Insanity (And 5 Ways To Change)
There’s a common saying that defines insanity as “doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” It’s amazing how that applies to golf for so many of us. We practice the same things, approach the golf course the same way, swing the same way . . . but we expect to get better.
Is this really realistic thinking?
I get many questions about practicing techniques, moving it from the range to the tee, etc. But this expression of frustration from 1st Lt, Dustin Culbertson maybe says it best. Dustin wrote, “I just get on the bogey train and hang on. Each hole seems the exact same: either my drive will be off line or my approach will be off line, I'll chip onto the green and 2-putt.” Dustin wanted to know how to hit more fairways and greens.
Before I answer, I’d like to express my personal appreciation to Dustin for his service to his country. And I hope you all will join me in telling him how much we appreciate his choice of service to others. Hooray for Dustin!
Now, Dustin, let’s begin by breaking this down into how you approach the game in general. In the effort to stop the insanity, I’m going to share Five Changes for all of us to consider or alter to our own needs to get better this season.
First of all, I’m a big fan of professional instruction, but statistics say that only 8% of golfers have ever taken a professional lesson! Whether you do or not, you should invest time in learning the golf swing. There are some great books out there that break it down. My personal favorite is Hogan’s “Modern Fundamentals of Golf”, but I’m also a fan of Jim Hardy’s treatise on the one-plane and two-plane swing methods – very enlightening. The key is to build your knowledge and understanding of a fundamentally sound swing.
So Change #1 is learn, learn, learn. Only through expanding your knowledge of the golf swing can you begin to improve.
Change #2 is to commit to incorporating one new thing into your golf game each month, quarter or season, depending on your activity level. I suggest starting with your grip, as most golfers do not have a great hold on the golf club and that alone will improve your ability to release the club and improve your impact quality. A good grip will FORCE you to make a better swing . . . and a bad grip will prevent it effectively. Posture and set up are easy to alter, as is your set-up consistency. Swing changes come harder, but are necessary to build a better golf game. Have fun with the learning process, OK?
Change #3 is to alter your practice routine. Go to the range with a goal . . . and a procedure for achieving it. Don’t just go “beat balls”. A tip from Harvey Penick was to never hit more than 4-5 balls in a row with the same club – vary it up. Hit all kinds of shots when you are on the range – not just full swings. Have fun, make it a game, replicate a round of golf at your course by hitting drives, approaches, recoveries, pitches and chips.
Change #4 is to spend more time on your short game (surprise, surprise, right?). No matter what your handicap, you will shave more strokes from 25 yards and in than you will at full swing range. Practice chipping, pitching, sand play and putting . . . a lot!
And Change #5 is to re-think how you play your golf course. Practice looking at each hole through “new eyes”. I’ve talked about this some in the past, but there is a multitude of ways to play each golf hole. A medium length par five, for example, might be played with a hybrid off the tee, mid-iron to 125 yards or so, and then a short iron approach. Try it.
On a long par four that gives you trouble, what if you hit a fairway wood off the tee, then a mid-iron to a wide spot in the fairway short of the heavily protected green, a pitch to the flag and maybe a nice par putt, but probably never a double?
On any hole with a sucker flag position, what about playing long or short, wide left or right, to a safe chip and putt or long two-putt range?
My point is to get out of the rut of doing the same things and expecting different results. If you all have other changes to share with us, please do so, and sound off on my ideas if you would like.
And Dustin, thanks again for your service to our country. Hopefully you can use some of this to improve your scores on the course.
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[ comments ]
#5 is tough... that hope hitting the driver a little longer or getting a little bit of kick this way or that way, is tough to stop and hit a 3 iron,, but i know a couple of holes at my home course, that i'm going to try this on... one reason is because im bored with these holes and 2 is, i never do as good as i should on them either... and thank you to Dustin Culbertson for serving bravely
Tim Horan says:
To all servicemen a great big man-hug and my thanks. From Terry's earlier posts try "quest for Distance" and "Managing your Lay Ups" My club pro Phil Harrison has an ongoing bet with mid to high handicappers that he can shave 6 shots from their game through a playing lesson with him solely on course management. It will cost them $110 (-ú75) or so to find out. It is refundable if it doesn't get results. Help is out there!
Steve Wozeniak PGA says:
Hogans book is great Hardy's is a pile of crap he has no idea what happens in the golf swing and it's sad because many people have gotten this video......
Steve Wozeniak PGA
I just started to practice #5 at the end of last season and this spring, and wow what a difference it has made I continually have found myself in many many more par or better opportunities. I can only imagine what it will be like once I further develop the skills mentioned in #4.
I'm glad to know that as a newcomer I'm already giving all these "changes" a try. More than anything this article gives me confidence that I'm taking the right path. Thanks for the info!
Tried to post one response to this, but it failed to post. So we try this. knowledge and practice makes perfect. Spend the time, money, and effort to learn the game, swing, & your equipment properly and you will take your game to the course and record low scores!! JWHpurist
In addition to the statements above. Julius Boros knew his stuff and wrote the best book on it! An interesting test of skill and development is to play a round with #1-#9 Tour Blades, 4 wedges & a Ray Cook Putter and produce a resonable score. Grip it and rip it is pure BS, a smooth controlled swing is "ART" and produces satisfaction and low scores! JWHpurist
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