How to travelproof your game

Yesterday I played the best round of golf in my life, a +2 74 on a course in Hamilton ON, Dragons Fire. Despite the tees being moved forward I still had to execute golf shots, scramble and sink putts.

I strive to play my best every round but have a history of getting in my own way and derailing potentially successful rounds. The excitement of playing well, and the knowledge of knowing I’m playing well, has been impossible for me to maintain over 18 holes in the past. There were two factors which helped contribute to my success yesterday that I want to share (for your benefit and as a reminder to me). These two factors may help golfers who are traveling to new and nice courses.

044 First is to maintain a pace of play that will be optimal for you (within reason, please). Some people play very fast and others less so. When I travel to play golf I look back and find the round was a blur; oh, I can remember some shots here and there but the round does not have the flow I would like to think back about. My cousin who has played extensive amateur tournament golf shared some good advice for me in terms of scoring well. First, develop and trust a pre-shot routine and don’t hit a ball until you’ve gone through that routine. This can take the nerves out of the equation somewhat by helping you focus on one shot at a time. His second piece of advice and I followed this for the first time for 18 holes, and that is to take more time over putts. Read the putt from a couple angles possibly, visualize the line to see the ball go in the hole and trust the putt. I made 8 putts over 5 feet in length (which is nothing amazing, but very good for me).

The second factor which was instrumental once I was done the 15th and knew I was +1 was to think of each 3 hole stretch as its own micro round. The course I played has a 5-3-5 final stretch and it would have been easy to get all wide eyed thinking about birdie opportunities to get to even par or better. I am proud I did not do this. Instead, I stood on 16 seeking to hit a good shot and position myself for a good start on this 3 hole round. It helped and I started with a pedestrian par. A good tee shot on 17 was met with bad luck as a wind gust held my ball up and it landed short and fell back into a hazard. I maintained routine, took my medicine and bogeyed the hole. On 18, I was not greedy and simply tried to hit a good tee shot to give me a chance to get back to even for this 3 hole stretch. I missed a birdie putt on the high side and tapped in for par and a +1 on that leg and an overall +2. 042

Everything was deliberate, even my walking rate and breathing. As a public player with a bucket list to cross off there are some outstanding courses which create more than the usual amount of first tee jitters, some of which last for many holes. I feel these tips will help me realize it’s just me and the course. And regardless of how prestigious and pristine the course is, it is the same game and requires the same execution. I welcome your thoughts to this approach and any additional tips you may have on how to travelproof your game!


It’s Golf and Travel Show Season

It’s an annual rite of passage.  Locked in the grips of a long Canadian winter, I ventured into downtown Toronto to wander and dream.  Let’s be clear, I could attend this show on a weekly basis so I have a significant bias.  In 2012, I had my fitting which resulted in a custom fit Ping putter; the first putter I haven’t sworn at or ‘retired’.  Having attended this for years now, I have seen the subtle changes.  Some exhibitors are no longer coming to Toronto and in their place are new exhibitors.  At the core, this is a golf show with a side of travel.  But enough of the superlatives, time for the deep dive.

In the early years, I was like a 10 year old at Halloween.  I tried to grab as much as I could.  Books, discounted rounds and as much free swag as I could gather.  My hand hurt with signing for so many draws: free rounds, stay and plays, or vacations.  Now, with a focus on quality over quantity and a national focus, I look with a more critical eye.   This year, I left with one small bag of information that is important to me, which included business cards.  In Toronto, they give away 5,000 rounds of golf each year; a nice incentive to line up early.  CPGA professionals offer lessons on site.  Instructional sessions are seemingly ongoing with the likes of The Golf Fix’s Michael Breed.  And there’s always something for junior golfers – unique giveaways and instructional time.

My small town heart draws me over, year by year, to the booths of Golf PEI and Golf Nova Scotia.  This year I spent considerable time talking and listening.  I am interested in the sustainability of the industry, the growth of golf in Canada and the opportunities golf ‘destinations’ like eastern Canada have to support this.   I spend 15 minutes talking to the General Manager of Authentic Seacoast, John Stapleton, who also runs the quaint and picturesque Osprey Shores resort.  We talked golf, business, weather and I had a chance to thank him in person for an amazing stay along with 15 friends last August. With the lads from the Golf Nova Scotia booth

Sure, there was swag (although the quantity seems to diminish each year).  There are deals (on golf, golf travel and equipment) and there is instruction, food too, and if you’ve done this for many years there are people to connect with!  I joined GTA Golf Club, a golf community which will allow me discounted fees for golf in the Greater Toronto Area; meeting the owners allowed me to ask important questions to inform my decision.

At the end of the day, this is an event that brings excitement, enthusiasm and optimism.  Spring WILL eventually get here; the golf season will arrive.  And we can wander around and explore places to travel, places to play, equipment to use, and recharge our batteries for a game we love!

Until next year (not next week)!  Thanks to the organizers and exhibitors who make the Toronto Golf and Travel Show (and similar shows across the country) possible.