Maid Permit, Passport and Contract Renewal 2021 Part 1

Honestly, this topic is turning out to be far more popular than all my golf writeups has been. It goes to show that either my golf writing (and golf) is extremely crap or Malaysians generally have major issues in knowing WTF is going on when it comes to maid permit renewals. I would gravitate to the second. Really, even I find myself coming back to these articles on this blog to refresh my memory everytime the maid renewal season comes up. So yeah, I go back and literally read my own blog to remember how to do certain things.

So now, its 2021 and this time, its the big one. I call it the 3 in 1. Maid Passport Renewal, maid Permit Renewal and Maid Contract Renewal! Let’s start with the first permutation:

a) Passport Renewal and Passport Extension: The Embassy

Now, keep in mind that when you want to renew a PERMIT, the passport needs to be ONE YEAR valid. It means it needs to have a 12 month window there. If you were an idiot like me (who never learned 4 years back in 2017), and just sort of assumed that it’s 6 months based on our normal expiry buffer for travelling, you’d end up in this blog thinking how absolutely numskull you were in doing that.  I am even more stupid in that I reminded myself not to be so stupid back in 2017 when the exactly same issue occurred – the issue of the passport not having 12 months validity left, and you want to renew permit, and you do not have the time to renew the passport (renewal of passport generally will be around 2 months). In my case, this is October and the permit is expiring in around 4 weeks. Well done.

So I now have the extra task to extend the current passport while waiting for the new passport. Why extend you ask? Well, it is so that I can renew the permit, O Simple Reader. Because the new passport won’t be out in time, before the current passport expires, therefore I need to extend the passport to another 2 years. Why 2 years? Don’t know. It seems this is the only option and it cost me RM96. So RM288 (for new passport ) + RM96 (for being stupid).

Now this is MCO, so in my case the Philippines Embassy has a sniper who will headshot anyone who comes in without an appointment. So therefore you need to get an appointment first. So head to http://philembassyklappointment.biz/app/public/ and in the drop down, select Passport Application.

You will then see ALL DAYS are FULL. You will. No matter what day you are reading this article, I double dare you to go to that site (as long as appointment is still needed), every day will be Full, from today to the second coming of Christ. What you need to do is to wake up the next day at 7.55 am. Or earlier. And quickly go to the website at EXACTLT 8 am. Not later. And you will be able (if you are lucky) to get some empty slot days and then select the hour you want to have the appointment. I suggest you take the earliest available slot (if you get it).

Fill in all the information, like name, address, email, phone number and make sure you get the appointment slip.

Once you have the appointment slip, bring your maid, photocopy of the passport data page, the passport itself,  the printout of the appointment slip and make your merry way to the embassy. Oh yes, please download the passport renewal form at

http://www.philembassykl.org.my/main/images/Passport_Form_2018-Renewal.pdf

And you can fill it up and bring it along.

Now due to the MCO, employers (and agents) are not allowed into the embassy, so you must give your maid the necessary money (just pass RM400 or so to be safe) and the specific instruction for her to EXTEND the current passport validity. Else, she might just happily renew the passport and then you are screwed, because you won’t have a valid passport to tie the permit to (new passport hasn’t arrive).

It will take pretty long for all process to finish. We took the first slot at 9 am and we were only done around 1 pm. So just chill, go to a cafe somewhere and get some work done while waiting. Don’t worry, there is more to come.

a) Passport Renewal and Passport Extension: The Immigration

The next step is to go to the Immigration. Why, you ask. Well, it is to inform them that the passport has been extended and that they need to make it valid in their system once more in order for you to renew the permit. Its similar to you asking them to change the passport when you get a new one. Except now, its just an extended old one. So later on, once you get the new passport you need to go to the immigration again and transfer the permit over to the new passport. Yeah, it’s dog work.

The first question asked is, does our Malaysian Immigration in October 2021 have any booking or scheduling system similar to the Philippines Embassy? You can look at http://sto.imi.gov.my/e-temujanji but it doesn’t look like it applies if you want to just extend the maid permit in their system. I don’t know. Anyway, I headed over to the Duta immigration at around 9.30 am. Its probably better to be there earlier since it opens at 7.30 am but I couldn’t be arsed about waking up so early. Make sure you bring the maid’s passport (no need maid), and that the passport already has an extension to it. You can photostat if you want, but you won’t be needing it (at least for me). Do note that the immigration only handles Foreign worker/maid processing up to 1 pm, so you need to get all these done in the morning.

Go up the escalator and make sure you queue up at the right queue. There is a room for Malaysian Passport, and another room for Foreign Workers/Maid. Once you queue up, just wait and then when its your turn, go in and there will be a temporary table there with an officer, take a temperature, and they will give you a form to fill up for COVID declaration etc. So good idea to bring your own pen to write it down. Actually even if you don’t fill it up, no one will know, because at the end you are supposed to put it back on the table, but I noticed many forms there were empty except for the temperature. One of those strange things, I guess of government process that is utterly useless.

Explain to the officer at the first table that you have extended the maid’s passport and you need to update the system. He will understand and instruct you to go to the first counter, and she/he will give you a waiting number.

Then you just wait. For me, it was just around 20 minutes or so and then my turn came up, I explained to the officer again , he took the passport and clickety clack on the keyboard, and in 5 minutes, he looked up and said, OK. I was so shocked at his efficiency I thought he was joking. I asked, “OK? Sudah siap?” He just nodded grumpily and waved me away like an annoying fly.

Wow. Talk about fast.

I didn’t believe their system would be updated in real time. I didn’t. I am a non-believer in the Malaysian Immigration department. So right after that, I went to my office, logged into MyEG and tried to do the permit renewal. Previously it stopped once I clicked proceed and said that the passport was not valid without 12 months.  I was utterly shocked when the system allowed me past that stage now, meaning that I could now renew my maid’s permit using the old, extended passport.

Syabas indeed, Malaysia, I am in tears on how proud I am of you. It is like seeing the child that everyone gave up on as being an utter idiot in school who failed his Matematik and Moral, become the first man to land on Mars and set up a colony there and terraform the entire planet and save mankind.

So now, half of the work done already – we still need to

a) Renew Maid Visa on old extended passport

b) Renew Maid Contract for 2 years

c) Transfer Maid Visa from old extended passport to new passport once received from Embassy

This feels like an RPG game where you have to complete side quests before you can win the game. Bring it on!

Golf Simulator Series

The MCO has pretty much change a lot of things that we do in life. From ordering food, to getting things online, to exercising online. It probably set us back a few years in terms of revenue and income but catapulted us a few more years in front in terms of how the future will likely be in terms of virtual reality and new standards of anti-socialness.

Which is great for golf, since its probably the best game for anti-social behaviour. It’s one of the only sport where you do not need to interact with another annoying human being if you have a choice and still can play a great round of golf.

Over the course of the MCO, I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up an area in my terrace home to build a small golf simulator area. The idea is simple – these lockdowns will happen more often than not, it provides a place to improve my game without socialising and it also offers a way to introduce my kids to the sport.

The last part is important. Because the idea here is to eventually plan our so-called family trips surrounding the things that the majority of the family prefer. Since my wife’s vote is 2, most of our family trips now consists of things like shopping, swimming and all sorts of stuff that interests me as much as watching flowers grow. If I can bribe these two kids to play golf, we can finally plan some meaningful trip surrounding golf for the 3 of us, and just put my wife in a shopping mall somewhere for 5 hours. Everybody wins.

There’s a lot of Sim options for golf, but since I haven’t really set up anything at home to have a real hitting area, I am limited to only a few option – one that does not require space and one that is so easy, my 6 and 9 year old can play without going into golf rage for not hitting the ball.

I settled on this product called TittleX.

I know it sounds weird, as anything that starts with “Tit” would, including Titleist which many pronounce incorrectly as “Tit-less”. But what attracted me was the simplicity and the price.

For USD119 you basically get the TittleX hardware (consisting of a small bluetooth device the size of your pinky finger), some cradle so you can put on your club and an amazing software E6 connect to play on 5 great courses for free. The software is absolutely smashing, because the graphics is the best you will see in a sim. E6 is used by the best simulators out there from Trackman, GCQuad to other more affordable ones like Skytrack, Mevo+ etc. To get this software for USD120 plus the hardware is a steal.

If you are willing to pay USD80 (Around RM350) more, you get the swing stick, but I am a cheapskate, so I rather check out the system first before I commit another RM350 for the stick.

It arrived after around 3 weeks + and yes, because of the cost, I had to pay the courier the custom duty fees of around RM100+, so altogether, I guess the whole cost was around RM600.

The box was simple enough, small and compact, and out of the box, there was a charging cable and simple instructions to get started. The instruction from the box isn’t updated to the E6 Connect version (it’s using the old E6 TruGolf application), so you must go to https://tittlexplay.com/article/play/8/90/ for a better idea on how to set it up. It took me a bit of tweaking here and there but it worked nicely after that.

Once you set up with E6 Connect Golf, you just download the five free courses and then you are all set to go. The five courses are Bandon Dunes, Aviara Golf, Sanctuary Golf, Stone Canyon and Wade Hampton. Those courses eventually get a bit boring if you end up playing over and over and over, but hey, its for this cost and price, there’s nothing to complain.

The only problem isn’t so much of the TittleX itself, but how to set it up with real golf clubs. Because it comes with limited cradles, I’ve put one on my driver, my hybrid and my iron. I have a driving range mat I bought from Lazada so initially, I would set it up outside the garden and try hitting from the mat without balls.

The problem is the TittleX receiver is only one, so every shot, I have to go and change the receiver to the other club and hit again. The receiver itself wasn’t extremely accurate (my usual hook shots translated to slices) and my distance had a significant reduction. On trackman, my driver was around 98mph swing speed and around 220-230 meters, but from this TittleX, it was easily around 20-30% less. While we never liked being shown how lousy we actually are, it didn’t seem likely that all my drives were going around 180m when in reality (on the course + Trackman at MST Golf), the numbers were a but more.

Plus, the disadvantage of this set up was that I had to play outside as there’s no space to swing indoors my driver, and my kids cannot participate, so this wasn’t what I wanted. I increasingly wished I bought the golf stick.

Of course, for additional RM350, I tried looking for a similar thing in Lazada and Shoppee. But most of these turned out to be swing trainer sticks for adults which are a bit heftier for kids. Until I went to Decathlon online and found this

This is around RM50. So it’s a whooping RM300 less. It’s less realistic, but the cradle fits nicely to it, and it’s a lot lighter and easier for a 6 year old to wield. In fact, right now, we just play primarily with this stick and TittleX just to get the kids interested in golf. Realism? Obviously not. My 6 year old hit his drive 320m by shortening the club and swinging it.

However, I do see improvement in his actual golf when I play with him outside the garden using his US Golf Kids 7 iron and hitting foam balls. He is now connecting the ball better, and more confidently.

This isn’t a true SIM, but its a great way to get your kids interested in golf, so go ahead and get it. I would recommend the same set up and if you can get the RM350 stick, go ahead, but we’re happy with what we have right now with the cheap Decathlon driver.  I don’t know how heavy the RM350 stick is and whether it’s suitable for a kid, but it sure perks their interest better when they are hitting birdies and eagles.

Sometimes a little less realism is fine to get their interest into the game.

TittleX – go for it!

Putting Changes

It seems every MCO brings about a change in the golf game.

Possibly due to boredom and the closure of golf courses, I’ve taken the time over the past 6 months plus to revamp the swing and move from the conventional weight shift left-right and left again to a stacked left side. The result? Well, I am not playing worse as before. In fact, my score is more or less the same, hovering between high 80s, low 90s and occasional moving down to mid 80s and low 80s but never breaking 80. That’s pretty much how I play previously.

The problem now seems to be more in the irons and less of the driver/woods. Especially, the shorter irons which I generally pull left and the occasional struggle with the mid irons when I would shank it. I haven’t figured out why, but those blow holes are usually the 7/6-iron shanks. But the drive now is very much more consistent and distance wise, more confident.

Putting seems to be the problem now, so for this MCO, 3 things are being experimented.

a) Left Hand Low

I saw Jordan Spieth putting the lights out and tried his grip. Even though it’s indoors, and on a cheap putting mat – it works. It feels much more ‘intact’. In terms of the takeaway and stroke, it feels more one piece as opposed to my previous conventional overlap. Of course, it’s on a mat, so a lot of discount is needed on the results, but it does feel better, which is important.

b) Forward press

I never thought this would help, but it does. I always had a weight back a bit on my putter stance and sometimes hit up on the ball the same way as how I hit the drive. With the forward press, the putter face is more level and lower when it impacts the ball and it seems a lot more solid as opposed to my previous attempts to hit up – causing very inconsistent hits and often end up just brushing the damn ball – the way I did my eagle putt at the Impiana a few weeks back.

c) Head Up Putting

Now I probably won’t put this in practice just yet but have been experimenting this since a year + even before I knew there was a term for it. My original idea was that – if we threw a ball, we don’t look at the ball we are throwing, we look at the target. So why is putting different? Only recently I found out this is actually a thing that many other people are thinking – and saw Jordan Spieth do it as well. So, head up putting isn’t about staring at the golf hole, it’s about just loosening up without getting too caught up staring at the ball. What I do is to just look probably a few feet ahead of the ball, or to the break-line that I want my putt to go, blur my vision and just stroke the ball.

Blurring my vision is how you do when you disfocus your vision on purpose, same way as you would do when you are looking at a 3D magic eye picture and looking through the picture instead of at it. So far, again, it works but I haven’t done it much on the course except for some simple 9-hole games when we don’t have those previous RM5 hanging on the hole. But now that I know it’s an actual method used by the best putters in the world, why not??!

So those are the changes on the putting – let’s see how it works out as soon as this MCO is over and we are back out on the course!

A Review of Q1 2021

So after around 4 months into 2021, it’s probably a good time to review how the new swing change is shaping up. First of, for a couple of months, the lack of golf was evident, although we are getting back into the groove now (despite our COVID cases increasing!), so we are trying to get as much golf in before any lockdown occurs.

I do a 9-hole walk on Tuesday with a secondary set – a 917F 3 Wood with a putter and 2 wedges + 3 irons (5,7,9 – my old Mizuno MP-57). Honestly I think I play better without my driver as this 3 wood is only around 30-40 meters shorter.  So scoring wise there is good, but better is the morning walk, with just a range bag without trolley.

We’ve crammed in also a couple of rounds of golf in Mines, Glenmarie, Saujana Impiana, Palm Garden and the results were – varied. I think I am back to my scoring as previous before my swing change. Like in Mines, I scored a 90 and 84, Glenmarie – 100 and then an 88. Palm Garden a 92 and an 84 and Saujana Impiana a 92. Good scores? It’s more or less the bloody same as I would score before the changes!!

But.

I do feel the game is coming along fine. For Saujana Impiana, that 92 could have easily been an 87 or 88. I had 4 triple bogeys against a fair number of Pars and a birdie. Of the 4 triple, 3 were really ridiculous. One was caused by a six iron shank from prime position on Fairway. Second was a lost ball after a good drive that just skittered a bit to the left, but for some damn reason, we couldn’t find the ball (most frustrating thing in golf), the third was the final hole, after being on the fringe in 2, and proceeded to duff a chip and 4 putted into infamy.

Only the first quad bogey where I hooked 2 into the woods would I say it was unavoidable.

But the encouraging thing for Impiana was how I played the par 5s. The first par 5 (Hole 3 I think), I proceeded to birdie it after my second 3 wood shot left me only 40 meters from the hole. The next par 5 in the back 9 I thunked my 3 wood so perfect from the fairway from 240 meters that I had to run up and apologise to the group on the green because my shot ended up around 20 meters from the green.

And the final par 5, hole 17. Bombed a drive (or so I thought) to around 160m from the green, and hit my new 5-iron (I reshafted it to a graphite) for my first two-on Par 5 after such a long time. What proceeded after that would forever be part of golfing lore. But before that, the group behind us had a guy who bombed his drive even further, to 100m marker. In fact, it was extremely dangerous as we were around that area as well. So actually, the par 5s are quite short and dangerous in Impian especially if you are a long hitter.

Going for my eagle, my ball was resting at that part where the fringe and green met, so it had that tuft of raised grass. I didn’t think much about it but when I putted, brushing the stupid grass on the backstroke caused a sudden retardation of my brains and I completely lost focus and I literally molested the ball to not even halfway to the god-damn hole. Molested my eagle putt. What. The. Flaming. Fukuoka.

I just stared in disbelief at my partners, before they all started to rail on me for my failure. This is a devastating failure. Because then I proceeded to miss my birdie and was forever labelled the biggest choker of all time. DAMN.

That has nothing to do with new swing. This is to do with a new brain, which I cannot change.

Same thing as Hole 18. Hooked my shot into the woods and from a superbly difficult shot down the hill, through the trees with just a bit of opening, I hit a glorious hybrid to the fringe of the green from 180. I mean, even Mickleson will be proud. Celebrating at least a bogey, I cockily went up and duffed my chip. Ok, no problem, a putt from fringe should be fine. I overputted, and sent the damn putt 15 feet downhill, my uphill putt didn’t have legs and I missed my double bogey putt.

You see, failures are often not due to the swing. My swing (except for the occasional and unknown shank) is coming along nicely and distance is better, consistency is better on the drives. My irons are the ones failing me (short approaches) and my stupid putting is as bad as a Gremlin high on cocaine.

So, overall review of 2021? Good with the long clubs, everything in 100 meters, atrocious as can be seen by up down scores. Am I encouraged with the swing change? For sure yeah. Very encouraged.  Just completely shit around the greens, but that’s not due to the swing change.

The Different Types of People on the Range

Honestly – I’ve never spent so much time on the driving range before (pre- MCO2.0). Because of the implementation of the new swing, to groove it, I was hitting the range, 2 -3 times a week. That’s 2-3 times a week more than I ever did for the past 3 years I think. The reason, as mentioned before, was when I was on my ‘old’ swing, I ended up with a backache hitting diggers on the mat. With a more rounded swing, I am less digging and more hitting, and I don’t have any more backaches after even 200 balls anymore.

But boy. When you are on the range – there is so many, many strange and weird people there. It’s like going into a circus, and seeing all sorts of weird and fantastical creatures. The more public the range, the stranger the creatures, and they are as strange as they come on the Kota Damansara public driving range.

Behold, the fantastical beasts of driving ranges:

a) The Teaching Instructor Uncle or TIU

Let’s start off with this specimen. Every range (except maybe the extremely high class ones that specifically have a ban on them) has this person. He is the uncle that sits and watches other people and makes comments and gives instructions. Very loudly. And often with very flowery language, either cantonese or Hokkien. The TIU guy is often smoking, if not, he is there almost every day, because he is probably retired and prefers not to lounge around his house. He often has a teh tarik or kopi O that can last minimally 8 hours, or until spiders start building their nests there. He is the greatest advisor. Sitting down, he will tell his unfortunate victim golf tropes like: your head move lah, you look up! Keep your elbow together! You are not shifting your weight! Stay still! etc etc. He barks these instructions as if he is running a military camp and he ALWAYS wins. When his victim hits a bad shot, the victim is blamed for not following his (often conflicting and confusing) instructions. When his victim hits a wondrous shot, he would nod his head in satisfaction and confirm that the victim is improving directly due to his supreme advice. The TIU almost never touches the golf club himself otherwise the club would turn to gold at his greatness. Wonderful TIUs are found all over driving ranges across Malaysia.

b) The Talk Cock Uncle  (TCU)

This is the distant cousin on a). Instead of instructing, the free talking uncle is visually identical to the teaching uncle, except – well, he doesn’t teach. He just talks. About everything. And almost as loud as his cousin. His subject can range from golf to drinking to politics to sex to sex to sex and back to golf. His voice range, while usually loud, usually increases exponentially when a girl or aunty with short skirt walks by.

c) The Teaching Boyfriend (TB)

This is a relative to the teaching Uncle. But instead of sitting down and barking orders, the teaching boyfriend can often be found going to and fro from the chair to his girlfriend and adjusting her swing for her, oftentimes regarding her posture, and almost invariably improving her butt protrusion by physically adjusting that abdomen for her, as if it’s a car tyre. The TB is considered a hazard on most ranges because he would be standing in parallel to his girlfriend to observe her swing, not knowing the guy in the next bay is swinging a driver and the back swing would almost chop his head off while his eyes are afixed to his girlfriend’s front assets…i.e her swing.

d) The Family Guy

The family guy treats the golf driving range as his family vacation plan, bringing his entire family (often with a glum faced wife) to the range, ordering copious amount of food and drinks and allowing his cretins kids to roam freely as buffaloes on the prairie. The problem with this guy is that one of his kids invariably runs up and down other people’s bays screaming their little heads off, and in an early age, is then introduced to the wonderful world of cantonese, malay, hokkien, tamil and other language cuss words which will be well remembered and responsibly used as they continue to grow up.

e) The Inspector Gadget

This is quite a guy. Inspector gadgets takes around 15 minutes to set up their tools and another 15 minutes to calibrate the cameras, the swing analyzer, the launch monitor, the alignment sicks etc. Watching him is like watching Thanos getting all the infinity gems together, so intense is this pursuit of absolute greatness. Unfortunately the inspector spends so much time on his gadget, and almost never enough time for his swing and usually plays golf only slightly better than a cat with leprosy.

f) The Millionaire Golfer

This is a relative to Inspector Gadget, but instead of gadgets, he has all the latest clubs. The SIM2? His. The Envroll Putter? His. Honma gold clubs? His. While this beast is rarely seen in public ranges, sometimes they tend to appear and his golf clubs is oftentimes more expensive than the entire property the driving range is built on. They are often serviced by running servants, and have variations to their titles including Dato, Tan Sri, Your Emminence or God.

g) The I-Don’t-Give-A-F*ck Golfer (Or IDGAF)

The IDGAF are often in flocks together. They are the ones who sits in one bay behind the chair, often 5 – 6 of them together, usually in jeans, slippers or inappropriate dressing for golf. They sit together the same way as they would when to do bowling or other social group activities. They often either just have finished karaoke-ing or would be karaoke-ing after the range session, and they would be laughing, talking and ribbing each other. VERY loudly. They can be identified by taking turns in hitting the golf ball and sharing a beat up 7-iron that they found in the trash bin. They are very dangerous species as they generally have no f*cking clue how to hit the golf ball, and often shank, miss, hit backwards or sky it – resulting in dangerous flights of balls whacking into the bay separator with a loud CRASH! and making the other golfers jump and take cover, under their hyena-ic laughter. Generally, we also don’t want to f*ck with them as sometimes they are armed with very impressive tattoos.

h) The Sweet Young Thing (SYT)

This is quite a sight. Golfers are usually male when they are in the public driving range. So when there is an occasion where something in a skirt flashes by, everything becomes hard. As in harder to play because cannot concentrate. What were you thinking? To be a SYT in public ranges, the standard is fairly low. As long as there is a short skirt and slender legs, you will qualify as an SYT. There is no other standards above the waist, except that an SYT should not have a beard. Whoever is next to the SYT, especially the bay directly to her left (if she is right handed) will benefit for viewing her ample…skills in swinging.

i) The Booby Auntie (Boobs)

This is a variation of the SYT except Boobs are usually aunties. Who has large and ample…appetite for golf improvement. The aunties are almost all very serious, usually with lean bodies with tight fitting clothes that announces their assets specifically well. Unlike the SYT, they aren’t as eye pleasing, but to some strange golfers who find the Boobs auntie attractive, these golfers in the next bay usually converts themselves into left handed players to enjoy the…fruits…of their labour.  Whatever rocks their boat. Speaking of lefties:

j) The Phil Mickleson

These are actual golfers interested in improvement but unfortunately they are born left handed, and learnt golf left hand. Because of this, they need to switch around the bay, which isn’t a problem in high class ranges. But in public ranges where the bays are as small as homes in Hong Kong, pairing a left handed golfer swinging a driver, next to a right handed with a driver = disaster. It’s often an excruciatingly experience seeing their driver heads miss each one by milimeters, akin to watching a cable car swinging in a 150mph hurricane.

k) The Entitled Prick Golfer (EPG)

We all know golfing bays are difficult to get during CMCO. The normal SOP is for us to sign in and wait patiently for the attendants to tell us which bay is available. The EPG is the guy that comes in, walking quickly with a large stride as if he has a dongle the size of a horse and brushes everyone aside and demands from the attendants whether there is a bay, ignoring all the disapproving stares from other patient golfers. The EPG is often associated with a large, fast and expensive car that double parks in front of the entrance and has what we term as “Muka Ch*bai”. Everything about the EPG is loud and large, except, invariably the most important thing to be large in life, they usually have a very small variety of.  Hence, they need to compensate.

l) The Neverending Yawning Assh*les (NYA) 

While not as assholic as the EPG, the NYA is just as bad. They are the ones who sits down in a bay, with 100 balls, and hits at the average rate of 1 ball per 15 minutes. After one ball is hit, he stretches, and yawns and sits down again and start looking around, usually for the Booby Auntie or Sweet Young Thing. They never , ever finish their balls and they enter into the twillight zone when they are down to their last 10. It’s like watching Inception where the dream level passes 10x slower than normal. They often can also be found whistling or humming a tune instead of finishing their balls, and this subspecies can be termed as NYA SING due to their singing nature.

In fact, this species can be sometimes amalgamated with the first species (Teaching Instructor Uncle)  and the resulting creature is called TIU NYA SING. Very, very special creature.

m) The Legend

I believe there is only one Legend. This guy is found in the KD range. He is the legend. I was practicing one day when I heard a thunk behind me of the ball hitting the bay separator. Thinking it must be either the IDGAF or a beginner golfer, I didn’t think much of it. Just at my topswing, I heard another thunk! It wasn’t a loud thunk as it would be for a IDGAF doing a full swing with a trash bin 7 iron. It’s not so loud as would make me run for cover. So I stopped and restarted my swing again. Right on my downswing, another Thunk! on the bay separator and made me stop. WHAT THE FOO-CHUK was going on? I looked behind me and glimpsed the first time, The Legend.

He is the legend because he only has ONE range ball. One range ball. But instead of hitting it into the range as all normal species do, he is practicing chipping, and chipping against the bay separator between us. Thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk….he is chipping with ONE range ball, using an entire BAY. Against the separator that’s around 2 feet high, separating him and me. He is so legendary that his chip is unerring, otherwise, it would be hitting me.  Thunk thunk over and over. Chipping with one range ball, oblivious to the distraction he is causing to the golfer trying to swing with this damn sound going on.

WHAT.A.LEGEND.

MCO2.0 What a timing!

What is worse than having a really shitty game on the course?

When you have planned for golf and it gets cancelled by MCO2.0.

Now I get it. I get why we need to enter into a second phase of MCO. We have 3000+ cases every single day so yeah, I don’t think people are too bothered about playing golf. But, DANG! Just when you are getting used to a new swing and grooving in, this lockdown means another month (at best) or two months (expected) or 3 months (at worst) without golf.  I guess, it should sync up with the next time I go for a round, I would have my new wife (The TSi) in the bag.

My stack and tilt adventure has gotten me so far to a somewhat middle ground. I don’t think I can fully implement the stack and tilt yet – so I have sort of gravitated to keeping stacked on the left, and minimizing my head movement. I still feel my body shifting a little, and I can’t keep my elbows too tight to my body throughout the backswing, but it could be a combination of age/flexibility that makes this swing different from the classic S&T I see on youtube. I don’t know, I still feel the same on the backswing in terms of my arms movement, its just that I am stacking on my left this time throughout.

One of the things I observed when I did my fitting was that I was much more confident of my swing path. I demonstrated a consistent inside out swing with my misses to the left. So the fitter set me up to play on a nine hole (with just drives) and with the new swing, I felt I was able to at least manage my swing path much easier. With the limited movement and sway now, when I need to carve an inside-out swing, I make sure I start my path flatter and more circular. At some holes where a fade was needed, I started my swing path more straight to the back and steeper. In my previous swing, because I was moving my body back first along with my hands, my swing path was only one way, inside out. I could never fade to save my life. It feels much better to be able to call the shots when needed now, although this obviously needs a lot more bedding in.

Unfortunately the MCO2.0 is upon us, so practice is going to be difficult to get  in. What I am feeling now (positively) is that I am beginning to forget how my old swing was and this current swing seems to be almost like what I am getting used to.

Here Cometh the TSI

In almost 20 years of golf, I have been an absolute miser when it comes to equipments. My first set was a hand-me down Maruman set from my brother. After hacking around with that, I decided to splurge on an iron set – the Taylormade RAC LT. I honestly don’t remember how I purchased it – I think it was either second hand or it was on a fairly cheap sale. From there on, all my clubs were second hand, purchased from E-Bay or elsewhere.

I really don’t remember any club I purchase brand new. Even my Mizunos I am gaming now – the MP54 was a set sold to me second hand from a friend. My MP-57s were purchased second hand from a shop. All my drivers were second hand or on cheap sale – my first real driver (the first few years I was using those that came with the set) was the R510 I bought in Bangsar cheap sale. Then I got the R5 Dual from E-bay which I gamed for many years, before making the jump to the Hi-Bore Cleveland and Hi-Bore XL. Gamed that for a bit, then moved back to Taylormade – the whitewolf we call it – the R11. Because it’s white. And because we like wolves.

I gamed the R11 for the longest – I think close to 4 years before switching to a second hand Cobra Flyz+ (which I am using right now), for about a year + and went to buy on sale the Titleist 917 D2 which took a while to bed in but after getting used to it, was really smashing it. The Titleist by far, was the one driver that looked best, even if it was gray. But the shape was just perfect.

So I sold it off.

I sold it and a Titleist hybrid, a mizuno wedge, a Titleist 915 5-wood, a golf mat, a golf trolley, a Ping 60 degree wedge and I think a few more things that I can’t remember to prepare to purchase a nice Christmas Present for myself – a new driver. As in a really new driver.

However, in November, I decided to institute this swing change to move to stack and tilt, just as I sold off the Titleist. So, without a proper driver, I just gamed the Cobra for a few more rounds, at least until I groove this new swing in and have a more consistent way to whack the ball.

So, now, all ready to go, I headed to MST Superstore at the Federal highway for a fitting session and to try this:

A year plus ago I went for a session with these guys as well, as described here

Lesson Learnt: Don’t Binge Buy

Back then, my results were around

BallSpeed: 137.9

Total Spin: 2475

Carry: 212m

Total: 230m

Club Head Speed: 96.2mph

That was with my Titleist 917D.

Fitting into this TSi3 10 degrees with a Tensei AV White Stiff Shaft. My results were…meeh…

You would think it’s a lot of difference.

BallSpeed: 138.1

Total Spin: 2663

Carry: 215m

Total: 233m

Club Head Speed: 98.3mph

It’s slightly faster. But the spin is much higher and of course, things vary.  My longest drive was around 248m while my shortest were the hooks into the forest. Am still grooving this swing in so it’s not easy.

And honestly, trying out the TSi2 and the SIM MAX from Taylormade, I was able to hit these two slightly better.

But have you seen how the TSi3 look from the top? Take my money.

So against better judgement, and opting for the better looks instead of better performance, I told the fitter OK, I know I don’t deserve her, but I need to have her, so since the TSi2 is going for the same price as the 3 – why not the 3? It’s like you know that the vegetable burger that cost 20 bucks is good for you but when you see a same priced burger with double stuffing and wagyu beef next to it – why wouldn’t you go for it, even if it gives you a heart attack?

So there you have it. It takes 6 – 8 weeks for them to deliver – as the TSi3 is out of stock and the tensei shaft is also unavailable. But hey, since we are heading into another lockdown, I guess waiting won’t hurt anyone.

Swing Overhaul Part 9: The Plan Comes Together

So. I am writing this on the final day of an eventful 2020. This year has literally FLEW by. It seemed yesterday that on March 18, 2020 the lockdown was announced by our government. What proceeded after that was beyond mine or anyone’s imagination as this COVID pandemic wreaked havoc to our business and personal plans. I witnessed customers shuttering their businesses. I witnessed close friends losing their jobs. Even for the first time in our 10 year history, we had to let people go in our company. It was an unprecedented, global disaster that seem to be continuing well into 2021.

To all affected in some ways, whether its a job loss, business loss, personal and health loss, I can only provide the scarce comfort that we have the largest brains in the world all working together to get us out of this and we pray that humanity will show its merit for survival by surviving this.

Back to golf though – I had the chance to cram in a few games since the previous 9 hole.

a) Another 9 hole round following it (my 4th round with new swing) – continuous improvement was evident and finally began to get my winnings back again.

b) Another 18 hole at Palm Garden – and shot an impressive 90 on the back of 6 pars . This is my 5th round – I gave myself 10 rounds to shoot under 90, which I hope I will be able to do soon, with this new swing.  My dropped shots in this game was more of my irons – short changing myself on numerous occasions and landing into hazards. My drive was working out reasonably well except for one hole where I OB’ed.

c) Another 9 hole – and once more ingraining the swing more and more.

The plus I am getting on this new swing was that there is less (much less) movement and swaying. I feel more ‘on top’ of the ball and more confident in hitting the ball consistently at the same spot. The other plus is that when I feel I should crank it up on strength, I can do it with just ‘stepping down’ on my left side. And likewise, if I want to control, I can not ‘step down’ so much. Stepping down here is described as literally, pushing down on my left leg, as if I am hitting a throttle. To boom the drive, I step it down, but I tend to pull this if I hit it too quick. Otherwise, I don’t and the shot seems to be ok but I tend to fall back a bit as if I just reverse-pivoted. I don’t really know how to reconcile these movements properly but the results are OK. I also find myself able to conjure up a baby fade as well if required, by ensuring my takeway is not so ’rounded’ but rather straight back, and my finish has that Patrick Reed-ish kind of twirl. I have never been able to do something like that before with the old swing, but with this stacked swing, since my body isn’t swaying so much anymore, I feel that I can get more control over the swing.

Overall, I think I made the correct decision to change my swing. It feels less stressful and I am not over swinging or over-bashing the ball but with the stacked feeling, I feel I can pummel the ball equally long with less moving parts. This hopefully ensure my swing can last me for the next 30-40 years. I love this game too much to give it up when I hit 60 due to a bad swing mechanics.

So – have a happy new year and here is looking at a better 2021 – not just in golf, but in everything else happening on our beautiful planet Earth!

Swing Overhaul Part 8: Part by Part

Keeping last game’s takeaway in mind, I decided not to worry too much about positions and focus on basically one thing only – keeping my weight on the left (and also my head not moving much). The swing thought now is broken down into easier bits. Address the ball in a slightly closed position, keep weight on the left and shift my hips to the left a little. From that address position, I just take a way as how I would usually do. I don’t think about dipping my shoulder, or tilting my spine or even keeping my elbows close to my body. I just use whatever swing I had from there on while keeping my weight shifted to the left.

So another 9 hole, and finally, something began to click. I gave myself 10 games to embed the swing mechanics in. I am into my third game – 2 X9 holes and one 18 holes.

The first 9 and 18 holes were disastrous. But now, this time it was different. With the simplified swing thought in my head, I proceeded to rip the first drive down the fairway – a welcome sight, after 27 holes of train wreck.

My iron approach was pushed way right but at least there was contact, and I knew this was probably how I will proceed on from here on.

Throughout the entire 9, swing thought was simple – weight left, head still. All the other thoughts, on whether my shoulder was at a tilt angle, my right knee straight, my elbows connected to my body and all those – out of my head.

Without those thoughts, swing began to free up. And the concern just became distance and alignment. What a difference.

Sure, I still lost my 9 hole bet again, but I know for sure, I am on the right road to improve.

Swing Overhaul Part 7: 18 hole Tryout

The great Tiger Woods once said: “Achieving trust is always the final step with a change. That’s the hardest thing, taking Ranger Rick to the course.”

While my golf game is currently probably around 0.04% of hit level, this ranger rick quote still applies. We all can hit it on the range, but what the hell happens on the course?

Since my previous nine hole outing, I’ve gone to the range to sort out a few things and am getting more and more used to this Stack and Tilt. To an extent I felt fairly confident in accepting an invite to tee it up at Amverton for my first 18 hole with a new swing.

WHAT. A. MESS.

I really, really do not understand why the flaming heck I can be hitting great shots on the range but end up like an epileptic baboon when I am on the course.

Its strange, because while I am fairly comfortable with the changes, when I hit the course, I struggle to even hit the most basic shots. When I pulled my driver far left to begin, I knew I was in for a long day.

It was a game that was as unmemorable as anything. When you are playing badly, all holes sort of converge into a single messy experience and you don’t really remember anything except hacking the ball over and over. Therefore, I don’t recall anything much except for a chip in birdie and some good chip shots here and there. Otherwise, except for one good drive on the 10th hole (or was it the 10th?) – all my drives were either missing , topped or yanked. I probably shot close to 110 on total scores.

Would it be back to the drawing board?

Again, I don’t know what more can be done except to try to ingrain the whole feel more and more into the game and go out and play. The proof is there that I am hitting the ball better than before when I am on the range. I just need to ingrain it.

As I told my partners – it’s very easy to tell what’s happening but very difficult to actually fix it. I would address the ball – ok. I would do a takeaway, into the ‘slot’ – ok. It’s right at the top of the swing that everything breaks. My right elbow disconnects from my body, and then its an all arms swing –  my swing drops without connecting to the body so I have no idea where the clubhead is because the arms and body are no longer working together. I can feel the disconnect, but by then, it’s too late. The swing is already on its downswing and the transition is completely off.

One of my playing partners did make an interesting note: “When making changes, don’t try to change everything at once, but make it incremental. Small changes first and slowly move into it.”

I think it makes sense. I may be trying to tear down and build everything up too quickly. Maybe what I need isn’t a house tear down but a home renovation room by room.

That’s food for thought.