So I should probably record where I am with my golf game at this point, so I have some sort of reference when I look back at the end of the season.
When I had to cut back my game last year, I was an unofficial 8.5 (I calculate my handicap based on the USGA formula, but I don't have an actual handicap). For the past couple years, I've been taking lessons every six weeks or so from Ted Sheftic, an outstanding coach and teacher. When I started with him, I was probably a 20-handicapper. Under his coaching, I've really come a long way . . . probably further than my current handicap would indicate. Most days when I go in for a lesson, he tells me I have the swing of a scratch golfer, so we're in maintenance mode there: this season we're going to do more work out on the course, thinking about strategy, how to handle different situations, etc. He also tells me the thing that's really holding me back is that I don't play competitive golf: I'm not a member of a club, I don't have many people I can play with, and, honestly, I don't feel comfortable enough with my game to think about entering open competitions.
When I find myself losing strokes on the course, I can generally attribute it to lack of focus. Generally, it's making a swing I'm not really committed to or making a swing where I'm thinking more mechanics than outcome (shot shape, where I want it to land, etc). I'll hook a tee shot into the water because I'm exaggerating a move or swing thought. I'll hit a chip shot 15 feet past the hole because I'm not really paying attention to what I want the ball to do (incidentally, lately I've discovered that if I keep a mental picture of the trajectory I want on short shots around the green through impact, I'm generally really pleased with the outcome). All those little things add up, and if I lose focus on one shot per hole, then suddenly, I'm four or five over through four, and panic mode comes on.
So I know that my game right now is held back by the mental side of things. When I last read How Great Golfers Think, I enjoyed the read and I was able to apply some of the lessons to see a short-term improvement. They didn't stick, though, because I didn't put the work into making those lessons permanent. I'm hoping going through the workbook along side the book and keeping this blog while I do will help ingrain those ideas and take my game to the next level.