In 1960, the average golf score was 100. Forty years later, in spite of all the innovations in clubs, balls and instruction, the average golf score is … still 100. In fact, only 20 percent of all golfers will ever break that mark.
Here’s the problem: Even with all the improvements, the one thing we haven’t been able to improve is the golf intelligence of the players. Most hackers—and more than a few better players—just play dumb golf. So here’s part one of a series on playing smarter golf. I’ve been collecting mental game golf tips for years in a series of notebooks, on my palm pilot and in various computer files. They’ve helped my game. I know they’ll help yours
The clubs you put into your bag make a difference. Thanks—or no thanks—to the influence of the manufacturers and the pros, the typical weekender I see carries a driver, putter, 3-PW, SW, two woods and a specialty wedge—often a sixty degree model, but sometimes a gap wedge.
It’s worth thinking seriously about which clubs you carry, which you use, and which you might need. Your bag should reflect your unique game, not some pre-determined set.
When tracking your distances and your shot tendencies, also pay attention to the clubs you are using. It’s likely that there are a couple of clubs in your bag that you use once a round or less. Another possibility is that there are two clubs that overlap in terms of distance. If either of these is the case, it makes sense to substitute something with a little more utility.
Dropping a little-used long iron for another wedge is a typical move. It is also eminently sensible. Half and three-quarter wedge shots are tricky and adding a club to fill in a distance gap can save shots. If chipping is a weakness, you might drop an unused club for a specialty chipper.
For others, dropping the driver would be a bold, but practical move. Studies have repeatedly shown that weekenders typically hit their three wood just as far—if not further—than their driver. If you’re one of those, get rid of the big dog and add a scoring club.
Later, if you’re on the course and find you need the missing club—say, a four iron—take a longer stick and either choke down or swing easy. (But for heavens sake don’t take a shorter club and swing harder).
Players who have thought seriously about their set often end up with unusual combinations. On fellow I played with had no driver, but carried two putters: one, he explained, was for long shots; the other for short ones. Another, perhaps running counter to conventional wisdom, had dropped the fairway woods—which he did not hit effectively—in favor of a couple of wedges with different bounce angles.
The point is to treat your clubs like a set of tools—and to carry the tools that are most likely to help you accomplish the task at hand: getting the ball into the hole.
This tip is an excerpt from The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. The complete book is available in Kindle format at Amazon.com.