Now I know this is obvious but nonetheless the reality for every golfer is that golf is more a game of mistakes than it is excellent shots, and so the idea is for you to reduce the amount of mistakes you make in order to continue to lower your score average.
So how do you do that?
These are all good ideas but there are many ways you can practice to improve your golf scores other than the obvious way’s, but what’s interesting is that we have noticed that as golfers get better with scores closer to par they quite often focus most of their energy on one or two skills at the expense of other skills that we call “high pay-off skills.”
Let me give you a simple example of what I mean…
How many different bunker shots have you mastered up to this point in your golf career? Do you have just one type of bunker shot method that you use to play all the different types of conditions you face in a bunker, or do you have other options?
- Can you play a high and soft bunker shot to a short and tight pin placement within 10 yards, and can you get the ball to within a flag-stick of the hole more than 50 percent of the time?
- Can you confidently and competently play a shot from a buried lie to within 15 feet of a pin more than 50 percent of the time?
- How about a long bunker shot of say 25 yards, can you get your shot consistently to within 12 feet of the flag?
What about your ability to hit shots with a curve or different trajectories?
- Can you hit a low cut shot that slices at least half the width of a fairway into a position to play your next at least 7 times out of 10 attempts?
- Can you hit a soft draw from the middle of the green into a left pin placement?
- How about a high and soft fade to a tight pin on the right side of the green, can you hit that type of shot when you need to?
- Can you hit shots that travel 50 percent higher or lower than your normal trajectory when you want?
I could go on but I think you get the picture.
You have to build a large and varied base of long and short shots as your scores get closer to par. If you spend most of your time practicing the shots you are already competent at you are setting yourself up for big surprises on the golf course that you aren't going to like.
How many times during a round (especially when you are not playing your best) do you get confronted with challenging shots that you struggle to play competently?
I vividly remember watching a show reel of Bobby Jones the great American amateur golfer who challenged a pupil he was instructing to play against him but the twist was that Bobby would play golf from where the pupil hit his tee-shots and the pupil could play from Bobby’s tee-shots.
Needless to say Bobby Jones recovery shots from awful positions off the fairway were nothing short of miraculous, and in contrast his student even from a position in the middle of the fairway was not able to produce lower scores than Bobby Jones.
Remember the nature of golf is that it is a game of mistakes first and foremost, and the real skill is to manage the challenging shots in an expert fashion.
Try not to play a high percentage of perfect looking golf shots on the golf range (especially off mats), but instead learn how to play effective recovery strokes out on the golf course to learn how to keep your golf score under control.
From round one to round four in a tournament the golf course will continuously change from tee and pin placements through to the weather conditions.
If you never spend enough time practicing the tough shots that you will face on the golf course in every round you play, you will never develop the ability to adapt to the changing conditions.
And this will be your “Achilles heel,” the factor that will lessen your ability to reduce mistakes in your rounds.
The one factor that you must continually develop is the ability to recover successfully from challenging situations equally as well as if you were playing from the center of a fairway.
When you practice the recovery shots often you build up a thicker layer of confidence in your shot-making capability to help you to overcome the many challenges the game will present you.
So the next time you go to the golf range to practice plan to practice some hooks and slices, some high and low shots, and instead of placing your ball on great lies drop each ball as if you were taking a penalty and play your shots from the lies you get.
On the putting green, practice the extra-long putts over 30 feet and also the side-hill breaking short putts of 3 feet to 10 feet to develop your confidence in these challenging types of putts.
Remove the surprise effect from your game and I guarantee you that you will lower your golf score and become a much more consistent golfer.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne – Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College