Travel to Switzerland (Days 1 and 2)

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The trip to Switzerland began on a flat note as our travel struggles opened with the four of us (Lisa, her mom, dad and myself) driving – or as it were “parked” — amidst a shut-down turnpike near Newark Airport. The unfortunate accident was caused by a tractor trailer truck colliding with an overpass on the New Jersey Turnpike and causing hours and hours of stopped traffic. We didn’t have hours to wait. We needed to get to the airport to catch our flight to Switzerland. (I have included a link to the full story if anyone is interested)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/nyregion/truck-crash-kills-one-and-snarls-new-jersey-turnpike-for-hours.html?_r=0

Without thinking twice, Lisa whipped out her iPhone and recruited the Waze app to navigate us around the Turnpike through the side-streets of other travelers doing the same thing. As I recall, the ride felt like a rollercoaster taking hard lefts and rights as we weaved in and out of traffic narrowly avoiding other vehicles in our rapid pursuit of the parking lot where we would catch a shuttle to the airport.

When it was all said and done we made it to check-in and security with time to spare and were just looking forward to bringing our heart rate and blood pressure back down to an acceptable level as we waited to board the Boeing 767.

I’ll spare you the long, drawn-out story…We boarded, found out the plane had one cockpit monitor working while the other was malfunctioning and were asked to deplane and wait while a replacement was found. After several trials and tribulations, all was repaired and tested and we were off the ground and over the Atlantic en-route to our Geneva destination.

Upon arrival two hours later than expected, we gathered our belongings from baggage claim, went through customs and approached the rental car company where Lisa’s parents had reserved a car for us to get around with whilst in the country.

Apparently, Alamo does things a little differently abroad than we have come to expect in the United States. According to the less-than-accommodating agent on duty, it is customary for the company to “give away” your car that you have reserved 3 months in advance if you do not pick it up within two hours of the scheduled time. After several attempts to comprehend this behavior, I simply chalked it up to bad business decisions on the company’s part. Needless to say, they made no effort to check on the status of our flight and realize that we were behind schedule and by no fault of our own-doing. Not even saying sorry, she exclaimed that she could do nothing to help us and put her head down in an effort to end the conversation.

After giving up with Alamo, we tried our luck at the other rental car places in the airport only to find that they were all booked as well. We did get some solace from the other companies when they stated that they would never think of giving away a vehicle that was reserved (by credit card mind you) to someone else.

After this debacle of a 12 hour time span, we opted to forego waiting around for a miracle rental car to become available and instead decided to schlep our belongings to the train station to get to Nyon which was our final destination. Keep in mind we had no less then 10 pieces of luggage between the four of us to get from here to there. All complaining aside, we arrived at Daina and Marcus’ apartment midday and pretty much crashed on the bed after formalities and meeting the baby, Maya.

Early next morning, we were able to get a ride back to the airport from Marcus in order to secure a different rental car from Hertz. The white “7-seater” Kia was slightly larger than a Toyota Prius and could fit four adults under 6 feet tall within the first two rows of seating. The third row “seating” would be reserved for a ten year old napping lengthwise during a drive-in movie which he was forcibly brought to. Outside of that, I am not sure how one would even get back there to the third row as I am fairly certain the second row was locked in place. The climb and tumble maneuver would be necessary for this feat. Regardless of my joking, the car worked out perfectly for the duration of the trip and the people at Hertz were a gem to deal with.

Later that afternoon, Lisa thought it would be nice to take a walk to downtown Nyon and check out Lake Geneva, the largest body of water in Switzerland and one of the largest lakes in western Europe. I agreed and we weaved our way downhill through cobblestone streets and a mix of historic and modern architecture as we neared the lake view.

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As you may see from the picture, the water is a cool blue-green and mountains abound which gives you a sense of how small a creature you are in the grand scheme. This is true unadulterated natural beauty at its core. If you love to hike, Switzerland should be on your bucket list, hands down.

Since the weather was not exactly cooperating with a ‘sit and mingle’ style of tourism — 90+ degrees and humid to boot — I snapped a few more pictures and we trudged our way back up the hill to the apartment which wasn’t necessarily a better place to be. Switzerland is a seemingly ‘green’ country and opts to forego central air conditioning and insists on powering down optional appliances like washers and dryers during the heat of the day. I applaud the thinking even if, at times, the heat and humidity inside the house were less-than-comfortable. That being said, the fans did help out and after a couple of days, it wasn’t so bad really. Many of the nights were much cooler than the day and having the windows open and fans going made sleeping much easier.

Tomorrow (August 27th) I will be posting the next series of our trip abroad covering roughly the first entire week of Switzerland before we talk about the trip to Paris, France.

I hope you enjoyed and come back tomorrow for the next installment with many more pictures to be included.

Thanks for following me and just as a quick FYI, I have been going all out on golf since the return from Europe including fitness, nutrition and of course practicing and lots of playing. I am feeling great and can’t wait to get back to competition!

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CPGA Professional Championship Overview

SO…Now I suppose I should update you on the golf part of my life. As you can tell, I really didn’t have any time to practice or to play but I had signed up months prior for The CPGA Professional Championship held at The Resort Course at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, SC (July 28th-30th) and I wasn’t about to back out.

I had a super late flight from LaGuardia Airport to Wilmington on Sunday the 26th of July, which, by the  time I grabbed a taxi, got me back to the house around midnight.

After a short 5 hour rest, I got up early and made my way to the golf course which took nearly an hour and 15 minutes to reach. This allowed me a short warm up before I teed off for my practice round at about 8:20am. Having not touched a club for two weeks and sitting in the back seat of a minivan for a large portion of it, my body was stiff and I had little to no coordination and certainly did not have much control of my golf ball. As the practice round progressed, my swing started to come back but I was still not confident or comfortable with the ball flight or directional control.

I hit several more balls at the range following the round to try and find a swing key that I could play with over the next few days of tournament play. I had little success in this endeavor. I continued my pre-tournament practice with some putting and short game drills for easily an hour to try and hone my skills in preparation for the ensuing rounds.

I’ll keep it fairly short since my performance was not exactly up to the standard I hold myself to. That being said, my swing continued to get better throughout the tournament and I started to get those feelings and motions back that I had when I last played in the eGolf Southern Open a few weeks ago.

My first round of the tournament began at 12:09pm on Tuesday July 28th. The winds were blowing at a steady 10mph with gusts up to 15-20mph later in the round. Not exactly the ideal conditions I had hoped for considering the state of my game, but I grinded through it. Probably the best highlight I can give was my very first hole, which measured 460 yards (par 4, 1st hole) and played dead down wind. I selected a 2-hybrid and pounded it straight down the middle and left myself only 155 to the back-middle hole location. I hit what I thought was a perfect pitching wedge only to have the wind carry the ball to the back fringe in line with the pin, which was not a place I had hoped to be. I was left staring at a 20 foot putt down a severe slope on greens that were running very fast (I would guess at least a 12 on the stimp meter). I was merely trying to lag it as close as possible. To my surprise, the ball trickled right in the front edge of the hole on its last rotation for an opening round birdie! A big thank you goes out to Chris Nicholas for following me and for getting this shot on film!

Needless to say, that was about as good as it got for the rest of the tournament. I had 7 penalty strokes from hitting it out of bounds and in water hazards on various holes and paired that with three 3-putts to shoot an underwhelming and disappointing 80. Even though I was embarrassed by the score, I really had no expectations and was playing in the event solely for more big tournament experience.

I think it goes without saying that playing in windy conditions is difficult on its own and pair that with a golf swing that was very inconsistent and you can expect to shoot a high number. To be truthful, it doesn’t even bother me that I shot that high. I knew my game wasn’t ready and I pretty much expected it.

Round 2 was a little better from a swing perspective, but not necessarily a scoring perspective. I shot 77 in the second round for a total of 157 over the two days and tie for 96th place in a field of 140+. I still had 3 penalty strokes from the same woes as the prior round and again had three 3-putts.

If you were to take out all of the penalty strokes and all of the three putts, I would have shot under par. I think that speaks to the quality of my iron play and the quality of my short game. Yes, that may be asking a lot to reverse all of those terrible shots but I KNOW that when I play and practice every day, I hardly ever hit the ball that poorly and that much off-line. Heck, even when I was at my literal worst, I still beat almost 50 players!

I am choosing to look at the positives of this tournament and not the negatives. I know I have the talent and the ability and my tournament confidence is growing and I am becoming more and more comfortable in those high-pressure situations.

The slightly unfortunate part is that I cannot immediately begin to work on my game because I am taking one more trip to visit Lisa’s new niece Maya Emelie Lind, born July 31st, 2015. Her sister Daina and husband Marcus live in Switzerland and just gave birth to this little bundle of joy. I am excited to welcome the newest member of the family and to help out in any way that I can. Golf is very important to me as it is my new means of income, but to me, family will always trump everything. I am glad I have the opportunity to go and visit a place I have never been to, but also to assist Daina and Marcus as they prepare for their new journey as parents.

Rest assured that when I return, I will have a passion and desire to ‘crack the whip’ on myself to become the best golfer that I can be.

Thanks again for following my journey and stay tuned for pictures and updates from the Switzerland adventure!

 

My Recent Travels to Northern East Coast to Toronto and Back!

Hey all!

It’s been a super busy few weeks and lots to update everyone on!

First and foremost, I have been away from golf and from my computer for the past two plus weeks. My fiancé Lisa and myself scheduled a trip to visit family and friends along the east coast (also Toronto, Canada) as well as spend a good amount of time in Saratoga Springs, NY to continue planning for our wedding early next year by meeting with our chosen vendors.

First, we flew up to Trenton, NJ to visit my sister, Jen, her husband Sam and my niece Nora (4 months old). We had a great trip here connecting with Nora and got to spend some quality time playing games and helping to take care of the little one. Here are a couple pictures from our trip to New Jersey:

Jen Scott and NoraNora and Me on the Couch

We then went to Lisa’s friend’s wedding in Kingston, NY and stayed nearby in Woodstock. The weather held up for the ceremony and the reception was so much fun! Congrats to Casey and Andrew on their new lives together. The following morning we had brunch downtown and sampled some baked goodies at a local store down the block.

Then it was off to Toronto to visit Lisa’s Aunt Maija and Uncle Chris. It was quite a long drive in the minivan but we made it safely despite a good bit of traffic as we got closer to the city. We had some great food here as well thanks to Maja and Chris’ wonderful cooking skills and had the pleasure of spending some time in Lisa’s cousin’s art gallery in the city which was remarkable! She had a great selection of artists and their works and did a superb job with the lighting and the displaying of the artwork to create a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. After we said our good-byes to the family members, we hit the road again to travel back towards Saratoga Springs.

Due to the copious hours of driving that had already taken place during the prior week, we decided to make an overnight stop in Utica to get some rest and prepare for our numerous appointments we had scheduled for the next day.

Since so many things happened the proceeding days, I will give you a summary:

-Appointment with the Florist

-Cake Consultation

-Cake tasting and consultation

-Meeting with our DJ

-Tasting with our Caterer (so amazing!!!!)

-Phone call with a potential Officiate (we ended up going with her)

-Appointment to browse our venue (first time seeing it in person)

-Engagement Photo Session!

I am sure I have left something out, but you get the picture. A busy week of appointments, tastings and the like. Amidst all of that, I ended up having to go to the local Urgent Care one morning when I woke up very sick and in a lot of pain…

Scottie in Urgent Care

The good news was that I wasn’t going to need any invasive surgeries or procedures done to me despite the doctors saying it might be a possibility. An ultrasound proved it was a just some localized bacterial infection that could be solved with some antibiotics and some pain meds for the (major) discomfort. I will spare you any further details but suffice to say I am finally on the mend and almost done with my medications.

Although we were not able to go to the Saratoga Race Track on opening day due to my poorly-timed illness, we were able to go the following day. This was my first time at the track and I had a blast even though I had no clue what I was doing when strategizing my bets.

Saratoga Race TrackAnd Thier Off

I was up a few dollars (maybe $20 or so) and ended up losing it on what I thought to be my safest and final bet of the day. Even still, a break-even effort at the track is a success to me! Not only that, but we ended up getting seats (for free!) in the clubhouse because of a giveaway that our hotel was running which made the day that much more special. Almost forgot! Lisa and I were interviewed while having our photo shoot downtown Saratoga and we ended up making it on the local 11:00 news!

It was a very memorable, but hectic, time away from home and from golf, but I loved every minute of it.

Stay tuned for an update on my tournament results!

Fitness and Mental Game

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a few days since I have posted and I figured I would try and update everyone on my whereabouts/activities.

As I let on in my last post, I have started my fitness routine and it is going great so far! I have mainly been doing cardio with a little bit of strength and endurance exercises mixed in. I am trying to take it lightly in the beginning as I know I like to push myself a little too far in the gym which, in the past, has led me to bulking up and losing flexibility. It’s great to get stronger, but not at the expense of losing flexibility and speed. The golf swing is a series of movements requiring some power but mainly coordination and speed and thus I am not willing to sacrifice the latter for the former.

Much of my training thus far has been low weight (30% of my 1 Rep Max) with high reps (30+ per set) and many of the exercises being done on an unstable base to promote balance and core strength.

For those that don’t know, I majored in Exercise Science at Skidmore College which was great since I learned so much about a variety of subjects under that domain. Nutrition, physical therapy, kinesiology, advanced physiology, athletic training and prescription were some of the areas of study. I am using this knowledge with my knowledge of the golf swing to craft a program to work on the weak areas of my swing. These weak areas are in-part caused by my body type and muscular imbalances. Let’s just give you a quick analysis…

My misses on the course are generalized mainly by a pull to the left of my intended target. I can’t remember during either round in the eGolf Southern Open where I missed a shot to the right other than poor alignment (which was only a time or two anyway). My take away from this is that my sequence gets off and my lower body becomes stagnant and does not fire soon enough. My upper body gets quick and I swing mainly from the top down (during my transition from backswing to downswing) which causes my shots to start left of target.

To combat this effect, I know I need to work on leg strength and core strength. This will allow my legs to begin the downswing sequence and the core to support this movement and keep me in balance which will in turn, result in posture maintenance and pure ball striking.

Squats and lunges will help build my quad and glute muscles and I particularly like to work in rotational movements during these to ensure the core is stabilizing my body throughout the exercise. ‘Mountain climbers’ are exercises that are great for this purpose and you can add rotational elements to these also to work on hip flexor and lat strength while working on deltoid endurance as well. More on this and other exercises in future posts!

I also wanted to refer to an article I read just yesterday in the latest issue of Golf Digest on page 62 titled: “Why Good Golfers are Fools”. To summarize the article, it states that there is scientific evidence that golfers who act happy no matter what their performance are more likely to shoot a better score than the golfers that tend to beat themselves up if they are not performing up to their expectations. The article suggests that the brain performs significantly better under a positive mindset than under a “negative, neutral or stressed” state of mind. So instead of criticizing and finding flaws in the golf swing, the experts recommend identifying elements of “success and enjoyment” for yourself in order to find that state of mind that is most conducive to great performances.

After reading this article, I have made the choice to try and identify some of these elements over the coming weeks not only during practice sessions and rounds, but also during tournament play. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am very proud of myself for getting out of the “negative” and “judgmental” mindset during rounds. It has taken the past few years of working on it and is sometimes a challenging endeavor, but it has definitely taken my game to a better level. If I continue to take this way of thinking and elevate it going forward, I know my performance during future tournament rounds will match what I am able to achieve in practice round environments.

That’s all for now! Come back soon for another update.

Thanks again for following me!!

Southern Open Round 2 and Analysis

I am proud of myself today! Not because of the score I shot — which ended up being 71 (+1) — but because of the promise I made to myself to be committed on every shot. I’d be lying if I said my mental game was perfect. However, I really did much better in that department by sticking to my game plan, seeing the shot in my mind’s eye and trusting that my preparation would lead to the execution of the shot I had selected.

As a result, my ball striking was far better than in Round 1. After completing my round analysis spreadsheets on the computer (a long and somewhat exhausting task that tracks my performance on the course) I was able to see that my initial breakdown after the round was correct. Let’s do a quick snapshot of the most important stats:

Round 1 Round 2
Fairways Hit % 54% 62%
Greens Hit % 61% 72%
Putts 30 32

As you can see quite clearly, my ball striking was more solid and more accurate. I hit more fairways and more greens on day two as opposed to day one. One thing I did not do as well was putt. I had many putts during my second round that I thought I had a great chance of making only to see them wind up skirting the lip of the cup or coming to rest a foot short and staring down the center of the cup. Quite simply, I was either misreading them a tiny bit or not hitting them hard enough when I had the perfect read. My stroke felt really good and I was so comfortable, but I just couldn’t seem to adjust to the even slower pace of the greens during round two.

Over the course of both rounds, I did not have any three putts which is a great thing. This means I was really able to keep my focus very sharp while putting and I avoided the mistake I see too often in amateurs: trying to “will” the ball in the hole from short distances.

The greatest part about my round is that even though I did not make hardly any putts, I was 1-under going in to the last 4 holes of the tournament and still had a chance to continue on to the third and fourth rounds of the event if I could hit a few good shots and make a few putts. Here is what I went through on the last few holes to get you an inside glimpse:

After making an easy 2-putt birdie on the 550 yard par-5 14th hole after hitting a great 3-wood off the tee and 2 hybrid to the center of the green, I stepped up to a very difficult par three. Number fifteen is about 192 yards straight down hill with a large and deep bunker left of the putting surface and nothing but water just a few paces off the entire backside of the green. Not only that, the hole played straight in to a 15-20mph wind. To say I was uncomfortable with the tee shot at first would be an understatement! I was having trouble choosing the right club because I wanted very much to have a decent birdie putt, but also did not want to take on the pin which was tucked all the way in the back portion of the green with the water looming close behind. As a result, I decided to choose the shorter of the two clubs and hit a penetrating 6-iron to the center of the green which turned out to be a great shot under the circumstances. The putt was not easy with a large tier in front of me that pushed the 35 foot putt about 8 feet to the left. I read it perfectly, but left the putt (again) short but this time by about 4 feet. I walked away with a par after draining the second putt without too much trouble.

I walked to #16 knowing that I would have to finish with three birdies to have any chance at continuing on. I hit a great drive with a little fade perfectly down the middle and to the flat area of the sloping fairway to give myself a great shot to attack the flag. This time, the flag was tucked back left and just over a very deep pot bunker. Long was death. I chose to hit 8-iron from 180 to the right of the hole knowing that even with a little wind behind, I could not go long. I hit a good shot that drew from the center towards the flag stick and ended up about 20 feet away with a very straightforward putt that only broke about a foot. As had been the case all day, I hit a fantastic putt that was tracking to the hole but stopped a foot shy of going in. I was a little frustrated because I hit such a good putt, but I didn’t let it get to me.

The 17th hole was playing easy for the tournament because of some really bad winter kill on the majority of the fairway. The event staff chose to move the tee forward to play as a short par 4 measuring in at 339 yards which would avoid most of the dead grass and bare ground that was much of the fairway on that hole. I stepped up to the tee with a clear mind and a definitive decision to hit driver with a baby fade just as I had done on the previous hole tee box. I figured I would repeat the same swing and envision exactly the same result. Much to my surprise, seconds later I was watching the ball start left of the target with a low draw towards a hazard I didn’t even know was there. I ended up making a double bogey after I dropped from the hazard (could not find it) and had to punch through some trees towards the green that I could not see. I am told that the ball almost hit the flagstick but continued to roll just off the back. From here I was short-sided and had no chance of hitting it close. I hit a flop shot to about 12 feet and hit the best putt of the tournament only to see it lip out of the left edge of the cup. Deflated but determined to finish my tournament strong, I went to the 18th tee box with a mission. I am making birdie.

Just so you have an idea, the par three 18th hole at The Club at Irish Creek plays a mere 240 yards long and of course that day it happened to be playing in to a strong wind again like hole #15. The tee box is elevated from the fairway which is about 100 feet below and the green rises back up to about the same level as the tee box. It is not an easy hole and gives the impression from the tee box that you have a small chute of trees to hit it through to reach the green and nowhere to miss it as the green complex itself is elevated beyond the surrounding terrain. As I was going last after the previous hole’s debacle, I had the privilege to see the other players both hit it left off the tee and miss the green with little chance of getting up and down to save their pars. Not exactly an uplifting or confidence-rebuilding affair. That didn’t affect me though because earlier in the round I had hit the exact same shot from the fairway on #13 after missing my drive left and having to chip out to get back in position on the par 5. I brought my mind back to that shot on thirteen which I executed perfectly and took dead aim at the pin. I pulled off the shot and it hit pin-high and rolled maybe 7 feet beyond the pin.

The guys I played with couldn’t believe the shot, as it was probably the closest anyone had hit all day considering the overall difficulty of the shot. Although I misread the double-breaking putt, I made par and walked away with a sense of accomplishment as strange as that may sound. Yes, I missed the 36-hole cut of 4 under par by 5 strokes and still feel like I accomplished a great deal. I faced a bit of adversity throughout the day by missing countless birdie putts, dealing with wayward drives and some mind games still from the day before, but I overcame much of it.

I realize that on this journey there will be bumps in the road and that there will be disappointment. I choose not to look at it in a negative way. I feel like everything in this game is a learning process whether I succeed or I fail. I can learn something from each experience. I feel like I have definitely learned from my first event and even made improvements during the event which is spectacular. Change and development takes time and I am proud I was able to change my thinking so quickly.

I have got so many things to work on now and my motivation is through the roof! Over the next few weeks I will be dialing in my tee ball and working specifically with my driver and 3-wood to hit baby draws and fades at will. I will continue to work on my putting, especially the mid-range putts from 12 to 25 feet. I will also try and get my irons more dialed in so that I can be confident in choosing targets that are a bit closer to the hole. My fitness regimen begins now that I have a few weeks before my next event and little worry about having this adversely affect my swing.

Sorry for the abnormally long post, but I had so many things that I needed to vent about. Thanks for reading and following me and stay tuned for more updates!