If you are looking for ways to lower your golf handicap… take note and listen in this interview with Colleen Rumbal, how she went from a 45 handicap to 31 in just 14 months of playing competition golf.
Hey there it’s that time again the first week of the month where you are going to have a “Tuesday talk from Tiff.”
I have asked one of my lovely clients to come and share her experience in learning to play golf. She has been playing comp for fourteen months now and I think it’s really important that you hear stories from other golfers that have been there before and are learning to play and going through the process, and the experiences that they have, because you can relate to them as well.
Looking forward to sharing Colleen’s story with you.
Tiff: I have invited the lovely Colleen Rumble to come and have a chat with me today to talk about her golfing experiences. Colleen hasn’t been playing for too long.
Tiff: Colleen how long has it been since you started golf?
Colleen: Just over two years I have been playing golf.
Tiff: Great. Two years, so we are going to dig deep into what Colleen has found over the last two years after she has begun her golf journey and see if that can also inspire you. Colleen has come from a corporate background and has always dreamed about playing golf and she is living the dream now. Colleen, two years you have been playing. What was the attraction for you to start playing golf?
Colleen: I always wanted to play golf and when I took retirement I knew that golf was going to be a big part of it. I did play socially a little bit here and there and I really had the bug but, having a corporate career I never really had time to pursue it and I think I understood right from the start, even years ago, that golf is not the sort of game (if you want to play well) that you can show up once a week and play. Because that doesn’t really lead to the sort of golf I want to play. So, I felt that when I retired I had more time to commit to play the sort of golf that I wanted.
Tiff: That’s great. So, let’s say that you have started on the journey of golf, what was the first thing that you actually did to take action to learn how to play golf?
Colleen: Well, after I got my clubs I joined a beginners group…
Tiff: with me
Colleen: Yes, with you and we had five weeks of clinics and then we would play once or twice a week and as well as that we often had little practices that we would do in between. That’s how I started, that’s how I played for the first year. Just the clinics with you and also the practice games with you. It was a good foundation.
Tiff: Great. So it was really learning what you found out of the basic fundamentals and getting established really.
Colleen: Yes. We started with chipping and then we moved to putting and then we moved to pitch shots and swinging. But swinging was really the last thing we did and that was interesting to me. I thought that would be the first thing you would do, but it’s really not, you don’t get into that until a little later on. I think people were impatient to swing but really until you have the fundamentals there is no point in worrying about how you swing a club. So, that was interesting.
Tiff: Yes. There is a method in my madness that I teach people when they first come into learning golf. I actually do it the opposite way around so that’s putting, chipping and then lead into full swing simply so you can get comfortable because as Colleen will share with you the full swing is a bit of a challenge and takes a little while to get a hang of and if we can build the confidence getting the putting, chipping and the pitching style of things then the full swing is going to be so much easier.
Tiff: So, you have done your first year of playing, learning to play, and then you approached me and said that you want to have private lessons, you want to really get into this game. Why was that?
Colleen: Because I also discovered or observed that different people play different ways and have different challenges and opportunities and I thought that would be the way to accelerate my golf was to have that one to one time, working on the things that were really unique to me. Clinics are great, but sometimes, occasionally you work on something that you feel quite confident in but maybe others don’t and so I felt that having a combination of both the clinics and some private lessons would be helpful.
Tiff: Great, great. So, what have you found by having private lessons with me for…
Colleen: Sorry I was falling down the hill everybody.
Tiff: We’ve got a lovely view behind us and we are going downhill. So, the private lessons, what have you really gained from actually having private lessons? A lot of people out there will just go and do a lot of clinics and feel that that’s enough for them.
Colleen: Private lessons for me were more about the full swing. We have had lessons on other things but for me, the sweet spot of the private lesson is the full swing. I think what it enabled me to do is to build my own swing that is unique to me and I learnt all the foundations of how to swing a club, different swings for different clubs, although the swing is basically the same, the angle is a little bit different. I felt it really accelerated (I guess) my ability to feel confidence in swinging a club. It also taught me how complex and precise a good swing is. People say to me, gosh your swing looks so natural, it looks so easy, it looks so relaxed, but I think, if only you knew how much it took to build that and to build the foundation of it and some of it is (I’m going to say it) quite mind numbing. It’s not all exciting and swinging the big driver and all of that but you do need that foundation to really build on to be able to swing the driver or the hybrid or the woods or even irons to get the sort of contact and ball flight that you want.
Tiff: So what you are saying is that it’s not just about rocking up to play. There is so much more involved. It’s the learning, it’s the mindset, it’s a combination of a number of things, isn’t it?
Colleen: Listen, you can rock up to play if you want, that’s your choice, but again for me, I don’t want to play the sort of golf that I just rock up and play. I want to play the sort of golf that I feel has some thought behind it, I feel confident, I don’t feel concerned or embarrassed about how I’m playing. I feel that I can have a good game and enjoy myself and for me just rocking up once a week just doesn’t do that. I’ve tried that, you know in the times that I have been busy and for me it doesn’t work. Some people might be happy to do that but it’s not something I would advocate.
Tiff: Because you are on a mission.
Colleen: I want to improve.
Tiff: Exactly right. So, how long have you been playing comp?
Colleen: I have been playing comp for fourteen months. Thirteen, fourteen months.
Tiff: You started on a forty-five handicap, like all of us have? Like I have too.
Colleen: Yes a forty-five handicap and in reality my scores were closer to a fifty. Now, I’m at thirty-one.
Tiff: After fourteen months, that’s pretty good.
Colleen: That’s my GA and I feel that I can look forward to continued progress. I don’t know when it will come but I feel that if I keep practicing and keep doing the disciplines and playing regularly and then just relaxing and enjoy it then over time I ‘m hoping that will improve even further. It takes time.
Tiff: Yes, that’s probably what you have found, the biggest thing, that the time that has actually taken to get from where you were, the beginner stage, just learning to play golf and now people are saying to you, gee Colleen, you are playing so well. Little do they know how much time, effort, energy, money investments, a whole array of things that you actually put into where you are right now.
Colleen: Yes, there is a money investment but I think for me it is an investment and I don’t think it’s exorbitant, you know I could easily spend that money on other things. I choose not to spend that money on other things and spend it on golf which I really love. You know, I played a lot of ball sports when I was young, like you did, right? I was a sporty girl. I played a lot of ball sports and I honestly did not realize how hard golf is. I thought like many people, how hard can it be to hit a little white stationary ball which a club attached to a four-foot stick. It can’t be hard; the ball doesn’t move. All the other sports I have played the ball moves and you have to react to that, but this is probably the hardest sport I have ever done and I think it will be a journey of learning for years to come.
Tiff: So, what you are saying is very precise, very challenging, it’s mentally challenging as well. I know you and I have a lot of conversations about golf, what have you found from a mental point of view?
Colleen: A lot of the skills you learn as an executive are to be present in the moment.
Tiff: Sounds familiar.
Colleen: Golf is no different you have to be present in the moment and of course we are all human, minds wander, that’s what minds do, right? But the more you can be calm, be kind to yourself, accept that at a thirty-one GA handicap you are going to do the duffed shots. It’s not all going to go perfect, there is going to be a number of things that go wrong. That’s why you have the handicap that you have, because you need those points to play. But, I think if you can be kind to yourself and most importantly, have a process and stay present in the moment. That’s when I find, for me, I play my best golf.
Colleen: Try to sustain that for eighteen holes, right?
Tiff: You also played match play last year. You played pennants for the club you are part of and how did you find that? That was your introduction into playing against people wasn’t it? It’s different.
Colleen: It was different and I didn’t mind it. I thought I would be anxious about it but I didn’t mind it at all. It is very much head to head and the rules are very defined of match play and it was a great experience. It really ramped up my focus and discipline and things like shot counting and counting other people’s shots, all of those things are very important golf etiquette, so match play was a great experience for me in that perspective.
Tiff: Did you find playing for a team had a different (I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for) did it affect your mindset, rather than playing for yourself you felt like you were playing for the team and you had to do the best you could for the team and for the club?
Colleen: Yes. I really felt that when I pulled on that sweater or that golf shirt that I was told, you are playing for your club. You don’t give any quarter, you play as hard as you can and as well as you can and as nice and you can but just remember, you are playing for your club and you are playing for your team.
Tiff: Ok. So match play is great for you in the sense that you are working for a team, playing for a team, playing for a club and that really pushes you doesn’t it? So, what about playing for yourself, is there a difference for you? Everyone does things for different reasons and plays match play, golf, pennants, individually, they all do it for different reasons. Do you find there is a difference in playing for your club, playing for yourself.
Colleen: Yes, I love team games, right? Because I played a lot of team games as a kid and I love the team aspect. I think playing for yourself is a little different, but it’s still important because if you just play in a team you will never get a sense of how your golf is progressing, or the areas you need to work on, because if you play, not necessarily match play, but because somebody is there to pick you up if you get into trouble. When you play on your own you have to solve all of your own problems. There is nobody there to take the next shot, there is nobody there to putt that ball out so you can just pick up before you can get to the green. I think playing on your own is much more of an exercise on focus in your game and again staying present, staying calm, not being upset, they are a very different beast but I think you need both.
Tiff: What is your plan now with your golf, you have achieved a GA of thirty-one after playing for fourteen months, is there an intention that you have set for the rest of this year?
Colleen: I would say that initially I did set GA goals but I don’t know that that is really the path that I want to continue down. I have now come to the view that if I continue to practice and focus, think about how I play golf, how I bring my mental self to the game, go to the clinics, work on my swing, play at different clubs, I think that improvement will come. I’m not sure when or how fast but I am confident about it. I think it’s just about keeping up the disciplines and keep yup the practice and just keep up that enjoyment of it. That’s really where I’m at now.
Tiff: So, your focus is to get better at the skill level than what you are at. Keep your mind in check when you are out playing. Continue to practice so that you can create that consistency and everything else can take care of itself?
Colleen: Exactly. I think that is more helpful to me. Focus on my processes and focus on identifying my next area of improvement, working on that. I am very confident that the improvement will come.
Tiff: Thanks. Just lastly, have you got any recommendations for the lovely person that is sitting behind the camera there watching us talking about your golf, do you have any recommendations for people that are frustrated with their golf or are looking to improve their golf or have just started out?
Colleen: You know, I play with a lot of different ladies at different clubs and what I often see is people pre ( I think most people are pretty reasonable at the long game to a greater or lesser extent) if I had any advice and sometimes I think I need to take this for myself as well, it’s to work on all of those shots that are fifty metres and in. I think that’s where my biggest opportunity for improvement is and I see so many women playing and they get to the green and then they just seem almost casual or unpracticed at what they do, they don’t seem to have a process and they are just throwing away points, left, right and centre. So I would say that even if the ball misses for me or I don’t sink the putt at least I feel that I’ve got a process and I have practiced. So, I would say that it is really all about the short game.
Tiff: Just really refining the short game and getting really good at that.
Colleen: Work on it and don’t be casual about it.
Tiff: Have a system in place of how you approach each shot, basically.
Colleen: It is a system, as long as you have something it is better than no system at all.
Tiff: Rather than being all scatter brainy and going into panic mode?
Colleen: Wondering why the putt doesn’t go in. If the putt hasn’t gone in and you have practiced and you have a system, that’s one thing, your skill level wasn’t quite there or you just didn’t read it, but I think it must be very difficult if you have no system or no process or no practice at all.
Tiff: It’s just that thing of hoping that it will fall into place, isn’t it?
Colleen: You can hope all you like but it will never happen.
Tiff: That’s right. Ok, Colleen I’d love to thank you for coming and having a Tuesday talk with me today. It’s been great and I’m sure that that lovely person that is watching us today has got a lot of value, so thank you very much I do appreciate it.
Have an absolutely awesome day, take care, and remember; tee it high and let it fly.
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