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The Wedge Guy: 5 tips to make 2020 your best golf year ever

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We are fortunate in South Texas that we really haven’t had much winter yet. As I write this, they are forecasting 80 degrees for this afternoon. But I understand the rest of the country isn’t faring so well. (And I know ours is coming, sooner or later.) As I’ve made friends around the country, who live in areas where they have a genuine off-season, it has made me aware that not all are so fortunate as to be able to work on their games year-round.

So today’s article is for those of you who might not be seeing grass for a while.

Because you have a short season, I can imagine it is important for you to want to get the most out of it. But it’s not realistic to think those golf muscles, your skills and your golf mind won’t atrophy over the winter layoff. But you don’t have to settle completely that your first few weeks will be awful. Here are five solid tips for making 2020 your best year of golf scores ever. Here goes:

1. Putt short putts better. If you will just work on your putting, your scores will come down dramatically. The first area to focus on is getting deadly on putts under five feet. That you can practice in your living room or basement every day if you are so motivated. All you need is one of these cool putting mats, or nothing more complex than a six foot piece of smooth commercial carpet. Learn how to groove your stroke so that your short putts become automatic. The left side
leads, keep a soft grip on the putter and your weight favoring your left side (all for righty’s of course). And tempo, tempo, tempo. Slow back, slow through.

2. Strengthen your left side. If you are a right handed person, your left side is likely not strong enough to maintain a leadership role in the swing, because you don’t use it as much. On the simple side, keep a 5- or 10-lb dumbbell near your desk or sofa and do curls and other exercises several times a day. Even better is to swing a weighted club with only your left hand 15-25 times a day. A strong left side will do more for your golf swing than just about anything else you can do.

3. Improve your short game. Sorry, but that means practice, guys. Again, you can learn and groove a good chipping/pitching stroke in your garage off a piece of carpet. Refer back to my articles on technique; read books by Utley and Watson—learn, learn, learn . . . . then practice, practice, practice. Get better at getting up and down and strokes will fly off your scores.

4. Sharpen your mind. There are some really good books about the mental side of the game and this is a good time of year to spend some time with them. I’m a fan of Dr. David Cook and his book, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days in Utopia.” Besides that very fine story, he has written several books about this aspect of the game. But there are many more that are fine as well. Remember that a round of golf covers much more time thinking than it does actually hitting shots. The better y you get at the former, the better you are likely to be at the latter.

5. Visit TopGolf or other simulators. There is never a substitute for actually making swings and hitting balls, so treat yourself to some time at TopGolf or other simulators. If none are close, and you have a basement, set up a net and hit balls regularly. If none of that is available, at least get a short weighted practice club and take regular swings.

Bonus Tip. Have fun! We don’t do this for a living, so don’t let bad shots or bad rounds mess up a day in the sun with friends.

And when you get back out on the course, have realistic expectations—after all, you’ve been out of the game for months possible. When you do get out there, however, remember the old adage: One bad round—forget it. Two bad rounds—practice. Three bad rounds—get a lesson.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

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On Spec

On Spec: New 2020 gear | The biggest club building mistakes I’ve ever made

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Host Ryan takes you through all the new products released over the last week and gives his insight into finding what might be the next club in your bag. The second part of the show is dedicated to Ryan going back through all of the worst club building mistakes he’s ever made—and there are big ones.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Golf in Korea, Gangnam Style

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Greetings from South Korea, a small country in terms of landmass but large in its unbridled enthusiasm for the game of golf.

Koreans’ love for the game is evident in the fact that six of the current top 10 players on the Rolex Women’s World Ranking (including the top two) are Korean born players, and Y.E. Yang remains the only Asian player to win a major championship. And we all know who he had to stare down over 18 excruciating holes…

Not only are Koreans obsessed about playing golf, but the numbers also show that we like to buy things. Lots of golf things.

For example, despite having a little over 3 million active golfers (less than 6% of the country’s population), Korea is the third-largest golf consumer market in the world, only after the USA and Japan. It means we spend more on golf and golf-related things than all of Europe combined.

What’s more surprising is that golf hasn’t even been around for very long in Korea. It was said to be first introduced in 1897 when, to pass the time, a group of Englishmen employed by Korea’s Maritime Affairs and Tourism Organization built a makeshift six-hole course next to the Korean Customs Office.

But until Se-ri Pak’s win at the 1996 U.S. Women’s Open almost a hundred years later, most Koreans had no time in their lives for what they considered a hobby for the rich and the powerful elite.

So just how did South Korea go from a disinterested third party observer to a golf world-superpower in a single generation? How is it that its golfing population is actually on the rise while those in the U.S., Japan, and Europe are declining?

Rise of the Machines

With the ever-increasing number of video games and mobile phones, golf faces an uphill battle in getting youngsters away from the tiny screens and onto a golf course. Korea is no exception to the digital peril.

But in Korea, another type of digital revolution has also been responsible for growing the game of golf among people in their 20s and 30s, and even in their 50s. This growth in the unlikely age groups is credited to the burgeoning golf simulation game generally referred to here as “screen golf.”

Many of you have probably heard about golf simulation systems or have even played a few rounds on them. There are a good variety of systems now available in the U.S., and most do a decent job of “simulating” playing golf by calculating ball speed, launch angle, rate of spin and direction.

But to make a long story short, the current Korean golf industry owes a lot to the rise of the Screen Golf culture, which was first introduced in the late 1990s. As I said earlier, not only was golf expensive back then (still is!), but access to golf courses was also extremely limited.

Although screen golf didn’t quite catch on until about 2005, golfers and non-golfers alike gradually realized that it was an acceptable substitute for the real thing, especially in bad weather and during winter months.

Also, it was easy to access and cheap. You didn’t have golf clubs or shoes? No problem. The rental fee is even included with the modest “green fee” of about $15-$25 per person.

Overall, this new way of golfing allowed more people to experience this great game. Soon, people who were curious but could not readily access golf were eagerly lining up to see what the big deal was.

Today, a screen golf facility be found practically on every city block and many are open 24/7. You or your foursome can enjoy a competitive round or leisurely practice in a private room with hundreds of virtual courses from all over the world.

With millions of virtual rounds being played across the country each week, it was only a matter of time before those who experienced the game first-hand were motivated to further invest in their own clubs and venture onto the golf course.

What began as a means of practice in foul weather and largely derided by serious golfers, screen golf is now firmly rooted as an integral part of the Korean golf culture.

Some simulation systems even utilize an AI-assisted voice recognition software as digital caddies, while others analyze your swing or rank your skill level alongside millions of other golfers across the country and keep track of all data.

The popularity of screen golf has also lead to the creation of its own television channel, along with professional men’s and women’s tour participating in weekly tournaments for hefty prize money and sponsors.

Best of all, it proved that one is never too old to learn the game and that golf can be enjoyed by almost everyone, as it was always meant to be.

Be sure to check out the videos below to see just what the big hubbub is all about.

 

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole (Ep. 108): A tribute to Pete Dye

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Host Michael Williams remembers the great Pete Dye with guests Robert Trent Jones Jr. and award-winning author Bradley Klein.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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19th Hole

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