Tip #39 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about breaking out of the box that says that golf is only for a full-sized course in a pristine country club setting where we have to dress up and observe all the traditions.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that and I enjoy that just as much. However, let’s face it…we all play golf, ultimately, because it’s fun and enjoyable. So, why don’t we give ourselves the opportunity to expand those possibilities with this awesome game? I say we can.
AND, we can also have fun while working on improving our game…to boot!
After re-reading what I wrote in the book below, I found this guy who created a website to help you have fun and PLAY GOLF EVERYWHERE! I hope you do it.
Greens and Fairways,
Ok, let’s face it…the problem with practicing is that it’s not fun. If it were as fun as the game, then we would MAKE time to do it all the time. That’s the secret here!
One day in my teens, I’m home from school with an illness. I hear dogs barking in the neighborhood and look outside. I see 2 guys chipping from lawn to lawn of the houses on our street. I go out to talk to them and they are having a blast playing what they call “street golf.” They are bouncing the ball off the street and everything else and they weren’t drinking!
Since then, I’ve found a whole society called Guerilla Golfers.
Not long after that, I go to a golfing buddy’s house to watch a sporting event and show up an hour early.
We started with our sand wedge and then injected difficulty into the game with having to chip with our hybrids and then onto other clubs where the starting lie dictated it.
The next day, I killed it on the course!
The thing about this is that we always put something at stake and THAT made it fun.
I used to play a putting game with my young son that had golf balls colored and numbered like billiards balls and you putted then into the holes just like a pool table.
Family time and great putting time all at once!
Are you getting the picture?
Get creative and find ways to make working on your game fun and then it’s not practice!
Talking about hitting good wedge shots and actually going out on the course and hitting them are two different things. All the knowledge in the world won’t do you much good unless you can apply it.
I’m not underrating the theory of the wedge shot or any other part of the game. That’s what most of this book has been so far—theory. But golf goes farther than that. To score well, you must be a good competitor. You must hit that ball at the hole and, especially when using the wedge, as close to the hole as possible every time. You need the kind of desire that won’t be quenched when you hit a wedge shot to within ten feet of the cup. The next time knock it up there within five feet.
I highly recommend that you develop sound fundamentals and build as solid and fine a golf swing as you possibly can. But I also strongly suggest that you develop a “get tough” attitude toward the game. I mean, “get tough” inwardly. Be a perfect gentleman and sportsman on the outside, but be a fighter on the inside. When you’re pitching to a green, don’t ask yourself:
“Will I be able to get close to the pin? Or will I flub this shot and land in that sand trap between me and the green?”
Get tough. Tell yourself:
“I’m going to smack this little apple right up there next to the cup.”
If there is any doubt in your mind, you probably will swing with doubt. You might rush the takeaway, you might look up, you might quit on the shot and not follow through crisply.
If you develop a confident attitude, you’ll take the club away smoothly and deliberately, keep your head down, and swing smartly through the ball. Your attitude will be reflected in your swing. If you get tough with yourself— be a tiger—you’ll be tough to beat.
Many good golfers who didn’t have the best swings in the world have made up for it by being the best competitors. You can’t beat the combination of a good swing and a good competitor. And if there is any part of the game of golf where touch, feel and positive attitude can compensate for a less-than-perfect swing, it’s in the short game. Once you’re in scoring range, get that ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. It isn’t “how” that counts, it’s “how many.”
How often have you heard the sad story of a fine swinger who reported that he hit 15 or 16 greens in regulation but took 39 putts on the 18 greens and wound up with a 78 instead of the 72 he might have had? Or the guy who took three or four strokes to get down every time he got within wedge distance of the green, thus adding five or ten strokes to his score?
WARM UP WITH THE WEDGE
When warming up for a round I suggest that a golfer hit wedge shots if he doesn’t have time for anything else. You can’t beat practicing with a wedge. Two or three pitch shots and two or three bunker shots will give you a feel of hand position and enable you to grasp your timing much quicker than anything else. I’d rather hit six bunker shots than ten drivers before going out to play.
Then, once on the course, don’t experiment with your swing. Just hit one shot at a time, to the best of your ability, and concentrate on getting the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. You should improve your swing on the practice range but, on the course, you should only worry about improving your score.
By all means, don’t look back and don’t look too far ahead. A double bogey on the previous hole can’t be erased.
And, when you’re standing in the fairway getting ready to hit your wedge to the green, don’t start thinking about whether or not you’ll make the putt. You play only one shot at a time, and you want to play it 100%. Just concentrate on hitting the wedge up close to the pin. You’ll have several minutes in between to concentrate on the putt. But thinking about the putt while hitting the wedge shot will only hurt the latter.
Above all, remember to play with desire, determination and confidence. Sure, you’ll hit bad shots. Golf is a relative game. The less you have progressed, the more shots you’ll hit poorly. A newcomer will hit so many bad shots that it will be quite frustrating to him. But he should take this in stride and remain determined and confident. It’s just a matter of time before he will be hitting 90% of his shots well instead of 10%. Learning to play golf properly is a matter of time, patience and endurance. The more you play, the better you will get.
It’s a long hard path. I would certainly hate to have to start all over again. Luckily for me, I began golfing while still a small boy. But many have taken up the game late in life and within a few years have become excellent players.
The main thing is not to become discouraged. It’s a wonderful game and a “pleasant walk in the country” whether you score well or not. And you’ll always score better if you take that “tiger” attitude I am talking about. Don’t be a kitten on the course—be a tiger.
Drop the “spin” addiction & drop strokes.
I get it. I get it. I understand that golfers want to copy their professional heros. It makes it fun to be able to play the same course and use the same equipment as the best golfers in the world and create a fantasy in our mind about a connection we make there. You know, if Tiger Woods plays a certain kind of golf ball, then it only makes sense that I should play that brand or type of ball right? If the pros hit low pitch shots that spin and check right at the flag, then that’s what you should do right? WRONG.
You don’t play the same game as Tiger or VJ or Ernie. You don’t hit 300 yard drives, you don’t need to hit 200-yard 5 irons to protected flags that need backspin to get the ball to stop, and you don’t need to know how to “work” the ball right and left. YOU need to hit the ball straight and keep it in play!
One of the greatest short game players and teachers of our day, Stan Utley, teaches us to forget about shots that rely on backspin to stop next to the hole. In his book, he says that even HE doesn’t have the hand speed that those pros have to do that.
Using balls and trying to make shots that spin more make you slice or hook more. That increases your odds for more shots missing the fairway and green and lost balls.
I got down to a 5 handicap playing those “rock” balls and I totally credit them for my getting there. Remember, our game is not to try to score more birdies, it’s to avoid balloon scores.
Lose the “I’m cool” factor about making the ball dance on the greens…it’s not about emulating your favorite pro, it’s about YOU SCORING LOWER! Use your common sense in deciding what to copy from pros.
I want you to go out to the course on a non-competitive round with the idea that you are going to roll everything up to the pin on purpose. You are going to bump and run as much as possible just to see what happens. Leave the lob wedge in the bag unless you absolutely have to fly over some hazard and have no room to run.
I’ll be you will be pleasantly surprised about your scores and add a new dimension to your game that you didn’t know you had. I would love to hear your comments below.
This is the kind of scenery us golfers get to recreate in. It could be the picturesque contrast of the desert against a bright green grass, or fairways lined with majestic pine trees, or wetlands with wildlife and plants that you rarely would get to see otherwise. Most of us would admit that it’s one of the reasons we love this game; that we love the beauty of the outdoors. Even on a mini course in the heart of the city it’s still a welcome break from the normally chaotic scenes we take in our vision on an average day.
You’re there because you love it. You’re there because you want to be. It’s a release from our every day worries. It’s a respite from the pressures of our jobs. It’s a break from all those people who want a piece of you all day. It’s a time-out from stress and having to think hard to solve problems. And for some of us, it’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves when we don’t get enough of that to stimulate our brain as much as it needs to feel alive. On top of that, we get to do it with people of our choice, like-minded friends and friendly souls to exercise our social nature.
What I’m trying to say right off here is that, we don’t deserve to get anger or frustration. What? No, we don’t. But I just missed a 3 foot putt that cost me $100 and yes, I am angry about it and experiencing frustration!
Go and reread the first paragraph again. Doesn’t it seem downright silly to be angry given all that? Just the fact that we have enough money to be able to spend some of it this way puts us in the top 5% of people on this planet that can even afford it!! Do you know how lucky we are to be able to even play golf? Billions of people don’t know where their next meal is coming from and so we have only the right to be thankful and grateful. And yes, even a duty to really enjoy everything about this game, even the times when we don’t play so well.
The thought I hope comes to your head now is: “I never thought of it THAT way.”
That’s called perspective.
I know, I never thought of it that way either until recently. We take so many things for granted in our lives and I’m now going to make every effort to be grateful and thankful and those conscious-directed thoughts will not only keep my body’s natural balance in order, but I believe it will also do something for my spirit.
I threw a club a few years ago ! It’s true! I was so angry with myself for missing a putt I thought I should have made. I winged my putter about 30 feet toward the next tee (didn’t want to have to do any extra walking you see- Hah!) You know, I wasn’t even so angry that I missed the putt as much as I was for not following all of my own advice that I’ve been giving out. I didn’t follow through and didn’t hold my finish and so the putt was a weak stab. I was angry for not living up to my own expectations. And how many times have I preached and written about not having expectations? And there I went and did it myself!
What’s really ironic, is that the fact that I had expectations of myself to play the way I tell others, perfectly all of the time, is the exact reason why I didn’t play the way I tell others! It’s the reason why I missed that putt! Had I put myself in the correct frame of mind BEFORE playing that day, and kept myself there,
I would have given my unconscious the opportunity to consistently follow all the instrutions I’ve been giving it including making sure that I hold my finish on putts. It all goes back to internal representations, it always does.
You get yourself wound up in this endless loop of “why me?”
More confession time: That day that I threw the putter, I was on the 6th hole and that putt was about 4 feet for a birdie. I had parred all 5 holes prior to that. So even after missing that putt, I was still at par. So I tried to get ahold of myself because I knew there was lots of holes to play. But guess what, the chemicals in my body had already been released from my little tantrum. My limbic brain had already hijacked my neuron transmission processes. I read in the book Emotional IQ by Daniel Goleman that when this happens, you are at the mercy of that part of your brain for awhile. Normal patterns of electrical impulses in the brain get redirected so that some information doesn’t get registered in parts of the brain that help with making informed decisions. Have you ever heard someone say something like “I’m so mad I can’t even see straight?” That’s a physiological fact.
I thought, no problem, I’m an expert at this kind of mental control and I’ll be fine. But I wasn’t! I was in denial and continued to play the same way I was before my losing it. And I double-bogeyed the next 2 holes. I never really recovered that day and my score showed it. I vowed to go home and figure it all out and find out why and never let it happen again.
You know, we’re all human. Give yourself a break! Get in the state of mind at the beginning of the round where you believe in your gut that no matter what happens you will still be enjoying the thing you most want to do – GOLFING!
The thing I want you to get from this article, this lesson, is that the best cure for negative emotions is prevention. It’s so much easier to not have a loss of emotional control in the first place than to try to recover from one.
In Part 3, next time, I will talk about what we can do to get back into control when we do lose it. Until next time,
Greens and fairways,
I’m so tired of reading about the latest and greatest method for a golf pitch shot or any other golf shot for that matter. You know, you can go back to some golf magazines from the 60’s and you’ll see almost the exact same pictures and instruction sequences as today. Not much has really changed in golf instruction I’m here to tell you. If you read the latest books, however, you’d swear that the human body was just invented or that golf clubs were just invented, one of the two.
Listen, it’s so simple to make a great golf pitch shot and everyone way over complicates this. As with everything I teach in golf, it all boils down to doing a couple main things very correctly. Most of the details matter very little but we get all caught up in so many minor things that we end up not paying attention to the major thing.
For a golf pitch shot. Here’s the major things:
1. As still a body as you can given the distance of the swing. Again, I hear all of this advice on videos about wrist cock and proper stance and blah blah blah… Guess what? There’s many ways to make a pitch shot, not just one. But they all work more consistently when the body is still. Focus on this. Work on this in your living room while watching TV. You don’t even need a ball? This will pay you back in spades in lower score and yet nobody does it. Of course, if you have more than a short pitch shot, then yes, you have to allow the body to rotate with the swing. Just minimize it. The physics of the golf swing is such that the least of amount of variables of any of the swings gives you the highest chance for consistency.
2. Hit down to make the ball go up. Now if I had a nickel for every time I saw an amateur try to “help” the ball up in the air, I’d be a millionaire. This is so common because it is counter-intuitive. To hit a great golf pitch shot, you must strike the ball before the ground. If you need more loft, pull out your sand wedge or lob wedge. Don’t go through all those bodily gyrations to force it. The best way to make sure this happens is to pre-load it in your setup. That means, you should be leaning on your front foot more than your back. That drops your front shoulder down and back shoulder up. As long as you keep your body still, your swing will necessarily result in a downward, correct strike on the ball.
3. Make the shot while keeping it as low as possible. In other words, you don’t always need a wedge! In fact, for most amateurs, running the ball up on the green is almost always a better choice, especially if you tend to chunk it or hit it fat as they say. Pull out your 5-iron some day and chip with it anytime you don’t absolutely have to put it in the air You’ll be surprised.
Folks, those are the biggies. Get real good at them and then you don’t even have to worry about any details. Forget about being “technically correct.” Much of that stuff is for the pros. Look, you just want to break 100 or 90 right? How will you do that? By becoming as consistent as possible. Work on the big 3 in your next golf chip shot and you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Jack Burke wrote the following golf chipping chips:
The average ninety-shooter has trouble playing a chip simply because he does not understand the na- ture of the shot. Usually he putts the ball with an iron, and calls it a chip.
Simply bunting the ball with an iron from the fringe of the green does not constitute a chip. Unless one particular motion is applied to it, such a shot depends almost entirely on luck. This motion is down- ward, the essential action in all iron shots.
The chip is, in essence, a billiard shot. I don’t care if the pin is ten feet away or a hundred, the ball still must be hit down upon. This imparts spin to the ball, and spin means control. Without a downward blow you are not taking advantage of the loft, which is built into each iron for a purpose. That’s why the manufacturer made nine of them.
A ball hit flatly with an iron can do little more than bounce off the face of it. Hitting the ball in this fash- ion, you might just as well play the game with a baseball bat.
To create a golf shot, rather than just bat it, the ball must ride on the face of the club, held there by
The turf against which you hit down until the com- pression of the ball propels it forward. This holds true whether the ball is hit 200 yards or 200 inches.
The downward blow of the chip-The essential action in all iron shot. This imparts spin which, in turn, gives you control.
The forward direction in which the ball is propelled is, as I have implied, built into the iron by the manu- facturer. Beyond generating a certain amount of clubhead speed, there is nothing you can do to in- crease this.
But to take full advantage of it, you must hit down on the ball. This is the only way in which the ball can ride as high on the face of it as the manufacturer in- tended.
Get confidence in the loft of your irons from the chip. Learn how much of the work they can do for you when you hit down on the ball. This knowledge will erase your fear of the longer irons.
Concentrating on the downward blow, the chip is addressed and struck basically the same as the putt.
Set confidence in the loft of your irons from the chip. This will erase your fear of the longer irons
plane with your shoulders, how and where you place your feet is a matter of comfort. I place mine close to- gether and well open to the cup. By doing this I get the sensation that my target is lying in my lap.
There are several schools of thought on how to judge a chip. Some contend you should judge the roll and let the ball land where it may. Others say you should pick a spot on the green for the ball to land, and let the roll take care of itself.
Possibly the simplest method is to judge the chip by the manner in which it would react if you rolled it by hand toward the cup. Unless you feel you can al- ready visualize this, practice it.
Roll the ball underhand. Then transfer the results to the proper technique of the chip. This is the most practical way to attune your muscles. Afterward, judging a chip is a matter of using your imagination.
Let’s treat here the popular myth about the follow- through.
The average golfer’s thinking works on the principle that if he follows through, the ball takes care of itself. This is putting the cart before the horse.
A correct follow-through is the result of a well-hit ball, not the cause of it. An incorrect follow-through is premeditated, resulting in an upswing. Most mis- hit irons are caught on the upswing, the inevitable result of a conscious follow-through.
By thinking in terms of the follow-through you are least apt to accomplish what the follow-through is supposed to do-shift your weight.
Actually, a follow-through is the unavoidable result of hitting down on the ball. How well you follow
THE CHIP. ESSENCE OF THE IRON SHOT
through will be determined by how well you hit down.
Herein lies the importance of hitting down on the ball, not only on the chip, but on all iron shots.
A follow-through is the unavoidable result of hitting down on the ball. In this chip-shot, the follow-through- although not deliberate-is nevertheless natural and adequate.
A complete guide to score improvement for those with little time to work on their game AND A TURBOCHARGE for those that do.
Craig’s take: If you spend more of your time chipping using these tips, your long game will naturally get better. Give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised when your long irons and fairway woods start becoming straighter by virtue of you relaxing more knowing that your chipping game will always bring you out of it. This game is all about confidence and when you have that, your best performances come out and you play the game with your unconscious mind. That’s the goal!
Instruction on the cardinal rules of sand trap play (explosion-type) are as follows:
Some particularly tough hazard shots you’ll meet and golf sand instruction on how I play them:
Ball in a footprint: Hit it! Added to the fact that it’s an explosion shot, the ball is rimmed around with sand and needs extra excavating. If it’s a deep depression, switch from a sand iron to the nine-iron or fairway wedge, both of which have quicker “bite”.
Ball bunkered in downhill lie at back of trap: You get these back-slope babies now and then. First, take more sand back of the ball than on the flat: dig in a good two inches behind the ball. Close the clubface a bit to conform to the sand’s contour. Play the ball back a bit, off the right heel.
Ball in level lie on shallow, firm sand and with no overhang lip: If these four situations exist, use your putter. Use a flat-arm motion, not a chop, so that the blade is parallel to the sand. If you avoid making contact on either the upswing or downswing, which would loft or mash the ball into sand, and strike squarely n the middle , the putter will take you out nicely. I keep my weight forward.
Ball at front of trap, uphill lie: Keep in mind that you’re hitting up: therefore, the club head will plow through deeper and deeper sand as it moves toward and through the ball. This means (1) you need to hit a bit closer to the golf ball than on the flat and (2) your follow-through must be especially forceful. My weight remains on the left side and I play the outside-in cut shot, as described before. The clubface stays open and square to the line of flight.
A couple of golf sand instruction tips for working on your sand wedge game I’ve used:Ralph Guldahl, a great bunker player, liked to break a sand “slump” by practicing dummy swings in which he aimed to take divots of equal size. He wanted his sand divots to be about six inches long and three-quarters of an inch deep. Then “Ralph dropped a ball, took real shots with the same swing.
To improve accuracy at hitting behind the ball, draw a line two inches behind the all or sink a tee. Now aim for these targets, forgetting the ball.
Golf sand instruction illustration:
A) Basic golf sand shot – stance is open, left foot facing target considerably and right slightly. Ball is played off left foot. Club face is opened to the right and enters sand about 2″ behind ball.
B) Buried lie in the sand – stance is square with only left foot pointed slightly toward target. Ball played farther back in stance with clubface square. Club again enters sand about 2″ behind ball.
C) Shot from wet sand – same stance and ball placement as for basic sand shot, and clubface opened to right. Only difference is that club enters sand farther behind ball -about 3 inches- because it will not cut as deeply in wet sand.
D) Uphill shot in sand – same as basic shot except that ball played a bit farther back in stance -note line going to left heel- and club enters sand closer to ball -about 1″ from it- player must be extra sure to move club through sand on this shot since it must cut through more sand.
E) Downhill in sand – same as basic except ball played even farther forward in stance -note line going to toe- and club to enter sand farther behind ball- about 3″, , depending on incline of slope.
I have located this golf wedge instruction from none other than “The King” of golf, Arnold Palmer. I don’t need to add anything to it so here In his own words, Arnold Palmer:
Even though some of my fellow pros disagree with me, I’m a dedicated “wedge” man. The pitching wedge is the most versatile club in the bag and the real stroke-saver. And, there are a dozen ways you can use it, depending on how you want to play a shot. I think that a full knowledge of the use of the wedge will save you more shots than learning to hit a straight tee shot 250 yards down the fairway. I do most of my practicing with the wedge, and the person who wants to score should do most of his/her practicing with it, too.
For the short wedge pitch, I play the ball off a point opposite my left heel. I employ a short backswing, my hands never going higher than my shoulders. Taking on open stance with my left foot drawn away from the ball, I take the club back slowly and don’t cock my wrists until I’ve reached the end of the backswing. .
Although you must hit the ball firmly, you don’t put any effort into the swing. And you must not try to lift the ball into the air. Hit the ball on the downswing; the wedge will see that it gets up in the air.
For a shot that you want to get up in the air immediately after contact, move the ball forward to a point opposite the left toe and hit it the same way.
For the low wedge shot with exaggerated backspin, play the ball back off the right foot. That way you get a low-flying, whirling ball from hitting straight down at the ball. This shot is used against the wind when you don’t want the ball up in the air. The only body movement in wedge shots is a slight turn of the shoulders. The feet remain firmly planted in position.
|The feet are almost together in an open stance. The ball is opposite the left heel. The body is turned toward the hole.||The wrists start to break sooner and in a more pronounced way on the wedge pitch.|
|The body turn is at a minimum; the hands just go waist high.||Particularly on this shot, your head must remain rigidly in place.|
|The body turn is at a minimum; the hands just go waist high.|