I am having a big problem. This problem costs me about 10 strokes per round. From a pessimistic view 10 strokes is a monster number that seems in-conquerable. From an optimistic view, removing this anxiety umbrella that occurs when I step up to the first tee will be the most dramatic game changer to date and will improve all aspects of the game.
In 2007-2009 I improved for a 12-4.5 index all alone. I had no instruction and my improvements were all based on feel. From mid 2009 to mid 2012 I only golfed maybe 6 times and practiced just about the same amount. I re-committed in May 2012 to a complete swing overhaul. I never liked at all how my old 4.5 index swing looked. I was two-planed, lost my spine angle, swayed, and slid through impact. I have spend hundreds of hours this year building a swing that is more technically sound and educating myself by reading dozens of golf improvement books. The “new me” is much more educated and understands golf 20x of what I did before and have a swing that is much more sound. On paper, I am a much better golfer. On the range, I will hit hundreds of accurate golf shots, step on the course and play like a 15 handicap player.
However, my game has gotten worse. My scores are not coming down and quite frankly have no confidence on the course with any shot. My average round seems to be in the high 80′s. Am I getting used to my new swing? Did I change my old swing of 17 years so drastically that is beyond function? Am I a less confident person in general? Do I have stress/anxiety issues that are affecting my golf game? These questions are difficult to answer but I do have some insight.
I have been recovering from a mild heart arrhythmia and was given xanax to take as needed. I played Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) a few months back. LACC is challenging, playing a 74.6 and 139 on the card. I shot a 51 on the front 9. on hole 6 or so I took a xanax and fired a 38 on the back 9. This has stood out to me over the past few months. My belief when using drugs is to use them for a short time to feel the effects and then find natural ways to achieve similar results. I did this with ritalin and also with andro (a former legal anabolic steroid).
This Saturday I played The Crossings and shot an 88 and then Twin Oaks the next day, also shooting and 88. After my Twin Oaks round I was so frustrated and upset I questioned why I play this game. I had to lose 5-7 golf balls. I will top, shank, hit fat shots, and miss very short putts. These scores are terrible and do not represent me as a player. These scores are also embarrassing.
I was yelling at myself and decided I was taking two weeks off of this horrible sport. As I was winding up and throwing my shoes in my trunk like a fastball,a friend asked me if I wanted to play more golf. I said “Great, let me just put my shoes back on”. I decided I would take another xanax and see what happened, I figure the second 18 would be a great gauge of the impact of anxiety.
It is difficult to say what I shot because I played 11 holes with all of my clubs and then match play where I only used a 6 iron against him. I can say that on the front 9 I had a blast. I was calm and able to focus on subtle body movements that allowed me to be pinpoint accurate. I arguably hit the best shot of my life where the ball was outside the fairway bunker, but on the edge, and I had to put my left foot about 2 ft. into the deep bunker which put the ball 2ft. above me stance. I had 179yds to the hole and had to immediately clear 15ft trees and get over traps in front of a green to a front pin position. I stuck it to 12 ft.. I had no double bogies and 1 birdie. I would guess I played equivalent to a 7 handicap. I did not even lose a golf ball the entire round. Golf was enjoyable. I even played the last 7 holes at 8 over par with only a 6 iron! I had a 6ft. (6iron) putt on 18 to save bogie and to half the match and I drained it!
This is great news. This tells me that if I can take my overall energy level from a 9.9-2 I will start playing some great golf. I am also assuming this energy level is affecting my entire life. But how can I do this? My first thought is to start yoga & meditation. My second thought is to find a more natural alternative to xanax. My final thought it to take the drug for 90 days and see how it affects the rest of my life and then make adjustments. When I was 18 years old I took ritalin for 9 months which was one of the top 3 most dramatic life changers to date. I went from almost flunking out of college to a 4.0 student…..overnight! Eventually I felt the drug was not working anymore or I had figured out how to duplicate those effects, naturally. I have never had ritalin since that day.
Finally, I decided to take a xanax before my round today at Camp Pendleton course and once again, totally relaxed and focused. My mind was calm and I was making some great golf shots. I only shot an 82 but this was a 13 shot differential from last time I played this course just the week before. Also having to do with the improved round was my monumental grip change I made yesterday (see the next blog topic).
Update. I spoke with my good friend, Dr. Michelle Wolford, a Naturopathic doctor and she gave me recommendations which I will follow. She recommends I take the herbal supplement Calm-gen combined with a naturally occurring lithium as an alternative to xanax. I will keep you updated! Take a look at her site, she is a fascinating woman. http://www.lifeinmotionmed.com/about-2/dr-michelle-wolford/