HIT EVERY BALL
This may sound very obvious, but when learning to break 100 it is mandatory that you hit every ball with authority. Your shot might fall short, it might be long, or it could be right or left of your target, but hit that ball ! Every Century Golfer makes the same mistake, worrying about where the ball goes after it is hit. You shouldn’t even care at this point about anything except just making good contact with your ball with 100% consistency. I can’t tell you how many strokes the typical Century Golfer waists just because they take too much acreage behind the ball, or topping the ball. Make sure you make solid contact with every shot. This means practice, practice, practice. Use real balls, reduced flight balls, or wiffle balls. Hit balls anywhere you can to perfect your hitting abilities.
Your objective at this time is to train your muscles, eyes and mind to concentrate on hitting every shot solidly and crisply. This is a great deal simpler than it may sound. Here is the formula:
(1) Never try to hit a ball with 100% of your strength. And let me state at this time; every backswing must start with the hip/waist movement, followed immediately by the hands being pulled back. Always swing your hands and NEVER swing the club head. A shot a should be made using a three quarter strength swing until you are no longer a Century Golfer. Once your scores start coming down considerably you can gradually start increasing the strength you use with you swing.
(2) Ball Placement. Ball placement should always be in one of three spots in your stance. Woods just off your lead heal. Mid irons a few inches closer to your back foot, and the short irons are to be located closer to the center of your stance.
(3) Do not vary your grip, whatever it is! I personally prefer a stronger grip where more of back of the hand can be seen when addressing your ball. I’d rather have a slight hook than a slight slice. But this is NOT our emphasis at this point. Our emphasis is only on hitting every ball.
During your practice sessions, you should get yourself to the point where you can hit 10 balls in a row, with each club you carry in your bag without failing to solidly hit even one ball. I reiterate, I don’t care where the ball goes; just hit it !!! You’ll work out your accuracy after you have mastered the strike.
After practicing this step for several weeks, you will find that not only are you hitting every ball you swing at, but you are consistently hitting them in a consistent direction. I hope you’ve noticed that I haven’t said anything about working out problems with hooking, slicking, (square, closed or open stance), the swing plane, or the all important proper grip. The reason that we aren’t going into all that is, that these, and many more factors, would only serve to confuse the Century Golfer at this point. These are what the Bogey golfer needs to work on. After you have been making great ball contact to the point of knowing that you are going to do it, then you can think about straightening out your shots if necessary. Just hitting every shot with authority is of utmost importance at this time. I cannot tell you how many times I have been disappointed with a shot immediately after making it, just to discover later (after walking to where it lies) that it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was. First learn to get the ball airborne and moving forward, then later you can work on making it look picture perfect.
Hitting the ball with authority simple means to hit THROUGH your ball with power. If you swing at your ball and feel that you have topped it, or took an acre of ground behind it, continue your shot with power. Don’t let your hands go dead; tighten your grip and drive forward and through the ball. If you have grounded your club and continue to swing hard, with authority, you will be amazed how man yards you will salvage from what would otherwise be a totally wasted stroke.
Know Your Range
You are now into Step 6 of this manual. I have not discussed any specifics of golf, nor have I even told you to get on the golf course, but I am willing to bet that if you went to play a round of golf today, you will have cut your usual score by at least 10 strokes or more. In this step you will be concentrating on discovering how far you normally hit each club. You will discover this information, catalog it, and trust it. It is impossible to use any information that is gathered if you don’t trust it. The reason I emphasize trust is the same reason I emphasize knowledge of the rules. You must unclutter your mind. You have no room for indecisiveness in your game. You must trust your club selection and hit it accordingly. There can be no guessing. For example: You must know that you hit an 8 iron 140, 130, or 120 yards, so you know how to come into the green. I’m much less concerned with woods and long irons than I am with irons that will land you on the green; but eventually you will want to know the distances you hit all of your clubs.
The first part of Step 6 is to discover the information needed. This part if more difficult than it should be because of the the layout of most driving ranges. Driving ranges are set us for golfers to learn accurately how far they hit irons, most ranges are only interested in letting golfers work on their drives.
So go somewhere where you can accurately know how far you are hitting each iron. By using one club at a time, you must hit 30 balls using your normal swing power for that club. Measure how far you hit each of the 30 shots. Your 5 farthest shots are disallowed as well as your 10 shortest shots. The remaining 15 shots will give you your average distance with that club. With most golfers they will see just by picking up the balls that there are a few that were hit really sweet, and a few that were hit quite poorly, but the majority are really quite close to one another.
I suggest you start this experiment with the wedge, then 9, then 8, then 7 irons. Eventually you’ll want to do this with all your clubs, but to break 100 these four (4) clubs are the most important because they get you on the green. Tom Watson was once asked “What is the most important golf shot”, and his reply was the approach shot to the green. These distances will need to be logged and documented for future reference. Always remember though, that these distances will change and periodically need to be updated as your proficiency increases. Now that you know the average distance that you hit these critical clubs, you will b able to relax and just hit each shot. NO MORE HIT AND HOPE.
Keep a few variable in mind when selecting your club for each shot, however:
1. Add one club length for selection on windy days.
2. Do not let ego come into play, By now, you know that you hit your wedge a set distance (say 80 yards), don’t try to compete with your friend who hits his wedge 120 yards. If 120 requires an 8 iron, just hit an 8 iron and don’t worry about your friend’s club selection. After all; your not playing his game, you’re playing your game.
3. If a particular club is not necessary, don’t bother carrying it. You may discover that both the 2 and 3 irons carry 180 years with almost the exact same trajectory. I you swing the 3 iron with more confidence than the 2 iron, why ever clutter your thinking by trying to decide which club to use? Leave your 2 iron at home. It may be such a thing that in six months, when you reevaluate your club performances, that you will decide to put your 2 iron back in your bag, but until you really need it, don’t worry about it. Charles Price tells how George Voight shot 66 using only 11 clubs (that’s all he carries). Even though PGA rules allow 14.
I remember playing in a four (4) club tournament one time. Each player was allowed to take any 4 clubs of his choice to shoot with. The course we played on was one particular course that I played regularly, I knew the layout, and I knew that it wasn’t particularly long. I knew my normal score on this course, and had a good comparison to the tournament score. I selected my 2 wood, 5 iron, wedge and putter. My typical score for this course was 84. I won the tournament that day with a score of 81; three (3) strokes better than I normally shot. That says a lot about uncluttering one’s mind doesn’t it? Out of curiosity I checked all tournament scores against all players average on this league course. 100% of the golfers were within 5 strokes of their average in one direction or the other. That’s impressive. It should tell you a lot.
You will discover that using my system, you will on occasion hit a shot that is really sweet and it flies over the green. Don’t let this concern you one bit. Remember this: 90% of all shots that miss the green will fall short of it, and 80% of all hazards around the green only come into play when a golfer falls short. I would suggest that your club selection be made on the basis of the distance to the back of the green, not pin placement. You should shave 10 to 15 strokes off your game just by following this one suggestion.
Learn your range, and if applicable, lighten your load by leaving some at home. I personally use only 10 clubs including my putter. That’s nine (9) clubs and a putter.
Use the Two Putt System
The “Two Putt System” is a simple and very dependable one. To be a quality putter you must designate a minimum of 50% of your practice putting time on the 1 to 4 foot putts. Constant practice on the short putts will enable the golfer to become proficient enough to sink 95-100% of all the short putts he faces. How dos this help? Simple ! After your approach shot lands on the green, you have only one goal, sink that putt in 2 strokes. The first stroke (your lag) is to get the ball within the “Make-able” imaginary 1 to 4 foot circle. The second put will then be used to hole-out. When taking the lag put it’s not important to make it (even though you will occasionally) but make sure the ball stops within the four (4) foot circle. Also remember that most putts are short unless there is a severe downhill grade. The lag can be right, left, long or short, as long as your ball ends up within the four (4) foot circle. You will quickly see that there is another huge advantage to this system. It allows four (4) feet to every position of the pin. This has now increased your margin for error to a full eight (8) feet for your ball to stop within, that’s pretty hard to miss, even from 50 feet away. Of course, the closer to the pin, the small your should make your imaginary circle.If your ball is only eight (8) feet from the cup, then by all means go ahead and go for it. But I think you can see what I’m after with this method.
Think about this; by using the “Two Putt System” you’ll end your round with only 35 putts for the round,because you’ll drop in at least two or three putts on your first attempt. And I can guarantee this because you now know how far you hit those approach shots into the green. It’s inevitable that some will be close enough to make. This may not seems very important to you, unless you are ware of three (3) very important facts.
1. If you only putt 35 times in 18 rounds, then you are putting 1 under par.
2. An average Century Golfer will have more than 55% of his strokes in putts.
3. The average high handicapper is more likely to get on the green in regulation (GIR), than he is to 2 putt that same hole. That’s why more birdies are made on par 5s, than what are made on a par 3s.
Using my own personal statistics, I can tell you that when my 9 hole average was 46, my putting average was 23. That’s pretty much right at the national average of 50%, but when I improved and my average for 9 holes was 38, my putts were 13; which is 34% of my strokes. This is well below the national average. Now, we have to get real here, my putter did not suddenly turn into a magic wand. The truth is, my approach shots were closer to the pin and this assisted in lowering my putt average, but the “two putt system” is the factor that insured the stability of that 13 putt average.
Another tip about putting. Most golfer have heard the saying, “Never up, never in.” This is definitely true. If your putt stops short of the hole you’re guaranteed not to go in, but in like manner, try to watch and leave your first putt so that the second putt is an uphill one. Uphill putts are less affected by the speed or break of the green.
TIME FOR A LITTLE HUMOR
I was watching a teaching pro working with one of his students the other day. The student had not learned our Step 5 Lesson, and kept hitting well behind the ball, and his shots were going no where. The golfer told the pro “I’d move heaven and earth just to break 100.” The pro replied, “Concentrate on heaven, you’ve already moved enough earth.”