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The Wedge Guy: Lessons from the round of a lifetime

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To all of us “senior golfers,” the notion of shooting our age is one that carries great appeal. It answers the burning question:

“Can I keep my skills sharp enough to withstand the hands of time?”

Earlier this year, I had made the proclamation to my golf buddies that my goal was to shoot my age before I turned 70 next March. That meant I needed to work on my game a little more, given that I had let my handicap slip up to 5 at the time. Over the past few months, I’ve brought that down to 2.5. My ball-striking has been solid, but have struggled with the greens at my new club since moving to a great little coastal town of Rockport, Texas. And I lose my mental focus too many times in each round.

So, I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you this week that Sunday was the most glorious round of golf I’ve played since my 20s. Not only did I shoot my age, but I shattered that goal with a six-birdie, no-bogey 65 – a round of golf that was remarkably “easy” as I experienced it and as I look back on it.

And of course, being the analytical type that I am, I have spent time reflecting on just what happened to allow me to shoot the lowest score I’ve carded in over 40 years. I believe I have come to understand what caused the “magic” and want to share that with you this week. Maybe these tips can help some of you to a career round soon.

  1. One of my favorite movie lines comes from Mel Gibson in The Patriot, when he tells his young sons “aim small, miss small.” Because I had a guest who hadn’t played this course before, I was giving him very specific target lines off the tee. Instead of “the left side of the fairway,” I was pointing out “those two trees that make a ‘y,’” “that child’s playset in the back yard straight away.” And that made me focus on smaller targets, too. Sometimes, we can forget those things we know. Aim small, miss small.
  2. A new flatstick. Well, new to me anyway. I had not been putting very well, so I went to the bullpen and drew out one of my personal favorite putter designs. It’s a little Bullseye-inspired brass blade with some technology weighting; I designed it in the early 1990s for Ben Hogan, who marketed it as the Sure-In 1. The point is, sometimes a fresh look gives your putting new life.
  3. Stay in the moment. With every shot, I found myself more focused because of the guidance I was giving my friend, and that allowed me to stay more focused on each shot’s execution. I don’t recall any shot where my mind wandered.
  4. “See it. Feel it. Trust it.” Another line from a great golf book and movie, Golf’s Sacred Journey – Seven Days in Utopia. Robert Duvall’s Johnny character extolls our hero to do just that with every shot. And that’s what I was doing. Seeing the shot, feeling that I’ve hit it many times before, and trusting that I could do it again.

Thank you all for indulging me in telling my story of shooting my age. I’m sure this isn’t my “new normal,” but it was certainly lightning in a bottle for an afternoon. And as we all should from every good shot or good hole, or good round, I’m going to carry that feeling with me the best I can for as long as I can.

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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.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. LOWEBOY

    Sep 29, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Congratulations Terry! I lack the focus too often during my rounds, and it causes my blow-up holes every time. When I focus I can score a par or birdie nearly every time, but one show being hit with me not focused, and it goes downhill in a hurry. I’m glad you reined yourself in and shot that 65!

    • LOWEBOY

      Sep 29, 2021 at 7:33 pm

      …but one shot….

      NOT…but one show…

  2. Deacon Blues

    Sep 24, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Congratulations, sir! Well done.

  3. Dennis

    Sep 24, 2021 at 12:40 am

    Would you mind telling us which course length that was and how long your average driving distance is? I ask because I know only one guy who is 50+ which is able to shoot a 65 at our home course. There is probably no one in the country over 65 who could do that.

  4. Bryson DeShamballs

    Sep 23, 2021 at 1:08 am

    My dad used to beat me… at golf.

    With his belt.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Takeaways from the Ryder Cup

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Like most of us, I watched quite a bit of the Ryder Cup matches this past weekend and was happy to see the “youth movement” of the U.S. Team rise to the occasion. Congrats to all the players, caddies, coaches, and support teams of our victorious U.S. team!

What I saw were a bunch of matches that were not too dissimilar to those most of us play on a regular basis. The wins were much more often due to great up-and-down scrambling or great putts. Very few holes, it seemed, were won by spectacular shotmaking — knocking the flags down with approach shots. Of course, there were plenty of those – in that many matches between the world’s best 24 golfers, how could there not be?

But by and large, holes and matches were won on and around the greens, just like they are with every round of golf we regular golfers play. Guys that could make the clutch chip or pitch – or the spectacular recovery like we saw from Jordan Spieth – WOW! And then there’s always the huge impact on your score from making more than “your average share” of the 4- 10-foot putts, and maybe even sneaking in a few more from 15 foot and longer.

If any of us are to take a lesson away from the Ryder Cup, it’s this: Spend the bulk of your practice time hitting short chips and pitches — and on the putting green — if you really want to make an impact on your average scores.

One of my favorite short game practice routines can be executed on any practice range, and you can do it with as large a bucket of balls as you can. With your sand wedge, hit a couple of shots toward the front of the range, starting with a target 20 to 30 feet in front of you. Then, hit a few shots to that target ball, varying the height of the shot – one low, one medium, one high – with the goal of flying the ball to that target ball from the firsts shot. Then hit a shot 10-15 feet past that grouping and do it all again, then another group of shots to a spot 10-15 feet closer to you. Repeat this pattern to different groups of balls ranging from 10-15 in front of you, on out to 15-20 yards or more. Work back and forth between these groupings – always bearing down to hit the exact shots you want.

Your future short game success will be proof that this drill develops a feel for hitting all the different greenside scoring shots you need to play to your potential.

As it pertains to actually “practicing” your putting, I think there are two aspects of that process.

The first is to drill on your basic stroke mechanics. I think the best way to do that is to lay down a chalk line on a dead straight putt of 6-10 feet. Hit putt after putt paying close attention to your face angle and alignment at address and to making a simply back-and-through stroke. You simply cannot hit enough of these.

The second practice putting routine I like is to putt the circuit around the putting green, hitting left- and right-breaking putts from distances of 20-40 feet. I recommend hitting two putts each time using the second putt to “go to school” from the break and speed of the first one. This is the only way to gain a “library” of feels and looks that will serve you on the course as you play a round of golf.

Those are my “lesson” takeaways from the Ryder Cup.

But the other thing that was so very evident was the havoc that a stout wind can deal into a round of golf. On Saturday, the wind blew harder than the other days, and the shotmaking showed it. There were many fewer shots covering the flag or hit pin-high — and many more that sailed wide of the target or came up way long or short.

It really doesn’t matter what level you play the game, the wind is always the most difficult “hazard” to negotiate as you propel a 1.68-ounce golf ball around several miles of golf course real estate.

Watch the difference in scoring from week to week on the PGA Tour – comparing those dead still days and the low scores any course will yield, to those days when the wind kicks up and changes the game considerably.

Again, kudos and congratulations to the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team. Great going, guys!

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Be the Number

Be the Number: 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship fantasy, betting picks, and preview

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Stats and strategy guru Spencer Aguiar (@teeoffsports) and former D1 golfer Josephine Chang (@jchang1020) dive deep into the Sanderson Farms Championship. And this week, RotoBaller’s Joe Nicely (@JoeNicely) joins the show! Tune in for picks, predictions, DFS, GPP, draws, fades, bets, and more!

 

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Reviewing KBS PGI iron shafts and an updated what’s in the bag!

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The PGI graphite iron shaft is new from KBS and it is a great playable option for any player. The PGI comes in multiple weights and launches mid/high for soft landing shots into the green. Easy to square up and hit straight, even in the heavier weights. Finally, it is time for an updated WITB since a few things have changed over the summer.

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