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Game of the Weekend: Go Low

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When you practice, you should always practice in the same manner in which you play. And that not only means the shots that you find on the course, but also setting up situations that bring up certain emotions, mental challenges and feelings that you experience when on the course.

In the case of this Game of the Weekend, called “Go Low,” we are setting up an ideal on-course situation: You just hit 18 greens in regulation! Certainly, the game of golf is typically not that generous; great scores are achieved by making up-and-downs and hitting an array of short-game shots, but with “Go Low” you’re in a situation that puts pressure on yourself… a good kind of pressure.

Golfers get nervous when they realize that they’re playing well. They tend to self-destruct and find a way to fall right back into the same range of scores that they tend to shoot. “Go Low” will help you get more comfortable with breaking your scoring barriers and shooting lower numbers. So imagine you’ve hit all of the greens. It’s exactly what you’ve been working toward and practicing so hard for. Now it’s time to finish off each hole with great putting and an attitude of going low!

Game of the Weekend: Go Low

  • Gear needed: Your putter and one golf ball.
  • Time needed: 10 minutes max

Rules: Pretend that you’ve hit every single green in regulation today, giving you 18 birdie opportunities. Each first putt must be between 25 and 45 feet and you’re going to add up your score in relation to par (with two putts equaling par). For example, let’s say that you one-putt five times and two-putt par all of the others giving you a total of 5-under par. Enter your score into the system based on a par-72 golf score. So at 5-under par you would enter 67 into our www.golfscrimmages.com practice website. Seeing such low scores next to your name is always good for your psyche. This game can help you break through some scoring barriers that you have.

Note: if, when you play a regular round of golf on the course, you tend to hit the greens in one more shot than regulation, then add up the score in the same fashion but enter your score based on a par of 90 instead of 72.

Benefits: Here’s what this game helps you with.

  • It will help you break through whatever your scoring barrier is.
  • You will gain confidence from seeing low scores next to your name.

Bring the elements, situations, feelings and emotions that you find on the course to practice!

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website GolfScrimmages.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Forrest

    Sep 14, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I play a very similar game like this, albeit with a slightly modified scoring setup. My emphasis has been on improving my 2 putt ability to take advantage of my improved ball striking. I’ve seen an uptick in GIR from 7.2 to 9.54 this year. The flip side of course has been more putts because my first putt (for birdie) is likely coming from 30+ feet a few more times than when my first putt (for par) would be coming from inside 12 feet.

    Since our practice greens both have 9 holes on them, I typically just play it out for 9 holes (but could easily go to 18). Every putt starts at roughly 25-45 feet. My scoring system is as follows:
    – 8 points…first putt holed
    – 4 points…first putt inside 3 feet (use my 34.5″ putter as reference) and 2nd putt holed
    – 2 points…first putt outside 3 feet and 2nd putt holed)
    – 0 points…three putt
    – (-2) points…we don’t talk about these

    The one adjustment I make to the game is that if I go 3 holes in a row scoring 4 or 8 points, then on the 4th hole I start from roughly 10-15 feet to have a good look at birdie. Likewise, if I three putt a hole then the next hole I will start from as far away as I can get going to the next hole in my route.

    So far my best score is 32 over 9 holes…and I’ve seen an improvement in my putting as I would typically score 18-22 in this game but am now running 26-32 over the past month. Likewise, my handicap was 8.5 on June 15 and will be at 6.6 on September 15.

    Thanks for sharing this with the site Trent. I’m a big believer in this drill as a great replication of “practicing how you play.”

  2. sgniwder99

    Sep 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    In principle I think this is a great game, but just a thought: it seems like you ought to have about 5 of those 18 putts be in the 8-15ft range. That seems more like reasonable birdie range to me, and presumably if you had one of those ideal ball-striking days you’d knock a few fairly close. To me, those are the ones you really have to capitalize on to “go low” compared to your normal scores. For the rest of those, I’d put them in the 25-45ft range, to represent the holes where you’re really trying not to squander a good round by 3-putting the approaches that are a bit more mediocre–if you make one of those, it’s really a bonus.

    Maybe to promote staying aggressive on all those putts, you could adapt the “drawback” game you showed us a couple of weeks ago as an add-on to this: if you hit your first putt past the hole, you putt out from wherever the putt ends up. If you don’t get the putt to the hole, you pull it back a putter-length and putt out from there.

    Maybe I’m just over-complicating things.

  3. Philip

    Sep 12, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    This is a great warm-up to help me trust myself and get more aggressive on my putts – thanks

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Instruction

The 3 best ways to train your golf swing

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Understanding how to effectively train and practice is critical to transferring skills to the golf course.

In golf, I view training as a thoughtful, deliberate rehearsal of a motion to develop technique. This is better rehearsed away from the golf course. Practicing golf consists of developing your skill to take to the golf course—an example being learning to hit shots in certain winds and shot shaping.

“A lawyer will train to be a lawyer, then he or she will practice law” – The Lost Art of Golf

I find the below examples the best ways to train effectively. These techniques will also help facilitate a swing change and make your training and practice more efficient.

Mirror Work

I like my student to implement what I call “mirror work”. This is done by looking into a mirror from the face-on position.

This is a great way to get external feedback (information delivered from an outside source). Learning by external feedback will help facilitate the required body movement to produce a particular shot. It’s also a cheap and effective way to train. Research suggests observation in a mirror is considered external, so the use of mirrors will elicit external feedback, enhancing the learning process.

I prefer students to only check positions from the face-on view. If a player starts checking positions in a mirror from down-the-line, moving your head to look in the mirror can cause your body to change positions, losing the proper direction of turn.

Train Slow

Learning a new motion is best trained slow. At a slower speed, it is easier to monitor and analyze a new motion. You will have increased awareness of the body and where the shaft is in space. At a faster speed, this awareness is more difficult to obtain.

I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car. First, you took time to learn how to position your hands on the wheel and position your foot next to the break. When comfortable, you put the car in motion and began to drive slowly. Once you developed the technique, you added speed and took the car on the freeway.

In martial arts, there are three speeds taught to students: Slow-speed for learning, medium speed for practice and fast speed for fighting. Again, the movement was trained slow to start. Once comfortable, the motion was put into combat. This should be similar to golf.

Finding Impact

Use an impact bag to get the feeling of impact and an efficient set-up. If you don’t have an impact bag, a spare car tire, bean bag or something light and soft that can be pushed along the ground can be used.

I like to refer to the impact bag as a “Push bag”. Start by setting up into the bag, lightly pressing the shaft into the bag. You will notice how your trail arm slightly tucks in and as your right shoulder drops below the left with your body leaning forward, an efficient set-up.

To get the feeling of impact swing the club back and down into the bag while maintaining your body shape. Don’t move the bag by hitting it, rather pushing it. Note how you maintain your wrist angles while pushing the bag (not flipping) and the right side of your body moves through impact.

Train your swing with these three training techniques to play better golf.

@KKelley_golf

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Instruction

How posture influences your swing

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S0 what exactly is posture and how can it alter your swing? Posture is often the origin to a player’s swing pattern. I like to look at posture as the form of the body from the front view and down the line position at address.

“Shape” in posture is the angles our body creates at address. This includes the relationship between the upper and lower half of our bodies. This article will examine the importance of this shape from the face on view.

For an efficient posture that creates a simple, powerful, and repeatable swing, I like a player’s shape to be set into what I call their “hitting angles.” Hitting angles are similar to the impact position. In the picture below, note the body angles at address highlighted in green.

Once we are set into these hitting angles, the goal of the backswing is to maintain these angles, coiling around the spine. When these angles are maintained in the backswing, the club can return to impact in a more dynamic form of our set-up position. This creates minimal effort that produces speed and repeatability—essentially doing more with less.

The further we set up away from these hitting angles, our bodies will have to find impact by recovering. This is often where a player’s swing faults can occur. We want our body to react to the target in the golf swing, not recover to strike the ball.

Think of a baseball player or football player throwing a ball. When the athlete is in their throwing position, they can simply make the movement required to throw the ball at their intended target. If their body is contorted or out of position to make the throw, they must re-position their body (more movement) to get back into their throwing position, thus making them less accurate and powerful.

The good news about working on your posture is that it is the easiest part to control in the swing. Posture is a static motion, so our body will respond to 100 percent of what our mind tells it to do. It’s talentless.

Here is a simple routine to get you into these hitting angles.

To start, tuck in your trail arm making it shorter and below the lead arm, which makes your trail shoulder lower than the lead shoulder. This will give you the proper shape of the arms and wrist angles. Pictured right is Ben Hogan.

With these arm angles, bend from the hips to the ball and bump your body slightly forward towards the target getting ‘into yourself’. You may feel pressure on your lead foot, but your upper half will still remain behind the ball. Note the picture below with the blue lines.

Practice this drill using a mirror in front of you, head up looking into the mirror. Research has shown mirror work enhances motor skills and performance. Anytime you have external-focus based feedback, the learning process will escalate.

There are a lot of different postures on the PGA Tour and many ways to get the job done. There are no cookie-cutter swings, and players have different physiology. However, research and history have shown that an efficient posture gives us the best chance for solid contact and our desired ball flight. Work hard on the areas that are easiest to control: the set-up.

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Golf 101: How to chip (AKA “bump and run”)

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Although golf for a beginner can be an intimidating endeavor, and learning how to chip is part of that intimidation, this is one part of the game that if you can nail down the fundamentals, not only can you add some confidence to your experience but also you lay down a basic foundation you can build on.

How to chip

The chip shot, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-golf swing. To the beginner, it may seem like a nothing burger but if you look closely, it’s your first real way to understand contact, launch, spin, compression, and most importantly the fundamentals of impact.

What is a chip shot? A pitch shot?

Chip: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a 3-iron to a lob wedge that launches low, gets on the ground quickly, and rolls along the surface (like a putt) to the desired location.

Pitch: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a PW to a lob wedge that launches low- to mid-trajectory that carries a good portion of the way to your desired location and relies on spin to regulate distance.

Now that we have separated the two, the question is: How do I chip?

Since we are trying to keep this as simple as possible, let’s just do this as a quick checklist and leave it at that. Dealing with different lies, grass types, etc? Not the purpose here. We’re just concerned with how to make the motion and chip a ball on your carpet or at the golf course.

Think “rock the triangle”

  1. Pick a spot you want the ball to land. This is for visualization, direction and like any game you play, billiards, Darts, pin the tail on the donkey, having a target is helpful
  2. For today, use an 8-iron. It’s got just enough loft and bounce to make this endeavor fun.
  3. Grip the club in your palms and into the lifelines of your hands. This will lift the heel of the club of the ground for better contact and will take your wrists out of the shot.
  4. Open your stance
  5. Put most of your weight into your lead leg. 80/20 is a good ratio
  6. Ball is positioned off your right heel
  7. Lean the shaft handle to your left thigh
  8. Rock the shoulders like a putt
  9. ENJOY!

Check out this vid from @jakehuttgolf to give you some visuals.

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