Most frustrating thing about golf: The disconnect between range and course
Golf is a frustrating game. It is perhaps THE most frustrating game for a number of defensible reasons, none of which will I go into here.
My own greatest frustration is the complete disconnect I feel between the range and the course. I can hit ANY shot on the range, or just about. And I can do so rather consistently. This is why I test and review so much equipment. On the range, I am fully capable of putting any club through its paces.
Why, dear golf gods, why in the name of all that’s birdie, can I not transfer that control and competence to the course?
Take my penultimate round of 2008. We hit the course with 40 minutes before tee time and headed to the range. After one initial clunker, I began hitting medium-high, 170-yard 7-irons, with about a 5-yard draw. A dozen balls, all landing within 7 yards of each other.
Then came the driver. After one mandatory ugg-o, there followed in rapid succession about 10 drives that nearly cleared the back of the range.
Needless to say, my tin cup ranneth over with confidence. One the first tee, I hit a gorgeous, high, 285-yard drive (through the blind dogleg of the lousy first hole at The Firewheel at Garland Lakes Course, as it turned out). Then my second shot was a high, straight 9-iron (over the green, thanks to the lack of yardage markers and a busted GPS in the cart). Yet despite the poor outcomes, I felt great about my game.
From that point on, I think I failed to hit a solid shot until a 320-yard bomb on the 13th, when I was just so damn frustrated I didn’t care any more. Most poor shots were horrid, ugly hooks, or pushes out to the right that didn’t hook as I had expected, given my general performance.
So what gives? Was I so frustrated by the poor results on that first hole that I began over-thinking? Trying too hard? Swinging too hard? What, o spirit of Ben Hogan, what?!?
Most frustratingly, this wasn’t some isolated incident. It seems whenever I warm up, I play terribly, expecting myself to perform as I had on the range. When I go in cold, at least I can count on a few good holes early on, and sometimes the whole 18.
My first round of the season is fast approaching, and I don’t want to tee it up without any practice (after three months of not touching a club). But at the same time, I know that what I do on the range has almost no connection at all to how I perform on the course. So what’s the use?
Any instructors out there, I would love to hear your thoughts on this, THE MOST FRUSTRATING ASPECT OF GOLF.
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BTW, I have been for years trying to introduce the term "preantepenultimate" meaning "third to last." Any assistance you could lend toward that ultimate goal would be greatly appreciated.
As an aside, I enjoy your writing very much.