Demo Day Madness
Being in the golf club business means participating in various “demo days” around the country, where golfers have a great chance to come out and try the newest and greatest of golf equipment and accessories. I’m writing this on the way to Door County, Wisconsin to represent SCOR Golf at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club’s annual season kick-off event, which is a huge thing I’m told. Head Golf Professional and Director of Instruction Peter Mogg is a big SCOR4161 fan and fitter, and told us practically their entire membership turns out for this annual event.

There’s some fun tossed into this trip, as my long-time business partner, Ralph Thompson, and I will be staying with some dear friends we met on a golf course in Alabama some years back. That’s one of the other wonderful things about this game. 18 holes of golf together turned complete strangers into great friends. What a game!!!

Anyway, we’ve done a number of demo days and I’m always amazed at how golfers approach these “candy stores”. Some come with their golf shoes on, a glove in their pocket and are ready to really test the wares. Others seem to have just stumbled onto the event, and are not dressed or equipped to really test the offerings of the companies exhibiting.

But the main thing that perplexes me about demo days is the “smash it” mentality that pervades. There are a lot of clubs to try other than drivers, you know. But as a wedge company, we watch golfers swing from their heels with every driver they can try, and totally bypass the opportunity to see and try irons, hybrids, wedges and putters. Not to mention the frequent assortment of training aids and accessories.

You all probably get tired of me harping about the practically singular focus on distance, distance, distance, but I think it’s hurting the game. Golf is about scoring, plain and simple. People drop out because they don’t get better. And they don’t get better because they don’t work on the things that improve their scoring. It is pretty effortless to spend time working on your short game technique and exploring equipment options that could help you. But most golfers will go through an entire bag/bucket/basket of range balls without ever hitting some soft wedge shots, different pitches, bunker practice . . . and time on and around the putting green.

The fact is that if you want to get better, you need to improve your performance from 9-iron range and in. Regardless of your handicap, that is where strokes can be shaved the quickest. What’s great is that this is where you can really work on fundamentals of grip, posture, plan/path and release of the club through impact, as you as you are working slower. And the fundamentals that you learn there will migrate to all facets of your game.

I’ve seen lots of golfers with big drives who couldn’t score a lick, but never can I remember seeing a golfer with a good short game who wasn’t also pretty darn strong with everything else.

Think about that.
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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
I agree. I really do. For the last several weeks as I prepare for the world am in august its been nothing but short game around the greens. I will now back it up to all shots 110 and less and learn to hit shots in increments of 10 yards, 110, 100, 90, 80, etc. By august I hope to be vastly improve in all my shots under 110 yards.

One goal I have is no three putts at the world am and no penalties that should help me play well.
aaronm04 says:
What perplexes me about demo days, especially those at clubs that typically have practice greens, is the lack of putter vendors. Since putting is such a personal and feel thing, I would expect more putter vendors to show up.

And, Terry, your sentiments about demo days, at least at my club, extend to practice habits too. I only see the better players at the chipping area and putting greens. The mid/high guys are always doing full swings at the range. And only full swings.

I actually enjoy hitting low punches, 5/6-iron chips to the nearest flag, and 3/4 wedge shots. I use them on the course but most higher HC players don't even try them until they are stuck in the weeds trying to hit their ProV1.
GolfSmith7 says:
A quick story, I left myself on the short side on a par 3. The flag was in the front nestled next to a big down hill sloping area of a fast green. I had this huge sand bunker to get over plus the down hill slope on the other side to worry about. To give you a picture of it I could not see the green from where I was at and could only see some of the flag stick, that is how much slope there was. Yet bc I had been practicing the short game, I felt confident of what I needed to do. I took my 60 degree, lofted it up in the air, finishing with the face pointing towards the sky. It landed softly on the hill and rolled a foot behind the pin, tapped in for par.

My partner couldn't believe I got up and down from there, the look on his face, priceless.
Banker85 says:
"no three putts at the world am and no penalties that should help me play well"

Easier said then done my friend. I can only think of 1 round with no 3 putts and no penalties and that was my 77. That round was the most boring/exciting round i ever played. No big putts made, just a lot of fw's and greens and 2 putts.
GolfSmith7 says:
@Banker that's the goal, should I set lower ones? Not! lol you coming to the world am?
Banker85 says:
i wish, it's on my bucket list
onedollarwed says:
True, true, true. I love hitting the driver; I can't figure out why many people who spray the driver all over aren't working on fixing it. You know I'm not big on lessons, but why not read some books. In the past year I've met several players who have been playing for decades and still fight a wicked slice. They claim that sometimes they can hit it straight for stretches, but then boom- slice again. When I ask them about their setup, they look at me blankly - no awareness. "Well where are you positioning the ball? Have you tried to..." Blank stare. Then they launch into some diagnosis of something they do with their hands, or shoulder, or foot. Obviously that's not it if you've been slicing for years and are aware of the problem. People don't need a new driver, they need to learn how to hit a driver!!! It's fun and better for scoring to hit a great long drive.
DougE says:
Typically, over 75% of every bucket of balls I hit on the range is with my trusty wedges (52/56/60) and short irons (PW & 9i). Sometimes I'll hit two buckets to targets between 25 and 85 yards. I spend a lot of time documenting my distances with each club using 1/2 swings, 3/4 swings and full swings, with various ball positions at set up. I know what to expect on the course if I need to use any of these shots. This part of my game is my favorite. It's all feel and touch. In most instances, I would rather chip or pitch from the fairway grass just off the green than use a putter as I see so many do. It's all about confidence in those situations. I know what to expect, whereas with a putter, there are too many variables that may affect the roll. Certainly, Terry has an agenda for this column, but he is absolutely correct about the short game being the most important. If I still hit my driver 250-270+ yrds all the time, I might get excited to bang more balls, but the reality is, those days are long gone for me.
Tim Horan says:
Great post again Terry, and one that I can identify with especially this week. I played in a club match on Saturday losing badly. I drove the ball well, hit some really good long irons but in the wind couldn't get up and down. Sunday I played nine holes missed every fairway but one scrambled well and went round in par. Being able to dial in from 100yds and in really is a must. It wasn't that I was wayward with my drives I just got so much roll on the short stuff that I ran out of fairway.
birdieXris says:
@banker et al. -- For those of us not going this year (as well as those going this year) we should make a list of people and handicaps and keep track. With so many people going, we should be making the trip cheaper for everyone. It doesn't make sense to get too many rental cars (and i can tell you from experience not to rely on the "carpool" list at this thing) and too many rooms. Maybe even get a discount on a block of rooms if we have enough guys going. Thoughts?? i'm in for next year for sure.
DoubleDingo says:
@Tim Horan: I played in a scramble on Friday and was booming my drives long and straight, even my irons were being hit crisp and long and for the most part on target, which was good and bad. Overshot some greens and on one short 296 yard par 4 completely flew over it in the water from the tee. I have been working on my short game and getting mixed results; however, going into the tourney I was confident that I could contribute to the team when it came to the finesse shots, and I couldn't hit a pitch or chip that day to save my life. I was so angry with myself because of that; all month long I was specifically working on short shots and straightening my drives for this tournament, and for the short game to not show up with me after so many hours of practicing, was a little discouraging. But this week I will be back on the pitching green trying to refine that blessed short game so the scores can improve and the next tournament I can contribute around the green.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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