THE FIRST STEP IN GETTING ANYWHERE....
DECIDING YOU ARE NO LONGER WILLING
TO STAY WHERE YOU ARE.
ROSE CLARK…..Determined Optimist
Rose Clark, having retired a few years previously from her career as an executive in California, moved to Tucson in 2009. She decided to get serious about a sport she first played in college, GOLF. Her golf journey over the past six years has been nothing short of amazing and should be inspirational for all of those people that want something more.
INTERVIEW BY MARK POLICH
You first started playing golf in College. And how much did you play between then and moving to Tucson?
Yes, I started in college. I was not very good. But I kept playing and taking golf lessons from time to time over the next 30 years and never made much improvement.
What do you like about playing golf?
I like being outside. I like the challenge of trying to improve. And I like the social part.
Do you consider yourself athletic? What other sports have you played?
(Laughing) Athletic, no. Not at all. The only other sports I participated in were hiking and biking. Are those sports?
In 2009, you tried to join a Women’s golf league here in Tucson and what happened?
I played with them 5 times and was told that my handicap was too high. At that time, they were only accepting new members who had a handicap of 36 or below.
Were you close to that 36 handicap level mark? What scores were you shooting?
No, not close at all. I was posting scores like 110 to 120.
Why do you think you were not improving?
I had been teaching myself, that is why I was so bad. I didn’t know what to focus on that needed to be changed. If you don’t know what is broken, how can you fix it?
And what did you do then?
I decided that I needed to find a golf professional to help me improve and I came to see you.
What were your initial goals?
Get good enough to be able to play in the Women’s golf league.
You started seriously with golf lessons in December 2009. Tell me about the process.
I started to improve immediately. My handicap dropped from 36+ to 24 in the first summer. Then things got tougher. I had to work through frustration and getting worse. It was hard.
Let’s fast forward a few years to March 11, 2014. Why is that day special for you?
Well, my handicap had dropped from 36+ to 17. And this is the day I broke 80 for the first time. I was playing Del Urich with some players who were better than me. Everything seemed easy. I was keeping the ball in play off the tee and my chipping/putting was solid. When I went to post my score, the handicap system displayed the message: “Are you sure”.
And how did you feel about this record setting round?
I do not keep track of my score during my rounds (even this day) so although I did not know how close I was to breaking 80, I knew I was playing well. When I added up the final score, I remained calm on the outside but on the inside I WAS JUMPING UP AND DOWN! One of my first thoughts was, great, now let’s see if I can do it again.
And at that moment, did you think you could break 80 again?
Nope. Well, I thought it was a one-time fluke. But then, I also thought that I can be better. I just needed to figure out what I had to do different to get better.
OK, let’s fast forward again, but this time just two months later, May 23, 2014. You were playing Fred Enke, a very difficult desert course. What happened on this day?
That was an even more fun day. Course was quite a bit harder. Par 72 compared to par 70 at Del Urich. Drives were going where I aimed. Approach shots were either on the green or close. And my chipping and putting was great. My playing partners never said a word about my score. I got a par on the difficult 17th hole and then closed with a birdie on the par five 18th hole. I was playing might be called “being in the present”. I just felt so good at the time. I was interested in the score, of course. But I was also just as interested in playing well.
Sounds like an incredible experience, but you forgot to mention your final score.
WOW! Congratulations. What did the other members of your golf league have to say about your round?
They were all very excited for me. It was great.
In 2009, your handicap was 36+ and if you had been allowed to join your women’s golf league, you would have been at the bottom of the 50 golfers in your league. On June 15, 2014, the Handicap Index Report shows you as having a Handicap Index of 11.5 (3rd lowest handicap of all players in your league.) Thoughts?
I was frightened and thought, OMG, I am one of the big girls now.
According the USGA Women’s Handicap Index Statistics, when your handicap index was 36, your scores were higher than 86.5% of all women golfers. Now that you have a handicap index of 11.5, your scores are lower than 93.5% of all women golfers. You have moved from the bottom to the top of the list. How did this happen?
I went to someone smarter than me for help. I practiced consistently what we learned. I practiced more than anyone I know. Nearly every day that I wasn’t playing golf, I practiced. The fact that I knew what to practice and how to practice it was also very important.
What role has buying the latest equipment had in your improvement?
(Laughing again). You have seen my clubs. I have never really bought into that whole “get better by buying new equipment phenomenon”. What good is fancy new equipment when my swing can’t produce a repeatable result? I would rather spend the money on lessons. But that’s just me.
How about fitness, what role did that play?
I have always been one to go the gym to work out. I tried Pilates thinking that improving my core strength would improve my golf game, but it didn’t really help me. My cardio suffered with this workout routine so I returned to my old routine at the gym.
Is this “off the charts” improvement something that has happened to you before in other areas of your life?
I have achieved some success in other areas of my life. But maybe not because of the typical reasons. I am not really that smart. I am, however by nature, very analytical and very persistent. I have always embraced the concept of work hard, but work smart.
When you start playing, when in the round to you know it is not going to be a good day.
I never give up. Just recently I had a crappy front 9, and then birdied 10.
Can you have a good time on the course if you are not playing well?
Now that I have higher expectations, enjoying a day on the course when I am not playing well is more difficult. It helps if I am playing well: I have more fun. For me, a big part of the fun is working on it. I enjoy practice. I enjoy improving.
How many times have you now broken 80?
A total of 4 times and I have saved every one of the scorecards.
How often do you take golf lessons?
It’s not so much days on the calendar. I try to incorporate everything I learned during a golf lesson before I return for another session. Sometimes, however, I just can’t get it we go over the same material again and I usually always get it by the second time around.
Why haven’t you stopped taking lessons?
I don’t know what to focus on that needs to be fixed. If you don’t know what is broken, how can you fix it? It’s hard to find someone who you can work with.
Do you have new goals and would you care to share them?
Continue to play better and get to be a single digit player. Able and willing to play with all levels of players. But I want to be able to do other things in my life as well. Balance is important. (my definition of balance).
What advice do you have for women who are thinking of starting to play golf?
Take lessons. Don’t use your boyfriend!!
How about advice for those players who have been playing for some time and just can’t seem to improve?
Take lessons and practice. I think it is important for people to understand that improvement takes time (time as in effort as well as time as in months and years).
What have I forgotten to ask you about that you would like to share?
I have never understood why when a golfer takes a lesson from a professional and the instructor says to do something and the student says it doesn’t work and goes back to old swing.
Thanks Rose. Congratulations on your success. Best wishes for many more great days on the golf course.
Thanks for talking and thank you for all of your help.
THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I HAVE EVER SEEN ROSE BUMMED ABOUT HER GOLF GAME.
I have a chart here showing the average change in handicap for women and men from 2008 to 2012. Have you ever seen this? Any thoughts?
No, I have never seen it, but I find it interesting. My guess is that most folks that are not getting better aren’t putting the time in. They would all like to get better if it required little or no work at all. Maybe, getting better is just not that important to most golfers. But we also have to remember, golf is a very, very hard game.
If it was getting hard, why didn’t you quit playing or at least quit taking golf lessons and trying to improve?
I never thought of quitting. I was getting better, why not keep playing.
But you continued to improve. How did you work though the frustration and stagnation?
Initially, I improved faster than I thought I would. But at the same time, I had no idea why. But then, slowly, I began to understand my golf swing more and I had a better idea how to fix things when I was practicing or playing.
JOHN DMOHOWSKI ACHIEVES DRAMATIC DROP IN HANDICAP
"I had laid off golf for about a decade and decided that I wanted to try and play again. The few times that I went out, I would shoot about 100. This past February, I signed up for golf lessons with Mark Polich. My handicap index when I started with Mark was a generous 20.3 Below you can see what has happened since then."
"Mark, like every good coach applies his knowledge, experience, and methods to help you understand the fundamentals and improve your technique. What makes Mark a Great Coach is his passion for seeing you develop as a golfer. Lots to work on to continue to improve and looking forward to having more fun. Thanks Mark!"
John Dmohoswki, Port Angeles, WA/Tucson, AZ
JESSICA WILLIAMS DEVELOPS INTO A SERIOUS PLAYER
Our daughter Jessica and I first met Mark through a junior golf event hosted at his Studio in early 2014. Jessica, age 15, was just starting to play golf competitively and had completed her first season of high school golf. My wife and I believed that Jessica had the potential to become a good player if we made the investment in the best instruction and coaching and Jessica really wanted to improve. Looking back now, we realize how very fortunate it was to have met Coach Polich when we did.
Coach Polich has a unique ability to adapt his teaching style to match the way the student learns best which produces almost immediate and lasting results. His playing experience as well as his incredible success as a high school coach was invaluable in helping Jessica learn to manage her game on the course. With time spent in the Studio with TrackMan 4 and "playing lessons" on the course, Jessica became more consistent, accurate, and confident with all her clubs. Coach Polich also taught her how to execute various shots that she would encounter during the course of a round. More importantly, he helped her learn what happened when she hit a bad shot and how to make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.
Before working with Coach Polich, Jessica's best competitive score was 99-90-189 at the 2013 High School State Championship good for 41st place. Jessica started working with Coach Polich over the next 18 months with the goal of finishing in the top 5 at the High School State Championship her senior year. Well, Jessica accomplished that goal and nearly won the tournament with a first round score of 71 (which included her first hole in one!), eventually finishing runner-up.
This tournament was just a glimpse of what Jessica was capable of. Later that year, Jessica posted an amazing round of 62 (8 under par) at the 2016 Tucson City Junior Championship.
Jessica's rapid improvement attracted the attention of several college coaches and she was offered a golf scholarship at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.
During her freshman year in college, Jessica continued her work with Coach Polich when home on breaks. Of particular note was the two weeks of intense training prior to the NAIA National Championship in May 2017 which led to Jessica finishing in 2nd place individually (out of 161 players) and leading her team to a runner-up finish.
We know that all the wonderful things Jessica has experienced in golf so far as well as her dramatic improvement are the result of her hard work and the help from Coach Polich. THANK YOU!
Greg and Jane Williams, Phoenix, Arizona
KEITH COBB GETS HIS GOLF GAME BACK
Keith Cobb had his index down to 14.7 in August 2016. But some injuries and deteriorating fundamentals resulting in his index ballooning to 21.3 in June of 2017. After working with Coach Polich for two months, his index dropped back down to 14.8.
JOHN FARBARIK MAKES THE COMMITMENT TO IMPROVE
After moving on from one phase of my life, I found myself with a lot of free time. I decided that I wanted to play more golf. After about a month of poor play, frustration grew. I decided I needed to quite playing, be comfortable with playing poorly, or commit to get better. I still wanted to play. I decided I needed to get help with my game since the other remaining option was not palatable.
I believe there are main components to improving at anything: instruction, practice and testing yourself. In applying this to golf, I set upon a specific path. First, I arranged to work with Mark Polich. I was playing two or three times per week. I added a weekly lesson the an additional golf day. When I could, I hit ball on the other days to work through specific swing changes with which was having trouble adopting.
It was important to have weekly lessons early on so I could make the first steps rapidly. I was playing and practicing enough to adopt these relatively easy changes in time for the next weekly lesson. I started working with Mark mid December, 2015. My high GHIN was the January 1, 2016 revision where I was a 22.2 index. I have been a single digit handicap: however I have not played more than a few time per year in over 20 years. The single digit days were long ago and I wanted to see if could still get back there.
Commitment is hard. no one avoids multiplication because they feel they can stick the addition and subtraction that they already know despite early errors multiplying. Instruction is school get us all through that. Yet that 'settling' is all too common in golf where we go back to familiar swing errors to post a better score today. I was determined to stick with changes despite the short term bumps. When I shot a personal worst on a course while playing with my brother for the first time in a few years, it was difficult to keep struggling with the changes. I was embarrassed. It helped a lot when I shot a personal course record playing with him on the same course the next day when the changes clicked. it does not always work that way. I was lucky. My patience and commitment were rewarded early.
The early progress was quick. I could consistently do what Mark wanted during the lesson in which he first mentioned it. Throughout the week, I would cement the change by continuing work outside the lesson. As I improved, the changes began to get more difficult to make. In one particularly difficult phase, I could not make the change consistently during the lesson. Mark and I worked more that day so I could fee the success before venturing out on my own. Some weeks, I would hit balls, take a lesson or practice six days per week. Other weeks, I would only hit three times per week. The increased repetition was important, but not always feasible. Progress came faster the more I put into it.
I entered a few tournaments to see how I would do with a little more pressure on my game. As these things go, sometimes it was disappointing. However, I had my share of successes, too. I just had to have the patience and determination to stick with the plan.
I am still working on my game. My focus is going elsewhere for a couple of months, but I plan on getting back to golf after that. My GHIN index was 14.3 as of May 15, 2016 revision, about one third lower than when I started my lessons six months earlier. My ball striking is much improved. My misses are dramatically better. I get more looks at birdies and eagles. I broke 80 for the first time in a long time. The guys I play with have noticed my improvement. I have gotten a lot of payout on my investment.
I don't know how low I can go. Until last December, I never really tried to find out. The process is not hard: instruction, practice, and competition (the tests). The difficulty is having the will and patience to go through it. I still don't know how low I can go. However, I have already booked my first lesson with Mark for when I return to golf. If I stick with it, I just might find out.
John Farbarik, Tucson, Arizona