Posts Tagged ‘Tournament preparation’

How to Make More Birdies

April 27th, 2010

I get this question often. How do I make more birdies? I wrote a blog post a while ago called Make More Birdies!!!! that talked about getting comfortable knowing that you need to make at least 5 birdies a round to be tournament competitive.  However, that post didn’t give any advice on how to do it.  Let’s address a common problem I see for very good golfers.

I see too many golfers trying to make birdie with their irons.  By that, I mean they are trying to stuff it in every chance they get so they skip over the putt part of making the birdie.  I think Jason Sutton wrote a nice post about red, yellow and green light pins.  Here’s a link to his article.  This post talks about how player’s will aim at every flag.  As a player improves, there needs to be a point when they determine for themselves which opportunities to try and take advantage of.   There also needs to be a point where they determine where is the best place on the green to be putting from.

Players need to learn that the best rounds come from making birdies with the putter and not the iron.  Clearly, having an iron game that will allow you to hit specific places on the green is important but more attention needs to be paid to sinking more putts from the easy locations on the green even if they are a little farther away.  Where to putt from is at least as important to birdie making as distance from the hole.  I’ve seen many player’s miss 3 footers from the wrong side of the hole and ended up in a far worse situation than someone 10 feet from the hole but on the right side.  Learn how to read the green from the fairway so you can choose a proper landing position.  This will not only give your putter a chance to shine, it will also help prevent bogies.  Many times, 3 putt bogies are due to poor iron play location and not necessarily poor putting.

Clearly, the par 5′s will provide the best chances for birdies.  Good driving and wedge play become very important for making birdies here.

Just remember that you will more often shoot lower scores by making birdies with the putter vs. the irons.

Golf Lessons – The Laundry List

March 15th, 2010

The Laundry List is the name I give to the things a student should go through when struggling with their swing in practice and in competitions.  I feel it is my job to teach my students how to fix themselves when I’m not around.  They will be on their own much more often than they will be with me.  I think it is important to give the student some if/then’s.  A list of two or three items maximum that if the ball is doing X, then it is probably because of Y.  I don’t want them just tinkering with their swing to try and solve the problem.  This Laundry List is there to give them a roadmap and some comfort that they can solve an issue on their own.

As I work more and more with better players, there seems to me to be a reoccuring list of issues.  They are usually things that we have worked on in the past and were personal traits to their swing growing up.  These traits can be worked through but never eliminated.  Every so often they will come back in and because the golfer is accustom to them, the traits don’t register as something they are doing different.  This is one place where the power of the journal shows it’s true value.

If you can’t remember your Laundry List then it’s too long, you need a journal or both.  Use that journal folks.  It’s like sunscreen and flossing.  You know you’re supposed to and you hear all the time.

You’ll wish you had listened.

The Power of Par

January 26th, 2010

There was a lengthy discussion today on Twitter about this question: “Does the par of the hole have any influence over your decision making?”  This was basically a teaser question intended to start a discussion about how players value par vs. how they value a single stroke.  For years, I have preached to my players that the each shot has a value of one and that a 4 on a par three has the same value as a 4 on a par 5.  In both cases, it is 4 strokes out of your total.  Yes, one is a birdie and one is a bogey and the internal belief system we place on those words will effect us mentally.

I urge you to try and break out of that belief system.  A 235 yard shot to a green surrounded by trouble is the same shot if it’s a par 5 or a par 4.  Each of us has to decide what should I do to give me the best chance to shoot the lowest score possible.  If you think you should lay up on the par 5 than you should lay up on the par 4.  The only reason you would lay up is because you believe it provides you the best opportunity to shoot the lowest score on that hole.  If you lay up on the par 5 and go for it on the par 4, you are not valuing your shots equally.  You are valuing your shots based on the par of the hole you are playing which I don’t believe is a good idea.

Would the situation change if there was no such thing as par and at the end of the day you turned in your scorecard with just the total on it.  Looking back on that shot from 235, does it look different now?  In both cases, it is a shot from 235 yards with trouble all around.  The par of the hole does not change that.  Your attitude toward that shot does change because of the par.

I am not an advocate for always going for the par 5 in two even though going for it is a leading indicator of lower scores on the PGA Tour.  All I am saying is don’t let par make your decision for you.  Look at the bigger picture and see how this situation fits into the round as a whole.

Here’s a little skills test (made up by me @golfdonaldson and @jasonhelmanpga)to see if your skills are good enough to go for it.  Take 10 shots from 100 yards from a green.  Measure the distance each shot is from the pin and total the distances to get one number.  Next take 10 more shots to the same green from 235 yards away.  Go to where each of those shots landed and hit it again.  Could be a putt, chip or pitch.  Determine your distance away from the hole for each set of 2 shots and total the distances from all sets of 2 to get one number.

Compare the numbers.  Which one gets you closer to the hole?  Make sure you do it to greens with different severities of difficulty so you have more confidence in whichever decision you make on the course when the situation arises.  I think it is a great skills test and be sure to include different starting distances from the hole to see how they compare.

Finishing the Round

July 10th, 2009
I felt it necessary to write a little something about this topic and give a few pointers on how to get it done. There has been a local tournament the last couple of days and there have been at least a few people that had a good round going and gave it all away toward the end. This blog will give you some ammo to combat this tendency.What causes a player to struggle bringing a good round in? Usually, it’s a lack of experience. This lack of experience is fostered mentally as a lack of true, inner belief. Only players that are unsure of their true ability struggle bringing it in. This lack of inner belief causes a player to not trust their ability. They no longer are confident in there ability to avoid making a mistake.Because they were playing so well, any mistakes cause them to think they are on  the verge of choking. This is not the case. When a player gets low enough to feel uncomfortable, they are worried that all their hard work will be lost and they race for the house shouting the war cry “Let me just par out.” The confident player with true inner belief says “all right let’s go get more birdies because I’m playing well.” The unconfident player starts to play defense because they don’t want to lose what they have. They trick themselves in believing 3 under is good enough to compete against someone trying to get to 6 under. That will not work.

At the beginning of the day, I’m sure they would have been very happy with 18 pars. Now that they are 3 or 4 under, pars seem to become taken for granted. Somehow par has been cheapened and just finishing with a bunch is good enough. Par is a good score and it requires a strong mind to go get it. You don’t just get to par out. Par is way more difficult than that and if you treat it like something easier than what it is, you are doomed not to achieve it. You are not putting in enough effort to deserve pars so you shouldn’t expect them.

Don’t take pars for granted and learn to stay involved in each shot. Earn what you have/want and don’t play 12 or 15 holes. Play them all and I can promise you, the value of 4 on 18 equals the value of 4 on number 3. If you think you shouldn’t go for more than deep down you believe you don’t deserve what you already have.

Green Mapping for Tournaments

June 15th, 2009
I’ve spent a bunch of time recently trying to improve my students ability to prepare for tournament golf. I purchased an exelys breakmaster, which is a green reading device, to help map out possible pin locations and spent more time examining the green during practice rounds.

My first practical situation was at the NJCAA National Tournament with MCC. Not everyone on the team wanted the information but the one player that used it religiously won the event in record breaking fashion. The main thing he said that helped was knowing exactly where the straight putts were. The first two days pin locations were painted on the green and I was able to map exact breaks from 5 feet in.

The benefit in preparing is obvious. If you can get a knowledgable caddy to map greens for you while you play a practice round, you will see a noticeable improvement in putts made. Get yourself a breakmaster and learn how to map a green. You’ll be amazed.