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Golfer’s Diary: Grading my game

Every Monday after a Bills game, the Buffalo News does a report card on various aspects of the team. Passing Offense: F. Rushing Offense: B-. You get the idea. It’s been a source of enjoyment in my family for years.

For whatever reason, these were on my mind recently and made me think about my own article and how I would grade my golf game. Can I be objective about this? Will I be too hard on myself? Only time will tell.

DRIVING — This is going to be the toughest one because my driving is by far the most inconsistent part of my game. I’ll have a stretch of weeks at a time during which I can crush the ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway (P.S. I’m not lying about this. I know people exaggerate about driving distance. I’ve had people question me until they’ve seen it for themselves). Then there are long stretches (again, weeks) during which I can’t hit a fairway to save my life. Driving instantly becomes either the best or the worst part of my game somehow. It’s not just a slice, either. I have this thing where I yank the ball way left. They’re some of my most well-struck balls if I’m being honest. It feels amazing and the ball goes forever, but way left. If I can get that shot under control, this grade will go through the roof, but as it stands…GRADE: C.

LONG IRONS — When I first started golfing, this was my bread and butter. If I could pull out a 4- or 5-iron, I was a happy man. I have since gotten a 3-hybrid that has all but eliminated the 4-iron from my game, but I still absolutely love pulling out these clubs. Par 5s are where I shine because even with a lousy drive, I can almost always save myself with a bomb of a hybrid or long iron. I still have that case of the yankee doodle dandies and I do flub the occasional hybrid off uneven ground or perhaps some thicker rough, but those are few and far between. GRADE: B.

SHORT IRONS — For this category, I’m including everything from say, 7-iron through pitching wedge. This is one of the areas where I continue to improve every year. This was never the worst part of my game, but I struggled mightily to ever hit greens from 100+ yards. Now I almost look forward to being right around that 100-yard marker. Some of my best shots of this past year were from 160ish yards. Those have been getting more and more common for me during my eight years as a golfer. Crushing a drive feels good, but dropping one on the green from that distance is hard to beat. There’s definitely room for improvement, but thankfully, improvement is exactly what I’ve seen so far. GRADE: C+.

CHIPPING — As with nearly every new golfer, this was the worst part of my game when I first got started. You know the drill – line it up, take a few nice practice swings and then blade the daylights out of the ball and send a laser beam skipping across the green. Now when I’m within 10 feet of the green or so, I expect to leave myself with a gimme of a putt. I’ve improved so much at chipping that I can honestly say it’s the best part of my game. Of course I could get better, but I approach these shots with a high degree of confidence. GRADE: B+.

PUTTING — This is an area in which I feel I never really struggled. I’ve played with many brand new golfers and almost to a man they have the exact same struggles on the green. They simply can’t get the power down. They’ll blow the ball past to hole and be further away than when they started. Then they’ll tap it 15 inches on an eight-foot putt. My putting numbers were excellent each of the past several seasons, but I’m also quite sure that an improvement in chipping has something to do with that. It’s easy to one-putt when my chip leaves me three feet from the hole. That said, this is another part of my game that I approach with a tremendous amount of confidence. GRADE: B.

This was actually a helpful exercise for me. After thinking about it, I went back and lowered almost every grade. Of course there are good days and bad days, but the goal is always to improve in each one of these categories. I look forward to doing just that in 2020.

Side note: Many people have asked me and as far as I know, courses are still planning to open as usual. I’m sure there will be some sort of restrictions on leagues, clubhouses, etc. Everything is subject to change based on the latest information on the coronavirus, of course, but I think we can plan on playing at least a little golf to help us through this tough and unprecedented time.

Golf is great. Go get some.

Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER contributing writer. Comments on this article can be sent to golfersdiary@gmail.com

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