* Played golf at Reunion today. The course was awesome. The cameras were a little intimidating, I was a little nervous at first about how Id do. Then I realized, this is the before picture, its okay if I suck! And suck I did. Its nothing new to me, though, Ive been so frustrated with my game. I consider it a farewell round to crappy golf, Im ready for a new swing.
We also met our gurus today. Lou Holtz was awesome. Hes a great motivator and seems like a really cool guy. Kelly Blackburn is the fitness expert, Im excited to see what kind of a workout routine she suggest. Last, was Marty Hackel our fashion guy. He was very cool, but his outfit was something.
We also saw John Smoltz playing Reunion and John Daly and Pat Perez at a hotel where we shot our etiquette portion.
* Back at Reunion for some more shooting. Today we did the skills test and got our first intro to Natural Golf from the Director of Instruction at Natural Golf, Ed Woronitz. It makes sense and seems more simple. Im ready to give it a whirl.
After our lessons, we found out were heading to Chicago to stay in the Hard Rock Hotel, tour Natural Golf headquarters and get our new clubs. Sweet. The only problem was, our plane had a hydraulic leak and our flight was cancelled. Instead, we flew into Atlanta and stayed at a dumpy hotel. At least it had a dumpy hotel bar, though. Everybody stayed up late and we all got to know each other a little better. It turned out to be a pretty good night.
* We finally got in to Chicago, after getting up at about 5 a.m. I was supposed to get up at about 4:30, but slept through the alarm. Oops. Fortunately, I have the ability to shower (with soap even) change, brush my teeth and pack in under 2 1/2 minutes, so I wasnt late. I still managed to screw things up a little though. I lost my driver's license while we were flying into Atlanta and never did find it, so I had to get an escort through security.
In Chicago, we toured the Natural Golf headquarters, I was very impressed. The clubs felt great and they took their time to really custom fit us. Its going to be great to finally have clubs fit to my swing. At the end of our tour they gave us a free pair of $300 shades from Peak Vision designed specifically for golf, they were awesome. Thats $294 more than I usually pay for sunglasses.
We checked into the Hard Rock Hotel and the place was great, very stylish. Flat screen TVs and surround sound in every room and bathrobes so big you couldnt even fit them in your suitcase. Not that I tried.
We went out for deep dish Chicago pizza and then to a bar at the top of the Hancock Building. Enjoyed a couple car bombs with Jeff Muddell, one of the producers, which was nice.
Recipe for car bombs:
Mix shot of Jameson Whiskey with shot of Baileys Irish Crme into a shot glass.
Drop shot glass into full pint of Guinness.
Drink in under 5 seconds.
Episode 2:Jane, my wife, (no I dont have a boy Elroy) had to FedEx my passport today so I could get on the plane back to Hartford. I dont want the traveling to end. Maybe I lost my license on purpose. That, or Im a moron.
* I met my instructor, Mark Larrabee for the first time today at Pistol Creek Golf Club. He seems like a good guy. He took some video of my swing and a brief overview of grip and setup. This wasnt an official lesson, more just to get to know each other, since were having a lesson on camera in a couple days. Its hard for me to wait, though. I want to get started right now and work on the new swing.
*First lesson on camera. It was really cold and raining like crazy. Reminds me of golf in Minnesota.
A lot of the stuff today was reviewing the basics of Natural Golf for the camera. We started working on me not getting my hips involved as much so my swing is more repeatable. It should work, I hit a few really nice drives at the end of the session so Im hopeful. Im anxious to know everything so I can start practicing the full swing more and start playing.
Episode 3: I had my fitness meeting with Kelly Blackburn today at Ballys in New York. It was fun. She did some strength and flexibility tests. For being pretty active, Im not flexible at all, its pathetic. We had some fun on camera and Kelly gave me a bunch of cool equipment and her DVD and flexibility book to take home. Ken Dashow was doing his shoot right after me, so I got to talk to him for a little while. He looked a little lost in a gym, I dont think thats his natural habitat.
Im looking forward to starting the training program and hopefully add a little distance.
* I went to the driving range after work and hit the ball pretty well. Im trying to stick to Marks routine of hitting half shots and just working on keeping my arms detached, but..come on, Im human, Ive got to haul off and whack a few here and there. So I did.
* I played nine holes today. I didnt keep score, I was just out there to hit some shots with the new swing. I was hitting it decent, but was still all over the place. I was really swinging mechanically, which is not good. I should still be sticking to the range and just making sure Ive got all the fundamentals down, but I had the itch to play.
* Hit the range and worked out today. Its a busy schedule but Im having fun with it and seeing improvement. I still cant believe I get to be a part of this whole process. Its every golfers dream.
* Today, Mark and I really started addressing swing issues, since Ive got the basics of Natural Golf down now. We worked on taking the club back a little more upright instead of way inside like I was. We also worked on some short game shots, and I was liking the new method. Its basically the same setup as the longer shots and I think it will help my short game right away.
Episode 4:I played 18 holes today at Pistol Creek and I dont know what to think. I hit the ball fine, but I took 45 putts! Yeah, 45, as in 2.5 per hole. My putting crappiness is well documented, but I took crappy to new heights today. I cant get too frustrated, though, because Mark and I havent worked on putting yet. I was also not hitting my irons very far. I think Im still too mechanical, Ive got to stay loose.
* I played 18 with my Jane today and my putting was better ' only 41 putts. Pretty sad when 41 putts is better than the day before. I was getting really frustrated so I called Mark and asked that we please work on putting for our next lesson. He agreed.
* On my way to work today I had a bum tell me I was crazy. Im not sure why. Besides, its my job to tell bums theyre crazy, not the other way around. I seem to have a lot of interesting bum experiences in Hartford. Ive seen bums fight, throw up, and play catch with an imaginary ball.
After work I met with Mark and we went over putting, thank God. I wasnt lining the ball up in the center of the clubface, so I was miss hitting every putt off the heel. We also lengthened my backswing on long putts to give me a less choppy stroke. It was working immediately. I was really putting well on the practice green and already have way more confidence.
* Had another lesson today. We worked on short game, especially wedge shots from 60 yards and in. I kind of lunge at the ball with my body even on short shots, so Im working at keeping my weight on the front foot and keeping stable.
After the lesson, I went to the gym and did the exercises Kelly prescribed. Its tough working full time, taking lessons, finding time to work out, and practicing. Im completely beat by the end of the day but everything is worth it.
Episode 5:I played 18 holes today. I wasnt hitting it very far, but it was going straight. Im a little worried I might be losing distance, but Im still fully committed to the switch. Im getting into less trouble off the tee, so that automatically makes my round more enjoyable and Im putting much better.
* I had a lesson today and Mark worked on getting me to cock my lead wrist earlier and hold on to that position longer through the downswing. I was giving up the angle too early in my swing and wasnt getting much power. I immediately started hitting the ball as far as I ever have, if not further. It was awesome! Im really excited because I was a little bummed that the new swing might be costing me distance but now I know it had nothing to do with the switch to Natural Golf.
* I played in league for the first time tonight at the Tradition at Windsor. It was a good week. I had 3 double bogeys but still managed to shoot a 41! The team of Trantolo/Odberg took all 3 available points. I love golf league, probably because post round beers are mandatory.
* I had a playing lesson today with Mark, which was cool. He talked quite a bit about course management and club selection. Thats good, I need it. I usually take a Tin Cup approach, so this should help me stay in control a little more. I was hitting my driver all over the place again, though, I thinks its mental. Im mental.
Episode 6:Today was a little disappointing, but we made the best of it. It rained like crazy, but because we all get along so well, it didnt really matter because we have fun no matter what the situation. In fact, someone could probably take a vice and squeeze my.. oh, sorry Ill get back to the story. We had a camera shoot in front of a green screen today at a production studio. The Golf Channel had to get some shots for promos that theyll start airing before our debut. Jeff Muddell, the producer had us repeating lines and I think I messed the same 3-word line up about 6 times in a row. Everyone was laughing..I felt shame. It reminded me of the time back in Junior High when. Oh, off on another tangent.
We were supposed to go to the Houston Open today but it was raining so hard the tournament was delayed and we would have ended up just hanging around in a tent. Instead, we went for lunch and then to a local arcade. I suck at skeeball but I still love it. It should be an Olympic sport. That, and throwing bean bags into a clowns mouth. Both get my vote for 2008.
We went from there to the airport where my flight was delayed big time, I didnt get back to Hartford until after 2 a.m. Oh well, at least I kept my driver's license this time.
* This is the first day since starting this challenge that I did nothing golf or fitness related. I was dead tired from getting in so late the night before, so I spent a nice, relaxing evening with my lovely wife. With work, trips, practice and playing we havent had a lot of time together so it was nice just to relax for a night.
* Today I worked on some putting again, especially side hill lies and lag putts, then I went and played a few holes. I hit the ball pretty decent but couldnt put everything together so my scores werent too great. Got home and worked out with Kelly Blackburns DVD and fitness equipment.
* Today I had league again like every Wed. night. Played 9 holes at the Tradition in Windsor with my partner Mike Drinkin Buddy Trantolo. We played against two absolute clowns ( I mean that in a good way, they were fun to play with). The made sure to point out every place you didnt want to go from every tee box, exactly what you dont want to think about. You dont want to go left because theres a stream running along the side. Right is bad because of the tree line. Dont hit it short or it might get caught up in the weeds. If you hit it too long, theres a troll with 3 toes that lives a the bottom of the hill and he fornicates with golf balls. Thanks guys, glad to know theres only 6 feet of landing space.
I was hitting the ball pretty decent, my drives were fairly straight and my irons were pretty solid, but I just couldnt score (kinda like in high school). Then I hit disaster on the 6th hole. I hooked my drive left into some trees. For my second shot I hit it thin right back into them. So, let me back up. There are 3 greens all lined up like pretty maids in a row, its a dangerous stretch to play. Balls are flying all over the place (insert joke here). So Im under a tree again, pick out a green and play a nice punch hook to about 12 feet from the hole. The wrong hole, of course, even though I thought it was right. I think I should have got to putt it out on that hole, but Be-bop and Rock-Steady wouldnt let me. Anyway, instead of looking at par or bogey I made a triple. I made a double 2 holes later and had to beat my opponent by 6 strokes over the past 2 holes if I was going to get my point. On 8, I drained a 20 footer for 5 and he made a 7, so I was down 4 with 1 to play, a 290 yard uphill par 4. I took out my 3-wood and cut the corner. He hit driver out of bounds, re teed and hit it down the middle. I got up to my ball and I was about 10 yards short of the green with the pin at the back. Right before I chipped, the guys partner said you know hes going to chip in. I did, for eagle and won by 2! After that we drank beer. It was good.
* Today I had a major proposal to complete at work and had to get it done before leaving for my 1:00 lesson. Like always, I was running late so I had to eat lunch and change clothes while driving on the highway. I find changing the right sock and getting the belt through the back loop to be most challenging.
Mark and I hit the range and hit some shots with my 9, 5 and driver. We did some filming for the show and some for my swing analysis. There were Gail force winds in our face.
We went in the clubhouse after and I got to see the video. I can tell my swing is more on plane and more compact. Its hard to believe I can shorten my swing and reduce rotation and not lose any distance, but its happened. Ill just accept it and move on. I feel pretty close to putting everything together. Im hitting the ball great on the range, I just have to transfer it to the course, but who doesnt have that problem.
Im still sabotaging myself off the tee. My inner self is purposely screwing me up and then laughing its inner ass off at me when I push it straight right. No other time on the course or range do I show any inclination to hit that shot so I dont get it. Its frustrating because I know I can put a good swing on the ball almost every time but it just isnt happening yet off the tee. Im still confident, though. My putting has improved dramatically. I havent averaged more than 2 putts per hole since clocking that absolutely ridiculously embarrassing 45 putts in a round.
After the range, Mark and I played four holes. I didnt hit a green, but still managed 2 pars and 2 bogies. The short game is really improving. I went home and worked out and then watched the Lightning sweep Montreal. I think theyre going to win the Cup.
Episode 7: Busy day today. Ashley and the film crew filmed my hockey game at 7 a.m. Saturday morning hockey is good because when Alex (evil goalie) plays, we switch goalies after each game so I get to score on him. Today was a good day, I had some nice goals, hopefully the editing makes it look like I actually have some skill!
After hockey, I went down to New York to meet up with The Dasher for some golf at Dellwood Country Club. It was a great course, very challenging. Ken and I were complete opposites. He hit everything perfect off the tee all day but once he got around the green he fell apart a little. I was struggling to put myself in good position off the tee, but my short game kept me in it. It was good to see Ken again.
* The film crew was in town again today, so of course it rained. Its been raining constantly this spring. Did some bunker shots and I learned a pretty sweet new shot. When the ball is completely buried in the sand, you completely close your clubface and just dig the club into the sand without following through. The toe of the club hits the sand first, turns square and scoops the ball out. It actually worked. We also played three holes on the course for the camera. I went par, double, par. Gotta get rid of those doubles.
* Mark and I had a playing lesson today, played nine holes. I was loosing balls like crazy. I was frustrated and Mark was kind of wondering what was going on because I was hitting them great on the range. Then, after he left, I went out and played another nine holes and it was completely different. I hit about 7 of 9 greens and shot 38! I think Im a bipolar golfer. Oh well, I was excited to see a score in the thirties again, itd been awhile.
* I played golf with a couple of my buddies today. I kept finding myself under or behind trees all day, but I still scored pretty well, low 80s. Not bad for the number of beers we had on the course.
After 16 holes, one my buddies (Pon) just took off in the cart without saying a word and we didnt see him again until we finished 18. He was already bellied up at the 19th. Thats my kind of golfer!
* I got a bunch of pairs of pants today from Marty with a note to take them to my tailor. Like I have a tailor! If I had my most expensive pair of pants tailored, the tailoring would cost more than the pants. Anyway, I found one and he had to take in the seat a little on every pair. I have no butt.
It was kind of cool having clothes fitted for me, and to answer your question..no, he didnt cup or move them from side to side.
* I was supposed to have my fitness check in New York today but the film crew and producer got stuck in some insane NYC traffic so Ill have to film it when we are in Orlando this weekend. Since we couldnt film we went out to a Japanese restaurant; thankfully even sushi restaurants serve steak and beer.
Jeff and I decided to share a few more car bombs at an Irish Pub near the hotel.
P.S. I also got my first official shout out from Ken Dashow who was working at the radio station when I was driving into town.
* Fashion day! I met with Marty in New York at Brooks Brothers and we went to a few other stores too. It was sweet! He gave me some great outfits and a couple questionable ones (they were all nice clothes, there were just a few outfits that werent my style - a little preppy). Hopefully I dont have to wear one of the questionable ones for my final round.
Marty was a lot of fun to work with, hes a character and we had a great time! I got some great shoes, some awesome shirts from the Bobby Jones collection and a bunch of shorts. I also got a nice blue blazer which, according to Marty If theres one item every guy needs its a blue blazer. Now I have one and feel whole again.
Ashley, one of the producers, came up after the fashion shoot for my last lesson with Mark before I head to Orlando. We went over some last course management stuff and how to work the ball from right to left and left to right when you really need to. Im excited to test the skills against the evil goalie soon.
* I took the day off today so I could get in some more golf before I get put to the test this weekend. Im a little nervous but confident that Ill do well. Im hitting the ball better off the tee, my irons are good and Im making better decisions.
Goalies going down!!!
Episode 8:Back in Orlando and loving it! This trip is great because all the spouses got to join us. It was awesome to have Jane included in this part of the experience, because I was so busy with lessons and traveling and everything else that we didnt get to spend as much time together as we usually do. She was such a sweetheart through the process, too, she deserved a nice vacation. She was excited too, because she finally got to meet everyone Ive been talking about for the last 2 months.
Right after we checked into the Hard Rock, we went to Universal Studios and got to go on all the rides. Since we had the camera crew following us we got first in line to whatever we wanted while everyone else waited.suckers.
It was cool to see everybody, they were all looking great. All the other guys lost a bunch of weight, it was impressive.
We all went for dinner and drinks to a luau that night and then we all went out after that, it was a fun night. Fun, until I ordered a double Kettle One and sour that cost $17. What?!! I should have bought the bottle.
* Today we went back to Reunion to play a little golf and do some final shooting. My dad was visiting his brother in Tampa so he drove up to hang out with us over the next few days. It was great having him around. He was excited about this considering he pretty much only watches the Golf Channel plus he plays Natural Golf. With me being involved in this it was perfect for him.
Lou Holtz spent the whole day with us, he was awesome. He had some great stories and was funny as heck. While playing, he was telling Ralph to stand behind him so he had an uphill putt. Everything breaks to Ralph.
We also met Craig Bowden, a PGA Tour player. He was a good guy and it was fun watching a tour player hit balls, he was awesome.
I finished up my fitness and fashion shoots since we didnt get to everything in New York. Then we went out for some good Italian food and Lou Holtz and his wife joined us. We called it an early night, though, since tomorrow is the showdown.
* Today was awesome! The cameras were everywhere when we got to the course, including a huge boom camera on a crane. It was a little intimidating and I was pretty nervous, even more than the first time. The first time I wasnt expected to play well, but now Ive been practicing and switched to Natural Golf so the pressure was on. The nerves, and some real bad breaks, got me on the first hole. I made a triple bogey and I was already down two to the evil, rotten, stinking sive of a goalie.
The course was playing really hard. It was windy and there were sand and waste areas everywhere, but I settled down quickly and started to find a groove. After the bad start, I strung about 5 pars together in a row and kept it steady for the rest of the round. And, of course, as if you ever doubted me, I kicked the goalies ass!!!! Beat him like a rented mule (for all you PETA people out there ' please note, I do not condone the beating of mules, or the renting of them with intention to beat. It is a saying so back off).
It was a great feeling to go down there and play well under the pressure. I shot about 12 strokes lower than I did the first time down so Im completely excited about my game. Im sticking with Natural Golf.
This whole process was completely unbelievable. Everybody at Natural Golf and the Golf Channel was so fun to work with and were just such great people. I really feel blessed that I was a part of this and I cant wait to keep playing and improving. It has restored my love for the game!