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Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Ton of Positives and A Few Experiments Along the Way...

For the second year is a row, my trip to the beautiful islands of Hawaii was cut short. Rust was once again an uninvited guest and played a major role in my quest to win the first tournament of the PGA Tour season. Despite the disappointment of missing my first cut of the year, all was not lost. I achieved a few goals during the week but more importantly, I was able to experiment and test run a couple off-season ideas and also experience the benefits of a new Corporate logo.

Just like every off-season in the past, I analyzed and broke down every statistical category imaginable. In my opinion, improvement can sometimes be difficult to achieve unless you take a good, hard look at the facts. And in my profession, facts are statistics….. and as we all know, numbers don't lie. Even though some of my statistics were encouraging (13th on Tour in Putting, 14th on Tour in Total Driving, etc), I was disappointed in several other categories (Hole Proximity, Greens in Regulation, Sand Saves, etc). I compared myself to the top players in the world and it was evident that in order to achieve success, and I mean real success, these numbers have to improve.

So how do I improve? Obviously practice makes perfect but in my opinion, it goes beyond that. There is no substitute for preparation and dedication to ones trade. So with that in mind, I have a few changes in store for my 2012 campaign. The first took place a week or so before I left town. Unfortunately, until I return to the dirt roads of South Georgia, I personally won't reap any of its benefits (although I have a four year old son that certainly will !!). Thanks to my long time friends, Steve and Andy White, I was able to build a miniature golf course behind my house. Their companies, Challenger and X-Grass manufacture and build artificial greens across the United States. Challenger is responsible for supplying turf to well known green companies like Southwest Greens while X-Grass uses the same product to build their own greens. With their help, I was able fulfill a lifelong dream of mine. I combined the slow country life of dirt roads and outdoor recreation (hunting and fishing) with a golf practice facility just a few steps away from my back door. Now, I will never have to leave the house in order to practice. This is extremely important because I can now spend more time with my family during an off-week while also getting the necessary practice and work done. The putting surface is 30 yards long (90 feet) and 20 yards wide (60 feet). I also added a 6 foot chipping fringe around the green and a bunker as well. All in all, the putting green and fringe cover around 7500 square feet. I can prep the green so it rolls as fast as Augusta National or as slow as the carpet in my house! There are four tees that extend down the driving range I created last year in my planted pines. The first tee measures 50 yards to the front edge of the green and 80 yards to the back. I have flags positioned in 5 yard increments throughout the green which will help me to work on accurate distance control. The first tee is designed to work on shots between 50 and 80 yards and I can use the flags to achieve my desired distances (55, 60, 65, 70, and 75). The second tee is positioned so the front of the green is 85 yards and the back of the green is 115. Obviously the same rule applies for shot increments (5 yards due to the flag setup) so every distance is obtainable between 85 and 115. The third tee measures 120 yards to the front of the green and 150 yards to the back and you guessed it.... the same rule applies with shot increments. All in all, these three tees will allow me to tackle every yardage imaginable between 50 to 150 yards…..and in my business, that is HUGE! The fourth and final tee is positioned so the front of the green is 190 yards and the back of the green is 220 yards. This obviously allows me to work on longer clubs and once again, this is extremely beneficial in my profession because for some reason, the PGA Tour doesn't believe in short Par 3's! Unfortunately, I won't be able to use my new facility for a while but Jake has already put it to good use. He calls me almost daily with stories of his practice sessions out behind the house. I will certainly never push him into golf but I promise you that if he continues on the pace he is on….look out!

My first "experiment" this past week came as a result of my statistic number crunching over the off-season and the very short, two days worth of practice I experienced on my green once it was completed. Overall improved proximity to the hole and improved Par 5 scoring are major goals for 2012. In order to achieve success in these categories, I decided to tweak my club setup throughout the bag. Ever since I was in high school, five wedges have been a part of my golf bag. Most players on the PGA Tour carry three or fours wedges because they need an extra club (3 iron, hybrid, or 5 wood) at the top end of their bag to fill the yardage gap between their 3 wood and their longest iron. This was never a case for me because I was able to hit my 4 iron at such a long distance that it didn't produce the dreaded gap that most players experience. Well, as hard as it has become to realize…..I AM GETTING OLD! Thankfully though, I realize this and I don't have a macho ego that keeps me from adding an extra club at the top of my bag. So with that in mind, I eliminated my 60 degree and 56 degree wedges and replaced them with a 58 degree wedge. This may not sound like a big ordeal to many of you but believe me…it is. Not only do I have to learn new wedge distances with my change in loft setup, but my chipping and bunker play has been effected too. Luckily however, I play golf for a living and hitting a lot of golf balls is my job! The adjustments should come pretty quickly and I should be "dialed in" in no time. I added a hybrid permanently to my bag which will greatly benefit me on second shot approaches to Par 5's. So how did this experiment work in Hawaii? I played four Par 5's total during my short, two round tournament (par 70 course with two Par 5's) and I birdied ALL FOUR Par 5's….not bad.

My next "experiment" is hopefully going to be a life changing experience. My "eventual body change" will begin on Tuesday when I meet with a personal trainer for the first time. Over the life of this blog, I have continually documented the aches and pains that I experience on a day to day basis. And to be honest, I am tired of it! Sure, I need Total Hip Replacement Surgery in my left hip thanks to a lifetime of rough sports and an extremely rambunctious and fearless childhood. The disappointing diagnosis that I received from three Doctors back in 2008 will not heal itself and most of the pain won't disappear until I have surgery. However, I can do something about my chronic back pain, my extreme lack of flexibility and improving my overall health. The first two will immediately improve my golf game and the last factor (definitely the most important reason) is for my wife and kids. I lost my Father when he was 55 years old (April 11, 2004) and there is not a day that goes by where I don't miss him. I never want my family to experience this premature grief because it isn't fun. I know, I know…I am not in terrible shape (6'3" 205) and I certainly don't feel like today is my last day. However, I can certainly improve my health and at the end of the day….that is not a bad thing to work hard on!

The last "experiment" that took place this past week in Hawaii involved a new face for the first time in three years. I hired a caddy by the name of Barry Williams who took the place of my old caddy of three years, Aaron Wark. My decision to part ways with Aaron was strictly a professional one that I felt was necessary as I evaluated my career this past winter. We still stay in touch and I cannot thank Aaron enough for his work. Barry came highly recommended from two very successful caddies and several players that he worked for in the past. This season will be his 12th year on either the PGA Tour or the Champions Tour so experience won't be a factor. I felt that we worked well together during our first tournament….especially since I meet him for the first time on Monday!! As I stated earlier, my winter "rust" won this past week but it certainly wasn't a reflection of Barry's work. I am very excited about the tournaments ahead and it will be interesting to see the courses from his perspective.

In last week's blog, I mentioned that I had several new Corporate logos that I will proudly represent and endorse in 2012. One of those companies, Hyatt Hotels, certainly made me feel very welcome during my stay in Hawaii. Before I begin, for those of you that personally know me, you are well aware that I am far from fancy. I don't care about materialistic things and fancy and expensive items don't impress me. I am just a South Georgia Redneck that likes to wear his boots and jeans. With that being said, I was in for quite a surprise as I checked into my first Hyatt hotel of 2012. After my agent, Alan Bullington, informed me of my new Hyatt deal back in December, I booked an ocean view room at the Hyatt Regency in beautiful Waikiki. As I checked in Sunday afternoon, the gentleman at the front desk said, "Mr. Adams, would it be ok if we upgraded your reservation??"…….hmmmmmm sure??!! He continued by saying, "Hyatt would like to upgrade you to our top floor, the 40th floor, into our Presidential Suite. Will this be ok?"……hmmmmmm sure?? Needless to say, my stay was unbelievable! Thank you HYATT!!

So as you can see, Hawaii wasn't a complete bust. I was able to knock off some rust while getting spoiled and pampered along the way. This week I am in La Quinta, California, for the Humana Challenge. I was in this exact location the week prior to the Sony Open practicing with my swing instructor John Tillery. We spent the week at my good friend, Larry McNabb's home and I cannot thank him enough for his hospitality. Hopefully I can continue to knock off the rust as the days progress. I am looking forward to a great week of golf in the desert. The weather is supposed to be in the high 70's all week and I apologize for those of you back home freezing!! Sorry.


  1. Good luck out west. Sounds like you have taken a hard look at last year and have given yourself a great deal to work on. Fun to hear how much Jake is enjoying your addition. Take care, Mark

  2. Nice Birdie on the last to make the cut! Have a GREAT weekend.

  3. Blake,
    Barry Williams is one of my very good friends and was a groomsman in my wedding. Small world!
    Jenny and I enjoyed hanging with you and your family in Greensboro. Appreciate the hospitality.
    Tell Barry I said hello. We are pulling for you as always!
    Roll Tide
    Pat & Jenny Walls

  4. good luck this year blake. looking forward to seeing you guys this year at the st. jude!