28 November 2016 (Pasadena, CA) Do you ever listen to how the folk you play with give subtle hints as to how they perceive the strengths of your game? I think it is important (and fascinating) to listen to these little gems of insight. I think it is difficult for the average golfer to identify these strengths because most of the time we are focusing on our weaknesses and how to improve them. But what if we looked at our game’s strengths through the eyes of others and concentrate on scoring at those times we are most comfortable on the course. What have you heard? For example, off the tee, do friends marvel at the bombs you hit? Or perhaps they comment on your putting? “You sure saved a lot of strokes on the green today.” What do you hear over and over? That is a strength and a scoring opportunity through the eyes of a friendly competitor. You’d be surprised at how often you are complimented on the course and generally not a word is said after a bad shot. Listen! When I think of my game through the eyes of my golf buddies, these are a few things I hear: “Your game is boring, another fairway hit.” “You are a grinder.” From about 120 yards in, “You are in your wheelhouse.” So how do I parse these comments? First, I am not the longest driver in my group, so I have to hit fairways. I do at about an 83% clip (I keep a ‘fairways hit’ stat). NEVER LONG AND WRONG! That’s how I play with the big hitters. It is a strength. Second, my wheelhouse: I have to go pin seeking when I have a short club in my hand. If I go to the range, 75% of my practice is dedicated to the short game. I see the youngsters pulling driver out first, perhaps they are fine tuning their strength(s)? No, not me, I am most comfortable with a wedge in my hand and I can score with it. Wheelhouse. Third, what am I to make of the grinder comment? To me, it is the most complimentary of the three adjectives I hear about my game. To be a grinder is a mindset. You are out there competing and being competitive on most days. You leave an impression because you don’t have every shot in the bag yet when the cards are tallied you are in the mix most days. How’d you do it? Well, I play to my strengths AND manage the course. You make good decisions by playing the percentages. Hit fairways off the tee and score inside of 120 yards while being efficient inside 150 is my recipe. Being patient because I cannot overpower a course with length. Identify scoring opportunities. That is grinding. That is putting in the work. Also, knowing your strengths identifies those areas of your game that need improvement. 150+ is a weakness of mine. Whether I am trying to hit a green from 160 out or hitting a second shot on a par 5 or long par 4 is where danger lurks for me. So what do I do? In the short run, I play some longer par 4s like par 5s. Driver, mid-iron to scoring distance, attack. Take the big number out of play. On on par 5s, hit a club you are most comfortable with on your second shot. For me, it is my trusty 4 hybrid. Just long enough to get me into scoring range with accuracy. Be cerebral out on the course. In the long run, I need to take some lessons to improve my weaknesses. Lastly, very rarely do I get compliments on putting . Not a weakness but surely not a strength. I average about 32 putts per round. I rarely 3 putt and only 1 putt when I have stuck a wedge inside 5 feet. What if I was to sink a few bombs per round? Translate 32 putts to say, 28-29? Just that alone would make me a single indexer. So listen to your golf partners, on occasion they say something that can improve your game.
Happy birthday, dad. (He would have been 88 today)