Stroke Savers

by Jeff Fisher

Golf is a funny game. Everybody who plays it believes they can be better tomorrow than they were today, and that is what keeps us all coming back. That is part of the beauty of the sport. But, very few players are looking to the correct parts of their game to find that improvement.

When all is said and done, improvement is really only measured on the scorecard. Everything you work on is with the intention of shooting lower scores. So with that in mind, why not go to the easiest places first to find those few strokes you would like to shave off of your scores?

The first place to look is the putting green. Most golfers will lament that they do not make enough putts, but the reality is that the true problem is most golfers three putt too often. When it comes to avoiding three putts, the best putter on the PGA Tour averages less than one three putt every four rounds. The median player on that list averages one three putt every other round. Not many recreational golfers can say that.

The majority of three putts come from a lack of distance control. I prescribe to my students that to alleviate that problem they hit all putts with the intention of leaving them right on the back edge of the cup. I know we have heard a foot or 14 inches or 16 inches, etc., but if our intent is to leave every single putt we hit right on the back edge we will accomplish three things.

First of all you will eliminate three putts. Secondly, you will find that after you start leaving putt after putt hanging around the edge of the cup, more of these putts will start to fall. And finally, you will find greens much easier to read because you will be reading all of your putts for a consistent speed. You won’t be standing over a putt wondering if you should die it in or jam it in through the break.

The other place to look is in your course management. Do you always hit 3 wood for your second shot on par 5’s just because you are a long way from the green? When you hit a shot into trouble are you looking for the miracle recovery shot rather than the shot that will get you back into position for your next shot? These are the places where lots of golfers throw away unnecessary strokes.

When you hit a shot into trouble look for the easiest way out, the one that will open you up for the next shot. When you are two shots away from the green choose to play two shots that are the easiest for you rather than hit a 3 wood just because you think you are supposed to. A 5 iron and a 7 iron accomplish the same as a 3 wood and a wedge, but with a much lower risk of getting into trouble.

Everyone’s goal is to shoot the best score they can, and by eliminating needless lost strokes you can lower your scores at a much faster rate.

Jeff Fisher is the Director of Instruction at the OB Sports Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa. You can reach Jeff at 480.414.9330 or