More on Ruts ...
I write two posts a week, and try to give a personal reply to every question. Add that to the daily inquiries we get at EIDOLON, many of which I also try to answer personally. Needless to say, sometimes this gets a little confusing, and things run together a bit. Last week I wrote about Ruts and Grooves, and related my personal experience recently with both.

But I somehow missed that I had received a very lengthy appeal for help from Matt S., about his rut and how to get out. Matt related a lifelong tale of starting the game young, stopping for a while, and picking it up again. It was quite the missive, I must say. And his frustration with not improving was clear as day. After a few paragraphs, Matt finally got around to his question(s):
So my question 'simply' is this.... How do I lower my scores?

- Is it MORE practice?

- Do I need to upgrade my equipment? (currently playing Wilson Deep Red Fat Shaft irons - 3 to SW)

- Take MORE lessons

- Should I study more the 'mental' part of the game?? (although I do try to keep good "course management" in mind when I play)
Well, Matt, there are many routes to lowering your scores, but they all pass through your efforts to improve your technique and your mental approach to playing the game.

First of all, yes, you do need more practice. All of us do if we want to get better. But the old adage, “practice makes perfect” is not exactly true. Practice makes “permanent”. Only practicing with a mission and practicing the right things makes you better.

If you’re stuck in the 90s and 100s, your swing probably needs some refinement. I’d suggest you find a good book like Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons and read it to really understand the golf swing from a mechanical standpoint. There are many other fine ones, but this is just my personal favorite.

The other thing to really drill on is your fundamentals before the swing movement starts – grip, setup and posture, alignment. No matter how much you practice, if you don’t begin each shot from the same point, it simply cannot help you.

Then I’d suggest you really delve into the mental side, and there are some great books on the subject. The goal is to simply understand all the various influences on your performance during a typical round of golf, and learn how to block them out and “get out of your own way” each time you have a shot to hit.

As for lessons, I am a big believer if you’re serious, but find a pro that you communicate well with and stick with him or her. Don’t jump around from pro to pro as it will get you nowhere. And be careful about trying to digest too many tips and quick fixes, whether from me or any other source. You can get into “paralysis by analysis” doing that.

And finally, make the determination that when you do find time to sneak away from your wife and kids for a little “Matt Time”, you make the most of it. Not to achieve any particular score, but to thoroughly enjoy the experience. THIS IS A GAME . . . AND IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.

So Matt, I’m sure the guys and gals here will chime in with their own thoughts on this, as you’ve asked them to, and hang in there. That new EIDOLON wedge is on the way!!!! Maybe it can be the jumpstart you need.


photo source
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[ comments ]
DiC says:
Great advise as always Terry.

I guess my letter to you was born out of sheer desperation. As you say I have been playing for the best part of 20 years since I was a young lad and I seem to have been hitting the same mid 90 scores for most of that time.
I just couldn’t / can’t seem to see the day that my passion for the game is met by the skill to do it justice!

Thank you very much for the new wedge…. Hopefully it will be just the think to help me hit the 80’s and beyond!

Matt
(Duck in Custard)
4/27/10
 
Bryan K says:
I am also a huge fan of Ben Hogan's book, and I beleive it was Terry who pointed me in that direction.

But one aspect of the game that so few seem to mention when talking about tools to get better is the use of training aids. I have three that I use with regularity, but the two that have been the most helpful have been the Medicus dual-hinge club and the swing plane trainer. I bought the Medicus used for $75, and I bought the swing plane trainer from Rock Bottom Golf for $15. With the Medicus, you might need someone to help you tell you what you're doing wrong so that you can get your swing without the club buckling, but the swing plane trainer was very self-explanatory.

Now, if I could just get my chipping and putting down to some semblence of consistency, I'll be in the 80's:)
4/27/10
 
BME_Badger says:
I think the mentalpinches in a part of the game is huge too, specifically course management. Try to accept that you aren't a pro and don't go for the hero shots. Just last week a colleague and I were laying in the fairway after our drives about 225 out on a par 5. Water round the green and it was a pretty windy day. We both have the distance to get there and he grabs 3 wood and slices it across the pond. I take 8 iron and leave myself a wedge in. I get par (should have been a birdie, stupid putter...) and he gets a double bogey.

Take the simple play and save yourself some trouble. Try it for a round, take the simplest option for all your shots and see if it helps. Also, know your favorite shots and aim to those, if you love your approaches from 120 yards, adjust your drives and approaches accordingly.
4/27/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@BME_Badger - Excellent points
Was playing with friend last week - similar situation - similar results.
Par 4 327 yd - my friend driver off the tee, sliced right into 'trouble.' Me - 4i (I can hit the driver pretty long) off the tee middle of the fairway about 120yds in. end result Me - par, my friend dbl. bogey. Course management and more importantly, 'course mindset' made all the difference!
4/27/10
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@ BME, Lay up? Thats for basketball, trying to go over water from 225 is just foolish, lol. The best and fastest way to lower your scores is practice your short game, chipping, pitching, putting. I recommend Dave Pelz short game bible and putting bible reading those two books have helped me lower my scores dramatically. Now I am usually in the high 70's and recently posted my new low of 74. I believe in Pelz's system and now carry 5 different wedges. PW, Gap W, SW, LW, 64 degree wedge. Learning more about the short game has me confident no matter where I am around the green.
4/27/10
 
Bryan K says:
You know...another oint I'd like to bring up in relation to course management and the mental aspect of the game....

Never make two bad shots in a row.

Whenever I make a bad shot, I step away and make sure I take a little bit of extra time on the next shot. I can always recover from one bad shot and still have a chance at par. Hell, I tend to make a bad shot at least once per hole. Once I make that second bad shot in a row, though, I'm looking at a bogey at best and a likely double.
4/27/10
 
Eskimo_pie21 says:
This message is directed towards Terry. The only reason I am posting this here is because he refuses to be a good businessman, ah for that matter a good person. Only someone who has no care for anyone but himself would act the way he has acted toward me. Terry...all I want is what I think I deserve....a response to my inquiries into a position at your company.

I can understand me not receiving a position after applying for it. However, most businessmen have the common decency to inform you of the outcome of their decision. I just can’t understand why, after all the attempts I made to contact you, you still wont give me any response. What is the deal? Because, from everything that you write and that I have read about you has been nothing but the words of a kind and honest man. I don't mean any disrespect by this post; I just believe that we live in America, where every man should be treated equal. Terry, if you would like to treat me as an equal please respond to any one of my inquiries.
4/27/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
whoa...

That eskimo thing kinda makes me cringe.

Dude, step away from the keyboard. You're not doing yourself any favors right there.
4/27/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
@bjohn13
I have a Medicus too and find it helps me slow down quite a bit and refines my tempo.
Regarding how to use one, there is a video at the golf warehouse webpage that guides how to "read" the hinge breakdown thing.
www.tgw.com/manufacturer/medicus/medicus.jsp?KNC
4/27/10
 
activesense says:
@ Eskimo-pie21 - Posting your personal issues on a public site is certainly not the way to conduct business. This is a social and sociable site where golfers discuss the great game and all things associated with it (including NASCAR???!!!). I certainly don't want my time wasted by someone with an (irrelevant) ax to grind. Classless move Eskimo-pie21.
4/27/10
 
Bryan K says:
Kurt: thank you for the link. lol...would have come in handy about a year ago:)

The Medicus has definitely helped me with my tempo a lot, but it has also helped me immensely with my backswing. I have a tendency to not open up my clubface enough on my backswing, and that results in an ugly low trajectory shot that hooks right into the ground. I still spend a lot of time just working on my backswing with the Medicus, making sure the club is where it needs to be at the peak of the backswing. If I can get there consistently, the rest of the swing is easy. Meanwhile, my friends are absolutely amazed that I can swing the dang thing without buckling it. That took a lot of work, but even more importantly...my drives never hook or slice anymore unless I want them to.
4/27/10
 
DiC says:
Training aids are not something I'd really considered before as I always sort of saw them as nothing but gimmicks. I kind of like the idea that I could be getting some sort of practice in at home / in the garden other than putting on the living room carpet.
The Medicus dual-hinge club is something I'd seen before but looked a little complicated to be of any help. Seems a few of you think otherwise though so might be worth another look.
Does anyone else have any training aids that they would recommend?
4/28/10
 
BigDoctorJ says:
Hilarious, Eidolon plug at the end! Wedge Guy, you tell him it is all about the mental side, or mechanics, or to just have fun and not worry. Then you throw out the plug for your wedge, perfect, I think you are right, that is just what his game needs.
4/28/10
 
Bryan K says:
DiC: I also have a swing plane trainer called a Swing Detective made by Skilz. It has two lights on it, red and green, that are supposed to line up on top of each other in a straight line. They look like straight lines when swining the club. When these two lights don't line up, it tells you if your club face is open or closed. Plus, when the lights are at an angle in relation to the desired swing plane, it tells you if you're swining outside-in or inside-out. That has also been an extremely helpful purchase, and it is a lot cheaper than the Medicus was.

I also use a chipping aid that might even be easy to make. Basically, it is a sand wedge with a shaft that is extended an extra 2-3 feet. The objective is to keep the shaft in front of your body without hitting your body. I only used this aid about a half dozen times to get a feel for the correct stance when lining up for a chip, but it was helpful.
4/28/10
 
BME_Badger says:
@GolfSmith7 - I completely agree about needing to emphasize the short game as well, but many people I play with could easily cut 5 strokes per round by just playing smarter. No time at the range required :-)
4/28/10
 
windowsurfer says:
GolfSmith7 - "now carry 5 different wedges. PW, Gap W, SW, LW, 64 degree wedge." How often per round do u typically use 64*, how and what did you relegate to the garage to put it in yer bag? Did u consider swapping 60* for 64*?
4/28/10
 
windowsurfer says:
P.S. - By, "swapping 60* for 64*", I mean having PW, GW, SW, and 64* in your bag rather than the 5-wedge array.
4/28/10
 
Nethmonkey says:
@BigDoctorJ: you realize the guy he offered advice to won the club he "plugged" at the end for having his question picked, right?
4/28/10
 
Clint24 says:
I have done all the above- lessons, practice, equipment. But maybe the one biggest thing I did was bring my instructor to the course with me (we're both usually at the driving range). I had a high school match that Monday, and didn't play as I should of, or how I was practicing the entire two weeks before. I had a big tournament at the same course that Wednesday, so we went out Tuesday, and we played a few holes and worked mainly on the strategy of the course. I went from shooting a 45 (+9) on 9 holes, to shooting 80 (+8) on 18 at county and won the lowest medal for JV.
4/28/10
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@windowsurfer this is what is in my bag Driver, 2 hybrid, 3 iron, 5i-9i pw,gp,sw,lw, 64, putter for my 14 clubs. I don't carry any woods because I am long with my driver. If I do need a 3 wood lets say from the tee box I just choke all the way down the rubber on my driver and swing from there. If I need anything long from the fairway I use my 2 hybrid which I can carry over 200 yards with it. My home course has at least 2 bunkers protecting ea.ch hole hence I use the 64 often to hit it over and land like a butter fly. My philosophy for the extra wedges is that getting the ball closer to the hole affects my score more than having woods that I really don't need.
4/28/10
 
wiley1st says:
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think about 70% of your shots are your approach shot and putts. I've also heard that one should improve one's game from the hole back. Being quite simple-minded here, that seems to mean: practice putting, chipping, pitching, and approach 70% of the time.
4/28/10
 
Clint24 says:
wiler1st, thats how my dad, PGA pro, teaches the game- he starts basically backwords. If you cant get a simple chipping/pitching motion down right, there is now way you are ever going to be able to hit a great full swing shot. And about 75-80% of your shots are from 120 yards in, so you were right on.
4/28/10
 
golfray says:
Wedgeguy, It would be nice if you would post some scores. I see another poster here who has lots of advice but is a 28 handicap. We'd be more inclined to follow your suggestions if we could see how it's working out for you.
4/28/10
 
stedar says:
As a driving range fan, I learnt to hit the driver consistantly early on. Once I mastered that, I then moved on to the putting. Was scoring in the consistent high 80's, (driving does help when you land it on the fairways most of the time :-)

It is right to say that 70% of the shots made are usually 120 yards in. Pitching has always been difficult for me when closer to the hole. I found that using a 6 iron as a putter helped when on the fringes.

The most telling difference in my game was when I learnt how to use the "P" iron correctly and now I'm looking for a good lob wedge to compliment it (have been using a "SW" and as any of you that have tried will know, not the easiest of clubs when looking for consisentcy around the greens ;-).

Does anyne have a recommendation for a good lob wedge? Particularly the Deg required for up and down within 20 yrds of the green. As I have no idea what I should be looking for.
4/28/10
 
Matt F says:
@stedar - I'm very happy with my Eidolon wedges. I ditched the set that came with my clubs and replaced them with these and although the scores don't reflect it, I hit them a lot better than the other ones.

Matt
4/29/10
 
wedgeguy says:
Eskimo Pie 21,

Apparently you did not receive an email that the position has been filled, and for that I apologize. Since I can't associate your name here with your name on your resume, I invite you to email me at the link below.
4/29/10
 
stedar says:
Thanks mwfaith1971 (Matt :-)
4/29/10
 
elhacker says:
Just play. Play it like it's your last day on earth. Lastly, remember no matter how bad your game you could be mowing the lawn, changing diapers, raking, or worse yet, working. Enjoy the game.
4/30/10
 
DiC says:
Update...

OK, first of all: This is why I LOVE this site. Loads of great advice and plenty of people who are as much addicted to this game as I am! Thank you all for the ideas.

So I played today www.oobgolf.com/golfers/score.php?id=987096 at a slightly longer course to normal (par 72 rather than the 69 we usually play) and guess what?? Still mid 90's...
BUT I tried to play the round more relaxed and I felt like I was striking the ball as good as I ever have. What let me down was hitting the 60yard and under pitches too well if anything and sending them a little too far past the hole to make 1 putt coming back. So back to the short course to work on that.
Next time, mid 80's!

Matt
4/30/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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