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The Steve WenPetren Project, Parts 7 and 8

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

So where has my golf blog been the past two weeks? I can ask the same thing about my golf game, which decided to abandon a couple of weekends ago as I shot a crowd-pleasing 117 which included at least a dozen penalty strokes and a few missing sleeves of golf balls. The one positive to that 117, and really when you shoot a 117, it’s important to find that silver lining, was that I didn’t have a single three-putt until the 18th and final hole.

And that in essence is part of the true beauty of the game, it’s unpredictability. They say in football, any team can win on any given Sunday, but in golf, you can shoot a 117 on any given Sunday (or Saturday in this case). Heck, on any given Sunday, a cigar smoking, over-40 Irishman can win the British Open for his first major championship. But I could just as easily shoot a 97 the next time I play that course, as easily as I shot that terrible triple-digit score. So while it was easily the worst scoring round I’ve had since starting lessons, it was also the best putting round I’ve had since starting lessons. Ironically, putting hasn’t been covered yet in my lessons, so I’m self-taught for the time being.

But thank you to readers Kevin Low and John Sheeler for inviting me out for a fun time, even if I did a fantastic job of embarrassing myself. I will have a much better showing next time out, I can guarantee that since it couldn’t get any worse.

LESSON #7 – IF THE CLUB DON’T FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 6

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

Before delving into last week’s lesson, let me enlighten you with a story.  Hours before my lesson, I left work early to play 18 holes of golf at Herndon Centennial with a co-worker.  It’s not the most challenging of courses, but when you’ve got a “work-in-progress” golf game, these courses are appreciated.  After opening with a devastating triple-bogey, I hit a nice 3-iron off the 2nd tee, a short par-4, right into the middle of the fairway, about 145 yards away.

At this point, there was a foursome ahead of us on the green, which consisted of a guy so old he might have been around when golf was invented, and a teenager who obviously had studied my original tapes on how to swing a golf club prior to my lessons.  They signaled for me and my buddy to play thru, so we took them up on that.  Knowing that all four of them were watching added a little extra pressure to the shot.  If I flubbed it, which I’m still prone to doing occasionally, will they re-think letting us play through?  Will the old man beat me over the head with his putter and call me a whippersnapper?  Long story short, I hit a perfect 7-iron to within four feet of the hole!  From there it was a matter of making a knee-knocker of a putt, which felt like it took forever to go from off my putter to the hole, but sure enough it made it then and into the cup for my first birdie in over three years!!!

It was my only birdie of the day (although I did lip out for birdie on the next hole, a par-5), but it didn’t matter, because I felt alive on the course the rest of the day and knew that Steve’s lessons were really doing the trick.  Thankfully I didn’t get too arrogant and think I was ready to turn pro and showed up for my lesson later that day with Steve.

LESSON #6 – ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 5

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

As we reach the halfway point of my lessons, I think there’s two essential things that I’ve taken from this whole process.  First and most important, is my new-found love of this game.  Prior to my lessons with Steve, golf was an expensive recreational activity that I played sparingly whenever I had some free time and the weather was nice.  But now, my mentality is to get out whenever possible, wherever possible, for however much possible, and in whatever weather conditions.  I’m proud to call myself, at the very least, a weekend golfer now (and the occasional mid-week golfer).

The second essential thing I’ve noticed is how I can actually (finally) become frustrated with this game.  Again, prior to lessons, golf was purely recreational and I was just happy to be swinging a club as opposed to doing yard work or sitting through some terrible chick flick (ok, who am I kidding, I love terrible chick flicks).   Now though I actually have some sort of expectation when at the driving range or on the course.  It’s no longer only about “just happy to be here” syndrome, now it’s about that AND trying to improve on every swing.  Interesting dilemma, curious to see how my mental approach to the game progresses, but just in case, I have a slew of f-, s- and c- words in my arsenal waiting to be yelled.

LESSON #5 – HIPS DON’T LIE

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 4

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

After the third lesson, I felt discouraged. Nothing to do with Steve’s teachings, but just the mental block I had given myself and my inability to hit a ball straight again. Thanks to a few visits to the driving range and a round of golf, I felt a little more confident going into the fourth lesson. But since all the confidence in the world isn’t necessarily going to give me the physical ability to hit a golf ball correctly, now I was slightly apprehensive yet anxious to show Steve if practice really does make perfect (or at least something better than awful).

Sure enough, it does! My hands were turning over, ball was going straight, and my 7-iron was going a solid 150 on most shots. Even my pitching wedge, a club I have ever rarely swung at full, as I’ve always chose to use it as more of a short half-swing wedge, I was hitting a clean 110 yards on most swings. Steve was so impressed that he suggested I try to qualify for the U.S. Open this week, ok, he wasn’t that impressed as this is what I should have been doing during last week’s debacle of a lesson, but because I had improved greatly from the previous week, he left it up to me what I wanted to learn next.

LESSON #4 – ENTER SANDMAN

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 2

For those who missed it, check out Part 1 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

Last week, I showed tremendous consistency in not being able to hit a single ball far or straight, so the good news is, there’s no where else for me to go but up as I prepare for my second lesson with Steve. In between the first two lessons, I did play 18 holes of golf at Reston National, not well, but at least I showed up. More importantly, I spent the week trying to grasp my practice grip (now named “Black Magic”) to the point where it felt comfortable and natural. I’ve already told Steve he’s not getting “Black Magic” back for a while, as I plan on traveling with it and taking pictures with it as we’ve formed a special bond.

I was very eager for lesson #2, as not having ever taken lessons before I was curious to see how the transition would go from what was learned last week into this week. Steve told me to warm up and hit some balls, and then after me taking at least a full minute in between swings, Steve told me that it’s only an hour-long lesson and that I should just hit balls to get loosened up and not as if I was trying to win the Masters on every shot.

So I got loose by hitting everything to the left as usual, which segued nicely into this week’s lesson…

LESSON #2 – Release Some Tension

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The Steve WenPetren Project

I suck at golf. That could very well be the title of my memoirs, but the actuality is that I’m taking the first step and admitting I have a problem in hopes of eventually not being the worst golfer on the course whenever I’m playing.

I do have some moments of glory on a golf course, and I still subscribe to the belief that you need just one good shot on the first nine and second nine holes to have a successful day, but when it’s one good shot, mixed in with 60 bad shots, it can become frustrating after a while. And while being outdoors in nice weather, driving a golf cart, having a few adult beverages (is it ok to drink and drive on a golf course?) and the occasional cigar is a great way to spend a few hours, it’s time for me to expand my skill set, or in this case, have a skill set.

Sadly, I think Charles Barkley has a better golf swing than me at this point.

Thankfully that’s where my buddy Steve WenPetren comes in. Steve is the new Director of Instruction at Woody’s Golf Range in Herndon, VA, and prior to that he spent over six years as the head golf pro at Sterling Golf Club. He’s also a way better golfer than I’ll ever be, but together, we’re going to attempt to work some magic and make me a respectable golfer. For ten weeks, once a week, I’ll be taking lessons from Steve and writing about the results here, and hopefully come 10 weeks from now, I’ll be a positive success story thanks to Steve’s tutelage.

LESSON #1 – Grip It But Don’t Rip It

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