Category Archives: brilliant ideas

Lawn Maintenance and Your 7-Iron

[Note: I have subsequently discovered that a fairway wood works much better for this operation.]

My lawn has very few dandelions in it because I jump on the blossoms when I see them and pick them off so they don’t go puff-ball on me. Every day I make a tour.

Yesterday, I was in my backyard driving range and the idea stuck me that as long as I had my 7-iron in hand, I could take care of the weeds and get a little chipping practice in at the same time.

I worked just great. Until I got too close to one of the borders.

Last fall I put down a sheet of 9-mil black plastic to cover a spot I want to put new plants in, so nothing would grow in the meantime. I saw a bulge in it and didn’t think that that might be a rock underneath. Which it was.

I got rid of the dandelion blossom right beside it, but I put a serious nick in the clubhead on the followthrough. Fortunately, a little filing smoothed down the rough edges, and the golf ball doesn’t seem to mind, so why should I.

So seriously. Get rid of those weeds with your golf club. Beats bending down all the time. Just make sure your entire arc is clear.

Google Maps and Golf

A few days ago, I got to playing with Google Maps to see how far away different objects in the Fairgrounds field, where I hit golf balls, it being only one block from my house, are from each other. The Internet is such a wonderful thing.

I found a feature that I didn’t know about before which measures straight-line distances. Pull up your map of, let’s say the second hole that requires you to carry the tee shot over a ditch or lay up. How far do you have to carry the tee shot in order to carry the ditch?

GM will tell you, and if I am not the last man on Earth to have found this feature, you’re in for a treat.

With the image of the hole, nice and big, in front of you, right-click on the tee box. A box will pop up with all sorts of features. Left-click on “Measure Distance”.

Right-click on the spot you want to measure the distance to. Another box will pop up. Left-click on “Distance to here”. A graduated line will appear, giving you the distance between the two spots.

This image shows you why I don’t try to hit over the ditch. 633 feet (211 yards) is more than I want to try for. Not to mention, it’s uphill. I can do it, if I really nail it, but how often you really nail it? Besides, this a par 5 and I almost always get par by laying up to the ditch. But now I know.

If you want to get deep into your strategy, you might find holes that you can play better by playing to a specific spot off the tee and finding out what club you would hit to get there.

I’ll let you figure out how to use this tool in places other than off the tee.

The whole point is to perhaps learn how to get your way around the courses you play by hitting manageable shots that play to your strengths.

Do You Play From the Right Set of Tees? – part 3

The Play It Forward movement began in spring 2011. The idea was to encourage golfers to play from tees suited to the length they hit the ball, which would make the game more fun, and speed up play. All fine by me.

I have always thought someone read my blog post on the subject, which came out about two months earlier, and stole my idea. But because I am an idea guy, and not a self-promoter, c’est la vie.

You might want to read that post, and this one too, before you continue here.

My idea in the original post was to divide total course length by 25. That is the length of drive suited for that set of tees. I got that figure by finding the average length of courses on the PGA Tour and dividing by the average length of drive on the Tour.

However, it occurred to me that dividing total course length by 25 isn’t quite right. That takes into account par 3s, on which you don’t use a driver, and par 5s, on which you do, but having three shots to get to the green puts less of a premium on driving distance.

That leaves par 4s. Judy Rankin once said, “If you can’t hit a 7-iron into some par 4s, you’re playing the wrong tees.” I turned that advice into this test: if there are more than two par 4s per side 400 yards or over, those tees are too long for me. That worked for a good number of years.

But my mind never gives up on these things (drives my wife crazy) and a few days ago I came up with this more accurate way of determining which tees to play from.

Add the length of your average drive to the carry distance of your 7-iron. Let’s call that your cut-off distance. For example, my drives go 235 yards, and my 7-iron goes ~140 yards. My cut-off distance is 375 yards.

Now look at the scorecard for the particular set of tees you want to play. There should be between four and six par-4 holes at your cut-off distance or shorter. If there are fewer than four, those tees are too long for you. More than six, and those tees are too short.

I took out the scorecard for the course I play most often with the tees I play from and arrayed the length of the par-4 holes from shortest to longest: 325, 335, 366, 372, 375, 380, 395, 400, 423, 431. You can see that 375 gives me five par 4s that are short enough. I’m playing the right tees on that course.

If I had divided overall course length, 6,402 yards, by 25, I would have come up with a driving distance of 256 yards which makes it look like those tees are way too long for me. But they’re really not.

On this course from the blue tees, one tee box back, the par 4s look like this: 358, 371, 390, 407, 420, 421, 423, 438, 439. Those are definitely too long. I would get only two 7-irons all day if I played from there. I actually did that once, just too see. I survived, and said, never again.

Now once you have figured it out, play from the right tees! Really! You’re out there to have FUN and pars and occasional birdies are more FUN than bogies or doubles. At least I think so.

Fixing the Fed Ex Cup – II

A few years ago I wrote about how to fix the FedEx Cup. The way points are rigged and adjusted during the four-tournament competition is too confusing for anyone to follow, and players can sit out a tournament and still be in it. The last thing we need to generate interest at the end of a long season is four more four-round stroke play tournaments. You might want to read my brilliant plan before you read this brillianter one.

Here goes. You start off with a 144-man field, composed of the top 144 golfers in FedEx points acquired during the year. The golfers are seeded, high to low. The first tournament is a set of matches according to standing. #1 plays #144, #2 plays #143, etc. The 72 pairs of golfers would play four rounds of stroke play, but only against each other. Four days of man-to-man competition against the same man. The winners of these 72 micro-tournaments move on to…

…the second tournament, a collection of 36 two-man mini-tournaments in the same format–two golfers playing four rounds against each other, stroke play, the pairings seeded by season-long FedEx points earned. No adjusting of the points. The 36 winners move on to…

…the third and final tournament. FedEx Cup points are thrown out, and the 36 remaining golfers play four rounds against the field straight up, winner gets the Cup.

What do you think?

The idea here is that to win the Cup, you have to win all along the way. FedEx points give you an advantage in the first two tournaments, but you still have to WIN to advance.

Could a long shot win? Could the #144 golfer win it all? Yes, but let’s go back to the Tiger Woods era to see clearly what would be required. #144 would have to play Tiger man-to-man four straight rounds and beat him. Then he would move on and play, say, Phil Mickelson four straight rounds and beat him. Then he would have to play against 35 very good golfers and beat them.

Maybe #144 could do one of those, but all three? Those are long odds. L-o-o-o-ong odds.

The FedEx Cup has become a snooze. Actually, that’s what it has been since its inception.

My plan solves three problems. First, four tournaments are too many. It becomes three. Second, fans would understand the format. I say again, does anybody understand how the points are adjusted, or why, and why someone can lose the Tour Championship, or even sit out a tournament, and still win the FedEx Cup, and is that right?

And finally, it would be DIFFERENT. You want to generate interest? Do something DIFFERENT. The four-round stroke play format is really kind of boring. This new format isn’t.

Tim Finchem made a game effort to keep professional golf relevant after the PGA Championship and before the Ryder/Presidents Cup by creating the FedEx Cup. But the current format ain’t doin’ the job. This one might.

(But then what do I know? I’m just a recreational golfer.)

Golf Research

If you start poking around on the Internet, you can find fascinating articles about golf that are not written by golf experts like me, or teaching pros who do the best they can.

I mean articles published in academic journals investigating golf to find out what is really true and what is just inherited wisdom. You might have some fun with this list of articles. I do.

These papers are written in a standard format. I suggest you read the abstract, introduction, discussion, conclusion, and that you browse the references to find articles that might interest you on this subject. The section on methodology is of no concern unless you want to evaluate the study or reproduce it, and the analysis can be quite technical.

Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse?

Work and Power Analysis of the Golf Swing

The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention

Assessing Golf Performance Using Golfmetrics

Equitable Handicapping in Golf

Training in Timing Improves Accuracy in Golf

(These articles were accessed in August 2017.)

Start poking round yourself. Go here and enter keywords that interest you. You will be amazed at what you find.

Your Golf Scoring Potential

Sometime in August I will be releasing my next golf opus, Bob’s Living Golf Book. It will be posted as a .pdf with links to illustrative videos. Until that happens, I’m going to post a few excerpts from it in this space to generate your enthusiasm. Here’s one about finding out how good you are/could be.

Play a round where you can hit a mulligan whenever you make a seriously bad shot. Pick up your first shot and play your mulligan. By doing this, you get rid of your bad shots and play a round with only the average or better ones. The score you get is an indication of your scoring potential.

You might be surprised at how low a score is within your reach. A round like this makes clear what improvements are needed to shoot a score like that for real.

If a particular mulligan isn’t much better than your first shot, you need to work on that particular shot. If your mulligans are generally much better, you need to learn to hit your second shot first. That is a matter of gaining confidence in what you do.

Note: When I say “seriously bad”, I mean it. The more honest you are with your mulligans the more information this experiment will give you.

A Few Short Golf Quotes

This week’s post is a collection of golf quotes I have lying around. I was trying to think of what to do with them, and I decided I’ll just put them in a post and let them speak for themselves.


“Teeing off with a 3-wood is smart only if it leaves you with a short iron.”
Hank Haney, Golf Digest, August 2009, p. 91.

“Hit the driver the same distance every time, just like you do with the other clubs.” Pia Nilsson, Golf Digest, August 2009, p. 92.

“The shortest route to improvement is to get on the green in fewer strokes.”
Hale Irwin, Golf Digest, January 2010, p. 98.

“There’s one common trait I’ve noticed in the swings of nearly all the great players. The position of the left wrist at the top of the backswing is consistent with its address position.” Jim Flick, Golf Digest, January 2010, p. 30.

“Go to the course and hit irons from the marked sprinkler heads. This will tell you very quickly far you really hit each iron. Take notes.” Bob Jones 2/16/2011

“The one feeling you should have before every shot is athletic confidence in your ability to hit the shot well.” Bob Jones 2/20/2011

“The late Gardner Dickinson, a terrific tour player in the 1950s and ’60s who happened to have a slight build, once asked Ben Hogan what he could do to get longer off the tee. Hogan told Dickinson to stop at the range after every round and hit 30 drivers as hard as he could. He told him not to care where the shots went, but to try to hit the ball on the center of the clubface.

“Hogan emphasized to Dickinson the importance of sheer swing speed. Thirty drives might be a lot for you; 15 might do. But a little violence in the swing is healthy and will help you develop more power. You’ll never hit it far without ripping it.” — Jim McLean, Golf Digest, April 2010, p. 137.

“If you’re mis-hitting chip shots, it’s because your grip pressure is too tight.” Bob Jones 3/13/2011

“Play a practice round where any shot can be repeated, but only once. If your mulligan is more like it, your mind wasn’t ready the first time. If the mulligan is just as bad, this to a shot you need to work on.” Bob Jones 2/17/2011 [Note: You’ll see more on this one next week.]

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.