I used to play in just about every tournament that was on the schedule for club pros in my section (Middle Atlantic), but now, at 56 and coming off 5 years of mediocre play, I am much more selective and tend to play in the ones that would merit a spot on the resume’ if I should happen to win. The Senior Professional National Championship (formally the Senior CPC before some genius changed the name) is one of those events, as in addition to being the biggest tournament a senior club pro can play in that’s not a Tour event there is the added perk of having the top 35 finishers qualify for the Senior PGA Championship. I have played in two of those, one at Oak Hill in 2009 and the other last year at Harbor Shores in Michigan, and it is a total blast to be a part of such a great event.
The tournament this year is at the same course (actually courses, as the first two rounds are played on two different venues, with half the 256 man field on each) as last year and the year before, and it is a tough test to say the least. The course we play for 3 rounds, Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia (not too far from Dulles Airport and about an hour from Washington DC), is a relatively new Nicklaus design that is demanding all the way around. My best score on the course is 74, and I have shot 79 or 80 3 times. The other course, the River Creek Club just up the road, plays a hair easier but got the best of me last year as I missed the cut by a mile. The year before I shot 67 at River Creek after opening with 79 on Creighton Farms, and after following that up with 78 and 74 on Creighton I finished 40th and wound up getting in to the Senior PGA as an alternate. Up to about a month ago it appeared that my game had not gotten much better and that I would be in for another beat down this coming week, but my back and hips have been feeling much better and I have actually been able to practice and play in some events, so for the first time in a while I am somewhat excited and even a little bit optimistic about playing this week.
I can’t really explain the change in my body other than to say that I have never stopped working at staying in the best shape I can, and that I have changed some things that have combined to make things generally better. I always get up early to do my routine of isometrics and stretches, and I have added 25 minutes on the elliptical to that. I have also bumped up my resistance training, and spend another 25 minutes or so doing crunches and working on the Bowflex I have in my basement. I started following the Paleo diet about a year ago and have leveled off at about 162 pounds after topping out at 175. I can do 20 pull ups now, which I consider a good indication that my overall strength has increased significantly. I have also added leg work to my workout, doing some squats and working with an ankle band to strengthen my hips, which always seem to be the things that stiffen up and hurt the most. At some point I might bring the camera down to the basement and film some of the things I do, but it would just be for general interest and not to suggest that everyone should do what I do.
I have to give a lot of credit to my new Muscle Activation Technique therapist Dave Shelton, who got me doing the leg work and whose treatments have made a big difference. I also have included a supplement suggested by one of the websites most prolific members, Tom Kirkendall, who wrote about an anti-inflammatory compound called Guardian, which is Glutathione with Lutein (and other ingredients). I have no way of being absolutely sure, but it certainly appears that taking this stuff has been a big help.
Anyway, in this video I highlight why I have not been able to hit the ball very well over the past half- decade and I show how I am able to work on this now without blowing myself up. This may not last, but I am hopeful that if I can get my body to do this without causing more pain and stiffness that I could really make a comeback and play some good golf again. My short game has always allowed me to be decent, but my ball striking has not been good enough to contend, even in my section against players who could never beat over 20 years of competing. Just last week I shot one under to finish second in our Senior Player’s Championship, but I couldn’t win the thing while missing the last 9 fairways in a row. I have come to the conclusion that a good pivot motion is essential for high level ball striking, and because most really good players already have this pivot action their focus is usually more on the arms and hands. I can tell you for certain, and you can see it in this video as well as many of the lessons that I post, that without the pivot supporting everything the arms and hands can’t save you enough to make you hit the ball the way you dream of hitting it.
So, practice rounds the next two days and the tournament starts Thursday, and then I have the Maryland Senior Open next Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully it will be 6 rounds of good, fun, grinding golf with some pressure on the last few holes, since that will mean I am playing well and in the hunt.
Getting Ready for the Senior PNC
About Wayne DeFrancesco
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