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Game of the Weekend: Go Low

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When you practice, you should always practice in the same manner in which you play. And that not only means the shots that you find on the course, but also setting up situations that bring up certain emotions, mental challenges and feelings that you experience when on the course.

In the case of this Game of the Weekend, called “Go Low,” we are setting up an ideal on-course situation: You just hit 18 greens in regulation! Certainly, the game of golf is typically not that generous; great scores are achieved by making up-and-downs and hitting an array of short-game shots, but with “Go Low” you’re in a situation that puts pressure on yourself… a good kind of pressure.

Golfers get nervous when they realize that they’re playing well. They tend to self-destruct and find a way to fall right back into the same range of scores that they tend to shoot. “Go Low” will help you get more comfortable with breaking your scoring barriers and shooting lower numbers. So imagine you’ve hit all of the greens. It’s exactly what you’ve been working toward and practicing so hard for. Now it’s time to finish off each hole with great putting and an attitude of going low!

Game of the Weekend: Go Low

  • Gear needed: Your putter and one golf ball.
  • Time needed: 10 minutes max

Rules: Pretend that you’ve hit every single green in regulation today, giving you 18 birdie opportunities. Each first putt must be between 25 and 45 feet and you’re going to add up your score in relation to par (with two putts equaling par). For example, let’s say that you one-putt five times and two-putt par all of the others giving you a total of 5-under par. Enter your score into the system based on a par-72 golf score. So at 5-under par you would enter 67 into our www.golfscrimmages.com practice website. Seeing such low scores next to your name is always good for your psyche. This game can help you break through some scoring barriers that you have.

Note: if, when you play a regular round of golf on the course, you tend to hit the greens in one more shot than regulation, then add up the score in the same fashion but enter your score based on a par of 90 instead of 72.

Benefits: Here’s what this game helps you with.

  • It will help you break through whatever your scoring barrier is.
  • You will gain confidence from seeing low scores next to your name.

Bring the elements, situations, feelings and emotions that you find on the course to practice!

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website GolfScrimmages.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Forrest

    Sep 14, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I play a very similar game like this, albeit with a slightly modified scoring setup. My emphasis has been on improving my 2 putt ability to take advantage of my improved ball striking. I’ve seen an uptick in GIR from 7.2 to 9.54 this year. The flip side of course has been more putts because my first putt (for birdie) is likely coming from 30+ feet a few more times than when my first putt (for par) would be coming from inside 12 feet.

    Since our practice greens both have 9 holes on them, I typically just play it out for 9 holes (but could easily go to 18). Every putt starts at roughly 25-45 feet. My scoring system is as follows:
    – 8 points…first putt holed
    – 4 points…first putt inside 3 feet (use my 34.5″ putter as reference) and 2nd putt holed
    – 2 points…first putt outside 3 feet and 2nd putt holed)
    – 0 points…three putt
    – (-2) points…we don’t talk about these

    The one adjustment I make to the game is that if I go 3 holes in a row scoring 4 or 8 points, then on the 4th hole I start from roughly 10-15 feet to have a good look at birdie. Likewise, if I three putt a hole then the next hole I will start from as far away as I can get going to the next hole in my route.

    So far my best score is 32 over 9 holes…and I’ve seen an improvement in my putting as I would typically score 18-22 in this game but am now running 26-32 over the past month. Likewise, my handicap was 8.5 on June 15 and will be at 6.6 on September 15.

    Thanks for sharing this with the site Trent. I’m a big believer in this drill as a great replication of “practicing how you play.”

  2. sgniwder99

    Sep 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    In principle I think this is a great game, but just a thought: it seems like you ought to have about 5 of those 18 putts be in the 8-15ft range. That seems more like reasonable birdie range to me, and presumably if you had one of those ideal ball-striking days you’d knock a few fairly close. To me, those are the ones you really have to capitalize on to “go low” compared to your normal scores. For the rest of those, I’d put them in the 25-45ft range, to represent the holes where you’re really trying not to squander a good round by 3-putting the approaches that are a bit more mediocre–if you make one of those, it’s really a bonus.

    Maybe to promote staying aggressive on all those putts, you could adapt the “drawback” game you showed us a couple of weeks ago as an add-on to this: if you hit your first putt past the hole, you putt out from wherever the putt ends up. If you don’t get the putt to the hole, you pull it back a putter-length and putt out from there.

    Maybe I’m just over-complicating things.

  3. Philip

    Sep 12, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    This is a great warm-up to help me trust myself and get more aggressive on my putts – thanks

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Instruction

Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)

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In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill

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When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes

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I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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