Monday, February 20, 2006

Essay #12 - A Paradox (And a Solution)

In their book,Every Shot Must Have a Purpose, authors Lynn Marriot and Pia Lindstrom assert that, :it's not how you score, it's how you play."

But, for most of us, we don't observe that in our practice. Here's the paradox; five times as many lessons are given on the long game compared to the short, while 80% of our shots happen from 100 yards inward. The obvious lesson: we're not paying attention.

Here's the better idea. Use your next three rounds to get a firm fix on your own personal "How." Here's how (pun intended):

Carry an extra score-card and label the six lines:

  • Driver:
  • Fairway:
  • Recovery:
  • Approach:
  • Up/Down:
  • Putts:

(Some cards may only give you five lines; in that case, eliminate the "Recovery" catagory.)

You'll use these catagories to keep track of where you've lost shots.

Driver: Use this for tee shots other than on par-three holes. You may elect to tee off with your 3-wood (or even an iron), but you'll still grade the shot on this line. What you're looking for is a shot that puts you in a position to advance the ball according to plan. Being on the short grass isn't required, but you should be around the normal distance out and with a workable lie. If you can advance the ball well down the fairway but can't reach the expected position for your third shot (on the green for a par-four hole), your shot has cost you a half-stroke (your up-coming up-down chance accounts for another half-stroke). If your tee shot puts you "in jail" such that you can only come out sideways, the shot has cost you a full stroke. An unplayable or an out-of-bounds penalty probably has cost you two strokes.

Fairway: Use this line for any shot where the assignment is to advance the ball down the fairway, but where you don't expect to reach the green. Missed shots might cost a half-stroke or a full stroke, depending on how bad the miss.

Recovery: This line is reserved for when you're in jail. Since you can't advance the ball down the fairway, you will already have penalized yourself one stroke on your last shot. Use this line to grade your strategy and execution. If your recovery attempt does not put you back on the fairway, ready to advance, you'll assess another full stroke penalty here.

Approach: This line is for full shots expected to reach the green. Failure to do so costs a half-stroke (you're left with an up/down chance) or a full stroke if you're still facing a full shot to the green.

Up/Down: This line is for all the half-shots around the gree where you hope to get the ball "up" on the green with your first shot, and "down" into the cup with your first putt. Failure to do so costs a half-stroke. But, if you don't get it "up," you again have an Up/Down chance to be graded. Hence, a stubbed pitch, a successful second pitch, and two putts would cost you a total of one stroke. Use this line both for green-side attempts and for sand-trap situations.

Putts: This one should be obvious. From outside 30 feet, three putts should cost you a half-stroke. From 10-30 feet, three putts costs a full stroke. From 3-10 feet, two putts costs a half-stroke, while from inside three feet any miss costs a full stroke.

Play three rounds, keep your records, and total up when you're done. The critical question is obvious:

Are you working on the right things? Are you paying attention?

I'll bet not!