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11 ways you ruin your golf round before it even starts
It’s a tough realization. You just three-putted the 18th to close your round, and your scorecard suggests maybe you should have just stayed home and mowed the lawn.
And while you spend most of the 19th hole explaining to your buddies where and how your round went so terribly wrong, the truth is it didn’t happen with your three OB drives, two shanks or dreaded four-putt. Your round likely went south before you even teed off on the opening hole.
Here are 11 ways you can ruin your round before it even starts. Avoid these and maybe you’ll start finding more circles on your scorecard.
You show up too late
This is the biggest no-no. When you are late, everything is rushed — check in, driving range, putting practice (if you even have time for that). The round starts well before you hit your first tee shot. So don’t be late!
You didn’t get enough sleep
Late night working or watching Netflix? Arriving to the course groggy will make your game sluggish, too. Speaking of not getting enough sleep…
You are hungover
It happens to the best of ’em, but aching after a bachelor party or night out on the town isn’t going to improve your contact. It also might make the day pretty miserable overall.
You don’t warm up the right way
Think of your time at the course prior to your tee time as an extension of your round. You think Tiger and Brooks and Dustin and the fellas just show up and practice without a plan? Know how long you want to hit range balls for (and which clubs), and give yourself the time you need to stretch or putt or get your bag and gear ready. Give yourself minimums for each so you can check them all off, but leave some extra time to play with in case something like, say, your putting stroke, needs a few extra reps.
You have too many swing thoughts
By all means, head toand steal a swing thought or work on that tip your local pro has helped you with, but don’t overthink it. Too many thoughts are not good for the average golfer. Keep it simple, focus on one key element and go from there.
You hit only drivers on the range
Wow, that’s awesome watching you scare the range netting with your 14th straight blast with the Big Dog, but you’re still only hitting that club maybe 15 times, max, when you get to the course. Mix in a couple of wedges, will ya? You might need them.
You don’t practice lag putts
You never want to three-putt, and one of the best ways to avoid this is improve your lag putting. This doesn’t mean launching a dozen 90-footers aimlessly across the putting green, but you could benefit from rolling two or three 30-footers, just to get a nice feel for the speed of the greens. More often than not they’ll roll at a similar speed once you get on the course.
You don’t practice the important putts
Lag putting is key, but so is canning the putts that will make or break your round. Those putts are the ones right outside gimme range but inside about 8 feet. It’s the distance where you stand over a putt and aren’t intimidated by the look, and it’s close enough where if you miss you’d be annoyed. Putts from 4-8 feet are crucial, but not that easy to make. Ian Poulter leads the PGA Tour in conversation rate from 4-8 feet at 86 percent, but only 14 players on Tour make 3/4s of those putts. The worst player in that category, Paul Casey, makes 1/2 from the range. So focus on that tricky distance. Once you see one drop the hole will start to look bigger, and a strong putting day from that range — like making 7 of 12 instead of 2 of 12 — can shave five strokes in a heartbeat.
You didn’t eat or hydrate
Plan ahead! Grab a bottle of water. Eat at home, on the go or make sure you have enough time when you get to the course. But don’t jeopardize a promising round due to a lack of food fuel. (Here are some ideas for what to pack in your bag.)
You don’t know anything about the course
You may think you did everything right to get ready for a course you’ve never seen — hit balls, roll putts, etc. — but did you know the first four holes have tight fairways and doglegs and your best bet might be hitting a hybrid? Now you probably wish you would have striped that 17-degree more than twice on the range, huh?
You are too focused on other things
Stop worrying so much about your foursome’s betting game, what tees you are playing or that epic playlist you’ve been cooking up since the car ride over. Put the phone away and check out Twitter later or respond to that work email when you get home. None of it’s going anywhere. And plus, making sure your game is ready for a par-birdie-par start is way more important.
The most intriguing grips in pro golf
A substantial subsection of the golf canon is devoted to romanticizing Ben Hogan and his technique. And that includes his grip, which is shown in the photograph shown above for Life Magazine in 1947—before he weakened it to stop hooking and went on to dominate golf through the mid-1950s.
Cutter CTR-1 wedge takes a different approach to solve the same old problems with our short games
5 MENTAL MISTAKES YOU SHOULD NEVER MAKE ON THE GOLF COURSE
Most golfers lose way too many shots to poor mental decisions and not knowing how to systematically approach each shot and control their emotions to maintain confidence. This article will show you the 5 most common mental game mistakes that most golfers make and how to eliminate them.
1) Don’t analyze your swing, or think about it while swinging
2) Don’t think about your score (unless you really have to)
3) Don’t beat yourself up, be your own caddy and remember it’s just a game
4) Don’t just aim at the fairway or green – have a very precise target in mind
5) Don’t forget about your routine
This is a guest post by David MacKenzie from Golf State of Mind
Hall of Fame instructor Butch Harmon says this is the secret to golf
Butch Harmon is one of the most revered golf coaches on the planet — ever, really. The World Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame member is an inspiration for golf instructors everywhere, and has helped thousands of golfers over the course of his storied career. When he talks, we listen.
This week, the legendary golf coach appeared on GOLF contributor Mark Immelman’s podcast, and dropped a series of fascinating, hilarious and utterly brilliant pearls of wisdom he’s learned through the years. There’s so many of them, and the only way to do it justice is to listen to the podcast in its entirety. Trust us, it’s well worth you time:
My favorite pearl came when Butch, in passing, revealed what he says is the “secret to golf.” He literally used those words, so, naturally, my ears perked up.
What’s the secret, according to Butch Harmon? It’s “repetition”:
“Anybody who loves golf should go to St. Augustine to the World Golf Hall of Fame, because there’s hundreds of strange-looking swings in there, and they all work. Because the secret to golf is repetition.
He continued by pointing to Jim Furyk as an example; someone whose swing isn’t something you’d teach to anybody, but it’s one that he has the ability to repeat on command:
“Look at Jim Furyk, he’s just about to turn 50, he still competes on the PGA Tour with a swing that … if his father had changed that swing to make it look perfect, we’d have never heard of Jim Furyk. [The legends of golf] had a lot of strange characteristics in their swing. The common thread was getting the club square at impact and being able to repeat it time and time again.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That “repeatability” isn’t much of a secret, because people want to know how to be repeatable. That’s the tricky part, but Butch goes on to say that your best chance is not to try and imitate another golfer’s swing, but to perfect the tools at your disposal. Work with a good coach who keeps things simple, and remember that the common thread is getting the clubface back to square at impact.
“I don’t care how you do it,” Butch says, “just do it.”
Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Charles Barkley and all the other big names we would want to see tee it up with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have always made it clear this new partnership in made-for-TV matches would not be a one-time thing. On Sunday, they gave us the second installment, adding Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to the mix for The Match: Champions for Charity, which raised $20 million for coronavirus relief.
A few times this week, Mickelson has floated more ideas, most notably to the Los Angeles Times and the Dan Patrick Show. But who might be next? Who would we want to see tee it up with or against Tiger and Phil? We asked around and got some interesting responses, including the ultimate match. (Hint, think Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley).
Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Charles Barkley vs. Phil Mickelson/Michael Jordan
I might have gone with Brady and Belichick before Peyton Manning stole my Belichick thunder Sunday, but Jordan and Barkley would bring a ton of star power and tension to the table. It might take some convincing of MJ, since he apparently is no longer on speaking terms with his ex-good friend Chuck. But that strange dynamic would only add to the spectacle. Phil would loosen up Jordan, and Barkley would loosen up Tiger. Barkley would need a bunch of strokes to make this work, since he makes Brady seem like Ben Hogan. But coming off his “Last Dance” tour de force, Jordan would be feeling a lot of pressure on that first tee, as it has been a long time since he competed live with millions watching his every move. Can he keep it on the planet with Barkley needling him about his past big-money golf losses and a winning percentage, as an executive, that’s not in Jerry Krause’s ballpark? A lot of people would tune in to find out.
Tom VanHaaren, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Michael Jordan vs. Phil Mickelson/Steph Curry
I would’ve stuck with the rivalry theme and put Michael Jordan against Isiah Thomas, but we all know now that Jordan wouldn’t have played if Isiah was invited. I’ll see myself out. In all seriousness, the golf would be fun to watch, the trash talking would be outstanding and having Jordan and Mickelson on opposite teams means we also might get some added excitement from side bets. This match would have the star power needed to draw a big audience, and while it isn’t a rivalry, it would combine the old-school NBA with the new school in a fun competition. To follow up the success of the Brady-Manning match, you would need to go over the top and this matchup would check all the boxes to make for entertaining TV.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson vs. Rory McIlroy/Justin Thomas
There are numerous ways this can go, but I like the idea of a pure golf competition with two of the game’s legends against two of the game’s young stars. And this time, let a Tiger-Phil pairing be a positive instead of a negative, as it was all those years ago during the Ryder Cup. To spice it up, make the competition true alternate shot or foursomes, not the modified version employed in the match with Manning and Brady. Having to play your partners’ foul balls makes for a stressful way to play golf and can lead to some interesting scenarios. Based on the way he handled his role as an on-course commentator, you can bet that Thomas will fully embrace the trash-talking spirit. And given McIlroy’s driving prowess, it could make for an interesting, competitive matchup. As for a location, how about Bandon Dunes to make for an impressive backdrop?
Charlotte Gibson, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Annika Sorenstam vs. Phil Mickelson/Karrie Webb
Why should the men have all the fun? Seriously, if we’re even entertaining the idea of Match III, this time women better be involved. Of course, it would be phenomenal to watch Woods and Mickelson tee it up with the likes of Jordan and Curry, but wouldn’t it be equally as phenomenal to see them tee it up with two Hall of Famers with a combined 113 LPGA Tour titles? This time, let’s leave it up to the two biggest rivalries in golf both past and present. Sorenstam and Webb have one of the best LPGA rivalries that dates back to the mid-1990s.
Who else has that type of history? Woods and Lefty. The parallels in their careers are uncanny. And yes, I know that Sorenstam officially retired in 2008, and Webb took a break from golf for a few years before returning to the Tour last year. But the world hasn’t witnessed a co-ed pairing like this since 2001 when Woods and Sorenstam started their storied friendship while playing the Battle at Bighorn, a made-for-TV event, that also featured David Duval and Webb. We’re long overdue for men and women to face off on the course in a big, made-for-TV event — and why not do it with some golf legends?
Michael Eaves, ESPN
Tiger Woods/Matt Damon vs. Phil Mickelson/Will Smith
If you’ve ever spent time on their Instagram pages, you would know that Phil and Will would make a natural pairing. Plus, they are two of the biggest stars in their respective fields, who have cashed in on their fame and performances like few others, despite a few flops on the biggest stages.
On the other side, Matt could bring a little something to the match that Tiger has clearly been reluctant to do in front of the cameras: NSFW trash talking! Those who have played privately with Tiger tell tremendous tales of his R-rated commentary, so with Damon as his partner, he can leave the F-bombs to the South Boston native.
And lastly, most importantly, Smith and Damon could make up for the utter disappointment that was “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”
Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Michael Jordan vs. Scottie Pippen/Phil Mickelson
They could call it the “Last Match,” because either Jordan or Pippen probably wouldn’t make it to the 18th hole in one piece, given what was said during “The Last Dance.” The trash talking would be epic. Like MJ, Pippen is an avid golfer. Jordan gave him his first set of clubs as a Bulls rookie so he could take his money on the course. Pippen and Mickelson are used to playing in the shadows of MJ and Tiger, so the matchup makes sense. With Phil and Jordan in the foursome, there would be some serious cash being thrown around, which would make it mighty interesting. If Pippen won’t play, I’d settle for Isiah Thomas and Phil.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com
Tiger Woods/Chris Paul/Larry Fitzgerald/Mike Trout/Lexi Thompson vs. Phil Mickelson/Steph Curry/Patrick Mahomes/Justin Verlander/Danielle Kang
Hey, there are no rules here. So why not make it a one-day, Ryder Cup-style event? The Tiger/Phil Cup? Play three six-hole rotations of best-ball, alternate shot and singles. Look at those names … think they won’t have some fun? And all of them can play, too. Also, none of them are all that shy, so the trash talk should be strong.
A master plan: Exclusive look inside the days that led to Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory
Tiger Woods started talking about the importance of taking “baby steps” even before he won his first Masters, in 1997 by 12 shots when he was 21. He was lifting from the Earl Woods playbook. Improvement is incremental. It requires time and effort. You gotta walk before you can run.
In 2017, Tiger’s back was so bad that not only did he sit out the Masters for the second consecutive year, he told Gary Player at the Champions Dinner that his days as a competitive golfer were likely over. But one year and one spinal-fusion surgery later, he played his 21st Masters.
At that 2018 Masters, parts of his game were good and parts were works in progress. He had moved beyond baby steps, but he was riding a bike with training wheels. He finished in a tie for 32nd.
The good news for Tiger, by the end of that week, was that he knew what he had to do. He wasn’t happy with his driving game. He wasn’t happy with some of his equipment specs. He wasn’t happy with his strength and stamina. Tiger Woods with a list of things he’s unhappy about is a happy man. He lives for what it takes.
By April 2019, he liked the 14 clubs in his bag, right down to their shafts. (Critical.) He liked his driving game. He was stronger and fitter. A window was open. He could see that. When you’re 21, you think that window will stay open forever. When you’re 43, you know better.