayed away from most of the hazards which was good and only had 2 shanks off the tee box. All in all I was very happy with this round based on my practice.
To finish things off, I took a video of my drive on 18 to send to my coach.
I was feeling good and wanted to crank one - which you can tell because I started the swing with my upper body. This leads my club face to be wide open and that’s why it started off right. Never stood a chance. Here’s what my coach had to say:
He’s back in town this week so will be looking forward to getting some hands on work and continuing to improve! It’s been a while since he’s seen a full swing from me so excited to demonstrate what I’ve been working on and use his input to continue to tailor my practice.
More of the same!
A huge mistake I see with the athletes & clients I work with is that when things are going according to plan they take that as a sign to push it even harder. This leads them to overwork or change strategy before its effects have truly had a chance to take hold.
So for me I’m going to be continuing with the priorities I set in the week 1 update:
Get on the green when inside 100 yds
I’ve done better on all three accounts - as proved by a reduction in 3-putts, more fairways hit, and more GIR. But I’m still not where I need to be in those categories so I’ll be continuing the same practice plan.
Range twice a week, putting every day.
I’ll make it a point to putt before I practice at the range that way I can make sure I roll a few without having to do it after when I’m tired. And now that my coach is in town I’ll start to work with him on my long-club (driver/wood) swings so that I can have greater accuracy off the tee box.
I started to do this last-week ad libitum but I’ll be practicing more short irons as well as my wedges at the range. I’ve noticed that I actually hit the ball better when I change clubs every 5-10 balls instead of trying to grind away the same club swing for 25+ balls.
There’s good weeks and bad weeks, ups and downs. This week was one of those good ones where I hit every one of my benchmarks in all facets of my program - capped off with an objective improvement in my skill.
I’ll be mindful to not get to excited knowing that life can knock me back down a step at any time, but I’m also going to enjoy the progress in the moment.
No other notes except to continue getting better step by step.
I’m looking to have another great weak of training, practice, and recovery!
See you next week.
What do you think about my Project Par? Are there any similarities between my program and what you want to do?
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is purely educational in nature and should be filtered through ones own lens of common sense and applicability.
You can expect many more of the par puns. How could I not.
As noted I don’t think I recorded my strokes properly for the first hole, so I won’t give myself that par.