Posted on 31st January, 2017 Source: Jayme Young, Arbutus Ridge
When we grow up we play less; the responsibilities of life take over and we lose the ability, time and maybe even desire to play. If you know someone that plays more now than when they were a kid, please let me know because I’d like to hang out with them for a weekend! I believe the same mentality exists with playing golf. However, here’s the good news, it doesn’t have to!
If you were fortunate enough to take the game up when you were a junior you probably share similar memories as me: endless hours of fun games around the putting green or short game area, either on my own or with friends. Sure, we had structured lessons but the focus was always more on fun than technique. Why is it that as we get older, games turn to drills, practice becomes arduous and lessons are regarded as formal affairs rather than a fun learning environment?
As an instructor I want you to improve as quickly as possible but as we all know, it takes time to improve, time that needs to be spent on the putting green. Unfortunately, to many people the short game area and putting green is boring, meaning that the least amount of practice time is spent there. So let’s think back to when we were kids and act like one!
I remember when I was a junior. I couldn’t hit the ball very far so I had to rely on my short game to make up for distance lost off the tee. I played games so I didn’t feel like I was practicing. I would see how many putts I could make in a row from different distances or how many balls I could chip inside a 6 foot circle. As I played these games I found that more putts were dropping and I was leaving myself shorter putts after a chip. When practicing with a friend or two we would have competitions among ourselves. No kid wants to lose to his buddies so we tried as hard as possible on every shot. This helped my game because when ventured out on the course, the pressure didn’t get to me. The games I played with my friends were quite simple. We would try getting up and down from impossible places, or use clubs that we didn’t normally us, increasing our creativity in getting the ball closer to the cup.
For putting we’d play closest to the hole from different distances and 9 and 18 hole putting competitions. We would play for small prizes, such as golf balls. When we played for our own golf balls it put real pressure on us because we always played for the best ones in our bag (even though they were likely fished out of a pond or found in the trees). As the summer passed I could see that my scores were getting better, all due to spending most of my time playing games not realizing I was actually practicing.
If you see me on the practice green with some kids you know that we are having fun and as a result working on our game. Please join in whenever you want. You never know, maybe you’ll learn a game that you can incorporate into your practice routine or with your foursome while you’re waiting for the 1st tee to clear. Working on your short game doesn’t have to be boring so, LET’S PLAY!
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