The secret to improving your golf game
By Andrew Whiley
A voice from the south
I’ve been enjoying my golf this summer and I have had a chance to watch many golfers have fun on the golf course. I often ask them what they would like to do to improve their golf and it is often their wish “to drive longer and straighter”.
However, when you actually stop and evaluate how most golfers play the game, you will quickly see that it is not the long game but rather the short game that will improve their scores.
For example, the 18-handicapper will hit approximately six greens in regulation, will only be able to chip and one-putt less than 33 percent of the time and average 36 putts.
Now if that golfer could chip and one-putt 50 percent of the time, and average 34 putts, then they would shave more than four shots off their score which would quickly allow them to get down to a 14 handicap.
The same comparison can be made of a 12-handicapper, who will hit approximately nine greens in regulation, will only be able to chip and one-putt approximately 60 percent of the time, and average 33 putts. Once again, if they could hit 10 greens in regulation, get up and down four times in a round, have only two three-putts for a total of 30 putts, then they would quickly be on a single-figure handicap.
I was fortunate to learn the value of the short game back in the late 1980s when I was living in Carmel, California.
Each summer I spent three weeks working for the Golf Digest Golf Schools when they came through town. I had the pleasure of spending time watching the legendary Paul Runyan teach the short game over and over again. Throughout the weeks, he shaved many shots off his students’ scores, more so than the talented and also famous pros that taught the long game.
The key is teaching golfers about how to use the lofted clubs from only a few metres off the green, which assists them to hit even better iron shots. As always, having a good set-up in putting, proper alignment and ball position is important in every part of the game including driving.
By now you will be wondering what is the relevance of this to your golf game? After playing and watching a lot of ambrose golf recently, I saw that most golfers struggled with setting-up to the ball effectively with the putter. A bit like a virus, this problem spread through the rest of their game.
When I look around the country and see the talented PGA teaching professionals we have, I see many of them standing on the driving range mats or tee areas teaching the long drives, perhaps because this is what their students think they should be working on.
I urge all golfers that read this article, to reflect on their last three rounds of golf and what their short game statistics were. Now take these statistics to your local PGA golf pro and ask for their assessment of your short game. They should find this information valuable, and ideally, they will give you the tools to practice effectively and improve.
Practising the short game is a lot of fun and can be done in short bursts. I am sure that this investment in practising your short game will reap positive dividends that will have you shooting lower scores and enjoying the game that much more.
So, for 2016, set yourself a goal to play better golf. Remember, the best golfers on the PGA Tour often have the best short games and don’t necessarily hit the longest drives.