Friday, 18 August 2017

The Long Ball

To comb the net related to golf instruction very quickly reminds us that the major focus or preoccupation of most golfers, and therefore teachers, is on how to swing the golf club. Furthermore, a central theme seems to be ways in which golfers can learn to hit the ball farther. Golfers seem to be in continued awe of "the long ball."

I recently wrote an article dealing with the amount of coverage Rory was receiving because of his long driving. In that article I pointed out that it was the end of the matter that was so much more important if it was low scores you were looking for. Rory may have been driving the ball incredibly well, but he didn't win any championships. If you want to win championships, you had better be able to chip and putt.

Steve has started playing some really decent golf. After struggling for the past couple of years, he is now regularly scoring in the high seventies, instead of the low nineties. There is a big change in his game. And he looks like a different player on the course. He is more relaxed and a lot happier. Having worried for the past couple of years that I may have helped Steve go from being a low eighties shooter to a low nineties man, something has clicked for Steve-O.

One of the changes Steve has made is the switch to using his three wood or his four iron off the tee on the par fours and fives. Playing with his TourEdge Exotics three wood--a club I found in South Carolina and passed along to him--Steve hits the ball pretty much as far as he hit his driver, but much more often in the short grass. He is so pleased with the results from this approach that he no longer even carries his driver. He has become thoroughly convinced of the benefits of hitting the ball a few yards shorter in some cases, but keeping it in play.

Steve has also made huge improvements in his short game. He pitches and chips the ball much better. And it is here that he is saving so many more pars when he misses greens, as all of us do. Steve is visibly more relaxed on the golf course. He looks so much more confident when playing. And it all boils down to two things: getting the ball in play off the tee, and scrambling. 

If golf is about shooting the lowest score you possibly can, then perhaps we can learn something from Steve. We all need to use whatever means necessary to get the ball in play off the tee, rather than simply trying to just hit it as far down the fairway as possible. And we need to develop our short games. It may not be as sexy, or exciting, an approach to playing the game as swinging from your heels and going for the long ball. But, so long as golf is about shooting the lowest score rather than hitting it the farthest, perhaps there are a lot of players out there who might do well to leave their drivers in the trunk of the car like Steve. Just a thought.

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