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Playing Your Best
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at askme@thewedgeguy.com.

We spent most of May and June talking about golf clubs and shafts, so I thought I would change gears a little as we head into summer. By now, most of you have been getting in the rounds that have shaken off winter rust, and are seeing some consistency in scoring coming around. Some are probably in the middle of a commitment to play better in 2010 than ever before, and have spruced up your game with some lessons, a little more practice and possibly even a new equipment purchase or two. And some, I’m sure, are just playing as much as you can fit in, and hoping for a good round each time you go out. Today’s article is to try to help you make that happen more often.

No matter what our experience, ability and handicap, all of us golfers have one thing in common. We want to play the best we can every time we tee it up. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. Having a bad day on the course is just part of the game, it seems, but there are things we can do to make that happen less often, and other ways to get back on track when a round begins to go awry. Let’s start with giving ourselves the best chance of a good round every time.

Setting Up a Good Round

It all starts on your drive to the course. Think about good shots you’ve been hitting recently, and good swings you’ve made. Picture drives that were long and straight, iron shots that just hunted the flag, recovery shots that saved par and putts that dropped. I know it’s a cliché, but there really is no substitute for positive thoughts when it comes to golf.

When you get to the course, whether you change shoes in the parking lot or the locker room, S-L-O-W . . D-O-W-N. Savor the fact that you have a round of golf in front of you . . . not work, not yard or house chores. It is time for FUN!

Give yourself a chance to perform your best golf right from the first tee. If it’s worth taking a few hours out of your day, it’s darn sure worth taking an extra 10-15 minutes to give yourself a chance. Stretch your legs and back/shoulder muscles that have shortened up from a few days or a week at the office and/or even a few hours of sleep. This is crucial to performing your best. Take a dozen or two back and forth horizontal swings with your sand wedge to get the blood flowing. These aren’t “practice swings” but more like baseball swings to further stretch out your shoulders and back and upper arms and get the feel of the club in your hands.

And for Pete’s sake, hit a dozen or so shots before you go to the first tee. At least a few chips and/or pitches and some putts. You HAVE to get the feel of impact refreshed to have a chance.

Getting The Derailed Train Back On Track

We all are going to hit bad shots, no matter what kind of game you have, but what wrecks a round is when you get it going sideways for more than a hole. When that happens, the round can still be saved, but the key is to remove the stress caused by the bad shots or holes, and build on something you can believe in. If you find yourself tightening up as a result of a bad hole or two, take an extra minute to “step outside”. Walk away from your group (since you are probably last to hit now anyway), and take some deep breaths. Get your tension down and get positive thoughts back into your head. Take some practice swings with those positive thoughts back in mind. And here are what I find to be four keys to getting the train back on track:
1. Reach for the 3-wood. If you have hit a couple of bad drives, drop back to the 3-wood, and get one in the fairway. It won’t be all that much shorter than your driver and it will build some confidence. If the driver is the problem, in fact, bench it for the rest of the round.

2. Play to the “safe” side. If your iron shots are not sharp, play to the safe side of the greens and give yourself a chance to avoid the big number and put a par or two on the card. When you get your “mojo” back, you can fire at the flags again.

3. Play the fault. If you are blocking shots right, or a hook has raised its ugly head, play it! That is, if you can’t find the fault and fix it quickly. The range is the place to fix things, the course is for scoring. Unless you can find the fix quickly, just “dance with who brung you.”

4. Lighten Up. A few bad shots will cause us to build body tension, and the first place that manifests is in our grip pressure. You cannot hold a golf club light enough, in my opinion – your body won’t let you. But you sure can get into a death grip quickly when the tension mounts. Run a mental check on your grip pressure and lighten up, particularly in the right thumb and forefingers. It will change things immediately.
So, there are my thoughts on playing your best. I’ll bet the readers have their own suggestions, too, so let’s all share our ideas, OK? This should be fun and informative for all of us. And if you have a topic you’d like me to sound off about, just send me an email via the “Ask” button below.


* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
T. Morris (aka "BlkMamba") says:
Great article. In golf it is alot about the recovery and the wisdom written is good information that can keep a good round from going truly bad.
7/3/10
 
PaulParkerSr says:
Great article it's nice to read something like this at 5a.m. at breakfast before heading to practice range or playng a round of golf.

Thanks,
P.A.Parker
7/5/10
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
 
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