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The Wedge Guy: The red zone

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I’m betting most of us are pretty happy that we finally are into the early stages of another football season. Here in Texas, this is a very big deal—whether you follow the Cowboys or Texans or favor the vast college network representing multiple conferences. Of course, in Texas, Friday nights are king—high school football, which drives fans and entire towns into a frenzy.

In almost every football conversation on TV, you hear talk about “the red zone.” How a team performs inside the 20-yard line is a real measure of their offensive prowess. And a pretty good indicator of their win/loss record, too. It breaks down to what percentage of the time a team scores a touchdown or field goal, and how often they come away empty.

I’ve always thought we golfers have our own “red zone”–that distance from the green where you feel you can go on the offensive and think about pars and birdies, ensure no worse than bogey…and never put a double or worse on the card. Your own particular set of red zone goals should be based on your handicap. If you are a low single digit, this is your “go zone”, where you feel like you can take it right at the flag and give yourself a decent birdie putt, and rarely make bogey. For mid-handicap players, it’s where you should feel confident you’ll practically guarantee a par, but no worse than bogey, and for higher handicap players, it’s where you will ensure a bogey at least, while giving yourself a good chance at par, and maybe even a birdie.

For me, that “red zone” has always been when I put a high-loft club in my hands, one over 35-37 degrees of loft—what is currently an 8-iron in most sets. Regardless of your handicap or the make and model of irons you play, my contention is that golf is relatively “defensive” with all the other clubs in your bag. With all the lower loft clubs, your goal should be to just keep it out of trouble and moving closer to the goal line…er, the flag.

But when you can put a high loft club in your bag—whether that’s from 150 yards or 105—that’s when you should feel like you can put your offense into high gear and raise your expectations. It’s no longer about power. It’s no longer about distance. From the red zone, it’s about trusting your technique and your equipment and taking it to the golf course a little bit.

One of the best things you can do for your golf improvement is to begin tracking your “red zone” performance. Put the numbers down as to how you are scoring the golf course from your 8-iron range on into the flag. Any golfer can learn to hit crisp and accurate short-range approach shots. And so you should.

If you begin to really pay attention to your own red zone stats, and work to improve them, I guarantee you that you’ll see your scores come down quickly.

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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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