In deciding to commit to this blog somewhat hastily, I realize that there may be some people reading who know very little about me and my approach to the game of golf. Since golf has become the main focus of my blog to start, I thought for this week’s post I would dive in a little more about my approach to the game.


If you want the shorthand version you already read it in the title.


“I [freaking] love this game.”

-As quoted from Richard, whom I once randomly shared a tee time with at Twin Oaks.


I removed the exploitive to not offend anyone, but wow do I wish everyone who golfs was so lucky as to golf a round with Richard whom I once randomly shared a tee time with at Twin Oaks. This guy played a decent game, was hilarious, and didn’t mind the smack talk but also wasn’t a jerk. Basically, this guy had it all figured out.


The number one thing about golf for me has always been to have fun. Nothing beats being outside in the fresh air, usually with some pretty beautiful views, and a few good friends with a fellow appreciation for the game. Clearly Richard understood these things as well, which is why you will now hear my golf partner and I constantly repeating this famous quote normally multiple times per round. The beauty of the line is that you can change the way you emphasize it when you are happy, angry, sad, or any other emotion the golf course might make you feel, but no matter what, it remains to be true.


I effing love this game.


Oh and usually there is beer involved too!


When I first began playing golf however, there was no beer ☹. This is because it was a long time ago back when I was just a young lad, definitely under the age of 10. I remember my dad taking me to the local par 3 course near my parents house back in Massachusetts. Most of the holes were less then 100 yards, but I was so young I remember thinking that my dad was a superhero for being able to hit it that far.


Combined with being introduced to swinging a golf club at such a young age, also playing hockey my entire life and baseball for a few years I have the ability to generate a decent amount of force when swinging my trunk and arms. This meant I was better at golf then most of my friends who played until after college. That is when a lot of my friends began to take golf more seriously (lessons and or golfing multiple times per week). Although I have golfed most of my life, until recently I had never golfed more then a few times a year, and I have never taken a formal lesson. As a result my golf game remained about the same for the better part of a decade after college.


Now fast forward to summer 2020, and the entire world is on lockdown, like many others I found myself with some extra time on my hands and not a lot of options of things to do. I also had not skated or played any kind of hockey in months (important to note that if I am not playing hockey, I just don’t genuinely feel like myself, it is part of who I am).

But what do hockey players do in the offseason? They golf. If it wasn’t for golf, I would quite literally be going insane right now.


I decided that now was finally the time to make the investment in a new set of golf clubs and committed to a year of golf. As part of this venture, I also signed up for the JC players card. If you live in North County San Diego, and especially you are new to golf, then this is the deal for you. You pay a discounted rate for 6 rounds of golf upfront, but also get a discount any time you play at one of the JC-affiliated courses. You also get a booklet full of other perks and deals for being a JC member including free buckets of balls at the range, discounted rates for friends who golf with you at JC courses, and more. If you do go JC, make sure you go the signature card route so that you can get in your rounds in at the Carlsbad Crossings (see last week's post), and Encinitas Ranch. The extra price is definitely worth it.


After making the investment, and committing to a year to golf, for the first time in my life my focus has shifted away from the beer on the course (mostly) and learning more about the game itself, and actually trying to swing the club properly with consistency.


My approach from the beginning had never been about having the best overall score, but like I mentioned to have fun. The goal was to come out and get at least 1 par every time I play, MAYBE a bird, and a couple highlight-reel shots along the way. Did it take me a couple mullies to get that bird par sometimes? Yeah, it sure did, but hey golf is THE HARDEST sport to learn.


Even though that was the goal, getting even 1 par did not always happen when I played. That is where I noticed the correlation between drinking more beer the worse you play helps maintain the curve for desired fun to be had when playing. Sometimes beer can even help performance! But be warned that this, not an exact science so please proceed with caution before reading too much into that statement


So where is Cory at now?


I am about 2/3 way through my year dedicated to golf and wow it has been quite the amazing ride. I have made a new best friend because of golf. I have had the opportunity to play some great courses in southern California and there are MANY more to visit. I have had a lot of great times and memories, and I now know I have another passion to get me through whatever craziness the world throws at me next.


As a physical therapist I have worked with plenty of golfers and been able to help them eliminate pain and increase efficiency in their swings, but I am now trying to take that to the next level as I am working towards obtaining certification through the Titleist Performance Institute to help increase my understanding of the finer mechanics of the golf swing so I can not only develop a better swing myself, but also be more efficient in helping my golf clients.

I have seen first hand with myself how different my game plays out on days my body feels mobile and strong, and on the days it feels tight and stiff. The differences can be quite drastic as I have shot abour a 20 stroke difference in back to back golf outings, with the biggest difference being my body just felt that different.


In order to avoid these massive swings, and build consistency here are a couple tips/reminders I have for the golfer of any level.


#1: Eye on the ball through the full swing.


What I have been seeing a lot of recently, as well as doing myself, is lifting of the head to see where the ball is going before finishing the swing. I know, I know, I also am just so anxious to view the gorgeous flight pattern of my soon to be perfectly laced ball... But the result is making inconsistent contact with the ball, and usually losing the gorgeous flight pattern you were so anxious to see. Now I am left looking anxiously for what direction my ball flew off of my club because I didn’t make good contact.


What can help with this problem? Besides your own mental focus and trusting that driving through the ball and making good contact will reward you with a good shot, having a good reliable spotter to help you track your balls is a great way to eliminate the subconscious need to see where your ball is going to go. If you don’t have a reliable golf buddy then you are likely relying on the kindness of strangers to help track your ball. Sometimes this works out for you, and sometimes it doesn’t, so don’t be shy go out and make a friend. If you need some help, start by joining the San Diego Golf page on Facebook. There are plenty of friendly golfers on there looking for someone to share tee times with, and a good resource for any golf knowledge you desire.


Tip #2- Mental visualization


It doesn’t matter if you are walking up to the tee about to swing, or lying in your bed wide awake at 2 am. Mentally visualize yourself making the smoothest contact with the ball that you have ever felt… Whenever possible.


Research in motor learning shows that mental visualization of yourself performing a task has a direct correlation to increasing motor learning and performance of that task. You will be able to reproduce the desired outcome for that task more consistently.


As I mentioned before, golf is the HARDEST sport to learn. It requires perfection of every muscle in the body firing in the correct pattern to swing a long object with a high velocity to smack a tiny ball into 3” hole which is quite often hundreds of yards away.


There are about a billion little things to focus on in your body when you are setting up for your golf swing. The best way I can sum it up is that I know when my body feels good and mobile that number drops to about a million little that I have to focus on, and that my brain can actually manage. That is because also, after doing it so many times, that one million things your body is responsible for, five hundred thousand of them are now relatively performed on auto pilot.


When the body feels tight the brain is not only trying to process the correct and desired motor pattern of the swing, but it also has all of this additional input coming through like sirens warning the body that something is wrong and the desired plan is not occurring. This causes muscles to fire incorrectly, results in a poor movement pattern, and again poor contact with the ball.


Morale of the story, visualize yourself making good contact whenever possible, make good contact more frequently. Yes, I just helped you justify your golf obsession even more.


Tip #3- Remember at the end of day, it is just meant to be fun.


I have certainly developed my obsession for golf, and I can be prone to displaying competitive tendencies, however at the end of the day I leave it all on the course. In golf some times to be successful you even need to leave whatever happened just on the previous hole. My golf game goes so bad sometimes I fill in sad faces instead of a number on occasion. I also leave myself little notes reminding myself even though I shot a 127 on a par 3 today, I did make that 80ft putt for a triple boge on hole 11 and it was epic. Those are the little things I need to do to keep me going sometimes.


Thank you for reading, I would love to hear what keeps you guys going and focused in your golf games!


Good luck on your next round!


-Cory


***No I have never sunk a 80 foot putt, nor have a shot a 127 on a par 3***

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I was never in the world expecting that on a Saturday afternoon I would find an early Sunday morning tee time for 2, especially at one of the premier courses in San Diego on a double holiday weekend. In addition to finding the miraculous tee time availability, another miracle happened when my girlfriend actually let me book it on Valentine’s Day!


For those of you who have never played at the Crossings, I’ll try and sum it up for you. For starters, I have a love/hate relationship with this course. As is the case with most love hate relationships, she (the course) is absolutely beautiful. The views are breathtaking, and at most times if you are having a bad round if you stop, take a deep breath and look around the views and fresh ocean air can rejuvenate you. This is good, because one way or another I always seem to need a few of those moments when I play here. The course is very long and has lots of hills, and brush/canyon hazard zones to hit over. Not only are the holes long, but the layout makes it not walkable as you have long cart drives between many holes

.

This course just seems to always reveal my flaws, which is why I also consider this to be my archnemesis course. It doesn’t matter how well I have played in my last few rounds/range sessions. It does not matter how many good shots I make on the course (and today there was surprisingly plenty of those to go around). No matter what the case is, there will be several holes on this course that get the absolute best of me and completely trash my scorecard. Basically if I was Batman, this course would be my Catwoman (Anne Hathaway Catwoman, not Halle Berry).


For me, after the course gets the best of me a couple holes is where the love part of the relationship fully blossoms. Once you find your scorecard to be trashed (for me today it was around hole 6-7 and again at hole 10 ruining any idea I had of comeback on the back 9) all of the pressure for trying to score a good round comes off and then you just focus on the fun parts of the game. Trying to make difficult shots maybe beyond your current skill level, talking shit to your friends, and usually this is where the beer drinking steps up another level.

But on this Sunday morning before the round completely went to trash, there was a mini rollercoater ride to get me started. Leading off with triple bogeying the first hole because my tee shot put me at the bottom of a hill, and then taking a drop after my next shot, despitemaking smooth contact with my 6 for what I thought was a great shot landing mid-fairway, it turned out that ball was never to be seen again. I’m still convinced it was just such a good shot my golf partner threw it out of bounds on my in spite due to his poor shot… But that’s argument for another day.


After a terrible start on the first hole I somehow found myself down to below I consider to par (which is 1+ every hole) after 4. I was able to accomplish this by sinking one of the longest putts I have ever made, with a great read to claim first bird of the day on 2, and then back to back pars 3-4 to do so. At this point I was all sorts of jazzed up… Which is when ot all fell apart.


I don’t know if I was feeling tight physically, or if mentally just forgetting how to put it all together but I lost the ability to use my driver effectively. It might also be due to the fact that my golf partner just decided he wants to be the long drive champion of southern California which meant obviously I was trying to add a little pepper to my swing to keep pace. Some days I can add some pepper and let them rip, but in my case today it meant lots of lost balls and taking drops, and ultimately filling in sad faces on the scorecard instead of the actual numbers because it made me too sad to physically write them out… ☹


Unfortunately, the inability to drive came at the same time I lost my ability to putt. After making one of the best putts of my entire life for birdie on 2, it was now so bad that I couldn’t make a 5 ft putt into a basketball-sized hole to save my life. Hello back-to-back 3 putts.


Then on 7 I had a nice long walk after a poor drive, so I took my look around, took a deep breath, and I remembered how much I effing love this game, and I re-found my focus. I followed that up with a great approach shot onto the green from 120 out over the pond that guards ¾ of the green from the fairway. I finished with a nice putt, and from there on out I was able to dial it putted great the rest of the day… well mostly.


After a so-so finish to the front 9, the back 9 is always where you get a fresh start. The problem for me was that freaking hole 10 started off the back 9. I was actually looking forward to this hole because the last time I played The Crossings a friend from the San Diego Golf group asked me how I did on specifically #10. Unfortunately I was not able to answer because we played a super twilight we only made it to hole 8 (but it was the best 8 holes of golf I had ever played up until that point in time).


What I found out about hole 10 is that it has some evil traits to it. 308 from white, but you are hitting over brush onto a long narrow fairway, which at the end has a green with a pretty steep incline between flat layers. I actually came out hot with one of the best drives of the day, landing pretty far in the narrow fairway, which had me feeling pretty good. My approach shot was decent, landing on the front of the green, but the problem was that today the pin was in the back atop the steep incline.


Since we had the early tee time, the ground was pretty wet much for the front 9 and the greens were playing pretty slow, except for the last few holes we noticed they were picking up quite a bit of speed. So when I sat looking at this sharp incline, my goal was to not hit it too hard so that I didn’t end up off the back of the green. I definitely did not hit the ball too hard….


In my attempts to be precise, I did my best reenactment of a child trying to put uphill his first time at the mini-golf course… 3 attempts to get up this mother effing ramp of a green to have to sink a long putt to salvage another triple boge.


That was definitely the low point of the day. My driving was so-so rest of the day, but my putting was on point. The best putt of the day for me was actually a 40 ft put that was hit so precise, but off just enough that it curled around the rim and remained inches from the hole for a nice gimme for a single bog.


Lately I have been trying to focus on bringing consistency to my swing, but today that was not the case. It was quite the rollercoaster for me, but I did have some amazing shots in the mix which kept my moral boosted. I need to stay focused on more natural swings as I know I will never be the long drive champion of southern California (even though my usual golf partner might be).


At the end of the day, it was, as always, a great fun round of golf. The pair we golfed with were a lot of fun and got into our shit talking with us a little bit. Figuring out some things with my putting, making some of the best putts I have made in recent memory really has me excited to see if I can replicate moving forward. We kept pace on the first time ever being the first group to tee off in the morning (despite how poorly some holes went for me).


To end the round our ladies, and my beautiful 6 month baby girl met us for a great brunch at the Crossings restaurant, which is also one of the best course restaurants I have yet to go to, making for a great way to start a Sunday, and thank our ladies for letting us golf on Valentine’s day.


Things are going to be busy with work the next few weeks, so that means back to range sessions to figure out my drive, taking care of my body so that I can swing the club smoothly, especially if we get another early morning tee time, and share my findings with you guys and gals.


Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out to me if you would like to share any similar experiences at the Crossings, or any other course for that matter. I have greatly enjoyed the JC circuit this year, but looking to branch out to get a taste of more of the amazing courses SD has to offer.


-Cory

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  • Cory

If we are being totally honest, everybody has a hump. Some hurdle or obstacle keeping them from accomplishing a goal.


As a fitness/wellness professional my goal is to help individuals identify, and get over whatever that obstacle is that is holding that individual back, and accomplish that goal.


The ironic part is that as good as I am at helping others to do do this, I often struggle with identifying these issues within myself and my own situations. To address this I took some time and sit and ponder my current situation, and create a plan of action.


When attempting to focus and identify what my hump is, I realized that was just it.


My focus.


With this being one hell of a crazy year for countless reasons, I know I feel that I just got thrown around in a tornado, and did my best to keep things from falling apart in the midst.


The good part of the story is that I have not allowed thing to fall apart. In fact things are going quite well. But I know I have like I've been stuck on a plateau for a while. When on a plateau you need to change something in order to adapt and move forward, For me that change is to narrow my focus. That is why I am committing to posting in this blog every Wednesday for the rest of the year.


As far as the blog goes expect to see a lot about golf, weightlifting, and general health and wellness information. Currently, I would expect a lot on golf.


Golf has always been something fun to do for me. Since things changed last year and I found myself with more time to play, I have developed a real passion for sport. If there is any sport that is truly just as mental, if not more mental then physical, it is most definitely golf.


In my most recent outings I have noticed a very strong correlation in my play to where I have been at mentally that day as I went from playing the best round I have ever played to one of the worst that I have ever played in the matter of a week.


I have enjoyed the challenges that come with attempting to master the game (and I am nowhere close to mastering the game....yet). The beauty is that, similar to olympic weightlifting which is another passion of mine, I know that there is no such thing as perfecting it. There are ALWAYS minor things to change to improve and particularly in golf, every shot is a different shot due to the constantly varying conditions (fairway vs rough vs trap, wind/weather, and watch out if there is a water hazard to hit over!).


Today I had the opportunity to revisit a short par 3 course that I have not played in quite some time (and there are a lot of water hazards to shoot over!). Today was a day I didn't really keep score, I just went out to have fun with a friend who I haven't seen in quite some time. Ironically, sometimes the less we care, the better we play. That was true for several holes, and quite untrue for others today. I did lose a ball, but just for the record I didn't lose it in the water.


Today was for fun, but next week I plan on diving deeper into the mental approach to the game, and staying focused on goals.


I look forward to sharing with you!


If you are having trouble setting goals for yourself and need some help reach out to me at Cory@opsportspt.com and lets talk!


-Cory


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