Rethink Your Game

How do you really lower your scores? A change of approach can lead to a favorable change in score

Rethink Your GameMany of you scour the pages of this magazine looking for the magic answer to this question. If that’s your motivation, then this article is for you. On the following pages, I’ll show you how to drop strokes from your game by simply changing your approach on the tee box and on the putting green. After all, if you can get down the fairway regularly and hole the putts you’re supposed to make—and some of the ones you shouldn’t—you’ll be well on your way to playing your best rounds ever.

Drive For Show And For Dough
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “drive for show and putt for dough.” While this adage may be appropriate for the players on the professional tours, most amateurs would be better off by making the drive their money shot. How much fun is it anyway if you’re putting for 5 or 6 because your tee ball found water or landed out of bounds? The first step toward better scores is improving your long game. Here’s how.

Choose The Safer ClubChoose The Safer Club
Simply getting the ball in play off the tee far outweighs hitting the ball a long way, but into trouble. More often than not, you can lower your scores by choosing to play a club off the tee that may not give you the most distance, but puts you into play. A good alternative to the driver is the 3-wood, which features more loft than the driver (up to six degrees). This extra loft imparts more backspin on your ball, which works to lessen the amount of sidespin you’d create with the same swing with the driver. The end result is a shot that curves less and is in play more often.

Alter Your Aim
Selecting the appropriate place on the teeing ground and aiming away from trouble will also help in saving penalty shots (not to mention golf balls!). The simple rule of thumb is that if there’s trouble on the right, tee the ball on the right side of the tee box and aim up the left side of the fairway. Do the opposite if there’s trouble left. While this strategy may appear to be an “escape route,” you’ll nonetheless see pros do it all the time when the heat of a match starts to rise.

Swing On The Correct Path Swing On The Correct Path
The appropriate path on which you should swing any golf club is dictated by the lie angle of that club. Because the lie angles of woods are much flatter than those built into irons and wedges, they require a flatter approach into the back of the ball to produce successful results. This can be achieved by swinging the clubhead into the ball from inside the target line. If you come into the Lag Putting ball on a plane that’s much steeper than the lie angle of your wood, or from outside the target line, you’ll endure more than your fair share of wayward shots.

Set Up Correctly
The ability to swing the clubhead into the ball correctly is greatly influenced by the way you set up at address. To ensure a proper setup, tilt your spine slightly away from the target and position your left shoulder higher than your right. Furthermore, set your right elbow inside your left elbow. More importantly, re-create these positions at the point of impact. If you can achieve the positions described, you’ll create a setup that allows you to swing smoothly and on-plane.

Putt To Win
Once you can drive for dough (and without penalty strokes attached), the next area to attack is your putting. There are two key areas that can really save shots on the greens: lag putting and putts inside six feet.

 Lag Putting
The key to good lag putting is controlling the distance your ball travels. Of all the fundamentals that are valuable to solid lag putting, perhaps the one that enables you to control your distance the most is a good beat or rhythm to your stroke. I recommend that you practice your stroke in time with the beat of a metronome (which can be purchased at any music store) or count out loud to develop a constant beat to your stroke. Some golfers like a slower beat; others prefer a faster rhythm. Whatever your natural rhythm may be, find the beat with which you feel the most comfortable and you’ll have greater success.

In addition to putting with a metronome, practice controlling the distance your ball rolls by performing the Five In A Row drill.


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