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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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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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