Serious Improvement for 2016

Phil BunkerToday I should have been out cutting down a Christmas tree but the weather was too good to waste so I called my wife’s friend and scheduled the third installment of her beginner’s golf instruction.  Last time out, we covered putting and etiquette and today we hit the range at Little Bennett to work some full swing and short game.  The practice area was predictably packed but we got in a full two hours.

As is sometimes the case, when you teach or demonstrate a skill to someone else, you sometimes gain clarity on how you can better employ the same skill for yourself.  Have you found that to be the case?  I had the epiphany about my own improvement for 2016 while showing my pupil how to chip.   I NEED TO TAKE SHORT GAME LESSONS.  Actually the thought was percolating in my subconscious after my round last weekend.  I had been tinkering with the thought of implementing an early wrist hinge in hopes of improving my ball striking but abandoned that WOOD band-aid and just went out and played.  My ball striking was good but my short game was terrible.  I usually find during slow periods when I’ve had a layoff or am not actively working on my game, my full swing sustains but the short game touch is fleeting.  Sound familiar?

Anyway, I realized that my issue around the greens is always that I’m playing too defensively.  I think it’s because I don’t have confidence in my technique and as a result am indecisive on which shot to play.  Admittedly, my first thought before hitting a short shot is to “not miss it too badly” instead of “sink it,” like Phil would.  I believe I have the shots but need a pro to reinforce the proper mechanics, especially with my wedges.  Perhaps that will turn my short game into the aggressive weapon that I need.

On the full swing, I’ve come to realize that my move has been grooved over a 40-year period, and it has been extremely hard to change anything other than grip and ball position.  You truly do revert to your learned habits over such an extended duration and I’ve tried to change my swing so many times with adverse effects that it just doesn’t make sense.

So here’s hoping the good weather holds in the DMV and with luck we’ll be playing through New Years.  I’m off to find a short game guru . . . and buy a Christmas tree.

Play well!

5 thoughts on “Serious Improvement for 2016”

  1. Brian

    I think you hit an important point for most players. After years of grooving my full swing, there is little chance that making a change will help. And, if I was to change something, do I have the practice time and patience to commit to that change…probably not (at least right now).

    However, your view on improving your short game resonates with me. I also play tentative most of the time while chipping. I think “get it close and try not to hit it past the pin” most of the time. Well, 100% of short shots never go in, so playing more aggressively is a great point. I will have to adopt that next season.

    Good luck finding a teacher. I am curious to hear how it works out for you!


    1. Jim, that is interesting that you have the “shorts” too on the chipping. I have been plagued by that for years. But your philosophy on putting is to roll it a foot past the hole, correct? It would seem if you could meld your chipping and putting thoughts into a unified approach that would be beneficial. I’m not sure where to start with a short game guru in the DC area; I’m going to check around. Thanks for the feedback!


      1. Brian

        I agree with your advice of combining the chipping and putting. The challenge for me is that, although my brain is engaged, by playing is not. It is something I continue to work on every time I hit the links.


  2. Brian,
    I can find this is the case for me as well. I’ve successfully implemented small changes in my swing (grip, posture, etc) but for the most part my natural swing will always be the core of my swing. The short game is where us amateurs can improve the most. There are a lot of different techniques we can use to have a good short game, but as you mention, it’s important to have confidence in what we are doing and have an aggressive “make everything” attitude around the greens. Making some tweaks with a pro, or even simply getting validation from a pro on what you’re already doing, can completely transform confidence and mindset.

    Good luck and play well!


    1. Josh,
      Part of the problem is that I didn’t get enough reps during the summer with my short game practice and couldn’t pull shots off on demand in game conditions. I’m using December to get those reps and try to build some confidence, while the weather still holds, and will grab some short game lessons in the spring. Will need good weather and open facilities to practice and reinforce what I’ve been taught.



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