Sunday, June 9, 2013

Shooting your lowest score ever, and having the most fun ever.

Going Low

Golf can be a very humbling, even humiliating, endeavor. Golfers must travel vast expanses of inhospitable land just to knock a tiny ball into a tiny hole that is hundreds of yards away. I have played thousands of rounds of golf with hundreds of different golfers of varying skill and each golfer has played with the same flawed sense of purpose.
They all have played as if the idea of the sport was to hit the best shot possible every time to get them as close to that little hole as humanly possible. The results are often that the best shot possible was highly improbable and the actual shot did not accomplish the goal of getting as close to the hole as wished.
I have played with great golfers, and, great people that were lousy golfers. They all played the same way. Let's change things up for the next few rounds you play. Let us see if we can discover a way that allows you to have more fun and lower your score. Lower your score a lot!
You have never, or only rarely, broken 100. How about changing things up enough that you can actually score in the 80's quite easily! Let's change things up enough so that the 70's are a possibility every time you play.
I am not talking about getting lessons or spending hours at the range or getting "custom fitted" to a new set of irons. You can score better with the equipment and skill that you already have.

Four Strategies to Lower Scores.

1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TEES. How far do you hit your 5 iron? 100 yards? 160 yards? 200 yards? The question is not "how far can you hit your 5 iron?". Be honest. Remember that we are going to change things up so being honest with yourself is a good place to start.
Let's say you hit your 5 iron 150 yards pretty much on average. Multiply 150 time 36 to get the total yardage  you should be playing. 5400 yards! Does that seem short? Well its actually a lot longer than the big hitters on the PGA tour play! The typical tour pro can hit his 5 iron maybe 220. That means they should play at 7920 yards. So the typical PGA tournament is played at several hundred yards shorter than the average player's potential.
Now be confident enough in to play the tees that are the closest to your proper yardage.

2. REDESIGN THE GOLF COURSE. If none of the tees allow you to play the ideal length, change it up. Play some holes from the middle tees, some from all the way forward, maybe even some from the back if you are so inclined. If you want to create a new tee box up near the 200 yard marker or even further forward go ahead. After all tee locations are rather arbitrary, so "play it forward". As forward as you need. If on your best day you still wouldn't clear the water on your tee shot, tee off from somewhere else.

3. FEWER CLUBS. The rules say your can have no more then 14 clubs but nothing is said about carrying fewer clubs. Unless you can count on striking the ball cleanly most of the time with any given club, don't carry it! Most amateurs would play better without a driver and many would play better without most of their woods. Use only the clubs that you know you hit well, regardless of how far you feel you need to hit it.

Now for the most important strategy of all!

4. RETHINK THE GAME.  While the goal remains, "shoot the lowest score possible", the game changes.  We are going to play 2 different games: Island Hopping and Capture the Flag. 
Island Hopping is a fun and easy game with just enough risk and reward to make it exciting. Remember as a kid trying to cross a little stream without getting soaked? You knew where all the rocks were that you could step on to get across the the stream. It didn't matter if you could jump 6 feet if the rocks were only 4 feet apart.  We better just jump four feet or we're getting soaked. 
This is how were are going to play golf. We stand on one side of the stream, the tee box, with the hope of getting to the other side, the green, without getting soaked. Now because we have picked the right tees we know that a 5 iron should be enough to get the ball across all 18 streams in 36 jumps. Maybe some holes will take only one jump and others might need 3, 4 or 5 jumps but we can cross them all in 36 jumps.But just to be realistic let's give ourselves a few more jumps.... 24 for each 9 holes for an extra 12 jumps.
Now the first jump is always the easiest. Our feet are dry and on stable dry land and we only have to get to that first rock. No pressure!  Once we are in the middle of the stream the pressure can build, but all we have to remember is; the goal is to get to the next rock.The last jump can be tricky because the bank might be slippery and we could slide right back down into the creek. Sploosh!
But where are the rocks on the golf course? Wherever you decide they are. Lay out a path that allows for 1 or more easy jumps to get from tee to green. On a 350 yard par 4 the first rock might be 165 yards away so we hit a solid 4 iron or 7 wood and we are safely on the rock. Wow! We are still a long 185 yards from the island, but we are only 100 yards to the next easy 9 iron! Cool! Only 85 left and a wedge to the middle of the island and we are safe and dry. On the green in three! And we never had to hit a hard shot. This is fun! Let's do it again.... 17 more times.
The most important shot was not the tee shot. It was the shortest shot that got us onto the island. If you have time to practice it is best to practice what's important. All those 85 yard and shorter jumps.
Capture the Flag is the game we played where we tried to capture the opponents flag without getting caught. To capture the flag on the island we just landed on all we have to do is knock the ball into the hole. This is easy because no one is there to defend the flag. Just roll the ball up near the hole and tap it in. Now we change things up a bit, again. Rethink the club you are going to use to roll that ball up close to the hole.Putter? No! Maybe the 5 wood or 3 iron or maybe this is the best place to finally use that massive headed driver. Driver to putt with? Why not? It's got a huge head and very little loft, its very light and should be able to easily roll the ball the required 20, 30, 50 feet or more with little effort. If you're more than 10 feet from the hole decide that the target is really 4 feet wide and you just want to get it inside that. Tap the resulting 2 footer in and go to the next tee box.
Your goal is to capture the flag in as few shots as possible, 2 or fewer would be the best.
The most important putt was not the 25 footer but the 2 foot tap in! If you practice what's important, short putts, you will get better.

At the end of the round we discover that it really took only 45 shots tee to green, not the 48 we anticipated, and because we putted pretty well it only took 34 putts for an easy 79!

Try changing things up for a few rounds and let me know how it worked for you.