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A painfully simple strategy to break 100 in your next round of golf

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Every golfer wants to break 100 at some point in their golfing career; for some, it unfortunately never happens. The thing is, it’s really not that difficult to accomplish if you have a sound strategy and are willing to tuck your pride away. I know, because this strategy worked for me.

Warning: This  will be painful, and it will be tempting to abort the mission, but it will be worth it when you add up strokes at the end and break 100.

In case you haven’t been following the Starting from Scratch series on GolfWRX, I recently switched from a right-handed golfer to a left-handed golfer (yes, that means putting and chipping, too).

Why did I switch? Back and wrist injuries. Plus I liked the challenge of trying to break 100 — and now the challenge of trying to break 90.

I took my first left-handed swings with left-handed clubs on May 7, and I shot 98 on May 24. While I have the benefit of years of practice and competition under my belt as a righty, the game felt foreign with my first swings from the opposite side. I struggled terribly topping and shanking the ball, and I even whiffed once with a 6 iron!

Despite being a complete novice as a south paw, however, I broke 100 after properly preparing, practicing intelligently, and sticking to a game plan. I firmly believe that nearly anyone — at least anyone who can currently shoot below 120 or so — can break 100 using my strategy in their next round of golf.

I hope this helps get you to that magical number: 99!

Note: If you’re topping, chunking or missing the golf ball entirely on more than 20 percent of your shots, it may be best to devote your time to the range to work out how to get the ball airborne with your irons, or seek help from your local golf pro.

1) Ignore par

This is far and away the most crucial part of my strategy to breaking 100. You’re not trying to make par, you’re simply trying to avoid making big numbers.

For me, that meant trying to have no worse than a bogey putt as your first putt on any hole. We don’t need to hit risky shots to try and get a par or birdie putt, possibly leaving us plugged in a bunker or something far worse. All we need is no worse than starting with a bogey putt on every hole. Assuming we can lag putt decently well for a two putt per hole, we’ll avoid any big numbers throughout the round.

What does this mean? If you’re 200 yards out on a par 4 on your second shot, hit two 100-yard shots. Break the yardage up into two shots, rather than trying to pull off a miracle. Let’s say you’re 165 yards and there’s bunkers all around the green, or a water hazard; why not hit two sand wedges and save yourself from a big number?

Most painfully, why do you need to go for the green on every par 3? Most par 3’s offer a fairway area or somewhere to bail out; take those offerings! If the goal is just to start with no worse than a bogey putt on every hole, then hit pitching wedge off the tee on a 180-yard hole and leave yourself with a half-sand wedge approach. Maybe you’ll even roll in that 15-footer for par, easing some stress on that next double bogey putt.

2) No triple bogeys

No one ever tries to make a triple bogey, I get that. But this is about damage control and limiting mistakes.

Remember, to break 100, you can make 9 double bogeys and 9 bogeys on a par 72 course. Triple bogeys are extremely costly, and will force you to make more bogeys, or even a few pars. We’re trying to keep things realistic here, so it’s easier to avoid those triples than make miraculous pars.

How do you avoid triples after topping one off the tee or shanking it into the trees? Easy. Get it back to the fairway immediately. Don’t try to slice one around the tree or hit a fairway wood out of the rough. Just get the ball back on solid ground using the most reliable club possible.

If things start going south on a hole, just try and make solid contact on the next shot. Nothing special, just get it airborne and back in play.

3) Limit your driver

The best way to avoid extremely costly errors off the tee is to avoid hitting driver altogether, or at least on holes that could give you trouble. For me, my strategy was to use driver only on long holes that were wide open with no risk of hitting it out of bounds or into the woods. I strayed from that plan on one hole, a long par-5, but it was tight off the tee.

The hole is long and the tee shot is difficult anyway, even with an iron, so I might as well try the driver,” I thought. Wrong decision. I topped it off the tee directly behind a tree and ended up making a 9 after compounding errors by airmailing the green on my approach shot.

When in doubt, hit iron off the tee… or the club you decide is most reliable like a hybrid or driving iron.

4) Love your irons

For my “reliable” club off the tee, I chose a 6-iron, which is the longest iron currently in my bag. I have a hybrid also, but I top that club way too often to even be an option off the tee unless it’s a risk-free tee shot.

That being the case, I was basically hitting irons all day long. Short irons, mid irons, longs irons; irons the entire round.

But that’s good, because I knew this was going to be my game plan all along, so I prepared for it. For each practice session leading up to my first round, I hit about 90 percent of the range balls using my irons. I worked simply on taking divots and getting the ball airborne. Draws.. fades.. who cares? I just wanted to learn how to compress the ball and be fairly reliable with an 8 or 9 iron. If you can reduce tops and get the ball airborne on most shots, I believe you can break 100.

4) No fairway? No green? No problem

As long as you’re between the tree line and not playing in U.S. Open rough, I would argue that it makes no difference whether you hit the fairway or not. The key is to get the ball in the fairway on your second shot, and get yourself in position to get the ball on or around the green from there.

Greens in regulation? Worrying about hitting the green and having a birdie putt will only hinder your score. You can break 100 without hitting one green in regulation, and you can shoot over 120 trying to hit every green in regulation.

Remember, the point is to have nothing worse than a bogey putt as your first putt on any hole. The point is NOT to make a bunch of birdies and pars.

5) No risks

If at any point you’re facing a shot where you think it could cost you a stroke if you don’t pull it off, just lay up! Hit the easy shot and save yourself the trouble. Taking any risks could lead to a snowball hole, and all of the sudden you make a 10 or worse. Even if you’re 150 yards from the green out of the rough, just hit the wedge and then worry about the next shot from the fairway.

Hey, I warned you. This strategy is painful, boring, and you must leave your pride at home.

6) Chipping: Ignore the pin, or putt it

Putt everything you possibly can. If there’s 10 yards of fairway ahead of you, but there’s no rough or bunkers to maneuver around, just putt it! Your worst putt is going to be better than chunking or skulling a chip shot attempt.

If you must chip the ball because you’re in the rough, aim at the fattest part of the green possible and just get it on the green. Don’t worry about the flagstick.

To break 100 you do not need to be Seve or Phil, you just need to limit the holes where you hit two, or three, or four chip shots to finally get it on the green. If you’re faced with a chip shot, simply try to get it on the green and limit any damage. Stop worrying about getting it “up-and-down.” We’re trying to break 100, not make the cut at a Tour event.

7) Lag putting

Every putt should be a lag putt. Putting when trying to break 100 is way more about avoiding three and four putts than it is about holing putts. If you have a 10 footer, make sure to worry more about speed than line. You don’t need to try and jam it through the break. Nestle it up to the hole and get yourself an easy tap in; if it goes in then that’s a bonus!

We cannot afford to have 4-5 foot comebackers all day; at some point, we will start to miss those putts and compound errors. Treat every putt as a lag putt.

8) Don’t get frustrated and bail

After making a few triple bogeys in a row, it will be incredibly easy to think “alright I need to make something happen, I need to make a few pars,” and start flailing away at the driver and hitting reckless approach shots.

Don’t do this! Stick to the plan.

Focus on staying within yourself and making solid contact on clubs that you can control. What makes you think that after two triple bogeys you can just starting swinging out of your shoes with a driver and it’s going to work? More likely, you’ll get increasingly frustrated, and probably shoot a much worse score because of it.

Remain disciplined to the plan for the entire 18 holes, and add up the score at the end.

9) Play away from hazards

This should be obvious by now, but if you see white or red stakes, or bunkers, play away from them. Each of these will lead to costly strokes and hits to the confidence.

Unless there are water hazards or bunkers or OB stakes on both sides of the fairway or green, play well away from the danger. Giving up half a stroke is better than losing a full stroke or likely more.

I’m lumping in bunkers to this group because I, for one, cannot get out of a bunker reliably as a lefty. It’s a risk for me to take on any flagstick guarded by a bunker because it’s much too easy for me to leave the ball in the bunker or completely skull it out. Therefore, I avoid bunkers at all costs.

10) Get the proper clubs for your game

This is a preparation strategy rather than an on-the-course strategy, but it’s arguably the most important.

I’ve played my whole life as a right-hander using “players irons” that have thin toplines and lack forgiveness. And I always said I hated the look of game improvement irons. But when switching to lefty, I knew I needed big-faced irons with huge toplines and wide soles. I needed irons that could get the ball in the air and help me on the inevitable mishits. I also needed wedges with huge soles and faces.

We’re trying to break 100, we’re not tour players. We must be realistic with ourselves in order to shoot the number we want. If you want to impress others with your clubs rather than breaking 100, this article was not for you.

Good luck, and here’s to breaking 100!

Listen

If you want to listen to our full podcast about the strategy to break 100, check it out on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Watch

To watch the strategy in action, check out the video below.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Tee-Bone

    Jun 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Or you could just learn how to strike the ball properly, in which case breaking 80, not 100, becomes realistic.

  2. Bob Jones

    Jun 15, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Excellent. Many of these ideas would help someone break 80, too. I especially like #1. If it’s a long way to the green, hit two easy shots instead of a hard one and whatever else. 250 to the green? Easy! 7-iron and pitching wedge.

  3. Dennis Corley

    Jun 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Another pre-round technique that can compliment this article is the following:
    Step One : Re-set “Par” for each hole to “Double Bogey”.
    Step Two : Plan for two-putts per hole
    Step three: Play every hole “in reverse” to plan each hole, starting with 2 putts on the green. For example: 400 yard, Par 4:
    Step 1: Par is now 6
    Step 2: Strokes 5 and 6 are putts.
    Step 3a: Choosing most consistent/accurate club, say PW, “plan” to hit shot 4 from the fairway at the distance you “normally” hit the PW, say 100 yards,
    Step 3b: Subtract the distance you covered in the previous step from the total yardage of 400 and you have 300 yards left to cover. You could hit shots 3,2, and 1 ALL with PW. OR you could choose to use your 150 yard club off the tee on shot 1 which leaves you an extra shot to get to 100 yards out which will come in handy when you miss-hit some of those 150 yard first and second shots.

    You can use this strategy to attack any personal best goals by picking a reasonable stretch goal, assign each hole the appropriate new Par, and play each hole in reverse. It’s very hard to stick to the plan because no one wants to hit short or even mid irons off the tee. But the strategy works well assuming you pick goals within your current skill set.

    Dennis

  4. Nigel Kent

    Jun 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    How long has he been playing the game as a righty ? It looks like any course management skills he had acquired have flown out the window .

  5. Dave r

    Jun 14, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Good article. When I practice a lot my back gets sore ,so I have a left handed club and will practice with that for a few shots just to take relief off my left hip it works wonders for me. I played left handed for the first 5 years of golf never got lower than 32 cap the first year I switched went to 18 and never looked back. Sometimes change is hard just like practice but it does pay off.

  6. Painter33

    Jun 14, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Easiest way to break 100? Quit after the 14th hole. There is only one method – get better, which requires lessons and practice; a simple but demanding answer to the problem.

  7. NC Golfer

    Jun 14, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Pretty cool for someone who can’t break 100. It would eliminate the top and fat shots and slices out of bounds. Of course, many 100+ golfers don’t pitch, chip and putt well. But, I believe with experience those are areas that can be mastered as opposed to figuring out the full swing. It was nice to see the visual on this.

  8. Dave

    Jun 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    How does switching to Lefty get you under 100?

  9. Paul

    Jun 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Good strategies.
    My first time breaking 90 strategy was similiar. Aim for 100 yard markers. All my lowest scores since then have come from aiming at 100 yard markers, and knowing how to hit it 90-120 for the approach shot. Never had so many short first putts.

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Opinion & Analysis

The 21 best golf podcasts you should be listening to in 2018

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What’s the best golf podcast? Debating that may be as fruitless as the Jack vs. Tiger debate, because there are a bunch of darn good ones out there right now. You don’t have to be an astute observer of the media space to know podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. Indeed, it seems like everyone has a podcast these days, including your grandmother’s Scrabble enthusiast pod.

Returning to the original question: this is a subjective list that isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If there’s a podcast you enjoy that finds itself outside the ropes, feel free to mention it in the comments.

So grab your earbuds, Beats by Dre, or wireless headphones if you’re really cool, and take a look at some notable podcasts by category.

GolfWRX Radio

Obviously, I’m strongly biased towards the GolfWRX’s podular offerings, and since this is, you know, GolfWRX, we’ll start with our pods.

19th Hole: Michael Williams talks to luminaries of the game and interesting folks alike in his pod. Heck, Michael’s first guest was Bob Vokey! Williams is well-wired and well-traveled, and oh, he has by far the best radio voice of anyone on this list, so he’s got that going for him. Other guests include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Scott Van Pelt, Rees Jones and many other legends.

Gear Dive: I’ll avoid any play on his last name, but Johnny Wunder’s Gear Dive is an inquisitive look into, well, golf gear. Wunder has spoken with everyone from Charles Howell III, to Fred Couples, to the boys at Artisan Golf. If you love golf equipment, or consider yourself a gearhead, this is the podcast is a must.

Two Guys Talking Golf: Editor Andrew Tursky and resident equipment expert Brian Knudson are the golf buddies you wish you had. The pair discuss equipment, club building, happenings on the PGA Tour, and an abundance of random golf-related and tangentially golf-related topics. Most recently, TG2 answered 30+ AMA-style questions from the @tg2wrx Instagram page, and they’ve had guests on such as Billy Horschel, Ping’s Marty Jertson, Scotty Cameron, Bob Vokey, Aaron Dill, GolfWRX Forum members and many others.

Unlocking Your Golfing Potential: This instructional podcast series hosted by coach Will Robins teaches golfers how to improve their games without improving their technique. If you want to lower your scores, and change your outlook on the game of golf in general, I highly recommend this podcast.

Listen to all the GolfWRX podcasts on SoundCloud or iTunes.

DFS golf podcasts

Golf is one of the fastest growing and most popular DFS sports. Accordingly, every DFS site in the world and most major outlets have a fantasy-related podcast. These three are among the longest running and finest in the space, although Matthew Wiley of Golflandia deserves a special nod for his spectacular rambling ridiculousness and high entertainment value.

Pat Mayo: Mayo is an OG of the fantasy sports podcasting game in general and fantasy golf pods in particular. And honesty, he must have cloned himself sometime in the past because his output absolutely mind-boggling. Plus, he’s one of the few podcasts on this list that records video, so if you’re looking for a pod with a visual component, Mayo is your man. Listen here.

Fantasy Golf Degenerates: Brad and Kenny go together like, well, Brad and Kenny. These two have been grinding out a weekly fantasy golf podcast since PGA DFS was in diapers a few years back. Brad is the ownership god and Kenny’s course previews are second to none. Well worth a pre-tournament listen every week. Best enjoyed with Crown Royal. Listen here.

Tour Junkies: PGA DFS podcasting’s other dynamic duo, David and Pat, have similarly been ‘casting since the early days of the…hobby? Come for the weekly entertainment, but stay for their inside knowledge of Augusta National (where David was a caddie). The pair have branched out into interviews–Kevin Kisner, Bob Parsons, John Peterson–which are well worth checking out too. Listen here.

Now, let’s take a look at some of what the the PGA Tours and Golf Channels of the world have under their umbrellas, as well as the rest of the colorful bouquet of golf golf-related podcasts that focus on everything from the intersection of golf and science to the intersection of Barstool Sports and golf.

From longstanding outlets

Talk of the Tour: While Mark Immelman’s “On the Mark” is good, on “Talk of the Tour” John Swantek “visits with a variety of players, writers, broadcasters, industry leaders and insiders from throughout the world of golf,” as the official description indicates. Given the Tour’s access and reach, the results don’t disappoint. Listen here.

Golf Channel Podcast: Is the title creative? No it is not. Is the podcast good? Yes it is. Not only does the whole range of on-air GC talent appear on occasion–Brandel Chamblee’s recent appearance was excellent, as was Tiger Tracker’s. Listen here.

Golf Digest Podcast: The folks at GD get top-notch (to quote Judge Smails) guests and turn out quality takes from a strong team of writers. Listen here.

European Tour’s Race to Dubai: Yes, turning the season-long points race into the title of a podcast is odd, but Robert Lee’s (not the Civil War general) podcast “features exclusive interviews with star names, incisive analysis of the latest action, all the key news and a light-hearted look at life on tour,” per the description. Listen here.

Matty & The Caddie: ESPN’s Matt Barrie and former comedian/current ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins join forces to interview both athletes and celebrities, inside and outside the ropes. Lately, the list of big name guests includes Golden Tate, Nick Faldo, Chris Webber, Joe Theismann, Alfonso Ribiero, Brian Urlacher, Joe Carter, George Lopez, Jack Nicklaus and more. Listen here.

Other ‘casts

No Laying Up: From Twitterers with day jobs to an upstart media outlet, NLU’s podcast was the tool that led to the merch, the features, and Soly, Tron and company’s other efforts. If you’re unfamiliar, start with the most recent episode (Justin Thomas) and work your way backward. You won’t regret it.

The Fried Egg Golf: Andy Johnson has become a force and a voice in the world of golf media in a very short period of time. While he and his guests do good work in discussing the pro game, Andy’s forte is golf course architecture, and he cooks up architecture discussions better than anyone in the podcast universe right now. Listen here.

Fore Play: Honestly, the iTunes description for Barstool’s golf pod is pretty good: “Trent, Riggs and their wide variety of guests talk about everything golf like normal folks sitting at a bar watching coverage, venting about the game’s difficulties, and weighing in on pro gossip. Your classic golf addicts, the “Fore Play” crew brings a young, unique voice to the rapidly-evolving game, discussing freely and openly everything golf.” Pretty much sums it up. Listen here (warning: explicit).

The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon: Mr. Salt-Cured Pork has had something of a come up, hasn’t he? The Fox hosting duties and more are well earned, as Bacon is a strong voice, and his network affiliation ensures a quality roster of guests. Listen here.

ShackHouse: Geoff Shackelford joins forces with “podcast personality” per the iTunes description, Joe House to “break down the biggest golf stories, interview some of the biggest personalities in the game.” Really, this show is all about Shack’s singular perspective. Listen here.

Feherty: I mean, what can you say? If you like David Feherty and his show, you’ll love his podcast (I do), because it is essentially his show. And if you don’t, you won’t. Listen here.

The Erik Lang Show: Ah, the singular Mr. Lang, who, doing things his own way, wrote his show description in the first person: “Hi! I’m Erik Anders Lang. I’ve worn a bunch of hats in this life from waiting tables, photography, doc filmmaking, hosting Adventures In Golf (PGA TOUR / Skratch TV) and now – a PODCAST! The Erik Lang Show is me pontificating on life, golf and travel.” Listen here.

Callaway ShipShow: Far from a content marketing gimmick, Callaway’s content marketing is, well, really good content. Harry Arnett’s “ShipShow” is kind of like the younger, goofier brother of “Callaway Live.” Billed as discussion about “compelling people, culture, narratives, and current events in golf,” the ShipShow is always a swashbuckling good time. Listen here.

Golf Science Lab: Cordie Walker pulls back the curtain and cuts through the hooey of the “mythology” of golf instruction and the game in general. He says he’s “making a difference in the way golf is taught, learned, and practiced,” and honestly, he’s not wrong. If you’re an instruction and improvement enthusiast, this is your ‘cast. Listen here.

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Opinion & Analysis

Do you know how to drop in 2019? Are you sure?

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Starting January 1, 2019, golfers will have to get used to the new Rules of Golf. Many changes were made to create the new rules, but one of the most important changes without any doubt are the dropping rules. You might say: “Come on, it’s easy! We just have to drop from knee height, right?” Well, it’s not that simple. There are quite a few other things you need to know, which I will clarify below.

Q1. What is “knee height” exactly?

“Knee height” means the height from the ground to your knee when in a standing position. 

Q2. So I cannot just kneel and thereby place the ball instead of dropping?

Good thinking… but no 🙂

Q3. What part of the knee do I have to drop from?

It’s not (at the moment) clarified which part of the knee is “the knee,” but there cannot be any doubt that you can drop from the whole knee.

—-o0o—-

FACTS: “CORRECT WAY TO DROP”

The 2019 Rules of Golf state that you are dropping the ball correctly if all these requirements are fulfilled:

  1. The player himself must drop the ball
  2. It must be dropped from knee height
  3. The player must not give it any spin, etc.
  4. Before the ball hits the ground, it must not touch any part of the player or the player’s equipment (e.g. his bag)
  5. It must be dropped in the relief area (the relief area is defined in the rule you are taking relief under), i.e. it must first touch the ground inside the relief area when dropped.

If just one of these requirements is not fulfilled, you are not considered to have dropped in a correct way. You must re-drop until you have dropped in a correct way (without any limit as to the number of re-drops).

If you play a ball not dropped in a correct way, you incur a one-stroke penalty — unless you played from outside the relief area, in which case you incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or lost hole in match play (see FACTS 2).

—-o0o—-

Q4. What is the penalty for not dropping from knee height?

You can and should correct your error before playing the ball. If you re-drop in a correct way, correcting your error, there is no penalty. If you don’t and make a stroke at the ball, you incur a one-stroke penalty (since you did not drop in a correct way). See “FACTS 1”.

Q5. What if I drop almost from knee height.

Well, as a starting point you have to drop from knee height. If you dont’t, you will have to correct your error by re-dropping correctly (see “FACTS 1″). 

There is a “I-did-my-best-so-please-don’t-penalize-me-rule” saying that when finding a “location,” you are not penalized for finding a wrong location if you made a reasonable judgment. It is for now not certain if this rule also encompasses a situation in which you don’t drop exactly from knee height simply because you cannot see that spot with certainty when looking down.

On one hand, you could argue that this interpretation would be in accordance with the spirit of this rule (don’t penalize a player doing his best). On the other hand, it seems that the knee cannot be that hard to find (!) and that a “location” probably must be interpreted as “a location on the golf course.” My conclusion would be that there is no excuse for not to being able to drop exactly from knee height, and thus this rule did not apply in this situation.

There is also a “naked-eye rule” saying that if the fact (here: the ball was not dropped from knee height) could not reasonable have been seen with the naked eye, the player is not penalized even though video evidence shows something different (i.e. that it in fact was not dropped exactly from knee height). In my opinion, this naked-eye rules is not applicable here, since a player will be said to be able to find the knee with a reasonable effort. 

So… in my opinion there is no excuse not to drop from knee height!

—-o0o—-

FACTS 2: RELIEF AREA.

A relief area is the area in which you have to drop (see “FACTS 1”) and in which your ball must end after a drop. 

Example: If you deem your ball in the rough unplayable, you can for example choose with a one-stroke penalty to drop a ball within two club lengths from — and not nearer the hole than — the spot where the ball lay. This area is called the “relief area.”

If your ball ends outside the relief area in your drop, your required action depends on whether or not you dropped in a correct way (see “FACTS 1”). 

  1. If you did not drop in a correct way: You must re-drop again (without penalty) without any limitations as to the number of re-drops until you have dropped in a correct way. 
  2. If you did drop in a correct way: The player must re-drop (in a correct way!) a ball one time (without penalty). If the ball still ends outside the relief area, the player must then (without penalty) place a ball on the spot where the dropped ball first touched the ground in the re-drop. If he player does that, no penalty is incurred. If he does not but plays a ball from outside the relief area, he plays from a wrong place thereby incurring a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or a loss of hole in match play.

—-o0o—-

Q7. Who should drop the ball?

Only the player can drop the ball. Not the caddie, not other players, not anyone else! See “FACTS 1”.

Q8. What is the penalty if your ball strikes your bag or yourself in the drop?

The answer depends on when it happens (i.e. when it strikes you or your equipment):

  1. If it happens before the ball strikes the ground: There is no penalty presupposing that you re-drop before you play the ball. You have to re-drop no matter how many drops it takes for you not to strike your bag or yourself. If you don’t re-drop and play the ball, you incur a one-stroke penalty.
  2. If it happens after the ball has struck the ground: There is no penalty, and you shall not re-drop.

Q9. Where must I drop?

You must drop in the “relief area,” which is defined in the rule you are dropping under. If you declare your ball unplayable, for example, then one of the options is to drop within two club length – not nearer the hole – than where the ball lay. This area is the “relief area” in which:

  1. Your ball must land in the drop (see “FACTS 1”) and
  2. Must end (See “FACTS 2”)

Q10. What if I drop from shoulder height?

That probably will happen quite a few times in the beginning of 2019. In this case, you are not dropping in a correct way, and you must re-drop without penalty before you make the stroke. See “FACTS 1.”

Q11. When do I have to re-drop?

The re-dropping rules are simplified. Under the current rules, there are a lot of situations where you are required to re-drop, e.g. when the ball rolls closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief, when the ball rolls into a bunker (and stays there), when the ball rolls more than two club lengths from where it first struck the course, etc. These rules are quite difficult.

In 2019, it gets easier. You have to drop in a “relief area,” and the balls needs to end it that area. If you drop outside this area or if the ball rolls and stays outside this area, you are required to re-drop. See “FACTS 1” and “FACTS 2.”

Q12. Do I have to re-drop (as it is today) if the ball rolls more than two club lengths away from the spot that the ball first struck the course in the drop?

First of all, in 2019 there is not such a “two-club-length rule.” The re-dropping rules are explained in “FACTS 1” and in “FACTS 2” above. 

  • If you take relief (e.g. from a path) and must drop within one club length (of the nearest point of point of complete relief), you will always have to re-drop if it rolls more than 2 club lengths (since the relief area is exactly two club-lengths long measured from the two points farthest from each other). 
  • If you drop after a rule requiring you to drop within two club lengths, sometimes you must re-drop if the ball rolls more than two club lenths and sometimes not. The only thing that matters is that the ball must be dropped in the relief area (see “FACTS 1”) and must end in the relief area (see “FACTS 2”). Otherwise, it must be re-dropped.

Q13. I have a bad back and therefore I cannot take my arm down far enough to be able to drop from knee height. What do I do?

I don’t know. My guess would be this: A player who cannot drop from knee-height due to back-problems most likely cannot play golf at all. In other words, a player able to play golf will almost always be able to drop the ball from knee height.

In the extremely rare situations where a player cannot drop from knee height but can play a round of golf, there is a “do-what-is-fair-rule” stating that in situations not covered by the Rules of Golf, you should do what is fair. Maybe that would lead to the conclusion that it was OK for a player to drop from a place higher than knee height (e.g. just from the position the arm is when it is stretched and relaxed alongside the leg).

Q14. Is a taller player going to drop the ball from a higher place than a lower player?

Yes!

Q15. Isn’t that unreasonable?!

Well, that’s for you to decide 🙂 Who said that the 2019-Rules of Golf where easy to understand?

Rules Mentioned in Article

  • 14-3: Dropping the ball
  • 20-2c: “Naked-eye-rule”
  • 1.3b(2): “Reasonable-judgment-rule”
  • 20.3: “Do-what-is-fair-rule (when the situation is not covered by the rules).
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Opinion & Analysis

How to qualify for the U.S. Amateur (in-depth statistical analysis and tutorial)

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This is a follow-up of sorts to an article that I published on GolfWRX in May 2017: A Modern Blueprint to Breaking 80.  

With the U.S. Amateur concluding at iconic Pebble Beach last weekend, I thought of the many amateurs out there who would love to one day qualify for this prestigious event. Personally, I made it to the State Amateur level, but work and life got in the way and I never made it to the next step. For those who aspire or wonder, here’s an outline of what your game should look like if you want to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

Scoring

To start with, your USGA Index needs to be 2.4 or lower to even attempt to qualify. If your course is rated 71.5/130*, the best 10 of your most recent 20 scores should average 74.3. This score will adjust slightly up if your course is rated more difficult, and slightly down if it’s rated less difficult. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming the average course and slope rating above.

*Note: 71.5/130 is the average rating of courses played by single digit handicap golfers in the ShotByShot.com database of 340,000 rounds.

Your average scores by par type will be:

  • Par 3:  3.21
  • Par 4:  4.20
  • Par 5:  4.86

The Fastest and Easiest Way to Lower Your Scores

Every round is a mix of good shots, average shots and bad shots/errors. The challenge is to determine which piece of your game’s unique puzzle is your greatest weakness in order to target your improvement efforts on the highest impact area. If you track the simple good and bad outcomes listed below for a few rounds, your strengths and weaknesses will become apparent.

Tee Game or Driving 

Goals: Hit EIGHT fairways and limit your driving errors to ONE, with the majority being the less costly “No Shot errors” (more on this later).

Distance: I will ignore this and assume you’re maximizing distance as best you can without sacrificing accuracy.

Fairways: Hitting fairways is crucial, as we are all statistically significantly more accurate from the short grass.

Errors: Far more important than Fairways Hit, however, is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of misses. To help golfers understand the weaknesses in their game, my golf analysis program allows users to record and categorize the THREE types of Driving Errors: 

  1. No Shot: You have missed in a place from which you do not have a normal next shot and require some sort of advancement to get the ball back to normal play.
  2. Penalty: A 1-stroke penalty due to hazard or unplayable lie.
  3. Lost/OB: Stroke and distance penalty. 

Approach Shots 

Goals:  ELEVEN GIRs and ONE penalty/2nd             

Penalty/2nd:  This means either a penalty or a shot hit so poorly that you are left with yet another full approach shot from greater than 50 yards of the hole.

The chart below displays the typical array of Approach Shot opportunities from the fairway (75 percent fall in the 100 to 200-yard range). The 150 to 175-yard range tends to be the most frequent distance for golfers playing the appropriate distance golf course for their game.

Short Game (defined as shots from within 50 yards of the hole)

Chip/Pitch: If you miss 7 greens, you will have 6 green-side save opportunities. Your goals should be:

  • Percentage of shots to within 5 feet: 40 percent
  • Percentage of Saves: 47 percent (3)
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green):  6 percent, or approximately 1 in 17 attempts.

Sand: You should have 1 of these green-side save opportunities. Your goals: 

  • Percentage of shots to within 8 feet: 35 percent
  • Percentage Saves: 32 percent
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green): 13 percent, or approximately 1 in 8 attempts.

Putting: You need just over 31 putts.  Aim for:

  • 1-Putts: 6
  • 3-Putts: 1

The chart below displays the percentage of 1-Putts you will need to make by distance, as well as the typical array of first-putt opportunities by distance. Note that 62 percent of your first-putt opportunities will fall in the 4 to 20-foot range. Adjust your practice efforts accordingly!

Good luck, and please let me know if and when you are successful.

For a complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to ShotByShot.com and sign up for a 1-round free trial.

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