Fun & Games with Golf
Most of the time we think improving at golf is hard. I don’t think that it has to be. See, most of the time we are in the left side or the logical side of our brain. We ask ourselves questions like: Did I keep my left arm straight? Was my swing on plane? Did I take the putter back straight? And while all of these questions may be legitimate, we fail to ever practice golf in the right side or the reactive side of our brain. This is easier said than done because every time you open Golf Digest you are bombarded by tip after tip, keeping you in the logical side of your brain and over thinking. Well, I am here today to share with you a couple games I use with my students to get them away from thinking during practice and back to playing.
Game 1: No Flagsticks
This was a favorite of Jack Nicklaus. First, you will need to have someone stay a hole ahead of you and remove the flagstick. The objective of the game is simple. Golfers often get into trouble trying shots “above their pay grade”, like going after a pin tucked behind trouble. A golfer will save strokes playing to the middle of the green the vast majority of the time. Be sure to keep the ball in play off the tee and manage the course to give yourself good angles into the green. Aim for the middle.
Game 2: 3 Club Game
Golfers will select 3 clubs, one of which must be a putter, and play at least 9 holes of golf using only the selected clubs. It is highly recommended that a 3/4/5 hybrid, 8-iron/PW, and a putter are selected. When a sand wedge is chosen most golfers can’t reach the green when playing from the fairway and that it can be a detriment around the greens. Most players take 14 clubs out to the course and don’t understand club selection in a given situation nor do they understand course management. The 3 club game forces players to be strategic, thinking from the green back to the tee, avoid trouble, leaving the ball on the far side of the green, etc…
Game 3: Perfect Drive
Golfers will hit their tee shots and regardless of where their golf ball goes, they will then grab their ball and place it in the center of the fairway by the 100-yard marker. Golfers are always on the quest for more distance, a better swing, or better ball striking. What this game shows is that the reason for their scoring deficiencies is not their ball striking but rather lacking skills from 100 yards and in. More often than not, a player’s core will not vary much even after a “perfect drive” because their short game needs improvement. This is a great game to gauge where your short game is at.
Game 4: Eyes on the Hole
This is basically the Jordan Spieth game. Set up a small, medium, and large circle around 1 hole on the practice green. Once setup, select different distances between 15-20 feet. Then hit a series of putts from each spot while only looking at the hole. During pre-shot routine concentrate having eyes on the hole and after setting up, look only at the hole. This game yet again deals with reaction and not logic. It is a great drill for lag putting as you try to get the ball to stop inside the circles using simply feel. This is how Jordan Spieth hits most of his putts from 5 feet and in. He looks at the hole through the entire stroke.
These are four games that, for the most part, are easy to play and can have great benefit to your golf game. They are not swing tips and tricks but focus on the entire game of golf. They focus on course management skills and help to highlight areas in which we need to work on our game both on the course and in practice. Try them out sometime and please send a comment back to me on if you learned something or if it was a waste of time. I can assure you, it’ll be well worth your time.