Make A Plan for 2013
I'm not a huge devotee to "New Year's Resolutions", but it is a great time of year to reassess where we're going in life, business, relationships and our golf games. Too many of us get stuck at a level of play that is just not quite satisfactory. Or even worse, we see our games going backwards and need to stop the slide. This is a great time to take stock and set goals for 2013.

But more important than setting goals ... is to lay out a game plan for achieving or even exceeding those we set.

Even here in usually-sunny South Texas, we are in the winter doldrum pattern. Most of the past week or so has either been cold, windy, wet or a combination of all three. So the golf course has been rather abandoned by us fair-weather golfers. [Some of you guys in the north would have been out there anyway, I'm sure.]

So here are some thoughts for how to make sure that 2013 is the year your golf game moves in the right direction:
  1. Understand your game. How many of you really know where your "low hanging fruit" is in your golf game? You just have to really know where you are giving up the most strokes. It's easy to say "putting", or "the short game", but is that really it? Could your putting woes be the result of just not hitting it close enough? Even the tour pros only make 1% of their putts outside 35 feet. Or is your short game performance possibly because you are always short-siding your approach shots, leaving yourself the toughest recoveries? Take an honest and deep assessment of where you are losing strokes on the golf course.

  2. Pick no more than two skill sets to improve. Don't just make an effort to "practice more" or "work harder". I'd suggest you eat this elephant one bite at a time. Work on your chipping diligently, if that is a weakness. Or drill like crazy on short putts. Work on your driver if you are not hitting enough fairways. Find the one or two areas where improvement will have the most impact and start the year with a commitment to improving them.

  3. Get a grip. I wrote recently about the crucial importance of a good solid grip on the golf club. If you will take the next month or two practicing that simple aspect of golf, it will reap big rewards. Keep a golf club next to your office desk and your favorite TV chair. When you are on the phone or otherwise chillin' out, pick up that club and work on your hold on the club. By the time the snow thaws and spring is really here, you could have a new classy grip that will yield big dividends.

  4. Improve your fundamentals. This is a great time of year to work on your basics. After the grip, improve your posture, set up and ball position. You can practice your swing in pieces inside, with no golf ball to get in the way and mislead you as to whether you did it right or not. Watch videos, read books and make a commitment to gaining a more clear understanding of how the golf swing really works.

  5. It's about scoring range performance. Yes, it's my business. But that's because I know that – even on the PGA Tour – your performance inside 9-iron range is the key to scoring. If you can hit the green most of the time, and knock it close some of the time when you have a scoring club in your hands, your scores will come down. You are not going to beat the golf course with your long clubs and middle irons — the pros don't either. [The best guy on tour averages over 40 feet from the hole on approach shots with a 5-iron or more.] Learn how to master your full swing wedges and short irons and you'll be surprised how many more pars and birdies you'll be making, regardless of your handicap.
So, there are five ideas for how you can start your 2013 game improvement program. I'd like to hear from all of you with your ideas, too.
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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
i'm not a fan of "resolutions". I'm a believer in bettering yourself regardless of the time of year and you shouldn't need a reason for it. That being said, the one thing i am concentrating on above all others this year is putting putting putting. I'm up in the mid 30s every single round. it's terrible. I need to consistently have 30 putts and break into the 20s when possible. that's the one thing that i'm going long for this year.
1/8/13
 
Matt McGee says:
Last winter, I worked on my swing and my putting diligently. My swing improved some. My putting stroke stayed consistent. I need to figure out a way to practice reading greens during the winter. That screwed up the scoring for a long time.
1/8/13
 
DoubleDingo says:
Mine is and has always been the short shots. For some reason I cannot get comfortable over those pesky little partial swing chips and pitch shots. Practice swings are perfect and then get over the ball and have a complete meltdown. I think I am improving in that area but that is where I lose the most strokes. I can practice on the range and do okay, but get on the course and for some reason I seem to forget all that I practiced. Very Frustrating!
1/8/13
 
GBogey says:
I'm working on improving driving accuracy and putting this winter, but the resolution I like I heard from a Golf Channel Show - "Play more, practice less." Hoping for more 9 holes after work instead of heading to the range.
1/8/13
 
frankteo714 says:
Is it weird that my plan for 2013 is to not have a plan?
1/8/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
No Frankteo there's nothing weird about it. Most of us play for fun. Sure, it's generally more fun to play better, but playing better requires some work. It's a balancing act. I'm with you, I have no plan. At the same time though I strive to improve. I don't think I need a plan. I have enough of an insatiable curiosity about the golf swing to keep me in pursuit.
1/8/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
low-hanging fruit for me is the stuff inside 100 yards.... i want to be like one of those old retired dudes (no offense to any old guys here - (you know who you are)) that I see out on the course that pitch it perfectly to a 4 foot circle around the pin after coming up short. i need to overcome my lack of discipline and dedicate a range basket to 25, 50, 70 yard shots instead of whacking the long clubs.

seems like the more rounds I play, the more focused my practice is... when I have long stints between rounds, I get a bit delusional.
1/8/13
 
accarson3 says:
For me...it's short game...short pitches 40-75 yds, chipping, and putting 6 ft and in. Also working now on conditioning and flexibility...esp the latter.
1/8/13
 
frankteo714 says:
Beef I think the answer to playing better for me is to not have a plan too. As much as I've been improving, I think I have too many bad days as a result of trying to do things I can't and may never be able to do. Just going out there and swinging the club is my new philosophy.
1/8/13
 
Matt McGee says:
I forgot to mention that I'm not practicing at all until spring this year. Exercising, yes. Golf, no.
1/8/13
 
jpjeffery says:
Play more. Is that enough of a plan? I figure if I play more then I'm increasing my chances of breaking 100 twofold: Firstly, by increasing the opportunities (i.e. if I play once then I've only given myself one chance to score under 100) and secondly by my game improving just through frequency of play.

I guess the more specific aim is to work on the consistency of fairway shots. Distance is only a secondary, perhaps tertiary, concern. The primary is 'ball before ground' combined with reasonably straight...
1/8/13
 
mjaber says:
I have a very simple, modest goal for this year. Play more rounds than I did last year. Since I only played twice last year, it should be easy enough to accomplish.
1/9/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Thinking back on 2012 is interesting; I had ACL reconstruction (my third) surgery over the summer, and now have a functional knee for the first time sine 1997. Many rounds over the years resulted in pain and swelling, as well as a new swing which put virtually no stress on my right knee (right-handed). My weight shift went from full on the right side to full on the left side without any twisting in the transition - an early and total shift to the left side.
I'd be curious to see what those of you who know swing mechanics think about that. Similar to when I had a golf vacation (5 rounds in 7 days) right after breaking a piece of my left elbow (my bike vs. car), and having to modify my game (swing easier and not hit the ground - every swing created a painful click) to create much cleaner and precise contact with the ball/ground, I came out a better player.
Likewise this past year was spent mostly in the longing phase, but it seems I have come out better - sublimating thoughts and study into positive results.
1/9/13
 
onedollarwed says:
I appreciated this forum more than ever in 2012! Thinking about golf may be more important than practice, better than practice without thinking for sure. While I'm more in the camp of playing over practice, you can practice the nine shot types with a variety of clubs at the range (and how to use ball position to accomplish this). Also, you can practice when you can't play. All combined, "serious recreational golfers" like us have much greater room for improvement than most. We SRGs all need upgrades and maintenance with equipment, gear, skills, mental-emotional fitness, and playing time. Our choices and performance are huge to the industry, and we are the teachers and role models for the next generation of SRGs!!!
1. LHF: approach shots and decision making >150yds
2. Skills: I now chart my "hot zone" with assist stats like PSY
3. Happy with my grip after altering in the winter 3 years ago - a la Hogan.
4. Fundamentals - physical fitness, endurance as my fundamentals erode with fatigue.
5. Score as above!
1/9/13
 
Tim Horan says:
my new year resolution was to shoot 80 or below until April (Hard courses being played end of April)and then to keep it that way all year. It didn't last long. I blew up last Saturday but recovered Sunday.
1/10/13
 
onedollarwed says:
This was an ad I found recently. What do you think? Offer is for $75 initially, and then more bonuses.

"Executive seeks extensive golf lessons over the winter months. Will pay cash. Significant bonuses based on my scores come spring. "The better I play, the more I pay." Need to start ASAP. Cold weather and snow not a problem for me - can work on mechanics in any conditions. Indoor locations fine too. Certifications and references a must. interview required. Bottom line: money no object for the instructor who can help me. If you can improve my game, I will make it worth your while."
1/14/13
 
Anti-Mulligan says:
What happened to the wedgeguy? No articles in a while.
1/18/13
 
larrynjr says:
I was wondering that too, is Terry ok?
1/18/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Yeah, I was wondering, and even posted again. Terry has proven to be a grinder on this site, and I wouldn't expect him to be deterred by a flu virus, or the like. Hmm?
1/18/13
 
BarryH777 says:
Am 18 handicap and only ever been a player and not practiced. Now I can devote 5 or 6 days per week and 5 hours per day practice. I use Ping G15 offsets at the mo. I'm told that my swing will be adapted to use an offset club and therefore am considering starting over again with a forged club. Appreciate I'll go backwards before forwards but wondered on your thoughts and what forged to recommend?
My target is low single figures over 3 years or more.
Thanks
1/19/13
 
larrynjr says:
@ BarryH, hard to go wrong with Mizuno forged clubs. I bought a used set of MP32's 3 years ago and have gone from 33 to 18 in that time. If I had the $$, I'd seriously look at the MP69's.
www.mizunousa.com/golf/products/mizuno-mp-69-iro
1/19/13
 
alvinski says:
Wonder if Terry is at PGA Merchandise Show??? Anyway, will ask again when Terry is around, but I have a combination of Eidolon wedges 60,55,50, and SCOR wedges 45,41. Anyone have thoughts on 8-4 iron blades that would match nicely with this combination...
1/24/13
 
onedollarwed says:
@barryH and alvinski, a few years back I demoed irons extensively. The three finalists in the blind taste test were: Mizuno MP-60, Bridgestone J-33, and Callaway X-forged. I played 2 rounds with each of those - and no driver, woods, or hybrids. That means teeing off with the 3-iron all day long. There wasn't a huge difference between the irons, and the price's were comparable. In the end, the Mizuno irons won out because dead-center hits were just that much more incredible, and off-center hits still traveled well. I've since gotten Eidolon wedges matched to the MP-60's and they work great.
So, while I could recommend Mizuno "Muscle-Back" forged irons, I would also recommend some blind taste testing. Have a friend hand you a bunch of demo clubs at the store and see how you feel aligning them and how they feel. I'm not sophisticated enough to get into shafts, but being open to your senses and not a slave to brands can really help.
1/24/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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