Charles Mingus once said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Last weekend that was the theory of the case I set out to prove on my 54-hole eastern shore jaunt. The plan was to play the first 18 holes with the assist from a GPS and a laser range finder, but to dispense with both devices in round two. Round three would be played with the preferred method taken from the prior two days.
First, it was awesome to finally golf on consecutive days for the first time since early June. The experiment was admittedly a small sample size, so much of the feedback was based on gut feel rather than hard metrics. My day-to-day performance showed continual improvement, which was encouraging (84-78-76) and the reps were invaluable and served as a quasi practice for the following day’s game.
Round one at Heritage Shores (Bridgeville, DE) was characterized by a hot start, a mid-round ball striking implosion, and a strong finish. Using both devices didn’t feel any different even though I was conscious of trying to match exact yardage to swing. I putted poorly all day but stumbled into a swing key that allowed me to play the last five holes in even par, and to hit four of the five greens. Despite the poor score, I left the course encouraged about the swing band-aid I had found, and for the experiment I was going to try the next day.
Saturday, we played Eagles Landing (Ocean City, MD). The carts were equipped with GPS and I basically ignored it unless I couldn’t find ground yardage. There is no driving range at Eagles Landing and we were limited to some light chipping and putting before we went off. I promptly pull hooked my drive on #1 and made double, and followed that with a big push on #2 for a bogey. Yardage was playing no part in this mess. So I decided to keep the driver in the bag until my body loosened up and I managed to stabilize using 3WD. On number 8, I found another swing key and managed to strike it solid and played the rest of the way around in 2-over. Here I noticed some gains by pacing off yardages on the short wedge shots from the fairway. Without precise yardage, I relied on my stock practice range shots to carry distances I was comfortable with, and this was key! I am not a professional and cannot dedicate tons of range time perfecting partial wedge shots to specific distances. Just give me 50-75-100 yard shots and I proved that hitting to those yardages was more effective than snapping an exact number on the laser and trying to modify my swing to match.
Sunday at Baywood Greens (Long Neck, DE) was a completely different story. We got to the course 1.5 hours ahead of our tee time and got ample range time in plus putting green and short game warm ups. In addition, I had a game plan from the previous two days and felt very prepared and it showed. The good work with the short irons continued despite not having exact yardages and I felt completely in control. I also noticed the impact of imprecise yardages diminished the farther you were from the flag stick.
At the end of our short experiment, I’d have to conclude that the back to back to back rounds were probably more beneficial to my game than how I measured my yardages. I liked not having as much to do and think about between shots, but honestly felt that I could do a better job planning my shots even with exact yardage. In short, it really didn’t matter how it was calculated, but I’m going to try without the range finder for my next few rounds.
Do you have a preference for course navigation? Please share if you do.
Thanks and play well!
6 thoughts on “Playing Old School”
Great experiment! You are probably right about playing 3 rounds in a row having benefit to your game. However, I think you were more focused on the fundamentals like solid ball striking during the last two rounds. You were in the groove of playing golf more and as a result made fewer swing errors. I use a Garmin approach 6 some of the time, but like to pace off distances when on or near the fairway. I enjoyed reading your article.
Jim, it was so nice to tell myself, “That’s what I’m going to work on tomorrow,” and then be able to execute on it. Still weighing the yardage conclusion in my mind, but the reps were definitely beneficial.
Nice work on improving with each round on your trip! I loving having the opportunity to play 3 or 4 days in a row, each day building on one another and getting yourself in a groove. I prefer a GPS on the course and often just glance at the middle yardage unless the pin is back or front I may look at those yardages as well. However I would like to get a laser for practice rounds or on the range to become more confident in how far certain shots go.
Josh, our brains should be able to process exact yardage without getting too cluttered but for some reason mine doesn’t. I think the sample size was a bit small on this and need to keep iterating on it. The experiment lives on.
Our home course has GPS on the carts. That is enough for me. If I could walk more I’d love to have a laser. I find that exact yardage does not hurt me if I know where on the green the pin is. For example if it’s 170 to a back flag and that is an in-between distance, I know I can probably muscle the shorter club into the middle. For me it is getting it on the green since I am comfortable with long putts. Good playing!
Jimmy, you need to be disciplined enough if you have exact yardage. Unlike you, I would go flag hunting when I should be hitting for the middle of the greens! I’ve got to work on that.