If you play golf, you probably watch golf on TV, too. For most, that probably means tuning into men’s events, or at least the four major championships.
But I have a question for you: Why do you watch men’s golf?
It’s completely understandable to want to watch the best and most popular golfers in the world. It’s exciting to watch the golfers you know and love, and witness them blasting 300-yard drives. That being said, if you’re looking to improve your own game, I suggest flipping on an LPGA Tour event, at least once in a while. The players are precise, consistent, and dominant in totally different ways — ways that likely look more comparable to your own golf game. Want to know why? Here are three reasons you should pick up the slack when it comes to watching women’s golf.
LPGA Tour courses (based on their average length) require shots similar to the ones played by the average golfer. While impressive, it’s challenging for me to relate to players in the men’s game who hit a 9-iron almost 200 yards. Most of us don’t have that shot in our bag. It’s more beneficial to me, and to most average male golfers, to see how LPGA golfers manage a golf course and the various shots. For instance, most golfers cannot go for the green on par-5 in two from 290 yards, so what yardage are the women laying up to? How are they attacking a 320-yard hole that isn’t drivable for them, or how do they deal with the second shot from 220 yards on a long par-4?
You can learn a lot from LPGA players in how they maneuver around a golf course while hitting the golf ball similar distances that you do.
2) Swing Speeds
With the average swing speed on the PGA Tour being 113 mph with a driver, it’s a pretty tough thing to duplicate – even for the very low-handicapped amateur player. The average swing speed for a 14-handicap male player is around 93 mph, which is almost identical to the average speed of an LPGA Tour player (94 mph). There’s a rhythm and a tempo that comes along with that speed, which the everyday player can identify with. Next time you tune into the LPGA Tour, put a golf club in your hand and mimic their tempo; this may help you smooth out your transition, or learn to slow down altogether!
Professional women golfers play the game how most people want to play (or, how most people should try to play). They are unbelievably accurate, rarely hit it out of play and are very consistent. These players will reinforce the lessons amateur golfers receive from their instructors. Every time I turn on coverage, I am amazed by the course management skills of every player. They rarely find themselves in a precarious position. I think every amateur golfer’s game would improve by channeling some of the accuracy of these women. The bomb-and-gouge style of play often seen on the PGA Tour is effective, but only if you have the strength and speed to escape from the rough or other difficult situations that style leads to.
Let’s be clear: This is not to say that the phenomenal talent that you see week-in and week-out on the men’s tour isn’t worth watching – it is. But if you’re a golfer interested in all aspects of the game (and bettering the parts that you struggle with), you should be flipping on women’s golf coverage, as well. If you’ve got a tee time the next day and don’t have time to get or watch a lesson? Watch a few holes of that week’s women’s event. It’s important to absorb information to improve your game. The men may have the daring feats that everyone wants to pull off, but the women have the game that will translate easier to yours. Do yourself, and your game, a favor and check them out.
The Wedge Guy: Have a ‘Plan B’
One of the things that I think is very interesting and fun about this game is that there are a number of ways to play every hole you encounter. And sometimes a hole offers “better” ways to play it than you might think. Let me explain with a couple of experiences from my own golf life.
ONE. In my thirties and forties, I played at a club outside of San Antonio – Fair Oaks Ranch. The 18th hole was a tough par 4 with a very small landing area and a gaping bunker at about 175 out. The skinny fairway left of that bunker wasn’t more than 15 yards wide, and there was a little mott of trees on the green side of the bunker that you would have to carry with your mid-iron bunker approach. Tough, to say the least.
That hole drove most of us nuts, and double bogeys were more common than birdies, for sure. Par was always a great score and bogey wasn’t “bad” at all.
So, one day it hit me that if I hit 4-wood off the tee, I would have an elevated fairway look at the green from about 200-210, giving me another soft 4-wood or 3-iron to the green, and the fairway was about 40 yards wide back there. Being a good long club player, I began to play the hole that way. Doubles disappeared entirely, pars became the norm and I even made the occasional birdie. Hmm.
TWO. At my recent club, the ninth hole just didn’t fit my eye or my game. I play a fade off the tee most of the time and turning over a draw was just not reliable for me at the time. That ninth is a dogleg left, with a bunker on the right side of the fairway that runs from about 160-125 from the green, right where the prime driving area is. What makes this hole so tough for me is that the prevailing wind is left to right, and trees just 60-100 yards off the tee keep me from starting the ball out left and letting it ride the breeze. This is another one where birdies are rare for me there, and bogies and doubles way too frequent. So, it dawned on me one day, finally, that I could hit 4-wood right at that bunker and not get to it, leaving me a 5- or 6-iron into the green, rather than the short iron the rare proper drive would leave me. So, that became my new strategy on that hole. I’m a good mid-iron player, so I’m fine with that, and that damn fairway bunker never caught me again.
THREE. My new club puts a premium on accurate wedge play. Most of the shorter holes have the smallest greens I’ve ever seen, so distance control with your wedge approaches is critical. And I find that reasonably full-swing wedges are easier to control distance than those awkward 60- to 80-yard partial swings. So, I’ve learned to put a premium on club selection off the tee on those holes to leave my approach shots in the 85-115 range, so that I can “dial in” my approach shotmaking.
My point in all this is that sometimes a hole gets under your skin or just doesn’t set up well for your game. When that happens, design yourself a Plan ‘B,’ and change the way you play it, at least for a while. Quite often you will find a solution to a problem and your scores and attitude will improve.
Club Junkie: Mizuno T-22 wedge and Cuater Moneymaker shoes review!
Mizuno’s new T-22 wedges are forged from the same 1025 carbon steel with boron as the irons, giving them an extremely soft feel. Very versatile, the sole grinds allow for hitting any shot your heart desires.
The Cuater Moneymaker shoes might be some of the most comfortable I have worn in years. Tons of cushioning, exceptional traction all over the course, and they are even waterproof!
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