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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Secret to Lower Scores

Bobby Jones said, "The secret of low scores is the ability to turn three shots into two."  That's why the best players have good short games.  They don't call the wedges and the putter scoring clubs for nothing.  There is nothing like getting the ball up and down from a tricky spot to save par when a bogey or worse was definitely in the cards.  It lifts your spirits and demoralizes your opponent.

There are plenty of good ball strikers out there.  There are lots of big hitters.  But the guys who make the money are the ones who can chip and putt.  While this sounds obvious, it is also quite clear that it is not something generally understood by the average golfer.  If it was, you surely wouldn't see golfers constantly buying the latest driver on the market, guaranteed to give you more yards.  A good drive sets you up to score, and it's great for the ego, but inevitably you will only score if you can chip and putt.  

If this secret was really understood, you also wouldn't see golfers on the range banging away with drivers and long irons and then heading to the first tee with only a few minutes at best spent chipping and putting.  If this was generally appreciated, golf lessons would also not be devoted almost entirely to the full swing, when the scoring shots are usually with the wedge and the putter.  But most golfers take lessons to learn how to hit it farther, or straighter, not how to get out of bunkers or to chip and putt.  Learning the game from around the green first is definitely the best approach.  Teach someone to chip well and he'll soon learn to hit solid full shots.  Harvey Penick said the full swing was really only a longer chip shot.

I played with Spiros yesterday.  He's usually a high eighties, low nineties, shooter.  He drives it relatively short and crooked.  His fairway wood and long iron game is inconsistent at best.  But he often chips and putts like a demon.  As a result,  he generally gets much more out of his game than you would expect watching him hit the ball.  On the back nine his chipping and putting kicked in and he made five pars.  On every one of those pars but one he made par by chipping it stone dead.  It's lucky I beat him two and one because he almost holed it from well off the green on eighteen on a hole where he gets a stroke.  Come to think of it, he did that the last time we played as well.

If anyone wants to get the best from their game and shoot their lowest scores, they'll only do it by sprucing up their short game.  That's the secret to lower scores, regardless of what the ads might say about new clubs, working out to some golf trainer's latest video, or some new swing training method.

Of course I'm hardly one to talk.  I seldom practise at all.  I'd much rather play.  But, then again, I figure I've pretty much reached my level of incompetence.  I must admit, however, that I could use a good bit of work on my short game.  Some days I throw away shots around the green like a drunken sailor.