Going Low(er)

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18 August 2016 (Pasadena, CA) So just for arguments sake let me float a few numbers past you. According to the Golf Guru (Golf Digest) 5% of golfers will shoot in the 70s (not sure if this is once in a lifetime or consistently), 20% of golfers will shoot in the 80s, 27% in the 90s, leaving a full 48% of golfers never breaking 100. No surprise here. Golf is a tough sport (that’s right, I said sport NOT game) and there are all different types of golfers from the casual recreational golfer to the dedicated amateur that plays 4-6 rounds/month and practices at least that much all the way to the touring professional. I am an 11 index which puts me statistically in the top 35% of golfers worldwide. Damn straight. I work at this sport. I think about it constantly. I replay rounds in my head. I can tell you every stroke I took in a given round. I keep stats such as fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts. I tweak equipment (going in for my first club-fitting next month). I read golf history and instructional books. I study the pro’s swings as well as my playing partners and analyze their course management. I am a golf nerd but still a low double-digit indexer. Like I said, it is a tough sport. Until I retire 10-15 years from now, I do not have all the time necessary to dedicate myself to improvement and by then I will be 30 years past my physical prime. Quite the conundrum. So the question is, what can I do now? My goal has always been to be a single digit indexer and I have been trending down over the last year so I am close. Here are a few observations…Over the last year I have shot more rounds in the 70s than I ever have (approximately 6). My average round has dropped from 88 to 85. How do I account for this and what can I do to enhance the downward trend? My first thought is choose your playing partners wisely. Do they push you? Do they take the sport seriously (while still having fun)? My group absolutely does. I would say this has been the greatest factor in my recent scoring trend. I also have buds who are casual golfers and I completely understand the deal when I play with them. They’ll chug a few brews, take cell phone calls, give themselves 5 footers (because it was for a 8 anyway), stand in your putting line, etc. Fun rounds with friends…thus, not in my usual golf group (a forthcoming blog on this great group of guys is forthcoming). Practice is a luxury because rounds take time but it must be done. I teach at a university and I have mid-week off days. I am fortunate, I can practice without taking time away from my family. And I can testify, “practicers” know each other (aka course or range rats). We are out there mid-week in 100+ degree weather hitting large buckets and then slogging off to the practice green. We acknowledge the effort and on occasion share trade secrets. I also think about equipment. I cannot keep up with members of my group who are 250 off the tee and hit blistering fairway woods. Too long for me. Where I make my move is from 120 in. So I work hard to be accurate off the tee and efficient from the fairway with a hybrid (no fairway woods) to put myself in position to do short-game surgery. In my mind, 120 in is a lag putt and expect to get up and down. I have to. My playing partners are efficient hitting GIRs. If I am hitting a large bucket, 75 percent of my shots are 100 in. I watch the youngsters come out and pull driver out immediately. Ego is a big part of the game for their generation. I learned the game from a bunch of old guys who took great pleasure beating me with course management and deadly accurate short games, my dad in particular. More recently I was fitted for a putter and that has really helped lower my scores. It is probably the most overlooked club in the bag. I had a Scotty Cameron mallet putter but was informed I have an arc putting stroke (the SC is better suited for a straight back and forth style) and was fitted for a heel-shafted Odyssey. Combined with an accurate short game I have become much more consistent 10 feet and in (scoring range). Since the switch, I have gone 83 and 82 averaging 29.8 putts ( a sub-2 putt average). What a scoring difference maker. So in conclusion, I would say that any attempt to lower your index by going low(er) requires thought and work. A combination of course management and playing to your strengths and aggressively trying to enhance them will show immediate results in a positive direction.

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