The Golf Gap: Connecting The Dots

Playing from a fairway bunker at Oyster Bay


How big is your golf gap?  Your gap is the difference between what you know is the right thing to practice and what you actually practice.  Your goal is to lower your scores through effective practice, and folks who have been playing and studying the game for a long time should have smaller gaps than beginners.  The smaller you can shrink your gap, the more rapidly you should improve.

My gap is larger than it should be.  I had a bit of an epiphany last weekend and the experience might serve a useful purpose going forward.  It started when I read the article by Dustin Johnson in the February 2018 Golf Digest on how he practices.  DJ was always an excellent ball striker but he truly became a superb player after he adopted his current routine of dedicating 80% of his range time to full and partial wedge shots.  Considering how great he is with the driver, I was surprised to learn how little he practiced with it.  Bottom line: his weakness was inside 100 yards and he addressed it.

Aligning my own game to DJ’s is like comparing a rowboat to a battleship, but his routine is instructive and should be copied.  I reviewed my 2017 season performance notes and most of my good rounds were preceded by lessons and practice with my wedges.  Like DJ, my goal last year was to get more consistent inside 100 yards.  From some mechanical changes my pro helped me with (using primarily my wedges), my proximity improved greatly inside 100 yards and I began to hit it longer.  I became enamored with the newfound length and in accordance, began hitting more practice balls with the driver.  That’s when my performance dipped.  Argh!  My gap had widened.

Last weekend I hit the range with the goal of closing the gap and connecting the dots between practice and play.  I only worked on hitting partial and full wedge shots.  The contact was excellent and transitioned nicely to the few shots I mixed in with the longer clubs.  What I would advise is that you hit the range and work on your wedges.  See your pro if you need help with your technique.  Then jot down what you are working on.  This makes it easy to recall past practice that preceded good play, and of course, any “ah ha” moments you may discover.  Finally, one caveat, if you are filming your own swing for analysis purposes, hit shots with a medium iron and a driver, as a wedge swing will often be too short and compact to reveal some critical swing flaws.

Good luck with your gap analysis and play well!

After a rainy round at TPC of Myrtle Beach


8 thoughts on “The Golf Gap: Connecting The Dots”

  1. Brian

    Great post. I think our gap is like an accordion and it widens and closes throughout the golf season. I do agree that staying focused on what to practice (especially our week points) is a great approach to improving our golf game. Tha ks for the reminder.

    Cheers Jim

    1. Jim, love the accordion analogy. As soon as this little sprinkling of snow melts, I’ll be back at it. How’s your winter conditioning and putting work coming?



        1. Brian

          With all the reasons people can take time off work, I think golf for the good of your mental health should be one. Not sure my boss will go for it, but it is worth a try. 😂

          Cheers Jim

  2. Brian,

    Great stuff here! When we get to the practice tee it can be easy to forget which clubs we use the most on the course (our wedges) and be tempted by hitting too many shots with our longer clubs. I’ve been guilty of that quite a bit, but am getting better at prioritizing my practice towards the scoring clubs. I am trying to get into a mentality of practicing to try to score better as opposed to just trying to hit it better. Great reminder as I ramp up my off-season practice…excited to see where I’m at in Palm Springs next week 🙂


      1. Thanks, Brian! Back is feeling good. My fitness (and Physio) routine seems to be paying off. Have practiced a few times on the simulator at the club and felt strong. Best in years. Hopefully I can keep that going as I ramp up play/practice headed into spring.


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