Two Games or One?
First of all, thanks to all of you for the lively feedback on last Friday's column. We appreciate you sounding off about what golf means to you and why you play, what you expect out of the game, and all that stuff. It was enlightening to many of us here that people can play the game for so many "different" reasons, but which all boil down to pretty much the same – the challenge of doing better in a very difficult endeavor.

As we all strive to be better, we can stand in awe of the heights of performance those elite players achieve. To think of shooting 20+ under par for 72 holes is a concept that most of us cannot even begin to imagine for ourselves. The same should be for trying to emulate even the individual shots these top-level tour professionals hit.

One thing I firmly believe has caused most recreational golfers to play far below their full potential is the publicizing of the prodigious distances the professional golfers hit the ball. We are constantly bombarded by television accounts of 325-yard drives and 240-yard 5-iron shots, 160-yard 9-irons, etc. And too many of us process that to mean that's how far those clubs are supposed to go. But it's not. No more than your morning jog is supposed to crack the 4-minute mile, or that every fishing trip should produce trophy fish. Or that your business decisions should have the same impact as those made by a counterpart at a multi-billion company.

Very simply, we exist in different worlds than the elite performers, and we should set our expectations in line with our skills and preparation.

Remember, the tour player does this for a living. His entire world revolves around his ability to make the golf ball do what he wants. He employs a personal coach, a personal physical trainer, nutritionist, mental coach, caddie and a team of agents to take care of life's little distractions like paying bills, going to the cleaners, etc. His focus is only on his golf.

You and I don't have that luxury. If we are fortunate, we can escape our business and family pressures for a weekly practice session of an hour or so, and one, maybe two rounds of golf. We did not spend an hour a day stretching, or another 2-3 working out. We take a lesson only occasionally – if at all. And we certainly do not have our own shrink.

So why would we think we could even remotely approach the performance benchmarks of these guys? We can't, and we shouldn't.

Think about that for a bit, and give yourself a break. If Adam Scott can hit a 5-iron 215-225, your optimum distance is probably more like 175-190. If Phil Mickelson says a routine 9-iron shot is 155, yours is probably more like 130-135.

I would offer a bet to any of you that if you throttled back your "normal" distances by 15-25 yards, and worked on your mechanics at that more controlled pace, you would see 2014 deliver the lowest rounds of your life.

Anyone for a bet?
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[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
"Anyone for a bet?"

Coming from someone who rarely says no to this question. NO. The only club I disagree with that comment is my driver. I will snap hook it if I dont swing out of my shoes.

But for the rest of the bag. I've already started doing that. I had the round of my life last week when it was raining and I took 1 extra club and swung softer just to make sure the club didn't come out of my hand. If I could have made some shorter putts I would have crushed my best round ever.

Today is my off day and it is spitting rain again. Looks like I'll try to go shoot another low round.
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. You are a very fortunate Dude. Most experienced golfers will tell you that if they swing extra hard with any club it will create a bad pull and/or a duck hook.When you watch the pro's on Tv the commentators always say "he tried to hit it hard and it caused a pull that went further than he wanted" .
jasonfish11 says:
I'm not sure about "lucky" I didn't say I hit it well when I swing hard. I just said I hit it worse when I swing 75% lol.

I'm pretty sure when I take something off my driver my hips stop and I become armsy. I think my right arm takes over and I smother it.

But I haven't ever really cared to learn to hit a 75% driver, at this point if I don't want to hit a full driver I just pull 3w or 4i.

Maybe that will change at some point.
joe jones says:
jasofish. I didn't say lucky. That is your word. I said fortunate. Many of us would love to swing from our heels but I tried to explain what happens when most of us do it. It ain't pretty.
GBogey says:
I'm with Joe - swinging hard is usually a very bad result. On the other hand, I've also had rounds where I tried to swing really easy and that produces bad results.
onedollarwed says:
I know what jfish is saying; there have been times when consciously changing the tempo of your swing is going to produce horrible results. As someone who most people would say swings hard, learning to throttle down has been a weird adjustment. I tend to decelerate because I have a quick backswing and a forceful change of direction, which, with stiff steel shafts produces wonderful results, long straight distances, and work-ability.
However, from my point of view, I'm only going 85%. The extra 15% I employ at times on the range as an experiment (whentrying to clear the back fence 350yds away) or when a grudge ball dictates, and results are inconsistent and borderline injurious.
knh555 says:
Instead of changing tempo, try shortening the length of of backswing. You don't change you fundamental mechanics but still increase the chances of a clean strike.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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