I have been at Leisure World Arizona for almost 16 years now, and whether I think back to day one or to last week, one thing remains the same. Golfers LOVE to swing the Driver!!
Our Practice Facility
Our practice facility is located directly across from the golf shop. When I observe people on our practice facility, 90% get their bucket of balls, grab their driver, and start trying to make the ball go farther than it did yesterday. While this may be fun, you are not improving your golf scores.
The average golfer takes 98.3 strokes for 18 holes of golf. Of those 98.3 shots, a maximum of 14 will be hit with your driver, while an average of 39.3 will be with your putter.
Regardless of your skill level, if a golfer hits two well struck shots on a normal length Par 4, they would be somewhere within 100 yards to the green. From here, it would be nice to think that you would hit the green and two putt for a bogey 5, or maybe even make the putt for a par 4. Then why do so many end up with a 6 or worse? 3 putt? Poor approach shot? The answer is yes to both, but the frequency that they occur can be addressed by focusing your practice sessions on short game, and leaving the driver in the bag.
Break It Down
Break your practice down into manageable percentages – 90% of your practice time dedicated to short game, with 50% putting, and 40% spent on shots from 100 yards and closer. When practicing putting, concentrate on the speed of the greens. We all misread the breaks in greens, but good distance control will still leave makeable second putts around the hole. Inconsistency in your distance control will leave longer second putts, and result in more 3 putts, which are wasted strokes. Count how many times you 3 or even 4 putt next time you play. Did it keep you from breaking 90 or even 80 for the first time?
Aim For Proximity
From 100 yards and in, you should be trying to get the ball in close proximity to the cup, and not just trying to hit the green. Your goal in practice should be to determine how far your scoring clubs fly (normal, smooth golf swing, not the best shot you ever hit). It does not matter if your playing partners’ SW goes 100 and it takes an 8 Iron for you. What does matter is that the club goes the same distance each the time. As you get closer to the greens (within 40 yards), a less than full swing may be needed. This can be practiced by hitting the same club to different yardages on your practice range, to get the feel of how far the ball flies with a half swing or three-quarter swing.
So remember, if you hit the ball closer to the hole, you will be left with shorter, more makeable putts, which will lead to lower scores. Hitting the ball 10-15 yards farther off the tee, is not going to change this fact.
Shane Romesburg, P.G.A.
A native of Kennewick, Washington Shane moved to Arizona after graduating from the University of Idaho. Shane is a Class A PGA Member and has been at Leisure World Country Club, a 36 hole private retirement community in Mesa, since 1999. As the Head Golf Professional for both courses he oversees all daily golf shop operations yet still gives over 100 golf lessons annually to his 675 plus golfing members.