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How long between rounds?

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I’m on a trip now where there won’t be any golf for almost three weeks. Since I live in Southern California and play year-round, this will be the longest I’ve gone without teeing it up in probably 14 years.

Three weeks seems like an eternity to not pick up a 7-iron to me, but I realized as I talked with other golfers before the trip that some of us endure even longer layoffs over the course of a year.

“I’m from New York,” Albert told me while playing a vacation round in Orange County. “I’m feeling like I’m just getting the hang of the game again after a few months off. We didn’t start playing until mid-March this year so I didn’t pick up a club from November until then.”

I asked him if he has to relearn the game each spring.

[quote_box_center]“No, I have the same swing — I just hit the ball shorter every year. No, really though, it’s the short game, the touch, that takes a while to get back to. By the end of the summer I’ll be in mid-season form, finally, and just about then it will start getting colder and once there’s frost our course closes for the season.”[/quote_box_center]

“Let’s see…the longest I’ve gone without playing is probably a month or two, but that was a few years ago,” C.J. from Long Beach said. He’s probably in his mid-40s and he’s a 5 handicap. “I usually play every weekend, once or twice, and I try to practice at least once a week.” He was on the driving range at Recreation Park.

“We have some nice short courses around here, too, so during the summer when it’s light late I’ll play there. If I had to go two weeks without playing I might go through withdrawal.”

Sometimes you’ll hear a pro golfer say after three consecutive tournaments that he needs a break, and when he comes back a few weeks later I’ll read how he never picked up a club for two weeks.

“I feel like I’d lose my swing if I went that long without playing,” C.J. said.

I found Matt at another driving range — this might sound like the set-up of a bad golf joke, but no, he was hitting balls off of the grass. “I haven’t played for like two months,” he said.

“But I’m playing with some old fraternity brothers Saturday at White Dove and I don’t want to look like a total fool,” he said while hitting driver after driver, each one struck solidly but often a little right, and then once, way right.

“See,” he said after the big slice, “that’s what I can’t do Saturday, but when you don’t play very often, it’s hard not to.”

I asked him why he doesn’t play more often.

[quote_box_center]“I like golf but it takes too much time, costs too much money, and it’s too hard to play well,” he said. “I get frustrated when I’m out there if I suck really bad. I need to play more to get better but because I don’t have much time or want to spend the money, that’s hard to do.”[/quote_box_center]

I played 36 holes one day the other week to celebrate my birthday and in my morning round one of the guys I was paired with, Rodney, said he had played golf at least once every month for 18 years and counting. That didn’t sound that impressive to me until he mentioned that he’d lived near Detroit for the first eight of those years.

“During the winter sometimes I’d drive down near Cincinnati to play if I had to, even then sometimes it was barely in the 40s outside.”

“That takes dedication,” I said, perhaps in understatement.

“Yeah, but it got me out of the house and on one of those drives I decided it was time to move to California. My wife says it was the best idea I ever had, besides marrying her.”

I asked Rodney how long he goes between rounds now. “Play every weekend and every Wednesday,” he said. “So I have no excuse for playing as badly as I am today. But Saturday will be another story, that’s when I’m with my boys and I’ll take their money.”

In my afternoon birthday round I played with a couple from San Diego. Carol made more pars than her husband, Edward, through the front nine but she confided to me, “He’s having a really bad day…”

“We’re going to play again tomorrow,” Edward said. “Maybe I’ll get my game figured out by then.”

Inconsistency is the one trait infrequent golfers usually share. They hit enough good shots to know they can do it and so they visualize and even expect that good outcome, but because they haven’t played enough to hone their skills they’ll sometimes hit embarrassing shots.

“I think if I could play twice a week every week,” Edward said on the back nine after he’d started making a few pars, “then I could really start playing well.”

I asked how long it had been since his last round.

“A couple of weeks. We’re doing some remodeling and I’ve been helping with that and it seems like there’s always something to do that stops me from playing.”

The other guy in our foursome was Evan. He told me that he played pretty much every weekend, but usually never picks up a club from Sunday afternoon to Saturday morning.

“Some Saturdays I feel like I’m just relearning the game for the first few holes, even if I go to the range to warm up before the round,” he said. “In some ways the Saturday rounds are almost practice rounds and I play my best golf on Sundays when I’ve played the day before.”

I told him I was going away and wouldn’t be near a golf club for more than three weeks.

He’d seen me kick my way around to a 43 on the front nine. “Good luck with that,” he said. “My advice: Don’t bet with anybody the first round back.”

How long do you usually go between rounds? Let us know in the comments section below. And check out the inspirational story of one golfer trying to shoot the round of his life at 7-ironpress.com. The book is called A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth and you can get free shipping on the paperback with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” (kirkusreviews.com). A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through 7-ironpress.com and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Joew2328

    Jul 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I play in a golf league 2 nights a week, and try to get in at least 18 holes on the weekend. Unfortunately, I live in Michigan so every year I am forced to take a 2-4 month hiatus from the game. It is kind of nice to “reinvent” your game every off season though.

  2. Chet Steadmana

    Jul 18, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Until this past April, it had been 53 weeks since I last played. The comment in the article about time and cost rings true. First round back was a terrible 93 on a course I had never seen before. Two weeks later, shot a nice 79. I probably won’t play again for another few weeks, but find it pretty easy to come back after a long layoff. When I haven’t played for a while, I don’t get overly aggressive. The third or fourth round back normally brings me back to earth though.

  3. Golfgirlrobin

    Jul 12, 2015 at 12:25 am

    The longest I’ve ever gone was four weeks when I hit a root with a six iron and separated a rib from my sternum. Turns out you can’t play through that one.

    Otherwise, never longer than a week. Even when studying for the bar exam, I needed to get out and play or the the stress would have killed me.

  4. felchone

    Jul 11, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Lol…try being a golf nut in Saskatchewan. No golf happening around here for at least 5 months of the year. 3 weeks with no golf isn’t going to be getting much sympathy from this part of the map haha

  5. Regis

    Jul 8, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been playing since I was 13. I’m 64. My entire life has been spent on the East Coast so for the most parts long winter layoffs are the norm. When I resume I usually put in one range session then hit the course. By the 7th or 8th hole I’m amazed at how well I’m playing, tee shots, wedges, putting. But then like the proverbial squirrel , I start to implement all the swing tips I’ve stored over the winter from mags, TV and internet. And then my game deteriorates to its norm. Crap. I need a lesson.

  6. Scott

    Jul 8, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve gone 31 years avoiding a wife and kids so I’m good to play everyday. You just gotta decide what’s more important in life. I think I made the right choice

  7. headymonster

    Jul 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I have a driving range mat in the garage and a cheap carpet I use for putting. I can get a few swings/putts in taking out the garbage. Keeps game in check.

  8. Double Mocha Man

    Jul 7, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Gavin, Doc… If your daughters could talk they’d tell you to go out and play. Makes for a happier papa. Then come home and hug them and describe all the details of that lone birdie you made. Your little girl will hang on every word, unlike your golfing buddies.

  9. Lucas

    Jul 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    almost 24 hours on a bad day.

  10. Gavin Lee

    Jul 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Other than a 9 month span when I thought I was giving the game up, the last three months have been the longest I’ve gone. After my daughter was born in May, the golf course became a bit of a mythological place…How long is appropriate to wait after your kids is born to go back?

    • Doc Todd

      Jul 7, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      Depends on your situation I suppose. My daughter is 14 mo now and I feel guilty of not seeing her except through a baby monitor half the week that I find myself not going to the course when I so badly want to. An easy solution would be to have the weekend mornings free to golf, but I feel guilty that my wife is up early on the weekdays so I let her sleep while I take the baby duty. If my wife were an early riser I would be in a much better position on the weekend, but she could sleep till 10 am everyday.

    • Scott

      Jul 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      My son was born 2 weeks ago, and I’ve already played twice. We’ve had people over a lot, so wife isn’t alone, but honestly there isn’t a heck of a lot I can do right now.

      I expect next year to be more challenging actually, once he’s more active.

  11. Danny

    Jul 7, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Time away from the game helps your swing and mentally, but your short game touch goes away so it’s a net wash.

    • Scooter McGavin

      Jul 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Lol. True. There’s no magic or voodoo to it. It’s a skill-based activity, so the more you practice the better you get.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How To Overcome The Mid-Season Golf Blues

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Every Year around this time, golfers start getting tentative because they have missed a few too many golf shots and they immediately start to blame the faulty wires on the Pinocchio.

Of course, we are here to tell you that is not the case.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship: Outright Betting Picks

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With the PGA TOUR regular season in the books, it’s time to begin the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.

Previously known as the St. Jude Classic and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the event will now serve as the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and is named the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

While the name of the event and the spot on the PGA TOUR schedule has changed, the course remains the same. TPC Southwind is located in Memphis, Tennessee and has been a regular TOUR stop since 1989.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 measuring 7,244 yards. The course features Bermudagrass greens and rough. With 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards, there is potential trouble on almost every hole.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship will play host to the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings with the top 65 and ties making it through to the weekend.

FedEx St. Jude Championship Outright Bets

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200)

Typically, the FedEx Cup playoff events are won by players who have been among the best overall players for that season. Matt Fitzpatrick is having the best season of his career and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive golfers of the year. For the 2022 season, the Englishman ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total, which trails only Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.

Had it not been for Fitzpatrick’s incredible U.S. Open victory, TPC Southwind would have been a spot that I’ve always thought could be the perfect break through spot for the 27-year-old. Now that he’s won and gotten his first victory in the United States out of the way, it only increases his chances of being able to win a FedEx Cup Playoff event.

Talent was never the concern for Fitzpatrick. The former top ranked amateur in the world exploded onto the professional golf scene at nineteen years old and never looked back. Despite having eight European Tour victories by the time he’d hit his mid-twenties, many people questioned why he couldn’t win on American soil. Now that he’s a U.S. Open champion, there’s reason to believe the floodgates will open.

Fitzpatrick has had plenty of success at TPC Southwind in the past. In three starts at the course, “Fitz” has two top-six finishes including a fourth-place finish in 2019.

His success at the track isn’t all that surprising considering how well his skill set aligns with what’s required to compete at the course. It’s important to hit fairways, which is something he does at a high clip. He also is one of the best in the sport at limiting mistakes and ranks third in the field in Bogey Avoidance.

A FedEx Cup Playoff victory would add to what is already the best season of Fitzpatrick’s career and give him a chance to make a run at a being the FedEx Cup champion.

Will Zalatoris (+2500)

For the past few weeks, we’ve seen Will Zalatoris near the top of the odds board. Despite being one of the most talented players in the field, there was nothing about Detroit Golf Club or Sedgefield Country Club that made me interested in betting him at those spots. The opposite is true about TPC Southwind.

When targeting Will Zalatoris for an outright bet, it’s most prudent to look for spots on the schedule where his immaculate ball striking can set him apart from the rest of them field.  The Rocket Mortgage Classic rewarded driving distance and wedge play. The Wyndham Championship rewarded the best putters and most accurate drivers.

This week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship will favor the best iron players who can ball strike their way to the top of the leaderboard. In the past, Strokes Gained: Putting hasn’t been a strong indicator of who will play well at TPC Southwind; which is great news for Zalatoris, who often struggles with the putter.

As evidenced by his three top-six finishes including two runners-up at major championships in 2022, Zalatoris can absolutely compete in the strongest of fields. In fact, I believe his chances to win in a star-studded event are higher than they are to win a lesser event on TOUR. The 25-year-old is a big game hunter who does his best work when the stakes are high.

The first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs is an excellent time for “Willy Z” to finally break through for his inevitable maiden PGA TOUR victory.

Sungjae Im (+3500)

As frustrating as it was being a Sungjae Im backer on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, his overall performance and current hot streak can’t be overlooked.

The South Korean has now finished in a share for second place in back-to-back starts. In those two events, Im has gained an average of 8.5 strokes Ball Striking on the field, which includes both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. At a course where ball striking is the most important factor, he should be in store for another strong showing.

Im had his best Strokes Gained: Approach day on Sunday at the Wyndham, gaining 2.0 strokes on the field in the fourth round alone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the putter going and lost 2.2 strokes putting while Tom Kim gained 4.5 on the day. If it weren’t for Kim’s unconscious effort with the putter, there’s a good chance that Sungjae would have notched another PGA TOUR victory.

If the 24-year-old can get the flat stick going this week, we may have back-to-back South Korean winners on the PGA TOUR.

Tyrrell Hatton (+6000)

It appears as if Tyrrell Hatton is trending toward a victory, as he’s playing arguably the best golf of his 2022 season. He finished 11th at the Open Championship and followed it up with an impressive performance at Wyndham, finishing eighth. In addition to his top-10 finish, the Englishman was impressive with his approach playing and gained 5.3 strokes on approach, which was good for sixth in the field.

Hatton got hot in his final round last week, shooting a 64. Oftentimes we see golfers who go low on the previous Sunday carry the momentum into the following tournament. Hatton is a much better player than he’s shown thus far in 2022, and it seems as if he’s found something ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

If he has, TPC Southwind should be a good course for him as he finished in 17th last year and was in contention prior to a fourth round 72 that took him out of the running.

Russell Henley (+6000)

It’s fair to wonder whether Russell Henley can close out a victory on the PGA TOUR after witnessing him blow leads at last season’s Wyndham Championship and this season’s Sony Open. Considering that the FedEx Cup St. Jude Championship will be comprised of a much stronger field than either of those events makes it perfectly reasonable to question it even further. However, at his number, I’m willing to give it one more shot.

Henley is in the best form we’ve seen him in this season. In his past two starts, the 33-year-old has finishes of 10th and fifth and has gained 11 and 9.7 strokes from tee to green in those events. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Henley ranked seventh in the field in approach, and at the Wydham Championship, he ranked first.

TPC Southwind is a course that should fit Henley’s game to a tee. With a premium on iron play and hitting greens in regulation, the former Georgia Bulldog is a perfect fit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a course where he doesn’t have to gain a bunch of strokes with the putter to win.

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Equipment

Davis Love III was still using a persimmon driver in 1997?!

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The revolution of metal drivers was happening quickly in the early-to-mid 1990’s, but Davis Love III was set on sticking with his Cleveland Classic Oil Hardened RC85 persimmon driver. He wasn’t oblivious to the emerging technology, though. He knew exactly what he was doing, and why.

“The Cleveland has been in my bag since 1985,” Love III wrote in his 1997 book, “Every Shot I Take.” “It was given to me by a good friend, Bob Spence. I experiment with metal drivers often; I find – for me, and not necessarily for you – they go marginally longer than my wooden driver, but they don’t give me any shape. I find it more difficult to create shape to my drives off the metal face, which is important to me. …I also love the sound my ball makes as it comes off the persimmon insert of my driver.

“I’m no technophobe,” he added. “My fairway ‘woods’ have metal heads … but when it comes to my old wooden driver, I guess the only thing I can really say is that I enjoy golf more with it, and I think I play better with it…golf is somehow more pleasing to me when played with a driver made of wood.”

Although his book came out in 1997, Love III switched out his persimmon driver for a Titleist 975D titanium driver in the same year.

It was the end of an era.

During Love III’s 12-year-run with the persimmon driver, though, he piled on four wins in the year of 1992, including the Kmart Greater Greensboro Open — now known as the Wyndham Championship.

Love III, who’s captaining the 2022 Presidents Cup United States team next month at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., is playing in the 2022 Wyndham Championship in nearby Greensboro. In celebration, we took a look back in the archives to see what clubs Love III used for his win in 1992 for an article on PGATOUR.com. We discovered he was using a Cleveland Classic persimmon driver, in addition to a nostalgic equipment setup.

In our latest Two Guys Talking Golf podcast episode, equipment aficionado and co-host Brian Knudson, and myself (GolfWRX tour reporter Andrew Tursky), discuss Love III’s late switch to a metal-made driver, and why he may have stuck with a wooden persimmon driver for so long.

Check out the full podcast below in the SoundCloud embed, or listen on Apple Music here. For more information on Love III’s 1992 setup versus his 2022 WITB, click here.

 

 

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