Handling bad shots is the secret to success
Brad Phillips, Center Manager – GolfTEC Easton, PGA Member
Many of you have heard the stories of how Ben Hogan only hit 3 good shots a round or three shots that he found acceptable. Now of course we know that it is relative. But the premise behind it is 100% appropriate. The game of golf is about managing imperfection. While bad shots are part of every round, it is how well we can manage those bad shots that makes us successful. Most GolfTEC Players have built a swing that produces good shots, but many of us don’t hit it as well as often as we like….and our bad ones usually cost us more.
Let’s start by making sure that you’re tracking your on course performance. If you don’t know what your common habits are on the course it will be difficult to plan for them in the future. Don’t rely on your memory. Of the 75-100 shots in each round, you’ll only remember a few standout swings (good and bad). By writing down your shot results, especially your misses, you’ll quickly identify your common mistakes.
Now that you have an accurate picture of your common misses, you can start planning your rounds to play to your strengths and weaknesses. If you can figure a way to minimize your missed shots and manage your recovery better, you are on your way to better scores. Remember, it is all about the number that you put on the scorecard at the end of each hole, not how many “pure” shots you hit during the round. How many times have you heard “put me down for a six, but did you see that drive?”
While bad shots will be part of every round, don’t plan for imperfection. Think positive, but be realistic. During a round of play, your focus is not on swing correction. Instead, you should plan your play based on the skills you currently have. With the right approach to smart golf, even your misses will result in playable shots on every hole. Here are a few examples of how to adjust your strategy to fit your skills.
If your tee ball moves left to right, start on the right side of the tee box, aim down the left side of the fairway, and let it rip. Don’t aim into trouble or out of bounds. You don’t want to be punished if you hit one of your 3-4 pure shots of the day. If the ball does not do what you expect, so be it. No amount of disgust, or getting down on yourself is going to improve the result of the shot that you just hit, but it will most certainly affect the quality of the shot you are about to hit.
Another common mistake occurs when the green is out of reach of a player’s longest club. Most players automatically grab the club they can hit the furthest and end up with either a short approach requiring a half swing or, worse, a miss that forces an even tough approach to the green. A half shot into the green is no bargain, and the club that you hit the furthest does not always result in the cleanest contact. A better approach is to lay up to a distance that allows you to hit a full swing. If a green is too far to reach, sometimes a 7 iron and pitching wedge will enable you to put the lowest number on the card.
Course management is the key to smart golf. When you plan for every possible shot outcome, it will be easier to maintain the positive mindset that is needed for your best play. By working on your swing, you are hoping to hit better “bad” shots. The more good “bad” ones you hit in the proper place, the lower you will score. The golf game is not just about swing mechanics, it is about the proper thought process throughout the round.