You're Not As Bad As The Industry Thinks You Are!
For the next few months, The Wedge Guy will be re-publishing some of his most popular posts from the early years on Tuesdays, and address new topics on Fridays. Please send him your ideas of what you'd like him to write about.

I ask golfers all the time, "what kind of handicap do you have?", and I get the same answer way too often — "I'm not very good." Then they'll tell me they play to an 18, or a 15, or even a 10! Some will act ashamed by their answer. What!!??

Do you realize how damn hard this game is? We have this little white ball that is less than 2" in diameter, and weighs less than two ounces, and our objective is to get it into a 4-1/4" diameter hole in the ground that is somewhere around a quarter of a mile away – in only four or five strokes! And in between us and that hole are trees, long grass, water, bunkers ... seems to me that we are attempting the darned near impossible!

But we think we are "not any good" for several reasons. First, we see the pros on TV do miraculous things with a golf ball. Well, we're not nuclear scientists, brain surgeons, computer designers, etc., etc. either. Those few hundred guys on tour have dedicated their lives to striking a golf ball – that's all they do. They started with God-given athletic talent, then supplemented that with thousands of hours of practice, continual professional instruction, mental coaching ... you get it. How can you compare your recreational endeavor to a trained, committed professional?

They're good at golf, but not one of them could carry your briefcase or tool box or whatever for a day and even come close to what you do for a living either.

But to me, maybe even more influential on our self-worth as it applies to our golf games is the constant stream of drivel from the major golf companies telling us that we're not any good. Their subliminal message is this: "You have no chance of hitting the ball anywhere near the center of the clubface, so we're going to make it as big and forgiving as we possibly can."

Well, I think you are a much better golfer than you give yourself credit for being. I think most of your misses are not bad swings, or lack of talent, but simply because you were not set up properly, or you had negative thoughts creep in, or you went "brain dead" for a moment. And engineering in the golf club head cannot help that.

If you have ever hit a good shot, then you can do it most of the time. It does not take hundreds of hours of practice, but it does take a mental commitment to get your best out of each shot. In that 4-5 hour round of golf, give yourself a dedicated 20-30 seconds for each shot. Picture it, feel it, and spend just a few seconds making sure that you are set up and aligned properly with the ball in the right place. Then get a good positive swing thought and put a relaxed swing on it.

Your results will be much better than you ever experienced. And you'll find out that you really are pretty darned good at a very difficult game!
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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
"How can you compare your recreational endeavor to a trained, committed professional? " -- most people i know do it all the time. They say they can hit it this far, or this is the club so-and-so plays, or the pro's average 80% from this spot and i'm 65%. I personally don't do that. I don't care what the pros do, only what i do and only how to get better. The only thing the pros do that matters to me is score. It's no secret that you have to do certain things well to get there. For the most part, manufacturers don't think you're worse than you are - they think you're dumber than you really are. The bigger the better, and they gear their marketing and designs to those specs. OOOH, the same club i have now but it comes in black??? SHut up and take my $400!
6/4/13
 
The People's Champ says:
Well said birdieXris. Personally, I'm not trying to become a professional, nor do I have any expectations or fantasy that I would even come close. This is why I will never pay for a golf lesson and I will continue to play the game just for the fun of it, although I do get quite frustrated sometimes. My personal goal is for 88 or better, and I still get excited just to break 90 on the scorecard. If I ever find myself getting upset even when I break 90, I've given my wife permission to just slap me in the face.
6/4/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
Golf companies are like drug dealers and pimps constantly insinuating you need their latest "crack" or putting you down to keep you in place. I am not buying it. As far the pro's I take a different approach I do compare my stats to theirs as a bench mark because they are human just like the rest of us. It gives me a goal to shoot for in my own sphere. There isn't a single thing they can do that I couldn't either with enough practice is my attitude. Heck, I shot better then Tiger Woods Saturday round on Sunday. He shot 79 I shot 77, different course but who cares? I bet I could out drive some of the shorter tour guys. Put me on an elevated tee's with hard fairways and I am sure I could. In other words I am not in awe of their skill. Play your game to the best of your ability and don't believe the hype.
6/4/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
True dat. The man tries to sell us on this whole culture of sucking. Look at those "dads n grads" type of golf gag gifts--they are nearly all predicated on this idea that all amateur golfers are all hopeless uncoordinated oafs. Haven't you heard, golf is a good walk spoiled AHAHAHAHA. Golf is a four letter word AHAHAHAHAAHA. I don't buy into all that personally. But I also don't think we need coddling or rationalizing either. Golf is pretty hard yes, but I believe in what Ben Hogan said--if you apply yourself a little bit, study the fundamentals, you can break 80 or at least come close. It is one of my core beliefs actually.
6/4/13
 
Kurt the Knife says:
that was an encouraging post. I think I'll give that 20-30 second thing a try. I seem to do my worst when I'm in a hurry. 3 years of trying, dozens of lessons, computer analyzed lessons and still hdcp 22. I guess thats where I'll always be.

Though the post was a little encouraging.
6/4/13
 
Kurt the Knife says:
though despite the "industry imperative" drift Terry is geatting at, I admit my venerable Mizuno Mx-100 irons are easier to work with than the Wilson set I got at a garage sale.

Just sayin'
6/4/13
 
larrynjr says:
@People's Champ, I'm with you on the breaking 90 thing but last night I REALLY deserved the slap. I was playing really well, looking at a possibly 80, 76 going into 18. Tee on 18, sun was setting directly into my eyes down the fairway. Hit my shot, lost it in the sun, couldn't find it. Hit 2nd ball for, lost that one. Hit third ball brought it to the hole for a 10 and a overall score of 87. A score that I would have been thrilled to have gotten on any other day but blowing that last hole like that ruined an otherwise stellar round. So, just slap me!
6/4/13
 
HotBacon says:
"I think most of your misses are not bad swings, or lack of talent, but..."

Terry, you must not see too many muni golf players. I stood on the tee box of hole 18 a few rounds ago and stared across the pond at a 2-some. I was in awe of how unathletic and just plain ugly their golf swings, and resulting shots, were as they hacked down the fairway. Since then I've seen the same thing over and over. Sure, there are a handful of players out there that can get around a course and would do themselves a favor by getting set up properly. But that sentence I quoted is just wrong.
6/4/13
 
jrbizzle says:
I agree with Terry's stance on how the products are "marketed" but not at all in how they are designed. Sadly, many amateurs nowadays are 14-20 handicaps because of the help built in to the modern club.

Case in point: My father used to beat me on the course from the time he first taught me in 1986 at age 10, until around 2000 when I finished college. But he still held on dearly to his old irons and woods from the mid 90s, until 4 years ago. I begged him to get new clubs. He went in, got fitted for a set of brand new Callaway irons and woods/hybrids and within three weeks he dropped 6-8 strokes on average per round. Last year he beat me twice, after going winless for about 10 straight years.
6/4/13
 
jrbizzle says:
Many golfers benefit from modern technology. What they DON'T benefit from is the marketing that makes us think our 2-3 year old clubs are worthless and obsolete. Most golfers probably need new clubs every 6-8 years unless their swing speed dramatically increases or decreases.

Heck, it usually takes me an entire season just to learn the new subtle difference of new clubs, if I got new clubs as often as the marketing groups wanted I'd never truly play my best.
6/4/13
 
Wes11point5 says:
This leads to a question. I got fit for my irons back in 2006 or so. I have taken lessons and made some changes to my swing since then. Do you all think it would be worthwhile to have a look how the old settings (lie, etc) may be right for the new swing?
6/4/13
 
The People's Champ says:
@larrynjr... dude, that hurts! I had a round last year where I was at 70 through 16, with two par 4's to finish. I proceeded to get a triple and a double to finish at 83. I took my slapping like a man. I feel your pain.
6/4/13
 
C-4 says:
Golf..the biggest racket in town....you need a different club because you slice the ball...you need this ball because it cuts down on spin...lesson will help..cavity back....hybrid...steel shaft...graphite...you were never an athlete..but golf will make one out of you.....Never...golf is like any other sport..some people have no business playing eventhough it is fun.
6/5/13
 
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
Jrbizzlle makes a good point about the modern club. Look some people suck at this game and some people are good. The point is it is a game and meant to be fun. Every golfer wants to improve and while terry has good points, picturing a good shot don't mean crap most of the time, you still have to swing the club. And don't forget about the salesman at the store who you don't know. You tell them your hcp and all of a sudden they know everything about you and what you need in this game. I have a low hcp and according to the salesman. I need the TP version or blade style irons. I use a taylormade burner non TP, r11s which are "game improvement " irons. Don't listen to salesman. Demo clubs and find what's right for you and when you are on the practice range make notes in your phone and what your set up was when you hit the ball crisp. When you start hitting it back, look in your notes and hit the reset button.
6/5/13
 
GBogey says:
There's a thing people say in the cosmetic/beauty industry that what they are really selling is hope. That's to some degree is what the equipment guys are selling - hope that this club will make you better. But hope isn't going to fix those bad swings. I made 4 DB's yesterday on the back nine to ruin what looked like a great round. Better equipment would't have improved one of the 4 shots that led to each DB.
6/5/13
 
GBogey says:
On some level though, I really agree with Terry's statements. I've been beating myself up lately as my index has been rising, but even my worst rounds are usually better than the goals I set when I took up golf 4 years ago. My demon lately has been self doubt around the greens, which is strange as my short game had been my strength. But when you question how to hit a short game shot, you get erratic results. When you say to yourself, I've done this before and I know how to hit it, you end up closer to the pin.
6/5/13
 
c5agalb says:
I was alone on a Jack Nicklaus designed course the other day. I wasnt accurate with the tee shots on the par 3's, but not holding anybody up, I took second tee shots. Hit the center of the green the second time on each one. Golf is totally a mental game.
6/6/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Golf is a journey worth taking; but if stop your journey you will not get anywhere wonderful. Now, it's fine to take a break from playing - heck, here in the NE winter sees to that. However, once you get on the scent of great golf, don't lose it.
For me this meant caring about scoring, learning to score honestly, and leaving my friends and their crappy play/attitudes behind. They weren't going to get any better, or commit to the honesty and integrity needed to get anywhere in this game. I'm not suggesting that anyone become a golf ascetic, but that is sure what it feels like. And with that note, leaving the industry, the pros, and their false hopes behind is an important step to. I wouldn't describe it like Terry does, but those getting rich on this game have little to offer. You can get started in this game just like I did - old, decrepit equipment given to me by my grandfathers, balls found in the woods, a tuna can in our dirt road. If you can play like that and have a blast, what else do you really need?
6/9/13
 
onedollarwed says:
The essential information you need to play this game well is available for free - in your local library! The equipment can be found at your local Salvation Army store. Decent shoes are probably the only equipment you need to buy. Misinformation abounds, not only from "ring-around-the-collar" execs, but from well-meaning uncles and buddies. Somebody is always ready to tell you what to do with your left toe, or right nut. Sheesh! I played with a guy who qualified for our state's amateur championship - the first really good player I've played with in a while. His play and equipment were pretty simple. He even showed me his favorite club - a 4 wood nabbed from yard sale for $3. He has 1-handicap and played the hell out of the course that day. He carried his own little bag, and just played! I think that's what Terry is saying. Play your own game!
6/9/13
 
1slander1970 says:
I just purchased a Titleist 905S driver on eBay for $32. It only has a 400cc head. I hit about 15 to 20 yds less than my Taylormade R11s (this was a gift.) The difference between the two clubs is the following:

The 400cc head makes the club easier to swing and it consistently hits the fairway. You can easily hit the center of the face each time with minimal practice and the ball flight is simply amazing.

I am not going to buy into the hype anymore. Every year I was purchasing the latest because it will "make me such a better player." But I spend half the summer trying to incorporate the club into my round and lose waaaayyyyy too many strokes during the trial and error phase.

I agree with the article that there is only so much I can do in my limited time on the golf course. I am happy to call myself a bogey golfer. I will never go above 400cc again...
6/18/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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