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Worst ball or best ball – which game would you prefer to play?

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A little while back, during a team practice we had players draw from a hat to play either worst ball or best ball. Out of our seven team members at practice that day, five drew best ball and two worst ball. As you can expect, the two who drew worst ball had a look of disappointment on their faces while the five who drew best ball were walking to the tee with high confidence.

The reactions that I saw as a coach got my wheels turning. One of the phrases that we all utter as golfers is, “I want to be more consistent.” If this is truly the case, then selecting worst ball really should have limited effect on our attitude as we walk to the first tee. I spoke with the team about this thought. Think of it this way: if we are consistent, then we should be able to hit two consecutive shots pretty close to one another, regardless of which game was drawn.

The big difference that I saw, and what played into the players’ ability to hit shots close together, was their attitude and body language as they walked to the first tee. I’ll contrast two players for a hole of play.

Our best ball player walked up to the first tee head high and a pep in her step. With her first shot, she selected her usual 3-wood off the tee, struck it well and found herself down the left hand side of the fairway. For her second shot, she went back to the bag and pulled the driver, swung away and found herself almost dead center and about 120 yards left. Swinging away, for her approach shot her first one came up about 15 feet short right of a back center pin – a birdie attempt any one would have paid her for! Her second approach landed softly and came to rest about five feet pin high to the left of the flag. She calmly rolled in her first attempt for birdie.

Our worst ball player, as mentioned before, had disappointment across her face with the perceived challenge of having to play her worst ball. She stood up with driver in hand, swung away and found the middle of the fairway. Her next one was blocked out to the left (she’s a lefty) and found the trees. Both her recovery shots found the fairway, about five yards apart. Her first approach safely found the middle of the green while her second ended up in the left greenside bunker. Both her bunker attempts made it out and stopped about 15 feet away from the flag. Her lag putts were a little different from each other, one nestled up close to the hole and the other raced past by about four feet. She calmly rolled both four-footers into the cup.

If you pay careful attention to the details of where the balls ended up, for the most part, both played consistently. This thought pattern of “consistent” is different than performing or scoring well. The two shots that were costly for the worst ball player stemmed from her attitude about playing worst ball — this was discovered after play with some reflection. Having your attention on the right intention and a beneficial mindset, playing best ball or worst ball should look similar — especially if you focus on being a consistent player.

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Erin is the Director of Student Athlete Development and Women's Golf Coach at Wingate University. Erin holds a Masters of Arts in Sports Management from Wingate University and is Class A member of the PGA of Canada, a member of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, and two time SAC Coach of the Year. She aims to help guide student athletes through their time at Wingate, making connections of what they learn in their sport and how they can apply it their careers after graduation.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Scratchscorer

    Mar 5, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Insufficient data to draw any sort of conclusion from.

  2. CJ

    Mar 4, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I love to play worst ball. I believe it gives you a better idea of how to protect par to an extent especially when hitting it poorly

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Instruction

The value of video

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In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.

Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.

But the real value is in the “feel versus real” area! None of us, from professional to beginner, can know what we are actually doing. The very first reaction I get upon viewing, is “wow, I’m doing that?” Yes, you are. You did NOT pick up your head as you thought you were doing, you ARE lifting well out of your posture, you are NOT coming “over the top”, your aim is well left of where you think you’re aiming, your club is pointing well right of your aim point at the top of the swing, your transition is excessively steep, your lead arm is very bent at impact, the clubhead is past your hands, your wrists are cupped or bowed and on and on!

Some of these positions may be a problem; some may be irrelevant. It’s all about impact, and how you’re getting there that matters. The chicken wing that is causing you to top the ball may very well be the result of a very early release, or a steep transition, or too much waist bend etc. The weight hanging back on the rear leg may be the result of the club so far across the line at the top, and so on.

I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!

I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing.  It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.

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Davies: How control the right hand at impact

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Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.

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Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.

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Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!

In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.

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