We all want to go out to course, coffee in one hand, clubs in the other, and shoot a score that will impress our buddies. However, it's what you do leading up to that point that will grant you a score of what you deserve. If you're struggling to break 100, there's a reason. If you're struggling to break 80, there's yet again a reason. Some of us pick up the game easier than others. May it be because we were "wired" since a young age, or we just have the natural feel for the grip of the club. Whatever it is, there's one key that will have you beating your opponent every single time.
It's not the new "revolutionary" gimmick you see during breaks on the golf channel. It's a thing called hard work.
You probably know the name Tiger Woods, right? Hopefully, but if you don't, he's just the best player that ever hit the game. He won four majors in a row in 2001, but that was only the beginning of his reign on the golf world. So, why was Tiger so dominant? Again, it's the simple thing called hard work.
"Other golfers may outplay me from time to time, but they'll never outwork me."
So, what gives Tiger, and other greats, the feel to work so hard? It's the main factor that they want to crush their competition. They don't want to just be in the loop during a round, they want to be the guy that forces everyone else to battle it our for second place.
Now, most people don't have the entire day to perfect their game. Unlike Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, people who work 9-5 jobs or daytime jobs can't swing the shaft all day and learn to putt for dough no matter how much they want. That's why I'm introducing a new concept.
If you work a 9-5 job, you, without a doubt, know the struggles of maintaining a good game. Although you want nothing more than one, you just don't have the time. But when the opportunity does knock, you're the first one to head out on a Saturday day off, or weekend resort. Possibly, you might even hit the course after work. However, it's what you do when you're on the course that is going to make you better.
We all like to go to the course and smack at the balls and call it a day, but that gets you nowhere. If you want to become a good golfer, you need to apply pressure on your shots like you would playing with your buddies. If you have $20 on the line, and even some pride involved, on a shot, do you think you are going to go up and take a careless whack at it? Likely not. But if that's what you have been doing in practice, you'll do it on the course. I cannot stress it enough; practice how you play. Make every shot count. You don't need 2-3 hours on the range if you don't have it. 20 minutes is enough time to get in a quality, worth while practice. Focusing on all your shots, technique, and all that, you will create a repetitive swing you can use on the course.
Now we move over to our short game. This is the biggest part of anyone's game. I don't care if your Tiger Woods or the average Joe, short game can make you or break you.
When I shot a 78 a couple days ago, it wasn't because of my iron play. Granted, I was smashing the driver, my iron play flat out sucked. But what allowed me to break 80 for the first time in a group? The mere fact of my short game. I made 5 one-putt bogeys in a row on the back nine. That just shows you how easily I could have made 5 two putt double bogeys, or three putt triples, and so on.
But putting wasn't everything that helped me shoot a 78. Chipping was a key factor, as well. I was able to make a large sum of up and downs for both par and bogey.
Why was I able to pull it off? Because I practice my short game for hours upon hours a day. Although I've been only been playing for a couple weeks, my short game is one of the best I know. It may sound narcissistic to say, but it's true. Granted, it's one of the best around when I come through. However, I'm yet to get consistent. Consistency, however, takes time. I feel I can become a solid, consistent low 70's player in a couple months, and you can to. It's not as hard as people like to say it is. Shooting under par isn't hard! It's all a matter of how hard you work, and how you work as well. People like to pretend shooting in the 70's and 60's is something only the BEST do. That if you do it, your handicap is all of a sudden "pro". It's not, and it shouldn't be thought like that. Anybody who can't shoot in the 70's or lower doesn't have less physical ability then the next guy, but is simply not working hard enough.
Then again, there's the issue of time.
The kid I played with two days ago has been playing since he was four. I have, also, but took a 5-year "break" to play baseball. He can out-play me any day he want's to, and I'm yet to beat in him in even a putting contest. However, although he may out play me, he'll never outwork me. Nobody will. That's the whole philosophy of golf. It's not like baseball, where a pitcher can throw you a curveball so nasty it makes even the best look like mediocre players. No, it's you and the tee box. You and the fairway, and you and the green.
The game is not hard. The game is only as hard as you make it. If there's water on the side of the fairway, why would you hit it into the water? Because you are going to slice it or start it right. The same goes for any hazard or OB marker. There is nothing telling you to hit it in there, or forcing you. The game is simple, yet astoundingly hard. But, like I continue to say, it's not hard unless you make it.
A good example of the game being easy is what happened to me on the 17th hole yesterday. I hit a hook drive, by far my worst drive of the day. I ended up under the branches of a tree, and had less than 2 feet to go under.
I had two choices: one - punch out and hope for a nice iron shot to save par. two - try to be a hero and punch under the tree, roll it up to the green and tap in for birdie.
Can you guess which one I chose? Sadly, the second one. What happened next was a shank (since I put it so far in the back of my stance) and a 2-putt bogey. Looking back on it, a par would have been easy.
If you're struggling with the game, take a step back. Realizing 1. It's a privilege to be out on the course and 2. The game is only as hard as you make it. Nobody has the ability to change your score, only you do. Sure, somebody can yell in your backswing, but you're the one changing your swing for them. Golf is a game dictated by you and nobody else. Oh, and always focus on the positive aspect of a shot. If you slice a ball into the water, focus on how it was a bomb of a drive or you got your hips out front that time. The shot is gone, there's no need to be pissed off and say "there goes my score!" because believe me, I used to do that and it does nothing but ruin your game further.
Yesterday I hit my 7-iron in the rocks on a par-3. As I watched the ball slice into what I thought was OB, I muttered "there goes my score." and pouted. But then I remembered what I read from Tiger Woods' "How I play golf". *Always focus on the positive*. So as I walked down to see where the ball was, my mind wasn't filled with how I could be OP and possibly triple this hole ... but how well I played the front 9. I was thinking about how I already had three birdies on the day, and how I saved par on the past hole with a great chip.
When I got to my ball, although it was deep in the rocks, things didn't seem bad. I thought of it as an easy up-and-down. And that's exactly what I did. Although I two-putted for bogey, it was a good bogey. I'm getting much better at staying positive on the course, but shots really pull you down. However, we all have to remember the game is just as hard as we make it. So, take a deep breathe, swing hard, and go make birdie. Because there's nobody stopping you but you.
Good luck! Hope everyone is having a great Christmas, and going to have an even better New Year.