Have you ever taken a golf lesson? Surely you have gotten a golf tip. What do you remember of that lesson or that tip? Golf is a funny game; you can hear a great tip and put it to work for a few days, or even a few weeks, but then it is gone. It is gone and you are back to floundering all over again. I have learned not to pay too much attention to golf tips, but I got some very good golf advice once and I would like to share it with you.
I have had a lot of golf instruction in my life and most of it is of minimal efficacy. What I am about to say is going to sound radical, but I think that golf pros spend too much time on golf technique and not enough on golf art! Who teaches the art of golf anymore? Have you been to an instructor today? They put sensors all over your body and film you from two sides and then measure angles such as degree of hip turn, shoulder turn, knee flex, and on and on. I know that teaching the swing has value, but come on; the golf swing is not that hard. No one ever taught me to swing a baseball bat (well I was shown a few times), and yet I had a stellar high school career. No, today more than ever we need to learn the art of the game. We need to learn how to play golf not what to do. Just like baseball they taught us how to cover your position and how to run the bases, we in golf need to learn how to play the course.
I used to play regularly with a fellow who always shot 80 or 81. His best rounds were 77 or 78, but his bad rounds were never higher than 84 or 85. If you bet his score before the round, you would do best to guess 80 or 81. This guy was Mr. Steady; his scores did not deviate much at all. What was this all about, I wondered; how is he so consistent and the rest of us so up and down? Some of you might think that of course he is consistent, he shoots 80! Well, 80 isn’t that hot, I mean it is good, but lots of players are better than that, but few more consistent. So I analyzed his game and something stuck out to me, like a sore thumb.
This guy, let’s call him Rodney (since that is his name), was a most consistent player, because he intimately knew his limitations. Early on when I was playing with him, I always thought it odd that every time he hit it in the trees; he would chip it back to the fairway. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking deep in the woods, I am talking in the trees, with a shot you could easily hook or fade out of and gain substantial yardage. He was a pretty straight hitter, so he never got too deeply into trouble, but when he was there, he took the absolutely safest route out. I mean come on, this was a good player a guy that shot many rounds in the 70’s, he knew how to fade and hook the ball. But that is not how he played, he knew he was a good enough player he could chip out, hit the next shot on the green and make a par or bogey. On par threes he would always take plenty of club, rarely missing the green short. Off the tee he would hit the fairway, using an iron if need be. He was a great chipper, because he played safe chips, not too many flops or risky stuff, chip and run if at all possible. A boring, boring player, but a partner you could count on not to take a big number.
I think that whether you are a 25 or a 5 handicapper, you need to learn to play golf. Rodney has fun playing boring golf and you will too. Low scores and winning never get old; instead lower scores make the game so much more enjoyable. Have you been there in the grill room, when one of the guys says, “you won’t believe the shot I hit from the woods on 13 today” and the first remark is “yeah, but what did you shoot?” Learn to play golf; it is an art not a science.
D. Morgan is a frustrated golfer. While Mr. Morgan actually carries a very low handicap, he has never been impressed by most golf instruction. Morgan writes articles about golf and the golfing gene. Mr. Morgan’s finest instruction article “The Secret Of Golf” can be found, free of charge, at http://www.yourgolfgps.com, a GPS/laser rangefinder site.