One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer in 2013?

One GIR, one chip, and one less putt per round.  Is that the recipe for improvement in my golf game this year?  I must be suffering from cabin fever or the general malaise of winter, but this new mantra was starting to click in my brain to the tune to the old Thorogood rendition.

George Thorogood

George Thorogood

After reviewing my performance stats for the past few years, it would seem that making just minor improvements in these key areas would allow me to shave two strokes off my scoring average, which would be huge.  But it’s been incredibly tough to make any measurable improvement and my propensity to plateau has got me concerned.  Two things seem constant:  I have a continual desire to make significant changes in different areas of my game and the work I put in hardly yields any downstream positive effects.  Does this happen to you as well?

Then I read the “3 – 8 – 13” theory in a recent golf publication and decided to put it to the test.  The assumption:  If you hit 3 greens, you should break 90.  Hit 8 and you’ll crack 80.  Hit 13 and you break 70.  Since I averaged 8.74 GIR last year and 78.85 strokes per round, I figured the correlation was close and set out to measure it.  I had 23 rounds with 8 or more GIR and broke 80 19 times; pretty darned accurate.  In the last three years, I hit or exceeded 13 GIRs 11 times and shot 70 once and broke it twice.  However, my worst score of those 11 rounds was 76, so that proved there is a huge correlation between GIR and score.  Funny how it keeps coming back to ball striking.  So what now?

From various lessons and film analysis, I know my ball striking inconsistency stems from a loss of spine angle on the downswing and a bit of an early release.  It’s hard to work on swing in the winter, so I’ve been focusing on eliminating bad habits in my backswing and putting myself in the best positions possible.  This work is possible with just a mirror and a club in your basement, and as I work the various positions, the guy looking back in the mirror seems to be in pretty good shape but what’s going to happen with that first live contact in a couple of weeks?  Also, in one of those sub 70 rounds, I noted my playing strategy was to shoot for the center of every green on any iron shot longer than a pitching wedge; interesting.  Perhaps some conservative course management would be in order as well.

Anyone with some good drills for maintaining spine angle, increasing lag on the downswing, and overall course management improvement tips, please send them along.  Thanks!

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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7 Responses to One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer in 2013?

  1. Swing with the arms across you chest will give you the feel of maintaining your spine angle. You really can not do anything consciously on the downswing, in my opinion. Increase lag will happen automatically as long as you start the downswing with the lower body. You are right, shooting for the middle of the green is never bad. I think you should start every round very conservatively until you get the feel of what kind of day you are going to happen. I think that is only way to save a round is to get more cautious, 3 wood off the tee, laying up and middle of the green. On the other side of the coin if your striping it, go for it baby.

    • Brian Penn says:

      Thanks Vet. I have got to figure out a way to get off to better starts and I’m thinking I’ve got to take a more conservative approach on the first tee. Got hit with way too many bogeys and doubles out of the gate which set me back too often.

  2. Brian, I have actually been working on getting more lag in my swing this winter and have a drill you might like. I struggle with creating separation between my shoulders and hips. As you know the more you can create that separation (see Tiger and Rory) the more lag you can create. My teacher has me put a club shaft in my fron two belt loops (to simulate the hip line) and hold a club shaft on my shoulders (to simulate the shoulder line). From here I try to make back swings keeping the shaft on my hips as steady as possible and forward swings trying to get the hip shaft as far left as I can. It is a good visual for getting your hips and shoulders to separate which helps get that lag.

  3. Brian Penn says:

    I like the idea of the shaft across the shoulders because you can measure and ensure good shoulder turn on the backswing. Early last year I was consciously driving my hips on the downswing and enjoying an excellent power boost. However, I started shortening the shoulder turn on my backswing and was losing that lag/power because even with the good hip turn, I failed to coil enough to build up resistance. Will give your drill a try. Have you observed ball flight with these changes or just drilling for now?

  4. Jim says:

    Surprise! Bet you thought I didn’t read this thing. What Craig told me about maintaining spine angle didn’t have anything to do with head, shoulders, arms etc. It is all in the Butt! If your butt stays in the same place it was in at address, you spine stays put too. He got me practicing by setting up in a good posture with my butt touching the wall. I then made a swing trying to maintain contact with the wall until after impact. It works in theory at least.

  5. Brian Penn says:

    Careful not to put your five iron through the drywall practicing that butt drill. 🙂

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