We’re on the last day of my grandson’s group lessons. His swing has improved tremendously, and he likes putting! When we were driving over for the first lesson, he commented that he didn’t like putting, but that was probably because he wasn’t that good at it. Things like aiming the putter and keeping the putter aligned during the stroke were escaping him.
Every golfer’s goal is to pass a benchmark score. Those three are the major ones, and when we do it for the first time, break out the champagne!
I tried to raise my two sons right. Honestly, I did everything I could, but to no avail. It was Michael Jordan’s heyday, and they both wanted to play basketball instead of golf. Liking Michael Jordan was cool. Liking David Toms wasn’t. So they played the sport of their cultural hero instead of listening to their Dad. (Sigh …).
They both play golf now, but it’s the game of someone who took it up when they were 30. I think the best golf tip I could give anybody is to take up golf when you’re ten years old. They didn’t, but that’s what grandkids are for.
So I’m taking my grandson, who just turned eleven, to the range tomorrow for his second series of lessons. We’ve been playing an executive course for about three summers now, and two years ago he had his first series of lessons.
He does everything right-handed except play golf. When he was four, we had this set of plastic golf clubs with big heads and a big golf ball and he just couldn’t get it. So one day in a moment of inspiration I turned him around to the port side and there it all was.
He lives a long way out of town, so its about a half-hour drive to get him and another half hour to get back in town to the course, but I don’t mind. He’s only going to be eleven once, and it’s not like I have more important things to do than to put golf into someone’s childhood.
We all want to leave something behind, a world that’s different because we were in it. I’m going to do for him what my father did for me. And my two sons? Well, now we have something we can always talk about, and there’s no better family outing than a day on the course. Maybe I did have some influence after all.
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Today I played a difficult course. I play it every year to see how I’m really doing. My home course is fairly forgiving, but this one isn’t. It’s carved out of the Pacific NW forest and if you’re off the fairway, don’t even bother looking for your ball. It puts a premium on hitting every shot as well as you can.
Now I have all the shots I need to score well on this course. It’s just, like I say, there’s no room for clinkers.
Take the first hole, Hugely wide fairway, doglegs right slightly uphill to a medium-sized green that is fronted by a creek. Any shot that hits short of the green will bounce back into it. So if you catch your first iron of the day a little fat, like I did, into the creek it goes.
I found out today which shots I can’t get away with hitting like I do. When my club selection isn’t good. When my decision-making isn’t up to par. A tough course will expose all these faults, and that’s why you should play one very now and then to find out what you still need to improve on.
When I got home, I wrote down my score by hole, then wrote down what I would have shot if I had played steady golf. Not especially spectacular golf, but if I had hit all the shots I can hit without straining the limits of my ability. I won’t tell you what the result of that analysis was, but I’ll tell you I would have turned in a very good score. I even took away a birdie. If you take away the shots you don’t expect to hit, irons that park themselves next to the pin get tossed out along with snap hooks.
About a month ago, I wrote about being positive about your golf. This is my positive spin for today’s drubbing. I have the game right now to shoot a good score in this course. I know which errors to correct, and which shots I have to firm up by the next time I play up there. I can’t wait.
See also Play a Difficult Golf Course – 2
You know, that’s about all there is to golf. Hit the ball, go find it, and hit it again. Keep doing that until you’ve played 18 holes (or 9).
Well, my favorite tournament just ended. I love the British. All year we see guys play lawn darts, but on links golf, we get to see them roll the ball up to the hole as often as not. It’s a completely different kind of golf, one I love to play.
I am quite fair-skinned. I stay covered from head to toe on the course. Big hat, long sleeves, long pants. Only my hands are exposed, but they have sunscreen on them, and one hand is generally in my pocket as I walk down the fairway.
I wonder about the rest of you. The sun is hard on you, and even though you’re not getting burned, damage is getting done. Have you taken a close look at Tom Kite recently? The skin on his face and neck is blotchy from the exposure over the years.
Have you ever seen an LPGA Tour Tan? Bronze legs up to the shorts line, then fish-belly white above that. Those legs are going to be leather in twenty years, and there are some older women on the tour who provide an example.
If you must wear a ball cap, cover your face and neck with sunscreen, one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Apply before you get into the sun, and once again at the turn. Don’t neglect your legs and arms, either.
Really. Protect yourself.
And don’t think because it’s not a sunny day that you don’t have to worry. If you can see kind of a brightish place in the sky, then the burning rays are penetrating.
Play well, have fun, and look out for yourself.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.
When the U.S. Open was played at Oakmont in 2007, Tiger Woods said that a 10-handicapper wouldn’t break 100. He was being too kind. More like 120. Maybe.
This course is so hard I don’t know where to begin. Natalie Gulbis said she played it five times before Women’s Open week and never came close to breaking par. I completely understand why.
The fairways are not that wide, and if you don’t hit into the rough that looks innocent but grabs your club instead of letting it slide through, there are the bunkers. These things are big, and they are surrounded by a high mound on the side toward the hole. Chip out. Between these two, you can use up par just getting to the green.
The course is quite hilly. A level lie is rare. There are blind shots into greens. There are shots downhill into greens that slope away from you. Fairway slopes feed the ball toward the bunkers. I saw one golfer hit 7-iron off the tee of a 558-yard hole to avoid the bunkers.
Then there are the greens. The ones on which Sam Snead said he marked his ball and the coin slid off. Fast, slopy, have you ever seen someone go tink! on a 20-foot putt and have it go five feet by the hole?
If I were allowed to play here, I would take a double bogey and not be disturbed, a bogey and be very happy, a par and faint.
But let me tell you as well, this course is beautiful, and it manicured in every sense of the word. I have putted on greens shaggier than the fairway grass.
And it’s big. You can see almost the whole thing from the clubhouse. It looks like no other golf course you’ve ever seen. Pictures do not do it justice.
The men play there again in 2016. Make your travel plans.