October 2, 2013
There was an interesting article featured on LinkedIn, via the Huffington Post, yesterday by James Clear called “How to Stay Focused When Working on Your Goals Gets Boring.” The article is interesting and incredibly relevant the everyday golfer. We have limited time to practice yet we all strive for exceedingly lofty goals. We all want to shoot lower scores and have lower handicaps. There is a reason that it doesn’t happen for a lot of us. Mainly it is the way we practice.
The author asked a coach he saw in the gym the following question, “What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else? What do the really successful people do that most people don’t?” The coaches response made me really stop and think about how I truly practice my golf game. The coach said, “At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and doing the same lifts over and over and over again.”
After I read this quote I thought about how I go about practicing to improve my game. I thought back to my last session at the range and which clubs I spent a lot of time hitting. I started with some PW’s, 7 irons, a few 5 irons then spent quite a while hitting my 3 wood off the deck and my driver. After all that I chipped and putted for 20 mins and went home.
Next, I went through which clubs I hit the most during my last round. I only hit one 3 wood off the deck, driver on most holes, no 5 irons, and more PWs, SWs and shots around the green than I can count. My practice session did not reflect the weakness in my game at all. If I had been practicing smarter I would have spent the time on my wedge game instead of the macho long game.
The quote from the coach in the article made me think about how much I neglect my short game practice. I have put a lot of work in on it over the past year, but I have been committed to making it something I love to practice. It has to be something I am committed to practicing above every other aspect of my game. Right now, it is just another part of my game. I want it to be the BEST part of my game and think there needs to be a shift in my practice schedule to make that happen.
For the remainder of this season and the winter time I am going to make it a goal of mine to wear my wedges out. I want to go into next season needing to buy brand new wedges since I have absolutely worn them out from practice. This probably sounds excessive and it might be, but it can’t hurt to set a goal and go for it!
January 30, 2013
This winter I have dedicated myself to fine tuning my short game and putting any way I can. I figured I would give a brief update on how I have been doing this. Every morning when I get up I do some putting on my carpet. I know this isn’t ideal, but it is better than nothing. Each morning I pick a different distance and hit about 30 putts. The longer putts are all about finding the right speed and the shorter ones are all about aim. This has been fun because it has been a good change of pace and it doesn’t feel very repetitive. It has also greatly boosted my confidence with the putter. There aren’t many better feelings in golf than sinking 30 five footers in a row into a coffee cup. Trust me, it is addicting.
The other piece to my short game tune up is my chipping. Last season I struggled with my chipping the most and finally took the approach of getting the ball on the green as quickly as possible. I hit a lot of 8 iron runners and it definitely helped. I realize that this isn’t the best approach, but last season I was desperate and needed a quick fix. After I hit my putts I move on to some ship shots. Every morning I pick a new club and a new landing spot. I don’t focus on where the ball ends up, just where it lands. Often times I will put a pillow down where I think the landing spot will be and I will hit chips onto the pillow. I will do this with my 7, 8, 9, pw, 50, 54 & 58 clubs. The biggest thing I have taken away from this is how the ball comes off each club and how much takeaway I need to get the ball to land on the pillow. I know that when I finally get outside and onto a green I will need to calibrate a little for the rollout of the longer clubs, but right now I am getting very confident in getting each club to come off higher or lower and land where I want it to.
It will be a few more months before I know if this new practice routine will pay off, but right now I have never felt more comfortable or confident with my putter or wedges in my hands. It has been fun changing it up each morning and I love the lack of doubt I now have especially with my chip shots. Last year I was just looking to get the ball on the green, now I feel like I can take advantage of my short game to help me really drop my scores down. The winter won’t keep me down this year.
July 2, 2012
I haven’t been playing all that great recently and I attribute most of that to some trouble off the tee and way too much tinkering with my swing. I keep trying new things and messing up all of the fundamentals I worked so hard all winter to solidify.
The one highlight of my play though has been an improvement in my chipping. Last round I had to pull out a few different short game shots that normally would have me terrified. Normally, I will default to a sand wedge or a 60 degree wedge around the greens and pretty much without fail fluff the ball and come up way short. I decelerate through the ball and thin it out of tight lies and fluff it out of the rough. This past round I went back to my old tricks and found some quick success.
The first short game tester was about a 30 foot chip shot right in front of the green from far enough off the fringe that I didn’t feel comfortable putting. This is a great example of how I used to take my 60 degree wedge and try to fly it all the way to the hole only to come up way short and be so angry that I probably ended up three putting. Instead, I took my 8 iron and just hit a nice easy putting stroke and watched it roll all the way up to the hole for a two foot par saving putt. My takeaway from this was that it is much easier to get the ball rolling with a higher lofted club when you have enough green in front of you to do it. I have had success with this in the past, but some macho gene in me is gun-shy about using it and I’m not sure why.
The second shot that always gives me trouble is the short pitch shot out of the green side rough. This is a shot I will normally take my sand wedge and try to move my hands through and ahead of the ball to hit a nice chip. The problem is that I almost always decelerate, let the rough grab the club or slide right under it and come up still in the rough or barely on the green. Instead of doing this, I took the same sand wedge and took a more aggressive pop stroke at the ball. My thought process was to just pop the ball up in the air and let it release to the hole. I short sided myself on a par 4 and had a few feet of green to work with and used this shot. I popped the ball up and it rolled three feet past the hole while burning the edge. I made the comeback putt to save par.
Normally both of these shots would lead to bogeys or even double bogeys for me, but I am starting to learn how to manage my short game in these different situations to give myself a chance at par. I can’t tell you how great it feels to scramble for a par. They are almost better than two putt tap in pars…almost! The thing I am taking away from this improvement is that it is a step in the right direction. I know my full swing will come around with a few trips to the range this week, but I have always struggled with my short game. Improvements in that area are huge for me and I am going to continue to ride the momentum and keep up with the practice.