When you watch tour golfers playing exceptionally well in a tournament on TV and they are way under par for the tournament, you could so easily be fooled into believing that these highly skilled golfers play like this all the time, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes they can play like this occasionally, but the real skill of tour golfers is that they have developed a special ability that gives them a scoring advantage on tough days on the golf course.
This scoring advantage allows them to keep their score producing ability in balance so they can maximize their scoring potential on the tough day on the golf course.
Successful tour golfers have acquired and developed a special type of knowledge and ability to skilfully assess and successfully execute shots from the most challenging situations.
They couldn’t possibly play on a major professional golf tour such as the PGA, LPGA or European Tour if they couldn’t score well, that goes without saying, however their real make or break ability is scoring well in tough conditions and situations, which is what they face many times over 72 holes.
That’s right, most days are tough days on the golf course for tour players, contrary to popular opinion.
It's Not About the Ball Striking
A tour golfer with a competitive score average of 71.5 for the season who is standing at 18 under par on the eighteenth tee in the fourth round is playing a lot better than his or her seasonal average.
No tour golfer plays like that every week like I said, in fact not even close to that, but the illusion that many golfers are being influenced to believe (based on the way TV networks telecast golf tournaments) is that you have to be an exceptional ball striker to play at this level.
The reason I say this is that you see a lot of amazing approach shots in tournaments going near the hole from all sorts of places. But what you are not seeing is their exceptional scrambling ability when they get into trouble that allows them to keep making pars when they miss greens in regulation.
Yes it’s true that to compete successfully on a professional golf tour today you will have to be able to average around 12 greens per round in regulation over a season, and you will need to hit around 55 percent of fairways.
But what do these successful tour golfers do on the holes where they miss the green and have landed themselves in a tough lie?
They scramble their way out of it.
Scrambling Ability is the Master Skill
You have to master scrambling skills to help you produce low golf scores on the tough days in tournaments.
Now the scrambling skills I’m talking about are what we call at Pro Tour Golf College “high pay off skills” and these are the skills that are not nearly practiced enough.
And they are not practiced enough because elite amateur and a lot of professional golfers in our experience are spending too much time working on perfecting their full swing technique and ball striking ability.
They are falling into the trap that the 80--20 rule describes where they work on the 80 percent of the golf skills that bring in 20 percent of the results they seek.
Now it's not exactly an 80 to 20 ratio but you get the idea.
They work on the most popular skills, and spend little to no time on the skills that keep the score moving in the right direction.
Think about it for a moment, when you are not playing your best, when the conditions are tough, what skills let your scoring down the most?
In other words, what skills if you developed and mastered them would help you produce a lower score on the tough days more often?
Now you might say that it changes from time to time, but in our experience this is simply not the case.
The scrambling skills that help you produce lower scores in tough conditions are the same ones that frustrate you the most because they never come off the way you want--when you want!
Scrambling Improves Score Flow
You need to score around par most of the time to be a successful tour golfer. However, your scoring can fluctuate considerably from day to day, so it is likely that in any tournament week 3 rounds out of 4 are going to be tough going.
So the real question you need to ask yourself is “what stops me scoring lower on these tough days?”
Strangely what’s often difficult for us to understand is that elite golfers usually know what these scrambling skills are for them.
The real ability you need to constantly work on, develop and master is scrambling to manage score flow.
Score Flow is the term we use at Pro Tour Golf College to describe the ability of a golfer to keep their score momentum flowing by turning bogeys into pars and double bogeys or worse into bogeys when greens are missed in regulation.
Our students know that being skillful with their scrambling ability would significantly improve their scores on the tough days, so we can help them to focus on these skills at the Pro Tour Golf College.
Our best advice for you is that you will have more chance of becoming a successful tour golfer by not following the herd and trying to perfect your golf swing and ball striking but work much harder on your scrambling ability before it’s too late.
When the Going Gets Tough, Scramble Your Way Out of It
The tour golfers who can score well in tough conditions are the product of a highly specific type of focus where they practice to develop an ability to skilfully play the types of shots encountered when “the going gets tough.”
When you struggle your way to a higher score than you wanted, what made that score you had higher?
I bet in most cases you didn’t hit it close enough to convert it into a par or better from a challenging lie or situation.
The real reason successful tour golfers score lower more often is not because they swing it better, or that they are better ball strikers; no it’s simply that they are exceptional at scoring from all types of places--other than the fairway on the tough days.
This is where you should focus your attention most of the time when you practice. Study your last 10 rounds in tournaments and isolate the type of weaknesses in your scrambling ability on the days you have your C score or high score average days.
Your scrambling skills are the ones that you rarely practice enough, but these skills will have the biggest impact on Score Flow, helping you to keep the score momentum going on the tough days.
Be Proud to Be a Scrambler
Be proud to score well on the tough days—especially when you are not having a great ball striking day.
Make today the day you flip the perfect swing and better ball striking model over to the one where you have excellent scores in the toughest conditions by also becoming an exceptional scrambler.
And when one of your playing partners cynically say’s that you wouldn’t have played nearly as well if you didn’t pitch and putt it so well from all the bad spots you were in you can just reply with a sheepish smile answering him “isn’t that the way the game is supposed to be played?”
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College for Serious Amateur Golfers
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