If you are like many other golfers, the pressures of business and family reduce your practice time on your game. Let me show you how you can keep your scores down by simply changing your playing strategy.
Do you have a playing strategy? Well, if not you are not alone. Very few golfers step onto the first tee with any specific strategy other than to play each shot as it comes and try their best.
The majority of golfers who find it difficult to put in the practice time, have problems around the greens. If you do not agree with me, count the number of strokes you consumed around the green on your next round. You will surprise yourself!
Knowing that the short game requires more practice time than any other area in the game, most golfers resign themselves to the fact that they have to live with their skill deficiencies and do the best they can. They hardly have time to hit a bucket of balls on the range, never mind spend time practicing chip shots or bunker shots.
Setting a strategy for your game has only one objective. How can I plan the way I play the course around the “strengths” of my game to give me the best scoring opportunities.
So I encourage you to think “out side the Box”. If your short game is terrible, and accounts for most of the strokes you consume on the hole, change your playing strategy to eliminate it altogether! Here is how it is done.
The 65 yard Approach Shot Strategy
Instead of always trying for the green in regulation which leaves you with approach shots anywhere from 130 yards to 190 yards out, design a strategy around only approaching the green from no further than 65 yards out.
“You are crazy! That consumes an extra shot from tee to green”. I hear you say.
Before you dismiss this strategy, look at the benefits:
o Your have a higher chance of hitting the green from 65 yards, compared with 130 – 190 yards. You will develop a higher level of proficiency with the wedge if you spend most of your practice time with the club rather than wasting time trying to bash drivers past the 250 yard marker or trying to hit two to three balls with every club in the bag.
o Let us assume you are aiming for a score of 90 on your course that has a par 72, your goal for every hole is one over par for each hole (think about that).
That means you have 5 strokes on every par 4 to meet goal. Three of those 5 strokes are planned for 2 putts on the green and the 65 yard approach shot. That leaves you 2 stokes to get yourself within the 65 yard position for the wedge shot. Even on a long 400 yard par 4, that is an average of only 168 yards per stroke. You can afford to take the extra stroke and still meet your goal.
o You take the pressure for distance off the other two shots which makes them easier execute and reduces the number of miss hit shots in this region. If your scoring goal is higher than 90 you can afford even more strokes from tee to green, reducing the pressure further still.
o Not only do you avoid all chip shots and bunker shots with this strategy, you also have a very good chance of getting within 25 feet of the pin, giving yourself a chance of a single putt for par on every hole.
o The 65 yard approach shot should be used on every hole with maybe the exception of short par 3’s. In no time you will develop a skill with the wedge that is deadly effective for not only avoiding the short game but also as a stroke saver in the future.
o The final point to consider is that your limited practice time will be used mostly on one club – the wedge. If you combine that practice time with a few minutes a day on the living room carpet with your putter, you have now covered 65% of the practice requirements for this strategy.
How to Use a Wedge
When you go to the range, use at least half the bucket on your wedge. Wedge play is all about accuracy. Swing balance is critical. To be successful with this club you need to focus on the following points:
o Place the ball in the middle, or slightly to the right of middle in your stance.
o Make sure your hands are ahead of the ball in the stance.
o Maintain a straight and firm left arm with no break at the elbow joint.
o Start the swing by “rotating” the left shoulder to ensure you are perfectly balanced on the backswing and you create no lateral movement of your axis of rotation backwards during the swing.
o Cock the hands as early as possible on the backswing – you are not looking for distance on this shot, it is all about accuracy.
o Take no more than a ½ to ¾ backswing.
o On the down swing delay the hands as long as possible – if your ball flight is shallow, your hands are coming through the strike zone too quickly.
o You should feel the power in the shot coming from the hand rotation and not the shoulder turn. This avoids any pull to the left from your shoulders which is very common with a shortened backswing.
o You should feel the sensation of thumping downwards on the ground at the point of impact. This sharp angle of attack on the ball will create more backspin and improve the stopping power of the ball.
Wedge Practice Routine
o Starting with no more than a ½ swing, hit your wedge to a target 40 yards away. Your goal is to get within 20 feet 5 shots out of 5. If you miss the goal with one shot, start the count again.
o Only after you have achieved this goal, move the target out to 50 yards and repeat the routine until you can achieve getting within 20 feet 5 shots out of 5.
o After you have achieved this goal, move the target out to 65 yards and repeat the routine until you can achieve getting within 25 feet 5 shots out of 5.
o Finally, move the target randomly between 40 yards and 65 yards and repeat the routine until you can achieve getting within 20 feet 5 shots out of 5.
With a little bit of practice, the wedge will become an extremely useful tool that will be a major “strength” of your game. Not only do you avoid the short game for better scoring, you eliminate the pressure for distance on your long game which will improve your overall swing consistency.
Good luck and good scoring!