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Getting Mental
I had the opportunity this week to spend two days at the annual Summit of The Proponent Group, an organization of the top golf instructors in the world. Being surrounded by 140 of these talents is quite a treat. In a dinner conversation, several of these coaches who work with younger golfers were discussing how to get these kids to think differently ... or just THINK ... on the golf course, and focus on the probabilities of success when they face tough shots. Or any shot for that matter.

The conversation centered around making smart decisions about what you want to do with the golf ball on each shot. What would constitute "great" and also "safe", and assess your probabilities of executing either to satisfaction. In my observation of young golfers, but also many average players, I see them too often attempt the very low odds shot that might produce the desired results, rather than the safer shot that has a much higher probability of leaving the ball in a good spot for the next one.

These coaches were commiserating that they just cannot get these young strong players to really engage their brains before they get over a shot. In competition, all that matters is the cumulative score for the full 18 holes. And it takes a lot of great shots to make up for one poorly-chosen attempt at greatness. Low scores are much easier to manage if you take the doubles and triples off the card.

So, what I'm trying to share with you today is that we all could use an occasional "reality check" for our golf strategy. Based on your handicap, how many real "birdie holes" are out there? I suggest that unless you are a scratch or better, there are none. For an average 15 handicapper, there are only 2-3 par holes ... unless you make a bunch of big numbers, where you have to have more.

That conversation with the coaches yielded the idea of challenging the kids ... and ourselves ... to pick a realistic target score, and then approach each hole as to its contribution to that total. If a kid is trying to break 80, for example, he/she needs to make ten pars and 8 bogies. That's all. No birdies required. None. Zilch.

We all could take a little dose of that advice from very accomplished teachers. What if you approached each hole this weekend a little differently. What if your thought on each tee was something like: "What strategy gives me the best chance at avoiding bogey or double, but a reasonable chance to make par?"

I would like to hear your thoughts on this, please.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Ian 666 says:
My train of thought is similar. Lot’s of courses in the UK have Red tees for Ladies Gold tees for Men and white Members or competition only. Men are not permitted to use the Red Tees.
Since having a spinal operation my swing is slow making it very hard to reach the green in regulation on longer par 4’s instead of going for it with Driver/3 Wood and risk damaging my back further I plan to Bogey all the Par 4’s and Par 5’s (Normally 14 holes) and Par the Par 3’s giving me a total round of 86
I know I can hit my 3 iron 200 yards 50% of the time, However I know I can launch my Pitching Wedge 120 yards 95% of the time. Common sense says I should be playing my shorter irons more and chipping onto the green. However temptation sometimes gets the better of me and when it does my score goes through the roof. I prove this to myself time and time again, Playing it smart does work but sometimes ego or the fact you are competing takes over
11/1/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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