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Opinion & Analysis

Golf IQ: A Method for Training It and Measuring It

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The phrase “golf is a mental game” defines many things. Amateurs and average golfers understand the difficulty of execution under the gun, but very few would know what to do even if they had the physical skills of a professional. At its core, strategy and management of our games requires an objective calmness and sequential set of actions/steps to succeed. A high Golf IQ separates the best from all others. But what exactly does “a high Golf IQ” mean?

Consider the golfer we have all encountered. Throughout the round it looked like they were struggling, and we never saw them hit a good shot with the exception of a decent putt or wedge shot here or there. They were very deliberate on the tee box. At the end of the round we thought they shot 82 or worse, but the final number was 73… and they were unhappy with it.

That’s a high Golf IQ: a stingy, quiet and unassuming golfer who prioritizes well.

When I think about golfers with high golf IQs, names like Lydia Ko and Jordan Spieth come to mind. These players are way down the list regarding their physical and ball striking strength. They go about their business navigating the course hitting good shots, but nothing they do is awe inspiring. And they win all the time. Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson also fit the bill. They’re genius golfers. Extremely high Golf IQs!

While the common thread of an excellent short game seems rather obvious, it’s only a small part of the overall behavior of a highly advanced golfer. Through my two decades as a club designer and occasional PGA Tour liaison, I was very fortunate to observe and interact with some of the best players in the world, sometimes on a weekly basis. From that vantage point, it was easy to recognize that the best players were often extremely intelligent people.

These “athletes” are often voracious readers and life learners. If they weren’t playing golf for a living, they may well be attorneys or business executives. They have excellent control of their intellectual faculties… it shows up in the way they play golf.

A Eureka Moment

A few years ago, my daughter Hannah Wood (currently on the University of Oklahoma Women’s Golf Team) received an invitation to one of the most prestigious girl’s junior events in the game: The Kathy Whitworth Invitational played in March in Fort Worth, Texas. At the time she was a relative unknown player with the exception of having qualified for the Junior World and the U.S. Junior the year before. Kathy likes to give unknown girls a shot at playing with the best and she is known to invite the occasional “obscure” from snow states (like ours of Colorado) just to make things interesting. Thank you, Kathy!

The epic winter of 2012-2013 was brutal in Colorado. We had a ton of snow on the ground and it just wouldn’t let up. While ball striking practice was available indoors (with launch monitors) and on heated outdoor driving ranges, short-game practice and playing golf was impossible. The thought of Hannah going down to Texas having not played a single round in months was daunting at best and terrifying to her. As a single parent who was financially unable to send her somewhere South to get in some rounds, I had to find a way to exercise her golfing prowess in the absence of actual play.

A Eureka moment hit me one snowy morning on the way to work. What if I devised a test to make her mind play golf virtually? But this could be no ordinary test; it had to be situational, yet extremely difficult and make her use her head — just like what a competitive round of golf would do. Regardless of how she scored, the very act of taking the test molded her playing ethos and prepared her for this very high-level completion.

Because of the test and a few other fortuitous events, Hannah won the event and skyrocketed to No. 3 (from 389th) in the Polo Rankings for her class of 2014. Her life was changed forever. While this may sound like a Cinderella Story, it was no accident. That week, she had the highest golf IQ in the event. Hannah played her own game and gave every shot its complete effort and thought. She certainly didn’t have the physical attributes or playing opportunities of competitors in the field like Baily Tardy, Angel Yin, Hannah O’Sullivan or Kristin Gilman.

Out of desperation and the will for my daughter to succeed, I had inadvertently created a method of strengthening the approach to playing competitive golf. This patent-pending process forces golfers to use their cognitive resources and to play the game in their mind, remotely and in an abstract way. It forces recall of the steps to produce golf shots and strategy required to successfully navigate the course.

Earlier this year, I wrote a similar test for the University of Oklahoma. While the results of that endeavor are unclear, the team was forced to think about their games in a virtual and situational way. Last year the team finished No. 58 in the Golfweek rankings, but as of this writing the team is ranked 21st. Interestingly, the test scores follow the intra-team rankings perfectly. In other words, the highest and lowest scores on the test correlate precisely with the player rank.

Some samples of the test are below.

Measuring Aptitude

There is a straight-forward correlation of the knowledge required to hit certain shots and a golfer’s ability to troubleshoot his or her game on the fly. But regardless of that knowledge, golfers must organize their actions and make use of every ounce of intellectual energy to succeed.

A high Golf IQ encompasses the following areas:

  • Reconnaissance and responsible mapping of the course.
  • Preparation and a quality approach to practice.
  • Tee protocol and pre-shot protocol.
  • Appropriate rehearsal motions.
  • Intuition and judgment regarding percentages; realistic pursuit.
  • Maturity, humbleness, patience and being devoid of heroic behavior.
  • Post-shot observation and actions.
  • Aloofness to competitive circumstance: concentration on sequential steps to hitting quality shots over a long period of time.

The above defines what the Golf IQ is and what this process measures: to use the mind while guiding the body to execute tasks to an end. Without going into all of the specifics of the above, the reader is invited to sample some of the test questions below. Be very careful with your answers. These questions assume a minimum level of competency, essentially for single-digit players or better. It assumes you have the ability to shape the ball or hit risky wedge shots.

Also, you will not find all of the answers in this article. Regardless of the answer key and what I think the correct answers should be, the aim of this exercise is to make you think about playing the game.

To date, there are more than 500 such questions in the database that can be found on my website: www.MyGolfIQ.com. Soon, the tests will be inclusive and arranged for all levels of golfer and gender.

Let’s start with a fairly easy question, if not blatantly obvious.

1. The ball curves more when I am hitting it into the wind and less when I am hitting downwind. 

  • True
  • False

Most relatively skilled players know that hitting a ball into the wind not only makes it fly shorter, but make it more difficult to keep shots online. The technical issue has to do with the amount of friction being applied to the ball as it travels through the air. If a golf ball has 4000 rpm of spin and it is going through the air at 125 mph (ground speed) into a 20 mph wind that means the air speed/spin relationship is 4000 rpm/145 mph. The ball is going to be much more affected into the wind and will slice or hook more.

By design, this question will prompt golfers of any kind to remember this very cerebral and cognitive piece of the golfing puzzle the next time they are confronted with the situation.

And while we’re on the topic of wind, here’s another question that may be less obvious to anyone without a single-digit handicap. The next time they play in the wind, they’ll remember some of these things.

2. Playing in extremely heavy wind:

  1. Tighter grip.
  2. Slightly wider stance.
  3. Maintain tempo and don’t try to muscle the ball.
  4. Keep my head steady.
  5. Knock everything down, low-and-flighted trajectory regardless of the shot.
  6. 2 and 3.
  7. All of the above.

This process removes the golfer from the physical pressure of having to experiment with their body and shot making. It allows them to think about these conditions using their memory and problem-solving acuities. And unlike reading a 300-page book about playing golf, the process engages the player interactively (rather than making them drink through a firehose) replete with all the verbiage and memory-intensive requirements that an instructional book brings.

Like in a round of golf or our development as players, the process is preparing the test taker for increasing layers of complexity. As golfers, we have all been confronted with situations where our decision making was stressed. Here we not only had to make a good swing, but the situational variables applied a completely different set of decisions that had little to do with swing… but management of the course and our score. In this case, it is more like a video game or a chess move.

3. Consider the question below.

I’ve just hit my drive well right on a par-5; pretty far offline in the rough. There isn’t a lot of fairway for me to hit my second shot into the “garden spot,” the best range for me to hit my third shot close for a birdie putt. I have to hit a pretty big and long left-to-right shot to get it there, but my ball is sitting down in the rough. To the left of the garden spot is a cart path, more rough, trees and white stakes (OB). In front of me and blocking the green is a stand of trees with a lake just to the right of them. If I hit one of them, my ball might deflect into the water. It’s a very small green with lots of bunkers protecting it. I have to make a birdie to stay in the game. I’m running out of holes.

  1. Hit down on the ball as hard as possible and shape the shot left-to-right into the perfect place (the garden spot) and make birdie. Be aggressive! Let’s win this thing right now!
  2. Wedge it back to the fairway to get the ball back into play. Even if I have to hit a long iron to the green, I can continue my round and “live to fight another day.” I can make par with my short game.
  3. I’m pretty good with the short irons. If I can knock it to 135 yards or so, I can hit it in there with a short iron or wedge depending on the wind and lie. It might work. Might have a little bit of a weird stance…sort of downhill and a hanging lie. I don’t have to shape it too much to get it there. It’s not too hard of a second shot and it gives me a good look at the green and a chance at a birdie.
  4. With the ball sitting down in the rough, it might be difficult to “carve it” into the garden spot as the ball spins less from this type of lie. Trying to hit a big fade or draw could result in disaster if the shot goes too straight.
  5. Regardless of what shot I hit, make good and sure that the face of my club is clean so whatever I do the grooves will be as effective as possible.
  6. 1, 3 and 5
  7. 2 and 4
  8. 3, 4 and 5
  9. The right answer isn’t here

Did you visualize yourself playing golf? The next time you’re out playing in the club championship or a nassau with your buddies, remember to use your head. Treat the game as a delicate balance between your graceful motions and responsible navigation of the day’s efforts. You’ll be a lot better golfer as a result.

Here are a few more questions. 

What is a FLYER lie?

  1. Ball in the rough sitting way high…could use a driver.
  2. A ball in the rough, sitting sort of up but with a little grass behind it. This can cause the ball to come out hot taking all the spin off and going too far.
  3. Similar to 2, but it’s wet.
  4. Great lie in the fairway.
  5. None of the above.
  6. 2 or 3.

Normally, the worst mis-hit from a bunker is:

  1. Take too much sand.
  2. Blade it.
  3. Face too open…ball goes too high.
  4. Put too much spin or not enough spin on the shot.
  5. Leave it in the bunker.
  6. All of the above… they are all going to result in at least a bogey.
  7. None of the above.
  8. 2 or 5.

Lee Trevino once quipped: “You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.” What did he mean?

  1. Hooking shots tend to carve more than wanted… at least for him.
  2. Because hooks go farther on tee shots, they can get away from you.
  3. In general, for stronger players who don’t need the distance, a fade is a more controllable shot.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above.
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Don Wood is a 25-year veteran of the golf industry, and is the owner of MyGolfIQ.com. He has worked in golf equipment R&D, design and manufacturing for companies such as Cleveland Golf, Golfsmith, Wood Brothers Golf and more, and spent many years working with some of the best players in the world on their equipment needs. Don has many U.S. Patents pertaining to fitting and short-game golf equipment. He is currently a member of the instructional staff at Common Ground Golf Club in Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Chris Houston

    Feb 21, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Whoever commented about “caveman” golf… Those players who deny strategy are simply too stupid to know that they naturally possess sound golf strategy and intuition. I don’t think Dustin Johnson thinks too much on the course, but what he is thinking is correct and he has a natural gift to do so. He doesn’t know he is doing it, but he is.

  2. Scott

    Feb 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Would love to take the quiz or even a sample one (with answers) but not for $300!!

    • Don Wood

      Feb 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      It’s $24.99 for the special introductory offer.

  3. Tcope

    Feb 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    $300 seems a little steep for something like this.

  4. Deadeye

    Feb 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

    This article reminds me of why I always preferred to walk as opposed to riding a cart when I played. It gave me time to assess how I was going to play my next shot. I could run through all the variables like distance, angles,obstacles,wind,and then when I was standing over the ball I could judge the actual lie. Unless I had a really bad lie I had already decided what club to use and whether par or better was even possible any more. Knowing when to walk off feeling good about making no worse than bogey has saved me many strokes. I was 25 before I started playing golf, about the time John Daly was born. Grip it and rip it was not a common term then but that’s how I played. I lost a lot of Golden Ram balls before I figured out that , as in life, some analysis was required before I made my next move. I ride in a cart now and this constant reevaluating of where I stand on the hole and in the round takes place much more quickly now due to experience. I am always envious of players like Jordan Spieth who seem to have fifty years of golf IQ when they are twenty. It’s a great game no matter what level we play at.

  5. RonaldRump

    Feb 15, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    This is “fake news”.

  6. Weekend Duffer

    Feb 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Author calls Lydia Ko a poor ballstriker…lol

    • Don Wood

      Feb 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Lydia Ko is an exceptional ball striker. She doesn’t have the size, distance nor overall horsepower that Lexie Thompson or Ariya Jutanugarn or many others on the LPGA Tour. But she has all the shots. And she totally uses her intellectual skills to execute them.

    • Weekday Pro

      Feb 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      No he doesn’t. He said, “regarding their physical and ball striking STRENGTH.” He was referencing Speith and Ko, and his daughter’s, limited physical capabilities compared to their peers. He clearly meant Jordan can not drive the ball as far as JD or DJ and he is usually at least a club shorter from similar distances through the bag. Same with Ko. That doesn’t mean she is a poor ballstriker, just a less powerful one. Which is often times why those golfers have to have an higher IQ. They don’t overpower courses they plot around them. Don’t disparage an author because you misrepresent their actual words.

    • XLee2000

      Feb 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      And THAT’S why comments on social media are as bad as they are. Reading comprehension seems to be at an all time low in America these days!

  7. Steve

    Feb 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    The author is a bit disingenuous in writing his daughter was a relative unknown at the time of her invitation to the Whitworth.

    This from the U of OK website:

    http://www.soonersports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=31000&ATCLID=209618503

    BEFORE COLLEGE
    Named All-Colorado and all-conference all four years of high school … Placed third in the state tournament her sophomore and junior years and second as a senior … Recorded a 75.7 high school career scoring average … Set school record for low round (68) … Ranked fourth in her class and 20th overall in the Polo Junior Rankings … Won the 2013 Kathy Whitworth Invitational … Won the 2012 and 2013 Tournament of Champions … Finished in the top 20 in the Girl’s Junior America’s Cup in 2012 and 2013 (represented Team Colorado) … Competed in five USGA events, including the 2013 U.S. Women’s Public Links that was played at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

    • Don Wood

      Feb 15, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you for that research. But at the time she was invited to compete in the Whitworth, she had a reputation here in Colorado…but certainly not in the National or Global arena.

      • Steve

        Feb 15, 2017 at 5:33 pm

        She’s turned out to be an excellent golfer. I wish only the best of luck to her.

  8. JustTrying2BAwesome

    Feb 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Great article. I love a more in depth view of the competitive golfer and how they approach the game and a tournament. Also, cool golf course/brain picture.

  9. Looper

    Feb 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    If golf isn’t hard enough!!! Way to much info, imagine trying to explain this to a junior… We sometimes forget its a game…

    • Mongoose

      Feb 15, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Great point… Camilo Villegas said it best, “caveman golf, hit ball, find ball, hit ball again”. Making the “game” more complicated…

    • Don Wood

      Feb 15, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you for that input. I heard it said best by Jack Burke JR…a Masters Champion.
      “There are two kinds of golfers in this world: There are highly cerebral mechanics like Tom Watson or Jack Nicklaus. And then there are athletes like Hal Sutton or Sam Sneed”. One or the other works well.

      • Looper

        Feb 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        Thank you for responding to my opinion. I’m sure your knowledge far outweighs mine, but growing up playing reactionary sports I try to do the same in golf. I am 53 years of age and have had only one instructor, and have found that feel vs. thought has worked best for me. Thanks again my dear friend…

      • Michael A Preiss

        Feb 16, 2017 at 12:09 am

        Seems the cerebral/mechanics records speak for itself , but either way enjoy it!

    • Chris Houston

      Feb 21, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      If you can’t comprehend this, you will never make it to a truly competitive level. These are just basics in the grand scheme of golf strategy. He is spot on here, with virtually everything he said in the article. If you want your junior to get recruited, you can start by understanding the situational events he or she faces on the course. That situation he describes with “hitting toward the garden spot” is a perfect scenario that you will see all the time in college and beyond. Have to be able to limit mental mistakes that you can control. Decision making is key!

  10. stephenf

    Feb 15, 2017 at 11:59 am

    “These players (Spieth and Ko) are way down the list regarding their physical and ball striking strength…”

    Good grief. The fact that they restrain and control the strength they have doesn’t mean they don’t have “physical and ball-striking strength.” Sheesh.

  11. Buford T Justice

    Feb 15, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Step 1: Grip It
    Step 2: Rip It

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Opinion & Analysis

2023 PGA Championship: Interview with Jeff Corcoran, MGCG

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As ticket-holders exit their shuttles and enter the main gate to Oak Hill Country Club this May, their eyes will be attracted to so many sights. The 100-year old, Tudor-style clubhouse, designed by Thompson, Holmes, and Converse (of New Tammany Hall fame in New York City) catches and holds many glances. The market boardwalk will feature emporia of food, drink, and memories, all featuring the designs and flair of marketing teams. It’s a lot to take in.

Most attendees won’t enter the clubhouse, and their time along the merchandise promenade will be restricted to acquisition of souvenirs and sustenance. The majority of their time will be spent in the rough, adjacent to tees, greens, and fairways. Their eyes will roll across the hills of Pittsford’s jewel, but they might be forgiven if they don’t consider exactly how the course and surrounds came to reach this pinnacle of preparation.

Fortunately for them, we’ve tracked down the gentleman who knows more about Oak Hill’s preparation than any other. Mr. Jeff Corcoran is the Manager of Golf Courses and Grounds at the venerated New York state club.

GolfWRX: We’ve introduced you already in your current role. Please tell us how you met golf and golf course maintenance, and what the a-ha moment was that this would be your career.
Corcoran: I started playing golf when I was about 9 years old, a friend and his father took me golfing, and I was hooked. I started playing every chance that I could get and that eventually lead me to a job when I was 13 years working on a public golf course in my hometown of Groton, NY called Stonehedges Golf Course. Working on the golf course was an end to a means, as it allowed me the opportunity to play a significant amount of free golf. I enjoyed working at the golf course so much, that I eventually figured out that I could go to college to study Turfgrass Management. I pursued that endeavor and eventually my way to SUNY Cobleskill and then Penn State University.
GolfWRX: Please trace your career path, from your first job in the industry to your current one.
Corcoran: As stated above my first job in the industry was working at Stonehedges Golf Course as a teenager. While I was in college I worked at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University, and eventually made my way to Oak Hill Country Club as an intern in 1994. I graduated from Penn State in ’95 and I came back to Oak Hill to work the ’95 Ryder Cup and soon after was made a 2nd assistant. While I was at Oak Hill I was fortunate enough to meet my mentor, Paul B. Latshaw, and I became his first assistant until I left to take my first superintendent position in 2000. My first superintendent position was at The Weston Golf Club which is located just outside of Boston. I was there until 2003, when I was asked to interview for my current position at Oak Hill, as Paul Latshaw had moved on to Muirfield Village. I have been at Oak Hill ever since, and in way or another have been a part of every championship held at Oak Hill since that ’95 Ryder Cup.
GolfWRX: The 2023 PGA Championship will be the 4th at Oak Hill’s East course, but it will be unlike the previous three. How did the course play, from your acquired knowledge, for those first three championships?
Corcoran: I can’t really speak to the 1980 Championship; however, I have a considerable knowledge of how the East Course played for the ’03 and ’13 PGA Championships. In ’03 the East Course went through a renovation performed by Tom Fazio/Tom Marzolf, where all of the bunkers were renovated and relocated to areas where they would affect playability of the professional golfer. Additionally, a considerable amount of length was added to the East Course prior to the ’03 Championship. The Fazio/Marzolf renovation had a significant impact on the playability of the East Course, and it proved difficult to the tour professional of the time. Ten years later in ’13 we held the championship again, and the course was essentially the same as it was in ’03. We didn’t really add any length or adjust any bunkers, however the tour professionals’ game had adjusted and improved significantly in that same 10-year period. In 2013, we had significant rainfall during the week, which softened the golf course, and the scoring for the event reflected the softer, easier conditions.
GolfWRX: Andrew Green’s 2019 restoration returned much of the course to its architectural roots. What will stand out most for those who have attended or competed in prior championships?
Corcoran: If I were to venture a guess that the most noticeable aspect for many individuals will be the reduction in the amount of trees on the East Course. We have been reducing the amount of trees on the East Course for 20+ years, however during the renovation we hit a point where the value of the tree removal hit a critical point where the vistas and views throughout the East Course were impacted in a way that allowed much more enjoyment of the property and its features. For the competitors, I believe they will also notice the severity of the Andrew’s bunker style combined with the ability to take the pin position out to the extremities of the greens. There will be many more pin locations in 2023 that will have a very close proximity to the hazards.
GolfWRX: Speaking of restorations, how was the Oak Hill grounds crew involved in the East Course’s return to its legacy?
Corcoran: The grounds crew was involved in every aspect of the renovation and worked directly with Andrew Green and LaBar Golf Renovations to ensure the product that was produced on the East Course was representative of Oak Hill and the legacy of the East Course.

GolfWRX: Tell us a bit about the re-invention of the fifth hole. What sort of hole did it replace, and how does it join itself to the course’s Donald Ross roots?

Corcoran: Andrew always indicated that he wasn’t designing anything on the East Course, that we was just taking what Donald Ross had designed and was tweaking it. With regard to our current 5th hole, Andrew drew inspiration from the original 6th hole, which was a classic Donald Ross heavily bunkered par-3. We fortunately had a considerable amount of pictures of this hole, and Andrew utilized them during his design phase. Additionally, Andrew made more than one visit over to our West Course and looked at our 4th hole, which is also a classic heavy bunkered par-3. The difference between our original 6th hole and the new 5th hole that Andrew produced is the location, and this is where the brilliance of Andrew Green came into play. Andrew tucked the new 5th green into the northwest corner of the property and it looks as though it has been there since day #1. To be able to achieve that immediate impact and value, really demonstrated his true genius.
GolfWRX: What will the final two months of preparation (April-May) demand from you and your staff?
Corcoran: I think that Mother Nature will hold the answers to the last 2 month of preparation, however it will be demanding and difficult. I anticipate that the my staff will work a considerable amount of hours, and we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the playing conditions for the PGA Championship are exemplary.
GolfWRX: The weather for the championship week is anyone’s guess. A cold front came arrived in Tulsa last year, for the 2022 playing at Southern Hills. Ironically, Rochester’s temperatures that weekend were the warmer ones! How does your game plan change for unseasonable (both colder and warmer) weather and temperatures?

Corcoran: Our game plan doesn’t really change at all based upon the temperature. There are inherent agronomic aspects that need to happen to be successful, and some of that depends on the temperature and some of it doesn’t. Our focus is to plan for those aspects that we can control, and have a plan to react to any variables that are throw at us as we prepare.

GolfWRX: What question haven’t I asked, that you would love to answer? Please ask it and answer it. Thank you for your time.

Corcoran: “What is the most important aspect of your job as you prepare for the 2023 PGA Championship?”
The most important aspect of my job is building, taking care of, and facilitating our team that comprises golf course maintenance staff at Oak Hill. Without those individuals the championship doesn’t happen, and they will work a tremendous amount of time to ensure that golf course is ready for a spring championship. I am very proud of our team members, and I am extremely excited that their product will get the opportunity to shine on the world stage.
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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?

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I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.

What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.

I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.

Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.

It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.

Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.

The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.

But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Great debut for Savannah at the WLD opener + Hideki’s driver grip

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A great start for Savvy in her second season competing in the World Long Drive Organization! We talk about the whole experience and we also take a look at the Katalyst suit and how our training sessions are going. Plus we speculate why Hideki is experimenting with a putter grip on a driver, thanks to GolfWRX’s Ben and Brian help.

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