Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Golfer Writes

 –Working draft 103021–

Torrey at practice.

"Trying hard is best done in preparation and analysis." 

–Torrey Viger

Torrey Viger is a former athlete of mine from the 1980s. A mentor/coach who has competed as amateur golfer since 2002, Torrey is a former PGA Club Professional (1993-2000) who works hard on his game and lives a golf centric life. He dedicates time to analyzing his performances through writing. His focused, serious approach reminds me of Maverick McNealy's, as chronicled in this 7-minute piece, Stanford's McNealy seeks constant improvement, on Golf Channel from 2015, just after McNealy won NCAA College Player of the Year–2015. Now, McNealy is a year into his life on the PGA tour.  He's a guitarist, a dedicated home chef, and fur baby dad extraordinaire. 

Torrey helped my colleague, Dr. Ken Martin, and me as a reviewer of our 2018 book, The Golfer's Workbook: A Season of Golf and Reflection. Torrey's insights and thoughtful feedback on our draft book revealed his dedication as a "student of golf." 

Golf is coming to an end in northern New England, and Torrey wrote to share his approach in analyzing his season. He wrote,         

Last round yesterday. I started my offseason training, compiling stats, and making some general notes, including attainable goals for next season. Reflecting on what I’ve learned about my strengths and weaknesses will allow me to write in more detail about how I actually reach my goals. My birdie putt proximity distance from the hole was not ideal this year, so my iron game needs some attention.

I admire the clarity of Torrey's observations. There's no excuse making or whining, just straight on analysis. With his first reflection, Torrey also included a photo of his final score card and, interestingly, recap of his golf journal writing: 

2021 Golf Journal, a Recap
Click on photo to enlarge

His written recap reveals the positives of the season––for example, indoor chipping, driving the ball, effective chipping and pitching, putting, helping others, made friends, "scored well when it really counted,"and a stroke average of 75.7 for 36 posted scores. He also listed areas for improvement, for example: 

–Better iron play with better contact and accuracy

–Make more Birdie putts

–Focus more when it doesn't count

–Stretch more

–hydrate & snack on the 6th and 13th hole (PBJ & nuts) throughout

The next day he sent along a revised recap where he added in a few more thoughts. The one I spied immediately was at the bottom: 

Revised Recap

He added, "Journal more!" And again, no argument here. 

On his final score card, he also listed his 2022 goals: 

Final Score Card plays '22 Goals

Those goals included 10 - 15%, 9-hole round or better, 1.5 Birdies/ round, 4 or more rounds even par of better, and "Win Club Championship." I asked Torrey for a bit of clarification. He answered, 

The 10-15% [improvement] is for 9-hole rounds even par or better. [The] stretch goal is 20%. I should be able to play 1 of 5, 9-hole segments at even or better.

Torrey also included a picture of his cards through the season. He notetakes on these cards not unlike Ken and many other golfers I've met. 

A season of scorecards. 

The day after our text conversation, Torrey sent along his handicap index and a correction to his stroke average. He also included his NHGA Handicap Index, added below. 

Handicap Index, 2021

Finally, Tor videos his offseason activities like indoor chipping. This work reminds me of Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin's. She analyzes her practice sessions and races by writing her observations, thoughts, critiques, and planning. She then reviews her writing and thoughts with her coach(es). 

 The next day, Torrey also sent a photo of his expanded indoor chipping and putting facility. That alley-way looks challenging at 27 feet!

A new 27-foot pitch and putt station. 

Near the end of our chat, Torrey wrote, "I’ll be 55 in May, when I can begin to compete in New Hampshire Sr Amateur events. I am preparing my mind and body as well as my game in order to be competitive and to reach my goals." Such a declaration made me think about this athlete's focus and the role writing plays in his growth. 

I wrote back about my brother Rob's golf game. He's now well into his sixties and he's playing some of his best golf of his life. He's thoughtful and reflective, too. He also talks the game a lot. I loved how Torrey responded: 

[There's] probably a Grateful Dead or U2 lyric in there somewhere. You have to know where you are in order to get where you want to go.


Torrey has a teacher's mind and the kind of authentic experience that makes him a prime candidate to write an article or book on writing to learn in golf. I tried not to be too pushy, but did say just that to him. He wrote, 

Thank you for the kind words. It’s encouraging and gives me confidence that my head is in the right space. I have the 10,000 hours of experience and I’m going to let it pay off. Being a natural with talent is a genuine approach. Trying too hard to make it happen in the moment is a backwards approach. Trying hard is best done in preparation and analysis [Italics added for emphasis].

"No argument here...," I wrote. "Experience + Reflection + Analysis = Growth (I'm sure I have a better way of saying this, but that's what I got on a Saturday morning.)"



 I wanted to write about this exchange with Torrey as a way to think about what he said and to capture my thinking in the moment. I also planned to share Torrey's reflection with Ken.  


18th tee in the final round of the Lake Sunapee 2021 Club Championship.




TV: Very nice. It’s great how the way you presented it, even showing the writing process I excited by revisiting and revising. You are a master at your passion for writing and presentation so to help others find their processes. Brilliant.

TV: You know the last few years I’ve chipped/pitched about 4,000 balls per off-season. That’s the hard work. Being patient and deliberate on every single one. I am a firm believer that the habits I create in my process makes my swings natural. I don’t think about it much like one doesn’t think about their actions during a morning routine. It’s just a natural thing. That’s my goal in the process. To make great golf techniques natural no matter the circumstances.

TV: Music, going to concerts. That’s a creative side of me and my creativity is an asset on the golf course. Imagery to see it feel it do it.

There’s a difference between a golf professional (club pro) and a professional golfer. The latter makes a living playing golf. I’d have starved to death.

This is a good link too because it validates some of my own notes. A pro and an HCC champion discussing playing against me.:

Interview about TV: ( 


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