Chasing Fireflies

I had a glorious day today.

I got to play our Cochise course here at Desert Mountain, the course where the Champions Tour once played The Tradition, one of their majors, and where it will play this year’s Charles Schwab Cup, effectively their Tour championship.

I hadn’t played it in a couple of weeks due to my schedule and due to the fact that, rather than overseeding it last winter, we decided to let it go dormant. This is sort of like a farmer letting his field go fallow for a year and let’s the Bermudagrass base recover from all the previous years of overseeding. What makes this possible is that we have six courses that take turns going dormant while the others stay green.

The course is eminently playable in this condition, it’s just that the Bermuda is down to the nubs and not green. The ball runs forever — giving you hope that you’re getting better — and the course is beige.

But not anymore. With the warmer weather and Spring rains having returned, the Bermuda has blossomed into a healthy, green velvet carpet that just makes your heart sing when you lay eyes on it. So that kind of set the stage for having a good day.

Since I don’t get to practice like I did when I was Monday qualifying on the Champions Tour, I have been reduced to visualizing my swing concept in my mind’s eye between playing days and then trying to bring it to life on the days that I do get to play.

My goal is always to get to the course an hour and a half beforehand to grab a cup of coffee in the locker room, apply sunscreen and check in. I’m shooting for an hour and fifteen to putt, hit lob shots, sand shots and chip shots…and then full swings…and then get to the tee.

I have a high level of confidence in all four of the short game skills, so I hit only enough balls to get the feel of each of those touch shots back. It’s very little about technique and more about an accelerating, flowing motion and seeing the balls floating in the air.

The full swing, however, is the part of my game that’s still maturing. So I try to get to the ball pyramids as soon as I’m short-game comfortable. Taking an abstraction in your mind and bringing it forth into reality is one of the narcotics of the game. There’s nothing sweeter than having the initial flow of the sand wedge warm-ups beginning to rain balls down right on top of your 90 to 100 yard targets.

That happens because everything is slow and smooth just to get the sequencing right. And as you synch up mind and body, you begin to get these little glimpses of all the pieces that make up your swing concept, all those little “ah, ha” moments getting dredged back up again. It’s like a bunch of fireflies going off on a warm summer night.

The idea is to move beyond the points of light and begin to make those aggregated motions at a target. It is the target that keeps the swing ordered and accurate. And that’s what happened for me today.

It seemed that I couldn’t hit a bad shot for almost all of the day. But anytime I started trying to ensure the outcome by focusing on one of the fireflies, the result turned into a bonfire. Any time I tried to take advantage of how well I was hitting the ball by trying to hit it harder, bonfire. Those are what led to the three double bogeys.

But the pars and the birdies and the “looks” were the norm and as each one unfolded, they seemed to beget more. That’s when you know you’re on.

So, I can hardly wait until Thursday when I’ll get another chance to slowly and deliberately crank it all back up again…to watch for the fireflies, take comfort in their reappearances. And once the swings that affirm that they’re still there occur and the process has moved from thoughts, to feel, to targets, I’ll know I just might have a chance to create another glorious day.

This time maybe, without any double bogeys.

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