golf tips blog
By Tony Freund
Two-thousand twenty. The start of a new decade -- let’s start it and this new golf season out right! Quickly! Pace of play is an issue we all have dealt with. Every golfer has their own horror story about that one 7-hour round, or the group that just wouldn’t let them play through. Whether you think you are a fast golfer or not there are a few tips we can all start implementing to keep the pace going smoothly.
Ready golf -- the idea is a simple one; if you are ready, then you golf. In my opinion there is too much stock put into the person farthest away hits first. If the person who is farthest away is ready first, they should hit first. But if you out drive your playing partner by 10 yards and are standing next to your ball with your 8-iron in hand watching them go back and forth between 7 or 6 iron, then you should hit. You are ready and if you play before them, then after you’ve hit your shot and replaced your divot, they should be ready to go. At very least you should be ready when it is your turn. While your partner is taking their practice swings and addressing the ball, you should be able to figure out your yardage and mentally deciding what your club choice will be. When it is your turn to swing you can set-up and swing.
I can hear some golfers now. “What about honors on the tee box”? I am all for adhering to it. If someone in your group birdied or eagled. In lieu of an under-par hole however, the same ready golf ideology should be taken. If you have “honors” but can’t decide if you want to hit driver or 6 iron on the fourth hole and I know I’m going to hit 7 iron, then I should tee off before you. It will give you more time to decide and speed up the round. It’s a win-win.
Even on the greens you can save some time. I am not telling you to give people putts if you don’t feel comfortable with it (although in a casual round I am a proponent of the gimmie on short putts). There is nothing wrong with taking your time reading your putt. Just do it while your partners are putting. If it is your turn and you want to look at it a little longer, encourage a partner to putt first.
I am not saying you should rush through your round. Or rush your pre-shot routine. Simply be ready and if you need a little more time to get ready, take your time. But have a partner who is ready play first. If you can save 10 seconds a shot over the course an 80-stroke round you will finish almost 15 minutes earlier. As a group we need to strive to make slow play a relic of history. A 4 hour and 30-minute round? That’s so last decade.
Handicaps have undergone an update this off-season. As golf season begins let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes to the handicap system and what they mean for you:
• Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability
• A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with some discretion available for national or regional associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction
• A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries
• An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control
• A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day
• Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation
• A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). Example: A Course Handicap of 18 receives one stroke per hole for 18 holes; the player’s max score is triple bogey on any hole, which equals a Net Double Bogey.
• A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game
Around this time of the season I begin to hear a lot of players saying “I’m playing bad. I just can’t seem to hit the ball right”. I know it is nearly July now, so it may seem like odd advice. But perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics.
If you find yourself in a bit of a slump then head down to the range and make sure your set-up is still correct. Start off by checking your grip. Too strong (or too weak) of a grip can affect many facets of your golf game.
Once you have your made sure your grip is correct, is time to address your posture. Look to hinge slightly at your hips with a slight bend in your knees. Your arms should be hanging straight down from your shoulders at address.
Another element to look at is your ball position. It often creeps up or back as the season moves along. Take a club and lay it on the ground perpendicular to your target line. Set a ball about 6 inches from the end of your club. When you are hitting your irons try to have the ball just left of center, while your driver should be played in line with your left heel.
The last thing to check is your alignment. Perhaps you are aiming left or right of your desired target. Lay a club on the ground parallel to your target line. The club should be slightly left of the desired target for right-handed golfers (imagine the line your ball makes to the target and the line your club is on as a railroad track). Line your feet up with the club to ensure you are aiming where you want to be.
As the season wears on the fundamentals that golfers focus on to start the season begins to slip away. Every so often it is good to head back to the basics to make sure we are starting every shot off with the best chance to succeed.
As a friend of mine says, “Hit ’em straight, and not too often.”
Three Lakes Golf Club
How much thought do you put into that little white thing you smack around the golf course? Probably not much. You make sure to mark it in your own special way before placing it on a tee and beginning your trek across the wide expanse that is a golf course. But does it suit your golf swing? You use your golf ball for every shot you take each round. A properly fit golf ball can increase your distance, improve your accuracy, and help you hit the ball closer to the hole. All of which leads to lower scores.
There are hundreds of golf balls in production today. Some of them are from well known companies such as Titleist, Bridgestone, Callaway, etc. Some of them are relative new-comers like Vice, Snell, or the elusive Kirkland Signature. All say they are the best for your game. So how do you know which is truly best? The easy answer is you must try them. But that can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Another option is to use an online ball fitting tool. Most golf ball manufacturers have this on their website. But a bit of quick research has shown me that they will try to push you to their “premium” top of the line and most expensive ball regardless of the fitting outcome.
So what do you do?
Let’s discuss some golf ball basics. If you have ever cut open a golf ball (or picked up a ball that has been chopped by a mower) you will know that golf balls (much like ogres and onions) have layers.
The outer most layer, or the cover, is made of one of two materials: either urethane or surlyn. Urethane is a softer cover that is used in premium golf balls. The softer cover helps promote spin, especially in short irons and wedges, but is a less durable material. Conversely surlyn is a firmer cover that may improve distance but does not spin as well. Before you blindly reach for that Urethane ball so you can spin it like the pro’s, remember that increased spin includes increased side spin. If you play a fade you may find that it fades a little more.
In addition to the cover, there is a core. The core is the literal and figurative heart of the golf ball. Found in the very center, Titleist likes to describe the core as “the engine” of the golf ball. It’s what makes the ball go. Characteristics such as core stiffness, resiliency, compression, and size all factor into each ball’s feel, distance and control.
If you are purchasing a 2-piece golf ball that’s all there is, core and cover. However, almost every ball manufacturer also has a 3, 4, or even 5 piece golf ball. These extra layers are called the mantle. The mantle reacts to each club differently. It helps the core to increase distance and control spin off of the driver and works with the cover to increase spin with irons and wedges.
A 2-piece ball will likely go the farthest and straightest, but will be difficult to control around the greens. Inversely a 4-piece ball will often sacrifice a little distance for increased feel with your wedges.
Now that you know the basics, you can match your swings characteristics and your needs to the golf ball. There will still be a trial and error period where you will need to test out a variety of balls. The ball you hit the farthest may not spin enough around the green. And a ball that is great around the greens may spin too much when you hit your driver. You might find that the most expensive golf ball is not the best for your golf game – so spend some extra time fitting the best ball for you!
Three Lakes Golf Club
There are times on a golf course where I want to just pack my things up and go home, like when I hit a shot a little off line and it lands in the bunker. That’s not all, though -- when I get up to it, it’s plugged, like really plugged. Times like these are very frustrating, however we can get out of this “pit of misery!”
The first thing we need to think about is just getting out of the bunker plain and simple. It doesn’t really matter where, as long as it’s out. Next, unlike most bunker shots, we will not open the clubface for this type of shot. When we open the face it lifts the leading edge of the club to about the equator of the golf ball. So instead, turn the toe of your wedge down towards the sand, this will allow the leading edge to dig into the sand and help the ball lift into the air. This will more than likely not land soft so remember that it might come out hot and rolling. As long as we are out of the bunker we have made a successful shot!
Swing freely and often!
Three Lakes Golf Course
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