I played the other day with one of my young members who is about a 12 handicap but swears he is a 2, it’s just that the handicapping system isn’t fair to good players. Say What?? I couldn’t wait to hear this one!!
He proceeded to tell me what a strong player he was due to his distance off the tee, distance with his fairway woods (metals), and distance with his irons. I guess all he was lacking was distance with his short game and putter. He did manage to show me some impressive distance around the greens a few times that day. Unfortunately, he wasn’t going for distance at the time, he just happened to hit the ball right in the middle and send it about 70 yards when he only wanted 7 yards.
Anyone that has been around our course for any length of time is well aware of his practice sessions. Here’s how they go – Get 4 buckets of balls (about 60 balls each), warm up with 6 wedge shots and then move straight to the driver for the remaining 234 balls.
I asked why he doesn’t spend more time on his short game and learned, “The short game is no fun to practice”. I asked him how much fun he had taking 3 or 4 to get down from around the green. Answer, “I was just a little off today”.
Well, not that I was counting but of the 11 greens he missed by 10 yards or less, it took him 3 strokes to get in the hole 2 times, 4 to get in 6 times, 5 once, and 6 twice. He didn’t get “up and down” once. Not once in 11 attempts.
The first Professional I ever worked for once told me about the birthday present his mother had given him when he was fairly new to the game, one hundred golf lessons (for $400). The thing that has made this story stick with me all these years, aside from thinking you could ever get a lesson for $4, was in those 100 lessons he never hit a ball more than 50 yards. His golf coach told him ‘you win tournaments on and around the green, not with the big clubs’.
And he was right. He was one of the top players in the state. We used to say you could put a ball anywhere in the clubhouse and as long as someone held the doors open he would find a way to get the ball in the hole on the 18th green in 2 shots.
Hitting a golf ball short but precisely may not be as exhilarating as having people rave over your soaring drives. But, if you adopt the right attitude and make your short game a priority you may find you receive far more recognition than the guys that put on the exhibitions on the range with their long drives.
For help making short game practice fun, see your PGA Professional.
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at email@example.com.