Piecing it together
Creamer dealing with swing changes, grief while getting 2012 season going
Paula Creamer’s immensely hectic life has been even crazier this year.
Between implementing swing changes and dealing with the loss of a beloved family member, the nine-time LPGA Tour winner has had her hands full and mind occupied in more ways than one. Creamer is still in the process of implementing swing changes that began during the offseason, and if that wasn’t enough to deal with, she lost her paternal grandfather, Tom Creamer, on March 19.
In short, it’s been a rocky start to 2012.
“It’s been a tough beginning of the year, that’s for sure,” the 25-year-old Creamer said. “I’ve been dealing with a lot of things.”
It’s the type of burden and heartbreak that can get the better of a person, but Creamer has taken on the challenges like the champion she is.
Creamer had a deep bond with her grandfather, a constant supporter of everything she did whom she lived close to growing up.
“We were incredibly close,” she said. “He was my No. 1 fan, my No. 1 supporter and was just an incredible man. He’s in a better place, that’s for sure, but I miss him more than anything. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about him and wish he was here.”
Implementing the swing changes with coach David Whelan has also been a difficult adjustment to make. Creamer said they’re working on tightening her swing with her irons and doing a near overhaul to her driver swing, which was costing her distance off the tee.
“I tend to get flat and hit it on the way down and not on the way up,” said Creamer, who ranked 113th at 241 yards per drive in 2011. “I’ve really been trying to get some (added) distance with that. I feel like, because I’m 5-9 and a pretty strong girl, I should be able to hit it a lot farther than I do. I have a lot of wasted energy in my golf swing, and I’m just trying to be a little bit more efficient with it.
“That’s why I’m such a good iron player – I hit the ball on the way down and am consistent with that. But I lose 15-25 yards with the driver. You want to hit it on the way up, and that’s something I’ve never done. I’m trying to do it, but it’s such a big change.”
The mental aspect of making changes to her swing has perhaps been even tougher than the physical.
“Golf is a crazy game, that’s for sure, and I’m trying to get better by making swing changes,” said Creamer, who is 10th in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings. “I know something worked so well (in the past), and it’s hard to get away from that. But, in reality, this is what’s going to help me and hopefully take me to the next level.”
The fact that Creamer is having some success with the swing changes as a part of her game has helped her believe it is the right decision for the long run.
“I’m not going to get away from my strengths, which is hitting fairways and hitting greens,” said Creamer, who has earned nearly $9 million in her career. “It’s a very fine line. It’s hard, and it’s frustrating. But at the same time, when it’s good, it’s so good that it makes you want to keep doing it and trying.”
For Creamer, who has four top-25 finishes in six events this season, to make these changes at this point in her career shows that even winning tournaments and being a top-10 player wasn’t enough for her high standards.
“I know that, if I do this, in a couple years, it’ll be the best decision I ever made,” she said. “I know I need to get better in certain areas, so this is the way I need to go. Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward.”
Throw in the fact that Creamer’s surgically repaired left thumb still isn’t 100 percent, and her progress is even more impressive.
“It’s good, but it’s not great, and I don’t think it’ll ever be 100 percent,” she said of her thumb. “Whenever you have surgery, you’re never going to be 100 percent. At the same time, I’m able to do more things than I thought I would with my golf swing.
“I still need to get some physical therapy done to it. There’s a lot of scar tissue still in there, and it is really frustrating. But overall, it’s so much better than what it was.”
Creamer’s motivation through all the hurdles and challenges is the same inner fire that made her one of the world’s top players.
“I love doing what I do,” Creamer said. “I have such a passion for it and such a drive.”
As the process continues and she works to come to terms with her big personal off-the-course loss, Creamer has an optimistic outlook and feels she is mentally strong enough to shoulder it all.
“I feel like I’m getting there,” she said. “I’m not where I want to be, that’s for sure. It’s a slow process, but it’s coming. It’s hard, and sometimes you just need to sit down, think about things and reflect. This life really doesn’t give you the opportunity to do that, so I’m trying to have that balance.
“Ultimately, I’m 25 years old, and I have to be at a good place in my mind. I feel good. I feel positive.”