Know When To Take Your Medicine
by Chris Rowe, PGA
Head Golf Professional

Did your mother ever say you have to take all of your medicine if you want to get better? My mother sure did and Iím sure yours did also. Now you are probably wondering what taking your medicine and golf have in common. Many times we make poor decisions on the golf course instead of playing the percentage shot which is in essence taking your medicine. Most big numbers made on the golf course start with a poor tee shot followed by a poor decision. If you hit your tee shot in the woods you normally always have the option to pitch back into the fairway, but most of us try to hit the miracle shot which usually leads to high scores.

When I worked at Colonial I spent a lot of time teaching on the range, which runs parallel with the fifth hole, which is considered one of the best holes in America. The tee shot requires a fade off the tee, but most people hit through the fairway and are left with a decision of hitting a miracle shot or pitching back out into the fairway leaving them selves a 100 yard shot. I would be willing to bet any golfer given ten shots from 180 yards, having to hit a low hook, with the Trinity River on the right, and a very well bunkered green, would not hit the green more than 30% of the time. On the other hand you take the same golfer and give him ten shots from 100 yards and Iím willing to bet he would have a much better percentage.

When the PGA Tour would come in town many of the tour players would be in the same predicament the membership found themselves in every day. The difference is the tour player would go ahead and swallow his pride and pitch out into the fairway, therefore taking his medicine. When you have a mindset like this you take the big number out of play. Even when the tour players pitched out the worst scores they made were bogeys. The guys that tried the low percentage shots normally made doubles and triples. Next time you find your self in one of these predicaments go ahead and take your medicine and see if your scores donít improve.

Is your swing too quick?

Fat shots and thin shots have one thing in common. Both swings were rushed on the downswing. A fat shot happens when a golfer lowers his right side and hits behind the ball. A thin shot happens when a golfer straightens his body at impact. Neither one of these shots produce

great results, but they both happen when the player gets quick on his or her downswing. The next time you are on the range and you are hitting thin or fat shots try to slow your tempo down. Think of making a swing on a tempo count of one, two, and three. Say these words as you make your swing. Takeaway is one, downswing is two, and impact is three. Some tour players even think of a word in their mind at the top of their backswing to slow the transition down. The key for controlling the transition from backswing to downswing is to control the tempo. A player can swing as hard as he wants as long as the tempo count has a consistent rhythm. Nick Price, has a very quick swing and Fred Couples has a very smooth swing, but they both keep a consistent swing count. Meaning the rhythm of the swings are spaced out and not rushed. Try slowing your tempo down and see if it doesnít help you hit better shots.

Great Shots and Great Friends

How many great shots do you hit in a round of golf? Most of us if we are honest would say two or three at the most. This doesnít mean that you did not hit good shots it just means there are very few great shots. Take Tiger Woods for instance at Doral this year. Tiger, hits a three wood from 280 yards to land fifteen feet from the pin to make eagle and go on to beat Phil Mickelson. During Tigerís press conference he said he hit the shot in the heel. This certainly looked like a great shot in the non-super human golferís opinion, but to Tiger it was a good shot that turned out better than he thought. When playing a round of golf, whether my score is even par or eighty, there will only be a few shots that were great. That doesnít mean the round did not have good shots it just means there is a separation between great shots and good shots. The separation in golf is the same in friendships. We all have a number of friends, but we only have a few great friends. The definition of a great friend and a good friend is obviously different. Great friends are in your wedding, they are there for you during difficult times, and they would do anything for you. Good friends are there for you, but you probably wouldnít keep in touch with them on a regular basis if you were to move to a different city.

The message that you should get from this shouldnít be there are not enough great shots in a round of golf, but just how hard they are to come by. Golf is a game of misses and where we miss our shots normally determines how we score. Golf is a very difficult game and we all have different levels of talent. Tigerís 280 yard three wood would be a great shot for my self and one of my shots might be great for a thirty handicap. It is all relative to the playerís ability, but the number of great shots is still the same. Remember, cherish your great shots as well as your great friendships and keep working on both.

Right Pocket to Left Pocket

Next time youíre on the range try this drill. Set up to a golf ball. Make a backswing going no further than your pocket. Swing through with your follow through finishing no higher than your other pocket. This drill will teach you a number of things about your swing. First, the drill teaches you to rotate. Second, the drill teaches you rhythm and tempo. Third, the drill teaches you to keep your swing short. Fourth, this is a perfect knock down shot for playing in the wind. When this drill is executed properly your ball flight should have a right to left pattern and your distance should be about 80% of a full shot.

On the golf course try this and you will be surprised where your backswing actually stops. What we feel in the golf swing is normally different than what is really happening. Watch Tiger and Ernie and see where their backswing stops on iron shots. They normally stop about ear level. When youíre on the range have a friend stand behind you to watch or video tape your swing and see where your backswing stops using this drill. You might be surprised.

Practice with a Purpose

Many times on the range I will observe people who are practicing their swing and the one thing I notice is that people do not practice like they want to play. Take two basketball players, we will call them player A and player B, and watch there practice habits. Player A works on free shots making ten in a row, picks the spots where he thinks he will be during the game, and finishes with a few lay ups. Player B shoots randomly from all over the court. He shoots a few three pointers, a few under the basket, and really has no goals in mind of what he is trying to accomplish. Which player will most likely perform the best in a real basketball game? Player A would obviously play better than player B. On the range I see a lot of player B. Many of us never pick out a target or have an agenda of what we want to accomplish while on the range. I canít tell you how many times I have been told by golfers ďI hit it great on the range, but canít take it to the golf course.Ē The reason I hear this is because a normal driving range is two hundred yards in width and the average fairway is forty yards in width. Anyone can hit a drive and it stay in the range, but fairways are a little tougher. When you practice hitting drives pick out an imaginary fairway and try to hit the shots in the fairway. When you hit your irons pick out a green which is the perfect distance for the club you are trying to work on. Try to hit five in a row on the green before you leave the range. When you are about to leave the range hit a few easy twenty yard shots to wind down. You never want to leave the range hitting full throttle drivers. You want to wind down so you donít pull your seven iron on the first hole and swing full throttle, and the second hole you swing full throttle at a wedge. When you gear down before you leave the range your tempo will be better the entire round.

This winter when you go to the range, practice with a purpose. Set goals for the season and write them down. Paper never forgets. Play games to make practice more fun. Try to hit three shots in a row to a green around 100 yards, then three shots to a green 150 yards away, then three drivers with you imagining your on the first tee with all of your friends watching. When you practice with a purpose you will play like you practice.


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