Category Archives: brilliant ideas

The Best Posts of 2016

I put up fifty-two posts in 2016. Not counting the four for the major championships previews, I gave you forty-eight ways to improve your game.

Well, maybe not so much as that. Sometimes I know I’ve come across something that truly works and will make a big difference. Other times I look back and say to myself, What was I thinking?

But because it will be very difficult for you to go back and find the good ones, I’ve done it for you. These are the best posts of the year, the ones I think will help you out the most in hitting better shots and lowering your score.

February 7
A Basic Golf Skills Inventory

February 14
What Made Me a Good Golfer

March 6
The Way You Take Your Grip

March 27

The Best Posts of 2015

Last year fifty-two posts were put up in this space, dedicated to helping you play better golf. Well, may be less than that, because of the major championship previews and a few editorials. But there was a lot.

Today I want to remind you of the posts that did the best at getting to the heart of the game, and the core of your learning to become a better golfer. They’re not the Ten Best, or the Twelve Best, just the Best.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

January 5
Ernie Els, You’re Not – swing the club at your tempo, not even Ernie’s.

February 22
To Sink Putts, Practice Sinking Putts – the more putts you put in the hole, the easier you’ll think it is to do.

March 29
Swing Through to the Finish – the swing is not over when you’ve hit the ball.

May 3
Good Golf Takes Dedication – this means lots of practice.

July 5
How Far Do You Hit Your Irons? – here’s a way to find out.

September 13
Break-Even Putting – lag putting begins from a closer distance than you might think.

October 11
Stop Chunking Chip Shots – it’s easy, once you know the secret.

November 15
The Short Game in One Rule – a rule that will save you shots you didn’t realize you were losing.

There’s enough material in there for a winter’s worth of work. Any one of them will cut a stroke or two off you score.

What if you try all of them?

Your buddies will say, “You look like the guy we played with last year, but you sure don’t play like him!”

How to make a golf instructional video

If you go to YouTube and search the golf videos, you find more people than you can shake a stick at have put one up. Why not you? Go ahead, but just make sure it’s worth your name. The actual content, that’s up to you. It is a piece of film-making, though, so follow these tips to upload something that is watchable.

As for your filming equipment, there are too many hardware options for me to discuss, so let me just say this one thing. Mount your camera/iPhone/whatever so the image stays still. You don’t want people getting seasick when they watch your video. Sound must be spot on. The microphone built into your camera is not good enough. A remote mike is critical. An Audio-Technica Pro 88W/R is inexpensive and works great.

You also need film editing software. Mac users have iMovie built in. Windows users can use Movie Maker.

Now to the video.

One video, one subject. If you have two ideas, make two videos.

Write a shooting script. Define each (camera) shot and write down what you’re going to say. Get the dialog tight and don’t repeat yourself. Less talk, more action. Then rehearse.

Get to the point right away; that is, start by showing the viewer, within the opening 15 seconds, what they are there to learn. If a minute has gone by and you still haven’t gotten to the good stuff, odds are the viewer will click off and try someone else’s video.

Say you’re teaching a greenside chip. If you follow this outline, you can’t go wrong:
1. Title (5 seconds)
2. Greet the viewer and introduce yourself. (5 seconds)
3. Say what shot you’re going to teach and demonstrate it. (10 seconds)
4. Now talk about how to hit the shot. (40 seconds)
5. Hit the shot. (5 seconds)
6. Hit the shot again. (5 seconds)
7. Summarize the key points. (15 seconds)
8. Sign off. (5 seconds)

This all adds up to about a minute and a half, and that is all the time you need to make your point. If the viewers didn’t get it the first time, they will watch again because it’s short. Do not build that repetition into your video!

When you film, set yourself up in front of a neutral background that will not compete with you for your viewer’s attention. Get the camera close enough so necessary detail can be seen. For example, if you’re discussing the grip, get a shot from waist to head so you can see the hands clearly.

Vary the point of view. Try to take a few shots from the golfer’s point of view if necessary. Say you’re taking about a shot that has a setup with an open clubface. Get a shot looking down as the golfer would see it of what an open face looks like, and how much you’re saying to open it.

Remember, keep it short and to the point, and your videos will be quite popular.

Here’s one of my early videos that nonetheless gets going right from the start, varies the point of view, and has solid content through to the finish.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

Bonus Post: TRG’s Facebook Page

Now that summer is over and the golf season is winding down, I have gone to posting twice a week instead of three times. You can, however, get a daily dose of The Recreational Golfer at my new Facebook page.

Every day, at Facebook’s The Recreational Golfer page, you’ll get a tip, or a comment on the current golfing scene, in 50 words or less.

I know you wait on pins and needles for my posts in this space, but now you can start off every day with a visit to the TRG world.

So pay a visit and let’s start building a recreational golf community on Facebook. While you’re there, do me a big favor and click the Like button.

The Recreational Golfer’s Newsletter

I’m interrupting the Friday Rules series so I can present you with this great news. Beginning August 1, I’ll be sending a monthly newsletter to everyone who signs up on my website at:

The newsletter will have original material, which will not be posted on this blog or on my website. There will be tips, commentary, and a little more fun. No, a lot more fun. Not that you don’t have fun here already.

When you register, you will also be sent, free, an extract from my book, Better Recreational Golf, on the Four Basic Shots of the Short Game. These shots cover about 90 percent of your short game and make this confusing part of golf easy and more productive.

Click the link, get your free book extract, and look for the inaugural newsletter next Wednesday.

Thanks for your support.

The 20-Hole Golf Course

This morning my wife and I talked about going up to Portland so she could go shopping. Fortunately for me, there’s a golf course less than a half mile from the mall, so I said Sure, you shop and I’ll hit balls. She said, Can you hit balls for two hours, and I said, I can do that.

Spending two hours at the range is pretty easy for me. I can spend about 45 minutes hitting a bucket, then the rest of the time around the green. But what about this?

I practice for about an hour and a half, then play two holes. Wouldn’t that be great? The first tee, seventh green, eighth tee, and ninth green at this course are all in a line right by the clubhouse. I could go over to the eighth tee, play away, then play back on the ninth hole. A little practice, a little play. What could be better?

Except that I can’t do that. There are people playing their round, and you can’t squeeze the odd single in the middle of the groups going nine or eighteen. Then the brainstorm hit me. Build a 20-hole golf course. Eighteen holes for play, two holes for practice.

After you practice something, you want to try it out. Why not? That validates it, or tells you it works on the range, but not in play, so back to the drawing board. And not even that. We practice to play golf, we don’t just practice golf. So why not cap off a practice session with a few holes? It would make practicing a lot more fun.

Another reason you would want to have practice holes is that golf is not about hitting shots. It’s a game you play. I don’t know how many times I could have broken 80 if I had thought better about hitting four or five shots. Not hit better shots, but hit the right shot or used the right club. Part of getting better is learning how to play, how to think your way around the course. Why not make that part of your practice?

All we have to do now is convince a designer to build two extra holes. I think it would be a big hit. One, it would make a great practice ground, like I said. Two, it would be great for playing lessons. (Have you ever had a playing lesson, by the way? They are the best lessons I have ever had.) Three, if you didn’t have time for nine, you could warm up and play these two. I can’t but imagine those two holes would booked up solid, generate a lot of revenue for the course operators, and get lots of people interested in the game.

What do you think?

USGA: Rate the Red Tees For Men!

Earlier this year, the USGA and the PGA of America had a campaign to encourage golfers to play from the set of tees that are appropriate to their level of skill. I hope it went well, because the whole point was to make golf more fun and easier to play. What few male golfers know is that the right tees might be the red ones.

For years, the red tees have been called the Ladies’ Tees. They’re for short-hitting women. This needs to stop, or rather, become more inclusive. There are some short-hitting men out there, too. In general, if you can’t drive the ball more than 200 yards, you should be playing from the reds. The other tees present a course that is too long for you.

Even if you can hit the ball farther than 200 yards with a driver, but are pretty wild with it, you can play from the shorter tees, hit something off the tee that will keep the ball in play, shoot a better score, and . . . have more fun.

But some (actually, many) men feel that their manhood would come into question if they played from the red tees, even if they are hacks from the next set longer. Their loss, I’m afraid.

There is another reason why men won’t play from the red tees, and that is there is no course rating for men, at least as far as I have ever seen. Look at the scorecards of the courses you play. There will be an M and L rating for the white tees, maybe the blues, but the reds only have an L rating. That means if a man plays from them, his score can’t be turned in for handicap purposes.

It’s not that playing from the red tees will make a 90-shooter a scratch golfer, either. It might lower their score by four strokes. You might get the ball up the green quicker, but you still have to get the ball in the hole. The red tees make the game easier, but not that much easier. I know. I play from the red tees with my grandson, and I shoot only two strokes better for nine holes than I normally do.

And, having only an L rating perpetuates the myth that the reds are “Ladies'” tees. Look right there on the scorecard — L for ladies. What could be plainer?

So I’m calling on the USGA to encourage local rating organizations to establish course ratings for men at the red tees. If this body wants people to play from the right tees, then all barriers need to be removed, and this one is in the USGA’s purview. I’m even thinking of forming a committee to rate the red tees for men as soon as I can think of a title that lends itself to a catchy acronym.

In the meantime, if you want to have some fun, play a round from the red tees. You’ll hit different clubs, see a different course, and shoot a lower score, which is always good for the ego.


Fixing Golf’s Incorrect Scorecard Rule

I guess I’m on a rules roll this summer. A few weeks ago I proposed a way to fix the abhorred out of bounds rule. I haven’t heard back from the USGA yet, but they know how to get in touch.

Today I want to inject some sanity into the scoring method the rules call for in tournament play. Too many golfers have been hurt unnecessarily by the rule holding a player responsible for his or her own score.

The earliest notable example I know of was when Jackie Pung shot the winning score in the U.S. Women’s Open at Winged Foot in 1957, but signed for a lower score on the fourth hole than she actually took. DQ.

The linked article recalling this incident repeats a common misunderstanding regarding incorrect scores, by saying that a player who signs for the wrong score is disqualified. A player signing for a score on a hole that is lower than actually taken is disqualified. If a higher score is signed for, the score stands and the player’s standing in the tournament is adjusted accordingly.

Also, players sign for scores on each hole. They do not sign for the total of all the hole scores. Rule 6-6d.

The next case to cause a stir was at the Masters in 1968 when Roberto De Vicenzo signed for 4 on the seventeenth hole instead of a 3, and lost by one stroke the chance to play off with Bob Goalby the next day for the title.

In the past few years, it has become not uncommon for a player in a professional tournament to be DQ’d for signing for a lower score. Sergio Garcia was a victim twice in the same year, and Boo Weekly was the playing partner who wrote down the wrong score each time. Once was in the 2007 PGA Championship, and the other time was three weeks later in the Deutsch Bank Championship. Garcia was DQ’d from the PGA, but the error was caught by tournament officials the second time before Garcia signed.

Here’s the problem. Golf is the only sport that doesn’t have an official scorekeeper. Tennis players don’t keep their scores. Shot-putters don’t have to sign for the distance they toss. Sprinters don’t have to carry their own stopwatch. Yet golfers are expected to be competitors and tournament officials at the same time.

Yes, golfers are expected to enforce rules, because many times the player is the only person who knows that a rule was broken. When the game is played on a 150-acre field instead of in a much smaller arena where an official monitors an area the size of your back yard, this is necessary.

But not for scores. That information is pretty public. When the world knows that DeVicenzo made a 3, nothing should get in the way of that score being posted.

The solution, then, in tournaments where markers accompany each group, is for the score recorded by the marker to be the official score for the players in that group. A player would be allowed to appeal a score if there was a disagreement, but otherwise the marker’s score would stand.

In tournaments where markers do not accompany each group, the players would keep each other’s score. If a player signed for a higher hole score, that score would stand, as it does now. If a player signed for a lower hole score, the correct score would be replaced and a two-stroke penalty added on the infraction.

Earlier this year the USGA and R&A issued a ruling preventing a player for being disqualified for not including penalty strokes when the player was not aware,until after the scorecard had been signed, that a rule had been broken. The basic issue remains unaddressed, though. Let’s get real on wrong scorecards and let’s have the punishment fit the crime.

Does anyone want to lay odds over which of The Recreational Golfers’ brilliant Rules suggestions becomes official first?

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

Fixing the Out-of-Bounds Rule

There are few rules golfers hate more than the stroke and distance penalty incurred for hitting a ball out of bounds. For a shot that was perhaps two feet away from leaving you with a playable next shot, golf assigns you its toughest playing penalty.

Harvey Penick says as much in his Little Red Book under the heading, Strange Penalty:

“The most embarrassing thing you can do in golf is swing your driver on the tee and completely miss the ball.
“For this humiliation, the penalty is one stroke.
“However, if you smash a drive a long way but the ball lands an inch out of bounds, the penalty is stroke and distance–in effect, a two-shot punishment for what was nearly a good drive.”

Golf (with a capital “G”) understands this. Few rules have been tweaked as often.

The problem is a neat one, as Tom Watson explains in his book about the rules of golf. He says if the penalty were distance only, as it was for a brief time, the next stroke from the same spot would be essentially a mulligan. Watson supposes hitting the tee shot on a par 3 out of bounds, teeing up the second shot, knocking it stiff, and tapping in for a par. That bothers him. It bothers me, too.

Where his argument breaks down is when he goes on to say, “…common sense demands that the procedures be the same for balls lost or out of bounds.” No, it doesn’t. We make a distinction between a ball found and lying out of bounds, and a ball that could be out of bounds, but is not found.

In the first case, it is a fact that the ball is out of bounds. The ball would be dropped in-bounds, two club-lengths from the nearest in-bounds point, but not nearer to the hole, with a one-stroke penalty. If that were not possible, or would result in an unplayable lie, the player could choose to hit another ball from the spot where this ball was hit, and take a one-stroke penalty. This was the rule from 1964 to 1968.

I know that second option is stroke and distance, but that is an option that exists in the unplayable lie rule and the water hazard rule. No reason why the OB should not have it as an option, either.

In the second case, where it is not an ascertainable fact that the ball lies out of bounds, the ball would be treated like a lost ball, and that current rule would apply.

In short, if you find your ball, a penalty less severe than stroke and distance should apply. Only if you can’t find your ball, should the stroke and distance penalty apply.

Problem solved. Now all I have to do is get rules officials from the USGA and R&A to start reading my blog, and rescue golf from this strange penalty.


How To Fix the World Golf Rankings

Since there isn’t much of interest happening in the golf world right now, much discussion in the media is turning to which undeserving player most/least (they can’t decide which tack to take) deserves to be #1 in the World Golf Rankings. (Actually, the fuss is over why TW is #7 or so, when in the last year he has been playing like #25, but no one wants to come out and say that).

And while we’re at it, why don’t we criticize the formula itself, which we’ve never paid attention to until now? The formula puts Lee Westwood at #1, but he hasn’t won a major championship. So what? He plays consistently well more than anyone else in the world. You can make a case that player is deserving of being #1. Not a great case, but a case.

The Rankings formula is too complicated. Again, so what? It’s a complicated matter to compare over a thousand golfers playing on six different tours, most of whom have never had head-to-head competition with more than a few hundred. That’s a complicated feat to pull off.

A two-year period is too long to carry over performance. Now we’re on to something — the Tiger thing actually. They way he played in 2009 is nowhere near how he’s playing today, or did in 2010. That’s the formula’s biggest flaw, and the one easiest to fix.

Golf’s ubiquitous ranking system is the handicap. The USGA has one, the R&A has one, I think. While the handicaps are rating systems, they can easily be turned into ranking systems.

Base the Rankings on performance in the same vein as my handicap and your handicap is based — on the 10 best of the last 20 tournaments (instead of rounds), with a thirteen-month limit. Not enough tournaments, you’re off the Rankings list.

What everybody wants to know is, who is the best golfer in the world right now? What someone did two years ago, even though those results are down-weighted currently, is no indication of current performance. The USGA recognizes this, which is why they keep dropping off rounds as I add new ones on. They want to keep my rating (handicap) current. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for the pros.

Now I can’t tell you what the Rankings would be using this plan. That requires more data than I have at my command, and more time than I would want to devote to the analysis if I had it. It wouldn’t matter anyway.

This different way of ranking players would have immediate validity because it would be understood by the layman, and it is aligned with how he or she is rated. While there are many ways to rank things, the method that has the greatest acceptance among the consumers of the rankings is always preferred.

You might point to the major flaw in the USGA handicapping system, which is that their formula rewards a hot-and-cold player more than it does a consistent player. This would not be a flaw for the pros, though. Who do you think should be ranked higher — a guy who gets a lot of top tens, or the player who might not be as steady, but who wins a few tournaments every year? The winner, of course. That’s the point of competition anyway, isn’t it?

We’re going through a period right now where there is no dominant golfer, and the Rankings rely too much on ancient history. We can’t scratch the first itch, but we can the second. The powers that be read this blog religiously, and I know they will see the sense of what I suggest. Until they do,

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.