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Monday, 11 September 2017

Shot Misers

While pretty much everyone wants to improve, the only game we can play with is the one we bring to the course that day. Golf involves much more than learning to swing the club in a prescribed manner. Golf is, and, until they change the rules, will always be about getting the ball in the hole in the fewest possible number of strokes.

While hitting the ball farther, or straighter, can help, the test for every golfer is to find a way to save strokes; to find the best way to get from the tee to the green and into the hole in the fewest number of strokes. Looking pretty, or stylish, is nice but not necessary in this game. An ugly four still beats a stylish five.

Two of golf's greatest champions, Bobby Jones and Byron Nelson, wrote about the importance learning to treat every shot equally, from a ten inch putt to a trouble shot from the trees. They both learned that golf was about saving and not wasting strokes. Prior to his winningest year of 1945 Byron Nelson reviewed his play and realized that he was having let ups where he was losing shots because he was playing some simple-looking shots or putts carelessly. 

Bobby Jones felt that the way to avoid being careless, or letting up, was to play every shot for it's ultimate possibility. Instead of trying to get a chip close, he would try to hole it. That kind of effort on every shot really paid off.

Good players are misers when it comes to strokes. They hate to take one more shot than necessary. And they realize that golf is often more about dealing effectively with trouble than it is hitting perfect shots. It's often more about managing to save your par than making a birdie.

The more we can learn to give every shot, and especially the simple looking shots, our full, undivided attention, the better players we will be. Grinding for the best score we can possibly shoot is a bit like work. It can leave you really tired after eighteen holes. But it's worth the effort. There is nothing like being able to say you scored about as well as you could have possibly scored with the game you had that day. It's a much better feeling than realizing you shot 79 or 89 instead of 75 or 85 because you wasted a few shots by playing carelessly or impetuously. 

The best players play this game one shot at a time, just like the drunks. They are misers when it comes to strokes. They hate to waste them.