|My Ben Hogan Persimmon Woods and Blade Irons|
Really, comparing ourselves to professional golfers will mostly just frustrate us, when trying to get better. Truth is, the average golfer has trouble breaking 100 if keeping their score correctly. To be honest, I sometimes still have trouble breaking 100 on certain days, but generally I'm just trying to break 90. While saving par is great, I'm realizing the biggest problem with my game is saving double and even triple bogey.
(I realize saving par means one-putting, but this is more a lesson in adjusting our mentality on danger zone holes.)
A good solid round to me is one where I get nothing worse than a bogey. I'll admit though, this is a rare occurrence. Generally, my rounds will see at least a few more than bogey holes. Hopefully, this category isn't full of worse than d. bogeys. This is what I want to talk about here.
As an example, let's look at my rounds playing in the River Ridge men's league. I've played there four times (18 holes) this year 2016, and these are the stats of my worse than bogey holes:
1st round (+15): 2 d. bogeys (2holes) (+4) (27%)
2nd round (+17): 1 d. bogeys, 2 triple bogeys, 1 quad. Bogey (4 holes) (+12) (71%)
3rd round (+29): 6 d. bogeys, 2 triple bogeys, 1 quad bogey (9 holes) (+22) (76%)
4th round (+21): 6 d. bogey, 2 triple bogeys (8 holes) (+18) (86%)
In the first parentheses is my overall score for the 18 holes, the others are self-explanatory. For me, learning to save double and even triple is an important step in playing better golf. As a 15 handicapper, I should be playing somewhat better than a couple of these scores. Nevertheless, these are the best efforts I could manage this year in the competition of men's league.
The Danger Zone
I tend to get myself into real trouble on the course on average about 5-6 holes a round. Mostly this is caused by my tee shots, whether it's a par three, four, or five. Par three because generally there's some water or trouble that I can hit into and have a penalty stroke, and there's not much forgiveness when getting into trouble on Par 3's.
Driving the ball behind a tree, slicing it out of bounds, or finding some water – is many times when I enter the danger zone on a hole. When the strokes I've hit begin to confuse my brain when I'm adding them up, I'm in real danger of losing concentration and then losing another shot or two in the process – which is how a triple and quad bogey are created.
For instance, say I hit the ball OB off the tee with my driver on a par 5, 500 yards, then hit the ball into a tree about 200 yards out with my 3rd shot (the next shot on the tee after penalty stroke). So, now I'm in the danger zone, hitting four from a position where I need to chip out. This is a critical time to adjust my thinking to try and save double or triple.
The hole is a par 5, so I have 300 yards to go, and I have to chip out my 4th shot into the fairway only 10 yards advancing. Now, I'm hitting my 5th shot (par) from 290 yards away. This is when my brain begins to melt trying to figure out what shot I'm hitting and how I'm playing so badly and slowly... But, this is when I should be adjusting my thinking to a new realistic goal for the hole.
Realistically, I can hit the ball a good 190 yards with my 3 iron, and then have a 100 yards in with my 6th shot. That will leave me two putts to save my triple bogey, and if I play it real well I could get a d. bogey with a one putt. This is the adjusted mentality I want to have, to basically save triple bogey on a trouble hole. If I then walk off on that Par 5 with a triple bogey, I'm feeling decent because I was able to salvage the hole after two bad shots.
Let's take a Par 4, 410 yards for example this time. Say I hit a sliced drive around 230 yards, then I have a very dangerous shot over some trees and a large pond 30 yards in front of the green. I would have to hit the ball 180 yards over some decent sized trees and over the water to hit the green in regulation. I decide to lay up and hit a 110 yard shot in front of the pond.
I then chunk the 70 yard 3rd shot into the pond. Now, I'm hitting four and in the danger zone. Before I was trying to play for bogey maybe a one putt par, but because of the duff I have to adjust my mentality to now save d. bogey. So, the plan is to hit my fourth shot on the green and two putt for a d. bogey. This is saving d. bogey, or even saving bogey if one putt.
The Results of Adjusting our Mentality
The reason I think this lesson will help, is because if we can manage these 5-6 trouble holes with the right perspective, then we can shave a few strokes off our rounds each time. Although, a round may seem to be one tragedy after another, if we look at it realistically, we'll see there's really only a handful of holes that got real ugly.
We have to remember, these trouble holes will comprise 50-85% of our over par score. If were trying to improve our score, these trouble holes are where we need to focus. Not by unrealistically saying they won't be there, but by being ready for them when they come. If they don't come, then great, but when they do come, we'll be ready with the right perspective.
We know when we're in the danger zone, it's not a mystery when these trouble holes are upon us. These are the holes with the most impact on our score, and if we can salvage them with a double or triple bogey, then we can avoid the quads and more scores – which devastate a round.
Many times, when I'm in the danger zone, my confidence and concentration are weakened and I then become susceptible to a three putt or some poor shot after the damage, which then gets me a triple or quad bogey. If we're to get better, we have to learn to forget quickly the bad shots.
Bad shots come from bad swings, and the more consistent we get with our full swings, the less bad shots we'll hit. Out of the 40 full swings we may take in one round, 35 may be solid strikes, while 5 are either tops, chunks, toes, or heels. Hopefully these 5 bad swings don't cause us a penalty, but they generally do cost us at least one shot. When it goes into a penalty, they cost us generally two.
So, in conclusion, when we go out and play next time, be prepared for those trouble holes and apply an adjusted mentality to salvage a double or triple bogey. This should save us from getting anything worse than a triple, and turn many quads into triples, triples into doubles, and even doubles into bogeys.