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Game of the Weekend: “Eighteen”

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Studies consistently have shown the importance of random practice and how such practice is more transferable to the golf course. While you may be working to improve your ball control during practice, don’t forget to shift gears and spend just as much or more time preparing for all situations (physical, mental and emotional) that the game throws your way. Have purpose when you practice; better preparation leads to better play.

This Game of the Weekend, called “Eighteen,” is a full-swing game aimed at helping you hit more greens in regulation. It’s a game that forces you to change clubs for every shot you hit and where you’ll also score the results so that you can improve upon those results during a second trial of the game.

Game of the Weekend: EIGHTEEN

  • Gear needed: Bring ‘em all!
  • Time needed: You’re going to hit 18 full swing shots so depending on the length of your routine it might take 15-25 minutes.

Rules

Golf is easy when you hit a lot of greens and this game measures exactly that — greens in regulation. For this game, pretend that you’ve hit every fairway in regulation giving you 18 perfect chances to hit the green.

Using the following clubs, and in the exact order listed below, hit 18 shots to various targets and add up the number of shots out of 18 that would have landed on an average-size green. I realize that with certain clubs, depending on your ability level, that your target may be smaller. Feel free to alter what is acceptable to you as well as any of the clubs listed below. If you don’t have targets on your range that are exactly the yardage you’ll need to match the clubs, simply aim over or short of something on your range. Be sure to judge the wind, go through your routine, commit and you can even chart your scores at the interactive practice website www.golfscrimmages.com.

  1. 8-iron
  2. 6-iron
  3. Sand Wedge
  4. 5-iron/Hybrid
  5. 9-iron
  6. 7-iron
  7. Pitching Wedge
  8. 4-iron/Hybrid
  9. 8-iron
  10. 6-iron
  11. Sand Wedge
  12. 5-iron/Hybrid
  13. 9-iron
  14. 7-iron
  15. Pitching Wedge
  16. 4-iron/Hybrid
  17. 8-iron
  18. 6-iron

Benefits

Here’s what this game helps you with:

  • Anytime you alter the target and club for every shot you hit, your practice sessions have more learning, retention and transferability than when you pound away using the same club over and over.
  • You’ll be engaging your mind and decision-making skills much more with a game like this than when you just fire away mindlessly.

Practice needs to be as difficult as, or more challenging than what you experience on the course!

Previous Games of the Weekend

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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

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. rymail00

    Oct 11, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Ooffa,

    I think you may of missed the main point of this article or every other article he or others may have written. It’s about practicing with a purpose. There suggestions/games to keep your practice fun and to get the most out your probably limited time to actually practice. These drills might seem basic to someone who does get improvement from their practice.

    Personally I find the range and putting green/short game area just as much as much fun as actually playing. So these drills are nice change from the normal practice routine I do have which is the same every time.

  2. Phillip Tshabalala

    Oct 11, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Hi. Tried it yesterday and missed only 3 times, game changer! It helped me to focus on every shot and repeat my setup and take away regardless of club selection. Looking forward to today’s round.

    • Trent Wearner

      Oct 12, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Philip – thanks for the comment. Glad to hear it’s making a difference in your practice. Keep it up and it’ll continue to pay off!

  3. ooffa

    Oct 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    OMG. Pick different targets and aim at them. Thanks for the advice. Brilliant.
    (Face Palm)

  4. rymail00

    Oct 10, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Always like when these games pop up on the main page.

  5. DC

    Oct 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I fully agree that targeted and challenging practicing accelerates improvement. Thank you! I enjoy your posts.

  6. Christestrogen

    Oct 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    No 3W….?
    Cool drill and will try it

    • Trent Wearner

      Oct 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Christestrogen – thanks for the reply. You can certain toss in one of your fairway woods if you’d like. You can and should alter the game based around the clubs that you use most often on approach shots. Thanks again and have a great fall!

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Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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Is There An Ideal Backswing?

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In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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Build A More Consistent Short Game Through Better Body Movement

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So far in my collection of articles on GolfWRX, I’ve talked at length about the importance of posture, stability and movement patterns in the full swing, particularly utilizing the GravityFit equipment for feedback and training load. Many coaches use the same equipment to teach better movement in the putting, chipping, and pitching actions.

To help give some more insight into exactly how they do this, I have recruited Matt Ballard to co-author this article. Matt is an Australian-based coach and short game specialist who has been working with Adam Scott for the past year.

Matt Ballard (right) with Adam Scott.

According to Matt, the short game issue that the club players he coaches struggle with is contact and delivering consistent loft with their wedges.

“Most people tend to get steep, the handle comes in first and not enough loft is delivered,” he says. “This means that the bounce of the wedge isn’t being used properly, which makes control of contact, trajectory, and distance very difficult. ”

As Matt explains in the video below, this problem tends to manifest itself in chips and pitches that are either fat or thin, fly to short or not far enough, and either check up too soon or go rolling on past the pin.

The really frustrating part is the inconsistency. Not knowing how the ball is going to react makes committing to a shot extremely difficult. This has the unnerving effect of turning a simple task into something difficult… and pars into bogeys or worse. For the past few months, Matt has been using the GravityFit TPro to teach correct set up posture and body movement for chipping and pitching.

“I use the TPro to first of all establish spine and shoulder position,” Matt says. “I like my students to have the feel of their shoulders and forearms being externally rotated (turned out). From this position, it’s much easier to control the clubface (i.e. not getting it too shut or too open). The second benefit of using the TPro is controlling the golf club radius during the swing, with the radius being the distance the club head is from the center of the body. Controlling the radius is paramount to becoming an excellent wedge player. The third reason I use it is to help teach that pure rotation from the thoracic spine (mid/upper back), minimizing the excessive right side bend (for a right handed player) that gets so many people into trouble.”

20170712-_MG_5867

Nick demonstrating how TPro drills can be performed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially, Matt uses the GravityFit TPro to train a simple movement pattern that, once mastered, all but eliminate the typical problems normally associated with chipping and pitching.

“When (golfers) learn to turn using their thoracic spine and keep their arms in front of their body, it has a dramatic effect on how they deliver the club to the ball,” Matt says. “They are now able to maintain width or radius on either side of the ball, shallow out the club, and engage the bounce (sole) of the wedge to interact with the turf effectively, which is a key trait of all excellent wedge players. Doing this greatly increases their margin for error from a strike perspective and produces a far more consistent outcome in terms of loft, trajectory and distance control.”

Here is Matt’s 5-step process that you can follow with the TPro:

  1. Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow.
  2. Stretch tall. Feel the green spikes in your middle/upper back and your shoulder blades on the paddles.
  3. Hinge forward into posture for pitching or chipping (the shorter the shot, narrower the stance.).
  4. Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
  5. Turn through to finish position using normal tempo, maintaining same pressure on the TPro and keeping arms in front of your body.

In summary, using the TPro and Matt’s drill can help you train a simple movement pattern that can give you far more control over the strike, trajectory and distance of your chips and pitches.

Click here to learn more about the TPro. To discover more pearls of wisdom from Matt, take a look at his website here and his social media activity here.

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