I had lots of golf things in my mind this week, which is not really unusual, since I live, eat, sleep and breathe this game. But these seem to come from everywhere, so here we go.
Why did David Toms go for it on #16 last Sunday? I was really pulling for him, as I love to see the older guys show these young guns that there is alternative to just bombing it around. David is known for his fairways & greens approach, as he’s not nearly as long as these young guys. But there he is, 249 out on a par five, over water, with a one shot lead. His closest pursuer just laid up so he’s not going to make more than a birdie, and to be honest, he hasn’t been making the shorter putts that day. It would seem to me that Toms’ best choice would have been to lay up as well, hit wedge in and give himself at least a 50/50 chance at birdie . . . with little to no risk of a bogey. That would have made Choi have to catch him on those last two holes, which typically isn’t done.
I think the lesson here for all of us is that even the best in the world don’t always play “smart golf”, especially under pressure. Let’s all give ourselves a break, OK?
Moving on, there are a couple of holes at our club that just don’t set up to my eye, if you know what I mean. And because of that, I typically have more trouble with them than the others, even though they are not the hardest. So last week I made a promise to myself to approach both of them very differently for a few rounds and see what happens to my average score. #9 is a slight dogleg left, but the wind always is left-to-right, which blows right to the fairway bunker for my driving distance. So for a while, I’ve decided to hit 4-wood off the tee, leaving me a 5- or 6-iron to the green, rather than try to drive it in that little slot to get a short iron . . . IF I miss the bunker. My bet is that my scoring average with a mid-iron from the fairway every time will be better than it has been.
The other short hole, #11, tempts you to try to draw a fairway wood or driver around the corner to have short wedge in. But if you don’t turn it over, or if you ‘overcook it’, you’ll be left with a punch out of the trees, and you’ve just turned a short hole into a hard one. Since I’m a Hogan disciple and don’t turn the ball over much, I’m committed to hitting hybrid or 4-iron off the tee, leaving me a 6- to 8-iron in for a while. Again, I’ll betting my scoring average will be better. I’ll let you know how that works on both of them.
Finally, I’ve been working with a teenage son of a friend, who’s really getting into golf. I’ve been trying to communicate with him that to hit it harder, you have to swing easier, so that all the parts of the swing can happen in the proper sequence, delivering maximum clubhead speed at impact. But I’m going against the grain of the “bomb-and-gouge” golf these kids see on TV. Pretty tough challenge. Now, I don’t have any children, so don’t even come close to professing to know how to get in the head of a 15-year-old. I’m going to ask you fathers out there to help me understand how I might get through to him with this notion of “swing easy, hit hard”. Any ideas?
That’s it for this Friday. I’m looking forward to your advice on the teenager, and hope my musings might get you to thinking, too. What can you do differently in your playing that could give you different outcomes?
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Kevin Langdon (3)