The Long and Short of It

Is their one single element of the golf game where professionals and low handicap amateurs differ from the high handicap or weekend golfer? The answer is yes. Week in and week out you will see the high handicap golfer misjudge the distance to the flag and 90% of the time the shot will finish short of the target. Invariably, only if they hook the ball or hit the ball ‘thin’ will the high handicapper go past the pin. The next time you visit your local golf course or play in your society, take a look at the courses that you play and you will see that the majority of the trouble (water, bunkers, etc) are short of the green. Why do high handicap golfers have this failing in their golf game? a) Lack of proper preparation. b) Over estimation of their ability. Let us consider these factors. Firstly in terms of preparation, do you know how far you hit each club in your bag in all types of wind conditions and off different types of lie? The answer is almost certainly no and yet it is easy to remedy. All that you have to do is to go to the practise range and hit a series of golf shots with each club and take note of the distance that the MAJORITY of the shots travelled, ignore the one’s that you ‘creamed’ or the one’s that you ‘mishit’, but concentrate on the average. Repeat this exercise for different wind conditions (in the face, from the back, side winds, etc) and for different lies (uphill, downhill, side-hill, etc). Now when you go to the golf course you will be better prepared and by using the distance markers and charts available, you can eliminate many of the hazards presented to you by the course architect by hitting the ball far enough to avoid them. From the mental perspective you will also feel more confident when playing the shot and also avoid one of the worst feelings in golf, that of hitting the ball ‘out of the screws’, direct at the flag, only to see it drop into water or a bunker ‘short’ of the green. Allied with good preparation you should also be careful not to over estimate your golfing ability. While it is good to have faith and confidence in your ability, do not expect to hit the ball ‘correctly’ all of the time. If you always judge distance based on your ‘best’ shots you will frequently be disappointed and frustrated. Allow for your slight ‘mishits’ by taking an extra club and swinging a little easier. If is often stated that in pressure situation you hit the ball further due to the adrenalin flow but remember that for the majority of people in these same situations, muscle tension prevents you using your automatic swing and you actually hit the ball ‘shorter’ than normal, allow for this! Follow these simple instructions and you will soon start to avoid unnecessary dropped shots due to distance misjudgement and start feeling more confident ‘before’ you hit the ball.