Don’t spare the changes if your game isn’t on the money

Our great game is also our great social game. For most of us, playing golf alone is extremely unsatisfying. It’s supposed to be a shared experience.

But what about going out to the links as a single and hooking up with another group?

For the longest time, I refused to do that. Surely I would be paired with someone I’d rather not be with for four hours, I thought. It just wasn’t for me.

Just as it’s sometimes good to try a new strategy on a hole, though, I recently decided that if I wanted to play and my regular group wasn’t available, I was going to give going solo another try.

I’m glad I did.

Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve been paired with delightful guys who were friendly, funny and enjoyable. It has been such a success, I’m going to keep doing it.

Part of my reasoning is that there’s a course near where I live that has been bugging me for a long time. I had gotten it in my head that I couldn’t beat it even though it’s not that difficult.

But the more I thought about it, the more I saw holes that were eminently beatable. Furthermore, I saw several tricky holes that I thought I could solve if I played them enough times.

So I’ve gone from skipping this course for a couple of years to playing it three times in the last three weeks. Now, I like it. Maybe meeting some good playing partners had something to do with that.

Another change of perspective involves my new sand wedge. In my first few rounds with it, I was extremely shaky. It just didn’t feel right, and the results certainly didn’t feel right.

But the more I use it, the better it feels. The results still aren’t quite there, but I can see progress. Maybe this sand wedge is going to be all right after all.

I went to buy new golf shoes the other day, and I went to the store with a specific brand in mind. But after the salesperson told me some negative things about that brand that matched what another expert had told me, I decided to buy the brand I’ve worn for years. They feel great.

I changed my putter recently — I borrowed one from a friend. I’m not sure it’s the right putter for me, but it was worth a try. The old putter just wasn’t getting the job done.

Then there’s my putting grip. I go with the left hand low, and a few months ago I decided to take my right thumb off the shaft and separate my hands. It just felt better. But today it felt worse, so after my round I went straight the putting green and unified my hands again. It felt much better.

I also made an adjustment during the round with my driver. I had been playing a power fade, but today the power was gone and the fade was fading badly. So I went back to the hook I’ve played for years. Instant difference. All of a sudden, it felt so much better.

Notice the pattern here? It’s OK to change your mind – about your playing partners, the course you frequent, your equipment and the type of shots you try to hit.

Sometimes, I think we get too locked in. We only want to play at a certain time in certain weather on a certain type of course and with certain people. It can get monotonous.

So here’s your invitation to shake it up a little. Go back to that course you haven’t played in awhile. Be more open-minded about your clubs. If you’re not hitting the ball the way you’d like, try something else. Maybe even play as a single once in awhile.

Every day is an opportunity to play golf AND to make it as enjoyable as possible. Try something different! You just might find the right mix as you mix it up.

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