More Thoughts on Getting Better
Today is moving day for me, hopefully for the last time in my life. My fiancé and I are ending a two-year project of designing and building a new home on a little piece of Earth we purchased just outside of Victoria. The plan is this will be it til we’re pushing up daisies.

So yesterday I had a couple of the high school golfers helping me pack and move the mess of a garage I seem to always have. It’s amazing what tinkering with golf clubs, fishing and shooting/reloading shotgun shells will do to fill up a garage. After a few hours of work we broke for dinner and of course, the conversation went to golf and how their games were shaping up. Both are low-80s shooters in their junior year. Their conversation immediately went to who’s the longest hitter on the teams, and how much further they hit the ball than the couple of pretty strong girls in town.

So I asked them this: “How many boys are there in this town of 70,000, with three high school teams, who can break 80 all the time?” The answer? Two at most! I find that deplorable, actually. I explained to them that when I was in high school in the late 60s, in a town of 7,000, with a 9-hole golf course, we had ten of us who could break 80 all the time. I barely made the last spot on the second squad with a scoring average of just over 79!

They seemed impressed and asked how we did that, and so I had to really think about it. First of all, we didn’t have a driving range, so all of us had a shag bag of balls and we hit them out into #9 fairway from a spot beside the putting green. Then we had to go pick them up. So I realized that we spent the bulk of our practice time hitting 7-iron or less, which at that time was about what a 9-iron is today. And we didn’t hit a ton of drivers because that made the walk to pick all of them up that much longer.

Another aspect of doing that way was that we’d go out with a pitching wedge and our bag after hitting these 100+ shots, drop the bag in the most populated area and then go hit wedge shots back to the bag until all the balls were close enough to pick up. I’ll bet that made each practice session of 100 full swings produce at least twice that many wedge shots. Hmmmm. Maybe there’s something to that.

But what I really realized is that we learned and practiced by playing golf, not hitting golf balls and working on our swings. That little 9-hole course owned us every afternoon and for the full summer. It wasn’t unusual to walk and play 36-45 holes of golf on almost every summer day, and we got in at 18 every afternoon after school. I see these kids today hitting a bag of balls and maybe playing 9 holes. And they’ll hit as many drivers as they can in that bag of balls.

Maybe that’s why none of them are shooting good numbers, huh?
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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