In a previous post, I described a swing thought of "Be Graceful" that seemed to help out while I was practicing . . . yesterday, I took that thought out for a non-practice round for the first time. Last season, I broke 80 about half the time I'd go out; I got to the point where if I didn't break 80, I felt a little disappointed. This season, my lowest score had been an 83 on a par-71 course, and my scores were actually trending upwards. Granted, conditions haven't been great here (so much rain!), but still, there were a few rounds where I felt like I was fighting to break 90.
Well, I stepped up to the first tee yesterday, took some practice swings while telling myself "Be graceful", addressed the ball and kept an image of the flight I wanted in my head, and proceded to stripe the ball down the middle of the fairway! Second shot, same routine: ball pin high on the green 15 feet to the right. Hit the putt pretty well but miss an inch high, for a tap-in par. The rest of the day went pretty much like that.
Of course, I hit a couple bad shots, but I found that, by focusing on "being graceful" in my routine, I was able to recover pretty easily. Normally, I'd have gotten frustrated and nervous, but it's hard to be frustrated when you're busy being graceful :).
There was a big let-down at the end, though: on the final hole, a 190 yard par-3, I pull my tee shot into the greenside bunker. I get out easily, but leave myself about eight feet from the hole. I had made a few putts longer than that during the round, so I got lazy, didn't focus, didn't follow my routine, and pulled my putt with enough energy to put it three feet past the hole. But it gets worse: I was so disappointed (not by missing, but because I missed on a bad "non-focused" putt) that I lost my focus on the come-backer and missed again . . . my worst hole of the day, a three-putt double bogey :(.
All in all, though, the round was a confidence-booster: I know I can maintain this through a round now. I ended up shooting a 77, my best score since last September, and I came into the final hole in position to beat or tie my best score ever. I just need to find a way to maintain it.
Oh yeah, and by focusing on "being graceful" I found that my back didn't hurt during and after the round the way it has the past couple months, even though I was actually taking more practice swings. I guess simpler and smoother really helps!