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Top Five Things My College Kids Should Learn

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I like #5 when used in conjunction with a the golfer's "go to" club.

I have saved many a of rounds when doing this.

I also like #3, which I practice quite often. Being familiar with those troublesome lie situations is a great stroke saver in itself. 

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Thanks for posting this, @iacas. I'm decent at some of this stuff and terrible at others.

34 minutes ago, iacas said:

1. Full swings almost all the time.

Guilty. I never think about finesse shots unless I have a wedge in my hands or there's trouble I'm trying to navigate. This is something you and I have talked about so I think about it on occasion. 

Small sample size, but there was this one round I played about a month or so ago where I really tried to apply this. Took a club longer on my approach shots than I normally would and tried to hit less than full swings. Mixed results. Kept hitting the ball out of the sweetspot and carrying my 3/4 swings the same distance as my full swings. Turns out my my full swing numbers are largely based on mishits.

42 minutes ago, iacas said:

2. Missing in the right spots.

I suck at this. Part of it is because I hit a two-way miss. Working on that.

I'm a lot better at accepting a 15' putt is a good outcome from a short game shot these days because the alternative from trying to stick it close could mean I'm hitting another one. Just because I can hit it to tap-in distance doesn't mean I'm going to every time and I'm slowly learning that trying to do so in the first place probably isn't the best decision for me.

48 minutes ago, iacas said:

3. Lack of imagination when in awkward situations.

I'm actually pretty good at this, largely due to experience.

50 minutes ago, iacas said:

4. Poor distance control putting.

I've gotten better at this, too, but I've always had a decent acceleration profile.

51 minutes ago, iacas said:

5. Lack of a “B” Swing or a “Get it Around” swing.

This is another one of those things I learned from you years ago. I talk a lot about grinding through a golf round and generally it's when I'm falling back on my "B" swing.  I'm not fixing whatever swing issue I have during the round and I still have to put a number down on the scorecard.

It's when I start hitting my "B" swing fat, that's when I'm in trouble.

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@billchao what do you mean by a 2 way miss?

@iacas #1 is something that I am going to start to work on.  It really intrigues me and it seams to be discussed frequently on this site.

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8 hours ago, iacas said:

1. Full swings almost all the time. There’s tremendous benefit and control from hitting partial shots inside of even 160-170 yards. You take off a little spin, hit it more solidly, and control distance and trajectory better.

I have this problem, but I'm getting better at not hitting a full shot every time. At this point, I'm primarily gripping down, but I'm also working on a couple of ways to take partial swings that have translated nicely on the course. I should probably just think about this stuff more instead of defaulting to a full swing. I'm better with wedges right now and thinking about this.

8 hours ago, iacas said:

2. Missing in the right spots. When the entire world exists to the right of #3, far too many of you miss in the left trees/rough/OB. When going long on a green is dead… too many of you miss long. You generally take on too many tucked pins instead of playing for the center of the green, and you take on too risky of a short game shot (leaving the ball in a bunker or still in the rough) when just chipping it to 15 feet and giving yourself a par putt will suffice. The latter in particular is a killer: I’ve seen so many of you make double after you miss the green because you won’t just put the ball to 15 feet instead of trying to hole it or something.

The only thing that I will do too much of is the risky short game shot. I make a few too many double bogeys from near the green. I'm doing better than in the past, though. I don't tend to miss much in spots that are totally dead. There are a couple of holes on my home course where I'm uncomfortable in the fairway because I'm playing in the rough away from the trouble. 

8 hours ago, iacas said:

3. Lack of imagination when in awkward situations. Ball below your feet in a bunker? Ball on a downslope with a pitch to the green? I see too many people freak out and not be flexible, creative, etc. enough to find a way to utilize their club as a tool, and their body as a tool, to hit the necessary shot. Clubs are just piece of metal - make them do what you need them to do… and spend time practicing weird shots from time to time. They’re often the difference between 74 and 77 or something, even with only 1 or 2 per round.

Pretty good about this on long shots, not great on short game shots. But also not terrible. Sometimes, I feel like I'd rather have an awkward pitch than a straightforward one, because I'll focus more on those. 

8 hours ago, iacas said:

4. Poor distance control putting. Often it’s from an accelerating stroke (short back, long through) or one that’s wristy, but if you can develop good speed, your reads improve from consistent speed, and your putting (both one- and two-putts) improve as well. Spend more time working on the “speed” aspect of putting, and less time when you practice putting just hitting the ball toward a hole and trying to make it. And if you think you’re bad at five footers… just leave yourself fewer five footers per round because of poor distance control!

It me. 

8 hours ago, iacas said:

5. Lack of a “B” Swing or a “Get it Around” swing. This one’s admittedly the toughest here, but when things are going awry, many of you just continue to bleed out all over your scorecard. Spend time on the range developing some sort of “cheater” swing - a shorter, more controlled swing, possibly without much weight transfer back and forward, where you can hit the ball solidly and control the clubface pretty well, to at least keep the ball between the ropes and near the greens.

Don't really have this, but my swing is fairly consistent. My bad days are still 6ish GIR. It's more about having a better short game to rescue me on those days than it is my swing.

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58 minutes ago, djake said:

@billchao what do you mean by a 2 way miss?

I hit both draws and cuts. Makes it hard to aim away from trouble on one side because I'll end up finding trouble on the other side.

Basically I just aim at my target and hope it goes straight. 

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I love posts like this.  I think reading one from the Newport Cup (might have been the 2015 Newport Cup) was nice, even though it was targeted at better players than I am.  I think that one is where I got the habit of mentally moving a back pin forward a bit and a forward pin back a bit when deciding distance (this might explain both why my typical birdie attempt is from so far away and why I have more birdie attempts per round than many people of my handicap level).

So, my thoughts on current list ... and how two of the items made such a big difference for me. 

Item one made such a big difference in my game when you put me up to it a while back.  Now the shortest "full swing" I take in a regular round is a full 6-iron.  I'm not sure if there are situations where I should hit a full 9 instead of a flight 8, maybe if I really need to go over something I guess.  What used to be a full 8-iron is now (and my distances have changed, so this might not be exact) a "flight" shot with a 7-iron.   Sure, it'd have been cool to hit my 8-iron 135, something I used to dream of doing,  but if I'm 135 out from my target, I'm probably hitting a flight shot with a 7-iron ... and I'm probably more successful with it than I would have been hitting a full 8-iron.  On GameGolf's stats for "approach shots, 100-150 yards" I think I'm regularly doing better than my handicap benchmark (in fact, often better than the 10 handicap benchmark) on such shots.   I played a par-3 course a week or two ago with a friend who is a plus handicap.  Every par-3 was, at most, a flight 7-iron, and I hit 7 GIR + 2 near GIR.

Item two... also something you put me up to even earlier.  I get periodic "hey friend, the pin's in this zip code, not that one" ... but y'know what, I'm happy with GIR when I get it.  And sometimes I end up close to a pin by accident.  I once won closest to the pin on a par-3 in my club with 18" ... it was a 5-iron shot with pin on the left side of the green, with water left and front and sand in back.  I was aiming at the center and pulled my shot.  I got plenty of congratulations for the "great shot" (narrator:  it wasn't a great shot) but my friends knew there's no way I was trying to hit it there. 

Item three I'm not sure I know how to work on.  

Item four, yep, putting speed is a problem of mine, especially since I'm so bad at short putts (actually, I'm not as bad anymore, thanks to having short spurts of practice time and deciding to use it on the green instead of not getting any practice in that day).  

Item five, I think I know what I'd do for this.  Probably exactly as you describe:  keep my weight forward, short swings, just get the ball moving.  I should figure out what my distances would be on that at some point. 

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19 hours ago, iacas said:

1. Full swings almost all the time. There’s tremendous benefit and control from hitting partial shots inside of even 160-170 yards. You take off a little spin, hit it more solidly, and control distance and trajectory better.

This is something that took me a while to learn actually helps out a lot. I can probably hit up to a six iron easy and not be concerned with too low of a trajectory. 

That’s a good list.

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Very good info for all golfers.
My weakness is generally playing aggressive, especially with back pins or tucked pins.
There are several back pin locations which easily bring double or worst when I fire at them.
I'll usually fly the green dead over the pin or pull the shot when playing aggressive due to the excitement of the challenge.
Although In competition, I'll never ever go after these pins.

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