We've all seen the hokey pokey articles promising to shave strokes off your game. And let's be honest...we all want to shoot lower scores, but not all of us are going to. I'm going to break down what it actually takes and I'll let you determine if YOU have what it takes.
Starting back in 2011, I had the the pleasure of working with Tiger Wood's former swing coach, Hank Haney. Hank is big on ball flight and controlling your biggest miss. However, more than anything, I learned the importance of keeping statistics and letting those numbers tell you where you can and should improve. In my time coaching under Hank's tutelage I became privy to his not so secret ingredient's to cut scores down. And cut them down fast. Here they are.
1. Eliminate Penalty Shots
2. Eliminate 2 Chips
3. Eliminate 3 Putts
4. Get easier chips "up and down"
5. Miss in easier spots
6. Hit more greens
7. Hit it closer to the hole
8. Get hard ones up and in
9. Hit par 5's in two
Que response...."Easier said than done" right!? Of course it is, but that is not the point. The point is to start at the top of this list and work your way down. Also, everyone and their mom knows golf is difficult, so lets not act like it should be easy to improve, am I right? In a recent PGA Tour podcast Brendan Steele, a PGA Tour player, who already has one win in the 2018 season, say's that Phil Mickelson gave him advice as a rookie that changed the trajectory of his career. The advice was simple. Focus heavily on ONE aspect of your game each season and dedicate yourself to specifically to that aspect (putting, driving, fades, bunker shots etc.). Phil's point was that we essentially have a lifetime to practice, play and improve our games. Focusing on the way you practice, and what you practice will have a major effect on your score. So rather than a broad approach, what would it look like if your narrowed your vision and said something like, "In 2018, I'm going to dedicate myself to finally getting rid of my slice." Again, sounds great, but whats the reality of that statement? For most golfers it is simply a wish, but for the golfers who actually improve it is a realistic goal. Don't play victim to your slice. Fix it, or live with it. It requires time and a plan. If your a competitive golfer maybe this can be the year you keep track of your stats and you become a short game phenom? Write down your biggest goal of the year and put it on the fridge, office desk, or even stamp it on your forehead!
Before I close, I want to highlight #7 above, "hit it closer to the hole". This is also called proximity to the hole. Everyone likes and wants to hit it close to the hole. Duh. Believe it or not, the PGA tour average is roughly 38 feet from the hole. The best players average mid 20's, in feet that is. Jordan Speith averaged 35 feet last week at Pebble Beach! Sure, they stick shots in there close frequently, but not as often as you would think. Golf is hard, remember? Before you worry about this stat, I highly encourage you to focus on the six of them that are listed prior.
FIGURE OUT HOW MANY STROKES YOU CAN SHAVE OFF OF YOUR GAME
Go through the list (1-9) and realistically count how many strokes you could save in each of these categories.
Hint: The gold lies in numbers 1-4.
Good luck. Once you discover how many strokes lie in this formula let me know and I will help you create a plan to play the best golf of your life!
Go get em', Tiger!
Leighton Smith, PGA
Copyright 2018, Leighton Smith Golf, LLC