The Long Game
Good ball striking makes the game more predictable. If you never stray too far from the fairways and greens, you are not likely to incur penalty strokes to play shots from under trees or from terrible lies. Hence, you are not likely to take those triple bogeys that send a round into a tailspin. It is a great goal to try and improve the consistency of your shot making, but striking the ball better does not make you a complete golfer. Nor does good ball striking guarantee that you will shoot a low score. I would like you to work on improving your ball striking, but doing so should only take up part of your practice time. There is much more to the game of golf than making a good shot. There are three other areas you need to spend time on for you to get better.
The short game is the feel part of the game and involves the chipping, pitching, putting, and bunker shots. To be able to score, you need to be proficient in these areas. You need to be able to get up and down when you miss the green, whether you are in the rough around the green or in a green side bunker. You also need to be able to make those putts for par or to break your lowest score ever. It’s definitely the area where you can cut strokes off your game the quickest.
It is about knowing your own game and what you are capable of doing. It is about making the correct decision while on the golf course. It is plotting out a game plan similar to the way a chess master plans his or her next moves in advance. Pre-shot routine helps you to obtain the same routine every time. This has a great deal more to do with the outcome of the shot than you would ever imagine. It is about making the right decision if you are behind a tree and deciding whether to knock it back into the fairway or to thread it through a needle to advance it toward the green. You would take the percentage shot and put it back into play. All this helps to reduce the amount of big number holes you have in a round. Also, it is knowing when to lay up or go for the green when there is water to contend with.
This is important when you are playing in a big match or tournament. This involves your mental frame of mind during a round, as well as relaxing before and during a round. It is also about breathing – learning how to take a deep breath to calm yourself down. It is also the mental outlook of the game. If you look at the greatest players of the last fifty years, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Trevino, Watson, Norman, Faldo, Price, Woods-could anyone begin to suggest that any of these golfers play the game without an enormous strong mental approach? All of these golfers have thrived when the pressure was the greatest.