I thought I’d share a bit about my preparation process for an upcoming tournament next week in Palm Springs. Every year, in the first week of December, the LPGA Teaching & Club Pro Division puts on a team event. The last few years I have arrived in Palm Springs completely out of shape. Last year was particularly discouraging. I played so poorly that I swore to myself that next year’s event preparation would need to be different.
It started with me thinking about what I could do to get ready. Since the smoke basically forced me to stay inside for most of November, I realized last weekend that I needed to get a move on if this year was going to be any different. Nevertheless, a little prep is better than none, so when it cleared up last Sunday I decided to get out there.
Played 9 holes at the East Course.
My first thought was that I needed to drag myself to the range to hit balls. I immediately resisted. Why should I hit balls when I can play? Playing is more fun! Besides, I wanted to get into the thought process of playing. What do I mean by that? Well, I haven’t played a lot recently (especially with the wedding planning and before that, prepping for our Bodega Bay retreat) and that means my process of setting up to the ball hasn’t gotten much attention. When I haven’t played much, I feel the need to go through my process so that I feel good and solid over the ball. I want to know that my alignment and posture are alright, and that the time it takes to set up to the ball isn’t too long (so that I overthink it).
Basically, those are the things I paid attention to on this round.
In my game, I’m usually pretty good with the driver, my short game and my putting. Not so on Sunday. I hit most tee shots way left of what I wanted. Although the swing itself didn’t feel too terrible, most shots did. I got some good short game practice in since I missed so many greens. And hurrah, my putting felt really good even though my speed was a bit off.
Played 12 holes at the West Course.
Mondays are usually my day off and after going to the gym and running a couple of errands, I drove to Oakmont. I knew I wanted to practice more on the course because I knew that the rest of the week it would most likely rain.
Playing today was more of the same. My driver was still going left, irons were going good and putting felt good. I missed a fair number of greens so I really enjoyed the challenge of picking landing spots for my chip shots and trying to get the ball to do what I wanted it to do.
My plan the next day was to get on the TrackMan launch monitor to check my swing.
On Tuesday it rained pretty hard so I decided to hit balls inside in the teaching lab at the East Course after teaching my lessons.
Since the course set up on the second day of the tournament is on a shorter course and I know I will have a lot of wedge shots into the greens, I wanted to practice hitting certain distances. Luckily, the TrackMan is very helpful for this because it will give me both the carry distance and the total distance of my shot.
First, I warmed up. I felt a bit sore from the workouts in the gym the last couple of days.
I hit several half shots before I hit 8-iron, 6-iron, 27 degree hybrid and 20 degree hybrid. So far so good. Path numbers were close to +3 which means I’m swinging slightly inside out.
When I got to the driver it hit the first one really well. But the next one, I hit completely left and it felt like the driver swings I’ve had on the course the last two days. The path was ok but the face was closed by a few degrees. I probably should have suspected this- and I adjusted it by opening up my club face just a little more in the back swing and making sure my right hand isn’t riding on top of the handle in my take away.
Lastly, I practiced a half-swing with my 54 degree wedge where my hands were about hip high and the club head a little bit higher. I wanted to know how far the ball would carry and how far the estimated roll out would be. I also did the same drill with my 50 degree wedge. I think my fave wedge is this one. I love chipping with it too.
I noticed that if my club head speed varied, then my carry distance would be different too. I kept noticing and giving myself different tempos to see how the distance would change.
I left feeling like I had accomplished what I had set out to do!
I went to the gym in the morning thinking it would rain all day. But it cleared up, and I went to Oakmont to teach one lesson and then meet up with a friend to practice. I know myself- it is so much easier to get that workout in or that practice in if you have a friend that will keep you accountable. Since the weather was nice, I stayed around the putting green on the East Course to chip. I use mainly three different clubs to chip: 60 degree wedge, 50 degree wedge and my 8-iron. That makes it easy for me to create low, medium and high trajectory. I got two golf balls out of my bag, and immersed myself into the process of getting my shots close to the hole. Most shots in the desert will be from nice, short turf, so that was what I mostly practiced hitting my shots from.
After about 20 minutes, my friend arrived and I challenged her to a chipping contest. Challenging my friends has always been one of my favorite ways to practice and get better. It makes me go through my pre-shot routine just as if I was playing on the course. I spend more time on aim and alignment compared to if I was chipping on my own. I also spend a little more time visualizing the shot and imagining how it will roll to get close.
When it got dark, we went to the indoor lab to hit balls. I went through a similar routine as the day before. On a few shots, I imagined the hole I knew I needed to hit a particular shot and went through my pre-shot routine. Each time I nailed the shot, which felt really good.
I also went through the same wedge practice like the day before. The numbers were starting to be more predictable.
My practice session ended with a set of speed sticks. Speed sticks are a great way to build speed into your swing.
Another rainy day. The only person who wants to have a lesson on a rainy day is Matthew. He can’t stand missing his weekly lesson! Matthew ended his session with a set of speed sticks and when he left, that’s when I started. I went through the set doing both right- and left-handed swings.
Afterwards, I hit a few warm ups with my 60 degree wedge. Then I hit a few full pitching wedges to check my yardage. The last one carried 100 yards.
Then I hit my 8-iron and 6-iron. I noticed the path was more inside out tonight than the last couple of days, so I did a little drill next to the wall where I drag the club along the baseboard while making my hands stay close to my legs. My thought is “the club goes out and the hands stay in”. This helped me get the path back on track.
I also hit a few hybrids. I missed a couple right but to perfectly honest, that doesn’t bother me as much as when I hit it left.
Lastly, I spent most of the time with my four wedges. I went through and hit hard shots with all of them. Here’s the results so far:
Half-shots Carry/Roll out
60 degree wedge 26/35
54 degree wedge 31/43
50 degree wedge 34/47
Today it looks like I will go out to practice and play at StoneTree. My flight leaves from Oakland at 7:30 pm, so my priority today is:
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