Watching the "Wannabes" on the Hooters Tour
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

The NGA Hooters Tour has come to our club this week, so I was able to spend a little time with some of the "wannabes" who toil out here, trying to see if their game can be taken to “The Show” that is the Nationwide Tour and eventually the PGA Tour. There is a lot of raw talent out here, but the hard truth is that very few will ever make it to the next level. There are a lot of reasons for that, but we must realize that the relative handful of golfers that play at the highest level represent the “best of the best of the best”. The talent level of even the journeyman PGA Tour professional is something to behold, actually.

So what’s the big difference between these guys and those who are playing The Old Course this week? Well, there are quite a few. Distance certainly isn’t one. The Hooters Tour has a long drive contest on Pro Am day and the winning shot was 367 yards! My host golf professional put it succinctly when he said "That was gross!"

I played in the pro am with a very nice young man who wasn’t nearly that long, but he was loaded with "game." His trajectories were tight and consistent, his directional control excellent, short game was sharp (when he had to use it). I believe he represented the norm out there – plenty of distance, good ball control, nice looking shots.

But most of them will never advance beyond this stage of competition, and most probably will fade from here within a year or two, as this is a tough life. Many travel together in car pools, bunk 3-4 to a room; some stay with host families for the week. You can tell they are living on shoestrings . . . fewer than 30 guys have made even $20 grand this year!

The Big Difference

If there was anything I would have commented on to my Pro Am pro (of course I didn’t), it was that he looked rather “manufactured” over the putter. There just wasn’t an appearance of comfort and confidence when he set up to a putt. In fact, as I watched dozens of guys on the putting green, I saw that a lot. Guys that quite apparently are struggling to make the putts they know they need to make. It’s hard to explain, but most good putters just look relaxed and "natural" when they get over the ball. And I think most good putters have little to no thought about their mechanics – it’s all about making the putt! I’ll bet if I were to go out and watch the last few groups on Sunday, almost all of those top 15-20 guys would be among the group who seem to look that way on the greens.

The Other Big Difference

As I was “working” the putting green, showing our EIDOLON wedges to some of the players, I had a nice visit with a young man who was diligently hitting little pitch shots to a difficult target he had set up. He had chosen a short pitch over a rise, into a side slope, and had made a 3’ ring around a hole with golf tees. He explained that his drill was that he couldn’t leave until he had hit five shots in a row inside that circle. He went on to explain that his observation of the “big tour” pros is that the biggest difference between them and “us” is that their short games are so damn good. He knew the percentages of putts made on the PGA Tour inside 3 feet, from 3-7 feet and so on, and said that his percentages were not that much different. The difference, as he explained it, is that they hit it so dang close when they miss a green, and that’s what he knew he needed to work on if he was to move up. I suspect that most all of these guys could follow his advice.

So, even these guys realize that the only way to get better and lower your scores is to work on your short game. Getting up and down is the key to scoring, no matter whether you are a scratch amateur or pro, or still working to break 90 or 100. And the best thing is that when you are within 30 yards of the green, all the athleticism that allows these guys to hit 367 yard drives is neutralized. Anyone . . . from a 12-year-old to grandma . . . can swing a wedge hard enough to hit good pitch and chip shots. The key is a good technique and practice.

Think about it.

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

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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