Category Archives: today’s round

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.

Last Week’s Round

Last week I posted my thoughts on a rather disappointing round. I played that badly because I had drifted away from the things that I know work. So I have spent the week going back to my principles and being very strict about them.

This is my report.

For the umpteenth time, the two most important swing principles for any golfer, in my opinion, are rhythm and tempo, and the hands leading the clubhead through impact.

Rhythm I have down pretty well. The hands leading I have down pretty well. It’s tempo that will always be a problem, and poor tempo was the source of my bad shots last week.

I have said this in several ways. Swing only so fast that you hit the ball on the center of the clubface consistently. Don’t swing so fast that you outswing your technique.

A few months ago I posted a reference to an instructional article by Daniel Berger about slowing down your swing to find the center of the clubface. It would pay you to read that post before you go on.

The big problem with tempo is that we get to swinging too fast. This is a mental problem, not a physical one. We have to find a way to keep our mind from asking more from our body than it can deliver.

I hit two outstanding shots that round, only two, so I thought about them and asked myself how I had done that. Let me describe them to you and see if you can figure out what they had in common.

The first one was with a 6-iron from 152 yards. The tee shot had finished on a bare patch of dirt, an old divot, but not a deep one. Getting the club on the ball presented no problem, but the bare lie meant I had to contact the ball just right or I would end up with an 80-yard dribbler.

I didn’t care how far away the green was now, all I wanted was clean contact and I would take what distance that gave me. In fact, I expected to come up twenty yards short.

I slowed down my swing, but not to the point of being delicately careful. I got great contact, and beautiful ball flight, the best I can do. The ball ended up on the green twelve feet from the pin. Missed the birdie putt, though (darn).

The second shot was from a fairway bunker. I’m pretty good at these shots. You have to keep the lower body quiet and swing so you just nip the ball off the surface of the sand. To do that, you have to slow down your swing somewhat.

All I wanted was to get the ball out and maybe 100 yards down the fairway. Again, I made perfect contact and the ball sailed out perfectly, about 100 yards down the fairway.

What did those two shots have in common? I interpret them this way. In neither case was I trying to hit the ball 6,000 yards. I was not trying to hit an heroic shot or a perfect shot. All I wanted to do was get the ball in the air and have it go straight for a reasonable distance. That’s a pretty low bar, but believe me, that’s all you need to achieve to play good golf.

By dialing back my expectations, I dialed back my swing and as a result advanced my shot-making. That sentence needs to make sense to you, because every brilliant shot you have ever hit had that frame of mind attached to it.

You don’t have to hit brilliant shots to shoot a good score. All you need to hit are decent shots. Your task is to find a way to internalize that truth, trust it, and use it, the shots you get will be truly brilliant.

Today’s Round

I don’t seem to be posting many rounds. I’m not skipping any, it’s just that I can only play every other week (and only nine holes) and sometimes I miss even then. So here is today’s story.

I shot a 44 at the OGA course in Woodburn, Oregon. Highs, lows, nothing in between.

The first hole I bogied because my drive landed right behind a little tree and I had to chip out to the fairway. That happens. PW on, two putts.

Number two, drive, 6-iron to twelve feet, two putts, par. I feel good.

Number three, a par three, hooked an iron into wet sand, staring at a pond directly on the other side of the green,. It took me two cautious shots to get out, barely, and a chip and a putt for a DB. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Fourth, par 5, hooked my tee shot into the water hazard. Third went right onto some heavy rough. I had a downhill lie and forgot you have to aim left. Hacked out, pitched on, two putts, DB.

Fifth, another par 5, drive and an advancement shot down the fairway. Looking real good. Hooked my 9-iron off the course and lost the ball. Another 9 and two putts, DB.

Sixth (now it gets better): 7-iron on a par 3 and sank the chip using a putter.

Seventh, pillaged my second shot on par 4, pitched on, two putts.

Eighth, par 3, 9-iron short, chipped in. I’ll tell you about the chip later.

Nine, par 5, drove into a fairway bunker, 6-iron out, sliced (my first slice in about five years) into the water, pitch, two putts, DB.

So. Take away four bad swings and I’m looking at a 40. That’s the good news. The bad news is four bad swings. Gotta work on those hooks (not worried about the slice).

About the chip-in on #8. This is a shot I have been working on, and bought a club just to hit it, a 60° wedge with only 4° of bounce. When you’re short-sided off the green, you play the ball well forward in your stance. That adds even more loft to the club, and the ball pops up and rolls out politely.

But I had fun. The score doesn’t bother me. I play, see what needs fixing, try to fix it, and go out again to see how I did. That’s what golf means to me.

Today’s Round

I played nine today at an executive course in town. It has five par 4s, four of them over 300 yards, and four par 3s. I learned something on almost every hole.

On the first, I hooked my approach and had to pitch on. The green sloped away from me, so I opened the clubface to get more loft on the shot and have it stop quicker, but when you do that you have to hit the ball harder, which is counter-intuitive, and which I failed to do. The ball fell short of the green, so I chipped on and sank the putt for a bogey.

On the second, I hooked my iron into the green again, and chipped from thick rough. I got under the ball and just got it on the green. Two putts for a bogey.

Third, looong approach putt. I thought more about distance than line, and let a gentle break carry a ball hit with the right pace away from the hole. Three putts for a bogey.

Fourth, I air-mailed the green with my approach. The ball rested on a bare spot in the grass with no way to sweep the club through the ball. Also, the ball was below the green and the green sloped away. Playing the shot shown in this video, I chipped to five feet and sank the putt.

Fifth, a drive put me 64 yards from the pin. At my range, there is a post 66 yards from the mats, which I always hit to when I warm up. Oh, boy. Pitch to 12 feet, the downhill birdie putt stopped three inches short.

Sixth, air-mailed the green again, and had to chip across a slope to the pin. I left the ball four feet below the hole, which is golden. Uphill putts going straight in are really easy. Sank it for the par.

Seventh, a drive into the rough and a 9-iron into the green. I forgot to put the ball back in my stance, which you always do when hitting out of the rough. It gives you as steeper swing that puts less grass between the club and the ball. The approach landed in front of an elevated green with the pin in front. Normally this might be a little flip onto the green, but the grass was mown very short so I putted the ball on with a 24-degree hybrid to six feet. Sank the putt for par.

Eighth, iron on, two putts.

Ninth, dogleg right. I decided to fade the ball around the corner, but got set up wrong. You have to open the clubface and aim it at where you want the ball to start off, but I aimed it where I wanted the ball to end up. The ball went into trees and I had to chip out. The ball landed in rough, but this time I played it the right way. 9-iron onto the green to six feet and a downhill slider for par. I got too tentative and the ball didn’t hold its line. Bogey.

Go back and read the post on Your One Right Hand. That was working supremely well off the tee. Also, read this post on hinging your wrists. I’ll be posting a video soon on this subject.

Today’s Round – Learning From Mistakes

Actually yesterday’s. I spent the day thinking about it. I played nine holes, and was two over par for six of them, and seven over, two doubles and a triple, for the other three. That will make you think.

Now there is no “if only” in sports. I shot what I shot. But looking over those three high scores, the pattern was that I lost four strokes because of bad decisions. The problem is that I have forgotten how to play golf.

Playing golf is not about hitting good shots. I can do that. Golf is about hitting as few of them as possible, and that’s a different skill.

So let me go over my errors with you so you can see if that will help you start thinking about how to shoot a lower score with the same skills.

The 5th hole is 505 yards long. A drive and a hybrid put me right in front of a wide-open green, between an eight and nine-iron. I chose the eight because I always want to have enough club in my hand. So far, so good. But I forgot what you do when you choose the longer club: grip down and swing fully. Gripping down takes about five yards off the shot. Instead I tried swinging a little easier, which makes bad things happen, and sure enough, I chunked it.

The ball was close enough to the green that par was still in play if I could chip on and sink the putt. But I forgot the Maxim of the Short Game: just get the ball on the green so you can start putting. I got too cute with the chip by going for the pin instead of the green and chunked it. One chip and two putts later, I’m in the hole with a DB.

The very next hole, a long par 4 into the wind, was a bogey hole that day. A drive and a seven-iron later I’m close to the green. Simple pitch, two putts, maybe one, and I’m happy. But I forgot to check the distance to the pin. Because of the wind I chose a stronger club to pitch with, but the pin was too close even for that, and I flew the green with my pitch. It took me three shots to get down chipping to a green sloping away from me. DB.

Three holes later, the ninth, I hit my drive into the right rough. I had been pushing my driver all day, but getting away with it. The ground rises dramatically to the green, and given my lie I didn’t want to try for the green, come up short, and end up with the ball on a severe upslope. So I played short, leaving the ball on a moderate upslope, which was all I could do.

This time I checked the distance to the pin, but didn’t evaluate the situation correctly. When you pitch off an uphill lie, the slope adds loft to the club. You have to club down to hit the ball the same distance. But I started my calculation with the club I should have ended up with, and once again had too much club in my hand. The pitch flew the green into a bad place and it took me four to get down from there. TB.

Three bad decisions cost me four strokes. I ended up with a 45 that could have been a 41 without playing any better, but just by thinking more clearly.

That’s how this game goes. This is clear evidence of what I call the Floyd Rule, which I take from Raymond Floyd’s book, The Elements of Scoring, and that is, “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.”

Let me give you one more example from that day’s round, by one of my playing partners. On the eighth hole, we both put our tee shots in the right rough (I ended up with a par). His ball was right behind a small tree trunk with about four inches to spare. He had the easiest shot in the world to chip 90 degrees back into the fairway so he could hit on.

What did he do? He gripped down and tried to hit the ball in the direction of the green, or as nearly as he could. With a swing featuring a four-inch follow-through, he bladed the ball about 15 feet and deeper into the rough. Oh, well…

So my question to you is, do you think about your mistakes? Write them down? Learn from them, so next time you know what to do? Not just think, “Why did I do that,” but know now what you should have done, and next time apply the correction?

I truly believe that if you concentrated only on playing the game better you could reduce your average score by over five percent. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but do the math.

Hint: most mistakes come from getting greedy. We won’t concede one lost stroke and end up taken two or three more instead.

Today’s Round

I guess what I’m doing, and will do this year, is make a report on every round I play and tell you what I learned and gloat over my outstanding shots, like this one:

186 yards, par 3, 18.5° 3-wood. Started right, slight draw back toward the middle. Landed short, rolled on, toward the pin, looking good, looking REAL good, just grazed the hole going by. When I got to the green, it was four inches past the hole. I sank the putt. (The guys I play with don’t give par putts or birdie putts. We have to earn our good scores.)

A few days before I had looked at Phil Mickelson’s short game DVD, in which he talks about the “hinge-and-hold” method of chipping. I use that method on occasion, but he said to use it all the time. So, I used it all the time and got some really good shots out of it from sticky situations, like having to fly a bunker from in close but with little green to work with on the other side. I’d suggest you find a copy of that DVD and study it. It’s the same stroke that I call the Air Chip on page 63 in Better Recreational Golf.

My putting wasn’t as deadly as it was last week, but it didn’t hurt me. I played with just one other guy and we left the pin in the whole time. I love that new rule.

Today’s Round

I played nine holes at the OGA Golf Course in Woodburn, Oregon. It was the first time I have played on a full-sized course since 2015. I lost a few strokes because I had forgotten how to play from unusual lies, but all that will come back.

I played with a friend and a guy they paired us up with. On the green, no one made a move to take the pin out. No one even brought it up. We got off the greens pretty fast.

Also in that regard, I sank five putts from 6 to about 12 feet because the pin gave me a positive target to aim at. I know that if I had putted at a hole, I might have made only one or two of those putts.

How about the new drop rule? I hit a ball into a bank that was full of yellow jacket holes. They nest in the ground. Fortunately it has been too cold for them to be active or I wouldn’t have gone near the place. But the ball was embedded, so I took an unplayable, marked off my two club lengths, bent over, and dropped the ball from knee height.

Some touring pro (Ricky? Justin?) needs to explain to me why that is so hard to do or so hard to remember.

At one point, I thought to myself why we love golf. It’s because on occasion we can play with the pros. We can all hit shots a touring pro would say, “Can I have that shot?” But I know that if I picked up a baseball bat and stepped in against major league pitching I would probably mess my pants.