Many of you play golf for years and never alter your routine. Maybe you started playing from the white tee blocks years ago and moved back to the blue at some point, and occasionally someone actually moves up a set of tees as they age, but for the most part you play with the same number of clubs from the same place over and over. Why not spice things up a little? Do things differently once and awhile. Here are a few ways to find a whole new way to play the same old courses you normally haunt.
One of the coolest things you can do is play what is known as red, white, and blue.
Starting on hole #1 you play the red tees, and then the whites on #2 and blues on #3. You simply rotate through the tees all the way to the 18th hole. You will be amazed how different the course you may have played many times before is by just changing where you start from on certain holes. You can change it even more by starting from different tees. Go blue, white, red, or white, blue, red. Some of the holes won’t change much at all, but some will be unrecognizable and challenge you to really think about how to play them.
If you play a course with more than three sets of tees, incorporate all of them into this rotation.
Play with three clubs. Choose three clubs and play a round on a course you normally play with your whole set. It is an interesting experiment just to figure out which clubs you should choose. Driver? Probably more trouble than help, even off the tee and not very much use in any other situation. How about a five wood or hybrid for tee shots and long shots from the fairway. Take an eight or nine iron for shorter approach shots and chipping, and then I think the putter would be a stroke saver. If you are a decent striker of the golf ball I think you will amazed at how well you can play with this short set. Forces you to keep things simple and use your imagination.
Don’t aim for any flags, only for the middle of every green on every full approach shot. This is a simple one, but again, if you are disciplined about it, you might be shocked at what a difference this can make to your score. I think your score will be better because you won’t be trying so many shots to difficult pin positions. These difficult shots usually make you unsure and tense, which causes you to screw them up.
Another simple one—do nothing more than take one extra club for every full shot you face, except when you would normally use the driver you use a three wood. So you hit three wood off of every tee you would normally hit driver, and on every other full shot figure out which club you would normally hit, and take one more. Not two more clubs, because this will cause you to fear over-shooting your target and likely lead to you decelerating your downswing. One more club takes you out of that need to maximize mode.
“I’ve got to get all of this seven iron to get it over that trap.” Take a six iron. It will mellow you out a bit, probably sub-consciously cut the length of your swing, and let you swing in better rhythm. Better rhythm, better contact, better results.
If you play a course on a regular basis, go over a score card and set your own personal par. Cross out the regular par and write in what your average score is for each hole. Remember par is what an expert golfer should be expected to score on any given hole. If you are not an expert golfer than you are up against unrealistic expectations before you even start. You feel like you have failed by not achieving par when it was never meant to be your goal to begin with. With your own personal par you now have realistic expectations which takes some of the tension out of the old body. There is another variation of this which I really like, especially for players who don’t get out very often. Instead of recording the number of strokes you take on each hole, calculate the number of shots you hit successfully. You may take six shots on a par four, which on the surface doesn’t sound so hot, but what if you hit five of those shots well? I mean you hit good shots, but were just slightly long or short, or left or right, which caused you some grief in strokes, but you felt good about the effort. On the card you would write 5/6. If you have a high percentage of well-hit shots it tells you the swing is okay and you need to put some time in on the details of direction and distance control if you get the time. I’ve played twice this year and I can honestly say I don’t know what my scores were. I do know one round was awful as far as hitting the shots I attempted to hit, and the next one was quite good in that regard. This tells me I’m on the right track and if I played a little more I’ve got things under control. That’s good enough for me at this point.
John Piccolo is the golf instructor and runs Piccolo’s Custom Golf Shop at Eagle Valley Golf Club in Niagara Falls. Email him at email@example.com