Today’s Round

I skipped one. A few weeks ago I played like I took up the game the week beforehand, so there was nothing to offer you from that disaster.

Today’s round is a different story. The lesson is that with no increase in skill, you can shoot lower scores if you learn how to play the game.

I call this the Floyd Rule, stated by Raymond Floyd in his valuable book, The Elements of Scoring.

“If I were given your physical game, and we had a match, I would beat you 99 times out 100 times because I know how to play the game better than you do.”

Knowing how to play the game breaks down into three general areas:

1. Being in a situation where you really do not know what to do.

2. Being in a situation where you make the wrong decision.

3. Being in a situation where you forget to do something you know you should do.

If it’s number 1, remember it, then try to re-create that situation on the practice ground so the next time you know what to do and can do it successfully. Basically, it’s not letting the course hand you a problem you don’t have a solution for.

Number 2 is a matter of getting more experience. You played a shot you thought would work, but clearer thinking would have told you either that a different one would have worked out better, or the shot you played should have been avoided.

Number 3 is also a matter of experience, but in this case about establishing good habits so you never overlook a factor that is totally under your control.

Yesterday I shot a 44—two pars and a double bogey.

Mistake #1: On the 7th hole, putting across a radically sloping green, that I knew sloped radically, I failed to play enough break on my approach putt on a putt I have had before. The ball passed about six inches in front of the hole and on its way downhill to the left about seven feet. Missed that one coming back. I had the pace, but not the line. One stroke lost, number 3 error.

Mistake #2: On the next hole I had a slam dunk chip to a pin 15 feet away, uphill, to a green that again slopes dramatically from front to back. I got too delicate and left the ball too short. Down in two putts instead of one. One stroke lost, number 3 error.

Mistake #3: On the 9th, lying about 60 yards from the green on a gentle downslope on the left edge of the fairway, I decided to chip and run with a 9-iron rather than flying on with a sand wedge. Safer shot, and all that. I hit the c&r to the left and it bounced its way into the rough, not reaching the green. Should have pitched on. That was my third shot on a long par 4, and it took me three to get down from there. One stroke lost, number 2 error.

Those were three strokes lost not because of bad shot-making, so much, but because of bad thinking.

There was one other, but I can’t really say it cost me a stroke. I putted from off the green from about 40 feet, but was so concerned about the turf the ball had to cover before the ball got to the green, I forgot to line up the shot. It finished hole-high, eight feet to the right. Eight feet!

There’s no guarantee I would have gotten down in two from there so I won’t count it, but still …

There are no “if onlys” in golf. I shot what I shot, and that score represents how I played in every respect. But just by having a better mind I could have shot three, maybe four, strokes lower.

You’re a better golfer right now than you think you are. If you just think.

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