More Thoughts on Getting Better
Today is moving day for me, hopefully for the last time in my life. My fiancé and I are ending a two-year project of designing and building a new home on a little piece of Earth we purchased just outside of Victoria. The plan is this will be it til we’re pushing up daisies.

So yesterday I had a couple of the high school golfers helping me pack and move the mess of a garage I seem to always have. It’s amazing what tinkering with golf clubs, fishing and shooting/reloading shotgun shells will do to fill up a garage. After a few hours of work we broke for dinner and of course, the conversation went to golf and how their games were shaping up. Both are low-80s shooters in their junior year. Their conversation immediately went to who’s the longest hitter on the teams, and how much further they hit the ball than the couple of pretty strong girls in town.

So I asked them this: “How many boys are there in this town of 70,000, with three high school teams, who can break 80 all the time?” The answer? Two at most! I find that deplorable, actually. I explained to them that when I was in high school in the late 60s, in a town of 7,000, with a 9-hole golf course, we had ten of us who could break 80 all the time. I barely made the last spot on the second squad with a scoring average of just over 79!

They seemed impressed and asked how we did that, and so I had to really think about it. First of all, we didn’t have a driving range, so all of us had a shag bag of balls and we hit them out into #9 fairway from a spot beside the putting green. Then we had to go pick them up. So I realized that we spent the bulk of our practice time hitting 7-iron or less, which at that time was about what a 9-iron is today. And we didn’t hit a ton of drivers because that made the walk to pick all of them up that much longer.

Another aspect of doing that way was that we’d go out with a pitching wedge and our bag after hitting these 100+ shots, drop the bag in the most populated area and then go hit wedge shots back to the bag until all the balls were close enough to pick up. I’ll bet that made each practice session of 100 full swings produce at least twice that many wedge shots. Hmmmm. Maybe there’s something to that.

But what I really realized is that we learned and practiced by playing golf, not hitting golf balls and working on our swings. That little 9-hole course owned us every afternoon and for the full summer. It wasn’t unusual to walk and play 36-45 holes of golf on almost every summer day, and we got in at 18 every afternoon after school. I see these kids today hitting a bag of balls and maybe playing 9 holes. And they’ll hit as many drivers as they can in that bag of balls.

Maybe that’s why none of them are shooting good numbers, huh?
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[ comments ]
dtak84 says:
I was talking about this exact same thing to an older golfer in my area. He used to be a +2 30-40 years ago saying there were so many good amateurs in Texas that being on a school team meant shooting mid-70s every time. Now a days, the high school teams here have one, maybe two golfers who break 80 semi consistently...
Banker85 says:
did you walk 20 miles in 100+ degree temp every day to get to the golf course too?
DoubleDingo says:
@banker, it was uphill both ways and 4 feet of snow in that 100 degree
I wish I could score in the 80's. Sure trying by solidifying the fundamentals and honing the short-shot-skills. Thus far the scores are still higher than I want, but the shots are much more improved, so I may see the fruits of my labor.
stedar says:
I found that the short game was where it is at early on. After losing countless shots around the green and 3 putting way too often, the odd drive that missed a fairway or went out of bounds didn't hurt the score card as much as the multiple 3-putts. The up and down is the key for me, I'm not a long hitter, about 240yrds avg, so a long iron in and a chip were the norm. So the chip was more like a first putt in my mind, the aim to get it close to the hole so as to be able to sink the putt. The thing I realised was that my score started getting into the 70's fast and I didn't feel like I was hitting the ball that well. Drive is for show, but the score is all about patience and control.

Another interesting thought about the scoring side, is the use of all irons around the green. Not relying on only a wedge, but being able to bump and roll was a major change in my ability to score low. Once I learnt the rule of 12 (posted a year or so ago on oob) my ability to read the green and pace changed :-)
joe jones says:
Wedge Guy...I would like to know how you paid for playing 36-45 holes every afternoon and 36 on Saturday's. I have been a proponent of letting teens play for free or at a very low rate on a available tee time basis. Please clarify if this was the case.
DoubleDingo says:
@Joe Jones, a lot of courses, after you pay for 18 holes, let you play all day. I know the local course where I grew up has that rule, and I have seen a few others here. So they're out there, and I bet it helps knowing the people running it.
larrynjr says:
that's what I see when the local HS kids are practicing at my regular course. They hit some balls on the range then take 4 hours to play 9 holes. The course is a buddy of mine but I'm not that impressed with what I've seen. We've had a brother/sister who have both gone on to college level golf but that was more to do with their abilities and personal drive than anything else. I really wish now that I had gotten into golf when I was a kid. My family all golfs but I just wasn't interested then.
Gromit5 says:
Congrats on your new pad, Terry! Re your analysis: My early golf days, also in the '60s, match yours. Lots of playing and lots of front yard chipping and lob shots, which helped my buddy and me make the golf team's top 5, all single-digit. However, you'd need a book to list the differences between that era and now. Today's kids average 7+ hours screen time per day, and our overweight country faces an epidemic of obesity and its attendant health problems. In a narrow context, a kid shooting 80 may be troubling, but in the big picture it's a long way from deplorable.
wedgeguy says:
joe jones. I grew up on a little 9-hole muni course that my Dad probably paid almost nothing for our annual family plan. Of course, it probably seemed like a lot to my mom. He raised his two boys out there on that little track, along with the deer lease, dove fields and bay waters. Wow. I'm so dang blessed. But I agree, we should make room and access for the kids at little to no cost -- they are the future of the game. Especially the kids who's parents are members of clubs. If we cant' get them into it, what chance do we have with the First Tee kids?
joe jones says:
I truly believe that the future growth in golf will come from good junior golf programs. In order to do that when we have no discretionary funds available , course owners are going to have to do what several of you have experienced. Let them play either for free or for a small fee and let them play as many holes as they can. Obviously on a open time availability basis. I can count on both hands the number of kids that have quit the game once they have been hooked. They soon realize that golf is a life long pleasure and can be used for many positive purposes as they get older. Just think of the power brokers and industrial leaders that play the game. As a salesman I was able to have the attention of many of my customers while never talking business on the course. Playing a round of golf with someone for four hours exposes both good and bad traits. You can really find out a lot about someones personality in four hours.
Jbeck says:
I would agree with the statement of hitting the short shots to improve your game. MY average rounds per year has dropped alot since becoming a DAD, I just looked at the number of rounds played last year and it was LOW. Now I have since put in a hitting area at the house that I can hit 100 to 160 yards, I still lay the shag bag down and hit wedges close so I don't have to carry a full bag as far. I just played this weekend and shot 72, 73. I used to have to be playing 5 times a week to do that regularly. I agree if you have to pick up your own balls you will be more focused on getting them in a smaller area. LOL Good post Wedge Guy
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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