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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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Me and My Golf: One simple swing thought for a great downswing

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In this week’s Impact Show, we analyze Jason Day’s golf swing and answer one question we get asked a lot. How do you start the downswing? We show you how Jason start’s the downswing and give you one simple swing thought that could make all the difference in creating a GREAT downswing.

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3 drills that will build a great putting stroke

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When you find yourself scratching your head because of all the putts you’re missing, take the time to hit the practice green and work out the kinks. All players go through slumps and face times when their stroke needs touching up, these three drills will go a long way in helping to reestablish a solid putting motion.

1. 4 Tee Drill

This drill is great for focusing on center contact as well as helping to maintain a square putter face through impact.

Most players will associate this drill with the two tees that many players on tour use for solid contact. But what makes this drill different is that by having two sets of tees, it forces us to have a good takeaway, as well as a good, follow through. Just have the two sets spaced 3 to 5 inches apart with the openings of the two sets being slightly wider than your putter. From there, any unwanted lateral movement with your putting stroke will be met by a tee.

2. Coin Drill

This drill pertains to those who tend to look up before hitting a putt which throws off our follow through and makes us manipulate the head. We do this for different reasons, though none of them are justifiable. Because those that keep their head down through the stroke will allow you to have better speed, control and just make a better stroke in general.

To perform this drill, just place the ball on top of the coin and make your stroke. Focusing on seeing the coin after you hit your putt before looking up.

3. Maintain the Triangle drill

One of the biggest things that I see in high handicap golfers or just bad putters, in general, is that they either don’t achieve an upside-down triangle from their shoulders, down the arms, and into the hands as pictured above. If they do, it often breaks down in their stroke. Either way, both result in an inconsistent strike and stroke motion. It also makes it harder to judge speed and makes it easier to manipulate the face which affects your ability to get the ball started online.

I use a plastic brace in the photo to hold my triangle, however, you can use a ball or balloon to place in between the forearms to achieve the same thing.

These three drills will help you establish proper muscle memory and promote strong techniques to help you roll the rock!

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Tip of the Week: The “Rear-Hand Drill” for improved chipping

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Top 100 teacher Tom Stickney shows you a simple way to make sure you aren’t “flipping” or “slapping at” your pitch shots.

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