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Opinion & Analysis

The art of the post-work round

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For most of us, golf is not a job. Maybe we wish it was, or dream it was, but for many of us golf will never pay the bills. This is unfortunate of course because bills need to be paid, kids need to go to school, food needs to be put on the table.

For most, the sport represents an outlet from all of that, or maybe just a way to spend time with your friends, or maybe a way to fit some competition into your life which has become difficult as you get older (you try joining a rec basketball league and avoid getting stabbed over a no-foul call). Or it’s possible golf is for you, as it is for many, simply an obsession. And that means you need to fit in as much golf as humanly possible, which of course leads us to the art of the post work round.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. You have responsibilities at home, clingy friends and coworkers who want to drink beer with you after work. The there’s traffic to fight, and of course the sun slowly rotating away and taking away precious daylight with it (stupid solar system!). So fitting in a genuine post work round can be difficult, but take it from someone pretty good at it — it’s far from impossible. Just follow a few easy guidelines.

**** note 1: this applies mostly to people who live in areas that have defined golf seasons, like the northeast, where you have a limited number of days where you can actually play golf, hence the need to fit in as much as possible. If you live in an area where you can play year round golf, please refer to note 2:

**** note 2: I hate you

OK, so where were we? Ah yes, the guidelines:

Pick an active partner

Golf partner? Ummm, no. Pick an active life partner. In fact, pick a partner in general, because if you don’t you probably ARE going to spend most of your post work time drinking beer with coworkers at popular establishments. Great for meeting women, bad for your golf game. But that’s another article. Having a wife or girlfriend with her own agenda is a great thing. They tend to do things like bikram yoga (no idea what that is) or have dinners at vegan restaurants (ditto) or go with their friends to see movies starring guys named Ryan, be it Gosling or Reynolds (sidenote, if you are going to get dragged to this Gosling is much better. Have you seen “Drive” or “The Ides of March”? Quality flicks, but I digress). Anyway, the point is this: If you want to play golf after work, you need a free night to do this on. There are only so many passes you can get from the missus, so pick one who is active too. Just ummm, don’t play golf with her. Because….

Night rounds work better solo

You’ve got maybe two and a half hours to sneak in a round after work. You know what makes that difficult? Playing partners. They gab, they lose balls, they line up putts, they are witnesses to what you shot so you can’t post a 72 even if you shot a … wait, forget I said that last thing. Anyway, you have to be on a mission to get this done, and a dilly dallying friend isn’t the way to do it. The courses are mostly empty at this hour anyway, and I don’t know about you but after a long day at work there is something peaceful about a solo round at sunset. There’s plenty of time for camaraderie on the weekend.

Plan ahead 

Every minute counts, so planning is essential. This encompasses everything about the round including travel. Know alternate routes to the course if there is traffic — there are always back roads that are less used during rush hour. Keep your golf bag on you rather then leaving it at the course. There’s nothing worse then seeing that foursome go out in front of you while your waiting at the bag drop for your gear. Keep a spare set of spikes in the trunk so you don’t need to go to your locker. Wear a pair of pants to work that you can wear on the course after (unless your work requires a full blown suit and tie, this should be possible) because it takes only a few seconds to change a shirt, but pants are more difficult. Also, nothing worse then people walking by your car while you are inside not wearing pants, because getting a round in isn’t worth a public lewdness conviction. If you plan this right you can park your car and be on the first tee in minutes.

Know your courses layout

We all know the feeling, you are rolling along through 5 or 6 holes and then, of course, the late night group of foursomes. Look, I’ve got nothing against late night foursomes, they have a right to play the course just like you do. They do seem very intent on finishing the round EXACTLY at sundown though, ensuring that no group behind them can finish theirs. Playing through will do you no good as you’ll just run into a couple more groups, and in one of those groups there is bound to be the stickler that simply will not allow anyone to play through and believes singles have no business on a golf course. Not here to debate that, only to point out that you are better off knowing where you can cut through and skip a few holes.

Getting back to seeing an open course while also not impeding their play: Every course winds and turns in some way that there are good cutoff points, alleyways and drainage pipes that you can crawl through like Andy Dufresne and woods that you can backpack through to find either the eighth tee box or possibly the Blair Witch. Simply, know your course and know where you can cut some corners. Playing 15 holes is a lot better then playing 9 holes.

Play ready golf (and ummm, you should always be ready)

This starts on the first tee, which apart from your girlfriend telling you she feels sick in the morning is the most stressful moment in your life. Nothing worse then getting ready to tee off on the first tee, maybe getting in a quick stretch and a few practice swings, and then seeing Slow-Play Mcgee walking up to the first tee. You pretend you don’t see him, you realize it’s time to get your butt in gear and get ready to tee off, only to hear:

“Hey! want to play together?”

Your heart sinks faster then it did when your girlfriend told you it was a Ryan Gosling movie and it turned out to be a Reynolds one. Getting off the first tee requires almost ninja like talent. You need to get from your car to the tee box without being spotted. Wait for the opportune moment, or simply stuff your golf bag with flash or smoke grenades. If you choose the latter, you might freak out some people, but hey at least they won’t ask you to play with them. So there’s that.

Getting off the first tee is important because at that point you are on your own and you can play fast. If you want to get in a full round I suggest taking minimal practice swings and not going all spider-man on every putt. You’ll probably notice that this won’t even affect your scores that much, and even if it does, who cares! No one is watching!

You totally made that putt on No. 7 right? Yup. And that ball wasn’t in the water on No. 12. It was like, pretty much on the fairway in a good lie. How did it end up there? Lucky bounce I suppose! Oh well that is golf, try and tell me that that isn’t golf.

Be a post-9 detective

An underrated part of maximizing your ability to play night golf? When you finish 9 holes, where do you go? Did people tee off after you? Are people ahead of you? Better size up the situation bub, because time’s a wasting big guy. It’s always nice to play a variety of holes so my philosophy is always to continue playing the course in order if you haven’t seen too many people out there. But if you’ve always seen that group in the distance, it may be worth it to head back to the first tee. If it’s about  7 or 8 p.m. by now, chances are people haven’t teed off on the first in a while.  More unimpeded golf is in your future.

You know how to get to Carnegie Hall don’t you? Practice, Practice, Practice

Sometimes things just don’t work out for you. The course is packed, there was traffic and you are waiting on every tee box. Sometimes it’s just best to throw in the towel and realize you are not going to get a full 18 holes in. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t get something out of this, and once you’ve realized that 18 is out of the question, suddenly being on the back of the bus is pretty key. In fact now it’s actually better to be the last group on the course and might even be worth letting that twosome behind you play through. That way while you are waiting there is a huge practice facility at your disposal: bunkers, greens, actual rough to chip out of, etc. Don’t go to 100 yds and start taking divots you fool! But practicing around the green doesn’t hurt the course and gives you the chance to work on your short game. Then when you get home at least you can feel like you accomplished something.

Lastly, don’t quit your day job

I understand you’d rather be playing golf then working. But you know what isn’t great? Having all day every day to play golf because you don’t have a job. Always remember to respect the workplace, don’t duck out early unless you have very understanding coworkers and you are going to make up the time, or at least have all your work done. Pick days to play where you don’t have meetings or assignments due. Don’t let golf affect your day job, because when it’s all said and done, you gotta remember what is important. And of course, if you have any option what-so-ever, try and work for a boss who is also a golfer. We call that the jackpot.

Now that you know this, go out and play 90 rounds this year my friends! See you at the course. Actually, you won’t see me. Because I am a ninja.

Click here for more discussion in the “Golf Talk” forum. 

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. blopar

    Dec 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I belong to a private club in Cleveland, OH. Best nite to play after work: Monday. Course is closed, maintenance, private outings and caddie golf pretty much over well before 5-6 PM——and then the course is yours!!

    And really, 2 or even 3 guys walking, playing ready golf, can get around almost as fast as one.

    When I play alone: white ball vs.yellow ball compete for the current US Open title!

  2. Courtoni20

    Dec 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Freaking hilarious, very entertaining article!

  3. Will

    Dec 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Great article and I fall under note #2. Such is life but wanted to say that I enjoyed the article and the fact that you bring up the point about using the course as the practice grounds. We have a Troon course with 3 nines right across the street from work and some days it is packed. For those, I drop a couple of balls, play them both, and take the lower score. It keeps it both fun and challenging. Ryan Reynolds was pretty good in The Proposal and Van Wilder.

  4. luke keefner

    Dec 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I have about given up on golf after work, golf leagues are populated with some of the worst golfslugs I have ever witnessed. I live in upstate NY so I lose about 3 months to old man winter. I actually enjoy playing in crappy weather because the courses are much less crowded. I much prefer getting to the course by 6am in the summer and getting in 9 holes in an hour and 15 minutes, then going to work. Evenings on weekends are a good bet too. You can get in some great on course practice at that time because there is rarely anyone behind you.

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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