It’s all about score.
It’s just that simple. Why complicate an already complicated game? You can have the worst swing, the worst ball flight, wear hand-me-downs and look like you walked out of a homeless shelter but if you can score, how can anyone fault you on style points? You played better than they did.
I hear excuses like, “The Greens were terrible,” or “I just couldn’t get my game together because the pace of play was so slow,” and so on. They are what they are — excuses. Why is it that some players have rotten days yet still manage to come in with a respectable score? Are they just luckier? Perhaps. Perhaps, not.
I prefer the later. Sure having an excuse is a great cop-out. But does it really serve any purpose other than to smooth over your bruised ego? Personally I would much rather figure out why I messed up and perhaps, just perhaps should the occasion rear its ugly head again I may just have an answer.
You have heard it all before. Golf coaches stress the importance of a short game. Rely on your putting. But why? Is there something they aren’t telling you? How about I break it down this way.
It may seem obvious to you but to me this was a revelation that was 20 years too late.
A par 4 for example is a tee shot, an approach shot and two putts. That is what it’s supposed to be theoretically. A par 5 similarly is a tee shot, a fairway shot, an approach and two putts. Finally a par 3 is simply an approach with two putts.
Now that is all well and good if you hit every green and make every putt. But what if you miss the green on your approach? Then you throw in an extra stroke for every hole you miss your green. What if you make a single putt instead and make up the difference? How do you do that? The obvious answer, “hit the ball so close to the hole you just one putt or chip/pitch it in.”
The math of this is simple. There are 18 holes on a golf course. There are usually 10 par 4 , 4 par 5 and 4 par 3 holes per golf course with a par 72. Putts alone equal 51% of your game. Add your approach shot and that becomes 69% of your game.
Sure your tee shot is important but only with respect to par 3’s. And it gets worse if you miss the green on your approach shot.
Putting and chipping would account for 61% of my game. If that wasn’t a wake up call I don’t know what is. Add your approach shot and it jumps to a whopping 76%. That is a HUGE part of your game. Doing the math, I saw where I needed to concentrate. And specifically where to concentrate. Chips and putts — that was the key with approach shots being my second area to focus. The next question was how the devil do I do that? Keep track of your score but also track your Fairways hit, greens-in-regulation, and putts. Keep your data collection simple so you can determine at a glance where your shortcomings arise.
One-putting, not impossible just difficult to do consistently. Chipping it close, sample problem just different location and it’s easier to putt a ball you manage to chip close to a hole.
Now when I practice whenever I do, I know it’s tempting to pull out the driver but now I focus on hitting shots certain distances. Why? I know I will encounter those type of shots in my game (like a 75 yard pitch with my wedge). Now standing over a ball I have the confidence to say to myself you have this shot. You can hit it and this is what the ball will do when it lands. If I miss it, so what. Just recover.
The question then became how to score instead of making a perfect shot. It took a lot of pressure off of me and instead allowed me to focus on the task at hand — saving par. So what if I hit a ball poorly so long as I managed to get the ball on the green or so what if I hit the wrong line on my putt so long as I was close on my second putt to save par or bogey. Now after a boatload of practicing chipping and putting I can honestly say I feel comfortable around the greens. I focus on where I want my ball to be and execute. If I miss then re-evaluate and execute.
The next time you hear one of those favorite excuses just remember what you could have done or rather should have done. Just leave no excuses out there on the golf course. You either executed what you wanted done or you didn’t.