Were already well on our way into 2018, but seeing as I haven’t blogged since November, I hope you have all had a happy festive period and your sticking to those New Year resolutions.
Anyway, last week I had travelled all the way back to Kunming in China to avenge my 2017 failures to try qualify for a China Tour card. I had prepared well for this event in the run up and my game was feeling sharp. After a somewhat promising finish to 2017, I aimed to keep the ball rolling so I began the year with the mindset of investing into myself. I decided I wasn’t getting the most out of the talent I had, so I needed to change a few things, well not change, but add to.
Since I snapped my driver shaft (by accident) back in Bahrain, I needed a new shaft and fast. With the good advice from my pal Stu Archibald, he recommended me to come down to Basingstoke, to Golf Principles to see Jason McNiven, a former Tour Custom Fitter who had set up his own outlet. It was a brilliant setup with the trackman and workshop adjacent to one another, and Jasons insights and expertise was a great eye opener.
I’d never properly been custom custom fit, so my equipment wasnt 100% fit for me, I guess this is the way I was brought up playing golf. Not the greatest idea especially when your making a living from the sport. We tried a lots of driver shafts finally got one that felt right, he liked trackman numbers and I liked the feel (X stiff so I can swing hard with it). I had no intention of changing my other equipment but he insisted on having a look at my irons and wedges. I hit a few 6 irons on the trackman and he said “what the f*** you using there?!” It turns out I had been using irons that were 2 degrees weak for the whole season. And I always thought I’d struggled with my irons in the wind; turns out my 6 iron was actually like a strong 8iron. We fixed that and played around with my wedge shafts, until I felt comfortable. I couldn’t recommend this guy and his team enough, I was overwhelmed with his knowledge and the equipment he had to offer. If your serious about your golf and you want to get the most of your equipment, you need to go see Jason. You can find out more here:
Aside getting my equipment properly fit, I also decided to start surround myself with good people who want to you succeed. Over winter I’ve teamed up to work with Zane Scotland to improve my game. His unfathomed experience and eye for the game is something and someone I can trust in. He’s helped me when I asked on tour, and now I’ve committed to working with him. Im happy with the direction my game is heading in.
So after a long trip to Kunming, China, I had a couple of days of preparation for the beast that was awaiting. Im not exaggerating when Im writing this but this golf course was the toughest courses I’ve ever played. It was cold, windy and set up 8000ft in the mountains which meant the ball flew bloody miles!! Committing to hitting a gap wedge 180 yards proved a challenge in itself. The greens were firm and fast like links greens back home. Speaking with other players, the general consensus was that the course knocked everybody’s confidence around the greens. You could hit good approach shots into the greens and be absolutely screwed when trying to hole your putt. I love a challenge, and this was 72 holes of concentration station. You could not let up on each and every shot or you could be staring doubles or trebles in the face. The organisers must have thought, “lets make this course play as hard as possible”, 500 yard par 4s and par 5s where you were forced to hit irons off the tees made birdies hard to come by.
The greens were very slopey!!
Just when you think you’ve made a good putt!
Don’t miss the green or you’ve got a 50yard pitch!!
The 13th hole is one of the greatest, most stupidest and wackiest hole I have ever played. Its 470 yard par 4 on the edge of the mountain surrounded by breathtaking views in a howling and chilling wind. A hole not for the faint hearted, begins with a daunting tee shot over and across out of bounds into a narrow sloping fairway. The approach can be anywhere between 100 to 200 yards into what can only be described as a laughable green. Surrounded by 500ft drops, out of bounds and run offs into deep rough and bunkers, the firm and fast green can make you look silly. If you make par on this hole, 4 rounds in a row, hats off to ya. My mate Jordan Garnish took a 9 here in his first round, he came back and birdied it in the 3 rounds that followed.
Im not going to talk about each round because, theres probably a lot of complaining and highlighting the fact that it was difficult and wasn’t a fair test of golf. I was in a good mindset to begin with and played well in the practice rounds, so I was looking forward to attempting to tame the beast. What I realised after the first two rounds, I had talked myself out of the tournament before I knew it. I played with a Kiwi and he was a great guy, but for 2 rounds it felt like all we talked about was how silly the pins were, how hard the shots were, how impossible it was to play well. Looking back at it, its such a rookie mistake and something I would normally become aware of as soon as it started happening, but I fell into the learned helplessness trap. If you tell yourself something is difficult, its going to be difficult. If you tell yourself how hard it is to read the greens, your never going to be able to greens. Its a self declared prophecy. I made 1 birdie in those 36 holes and felt like I played well.
Following the first two rounds I felt I played really solid the whole tournament, tee to green I was impressed with how I controlled the ball. Put it this way, I shot 19 over par and didn’t lose 1 ball. 13 holes had out of bounds at least somewhere. It took me 72 holes before I got the rub of the greens and by then it was already too late. It wasn’t that I was putting bad strokes on putts, its was a combination of misreading lines, lack of belief and trust. I couldn’t see the ball going in the hole confidently, which meant no matter what you do, nothing seems to go right. Call it a mental block if you like.
I finished 41st, the top 39 guys and ties earned their China Tour Card. I missed a whole playing season by 1 shot. How did I feel? I was amused. Whether or not that masked the gut feeling of frustration and pain I don’t know. If you want to get a card, you have to play better than the other 90 guys, you must get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots. Plain and simple. Doesn’t matter how good you strike it, how good it looks or feels. Get the ball in the hole. I came to that conclusion quickly and got over the failure before having a 3 hour stint of ping pong against the Chinese.
Aside the failure, I feel more motivated than ever. I see clearly now, its a stepping stone to success. Im happy and confident in the direction my game is going. My main goal for this year is to keep improving in small amounts in each and every area that will enhance my performance. Investing in myself, using all resources and ticking all those boxes. No hard outcome goals as I think thats whats blocked me the past year. The journey is a process, and I’ve learnt to respect and put more effort into this.
Mena Tour starts again late March, early April. Sunshine Tour Q school, in South Africa is in March, and this is where I will return.
Thank you again for your all support, I hope you all well and all the best for 2018.
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If your serious about wanting to support and help me on my journey, I am currently selling shares in myself valued at £100.00 per share. This money goes towards Entry fees, Travel costs and Accommodations costs. A percentage of my earnings for 2018 is then returned back to shareholders. For more information, send me an email or direct message me on my Facebook page…