Every golfer is looking for that “holy grail” tip, the one tip that can catapult a robust amateur player into the world of professional golf. This pursuit for the average player is a feverish dream that will leave you empty-handed time and time again. I have two tips I can share that allowed me to shave five strokes off of my score the first time I implemented them. When attempting to break that next milestone score, these adjustments could differ between shooting a 100+ or in the 90s.
I like to think of myself as a person and player that is constantly looking to gain knowledge. I am the guy that contains useless facts about everything with no real reason to know except that I read them somewhere. I like to read everything I can get my hands on, and when it comes to golfing, I test what I can. Whether it is work or play, I pride myself on being a “best practice thief.” While I always give the credit back to the person or publication I received it from, I never stray from trying something different. If it works for me, consider it stolen. If it doesn’t, I will go back to what has worked best until I find another way to try it.
This approach has time and time shown itself to improve my game on the course. Whether from a mental standpoint, shot approach, or mechanics, I have significantly improved from entering with an open mind.
THE THINK BOX & THE PLAY BOX
The first tip that I have, stolen from a wiser person than I, comes from the Vision54 project. Vision54 is the quest for a golfer to hit 18 consecutive birdies and record a score of 54 on a Par 72 course. The thought process is simple: One good drive. One good approach. One good putt. The pursuit of this level of excellence lends no other opportunity but improvement. The results are not due to the bullish result-minded approach but to the simplicity of the plan.
Vision54 uses the idea of a “Think Box” and a “Play Box.” When arriving at your ball, whether on the tee, fairway, rough, or whatever lie you find yourself in, anyone can utilize this approach to help their game.
First, you are using the think box. Draw an imaginary line about three feet behind your ball. The “Think Box” is where you answer all the questions and set your goal for the shot you are about to hit—no reference to past or future swings. Simply the swing you are about to take. For those looking to break 90 or 100, you should be asking yourself a few simple questions: Can I guarantee this club will reach my target with a standard swing? Am I aiming for a space that is safe if I miss my mark? Am I 100% confident and committed to the shot I am about to make?
From here, there are only two steps you can take. If you answer these questions with comfort and confidence, then step into the Play Box. If you are not fully committed to the club and the shot you are about to attempt, then remain in the Think Box until you are.
Once you are in the Play Box, the thinking is over. It is time for action. Once in the Play Box, waste no time with swing mechanics or strategy thoughts. Step up, get comfortable in your stance, and swing.
Utilizing this the “Think Box” and “Play Box” will increase your overall awareness around the course with everything that you do. It will help you off the tee, plan your approach, and even on the green.
Once you are near the green, I am sure you will be sooner with the tip above; chipping and putting become the main focus. Most golfers can find a comfortable putting stroke that fits their style and gets them close; however, the goal is to get as close as possible from around the green to make putting easier. That is where my second tip comes into play: Chip with the correct club.
CHIPPING WITH THE RIGHT CLUB
Most amateur golfers grab a pitching wedge or a 60-degree wedge from their bag when attempting to chip on the green. I am sure everyone can envision stepping up to a ball just in the rough off the green, taking a few clean practice swings, then popping the ball up and stopping it halfway to the hole. I can recall the disappointment as I typed this out.
The goal of this blog is result-minded golf. The desired result is a ball ending in an area that leads to an easy putt to finish the hole. Up and Down as they say. The club in your bag that is most well suited for this task is your putter. If you made 1000 putts and 1000 chips from the rough, the putter would more consistently be the closer out of the two clubs. However, the putter is not always the club for the lie.
Head back to the bag and grab an iron for these shots. The more rough between you and the pin, the higher the iron you are playing. I prefer to use the five iron when chipping just off the green and scale to seven or eight iron the further I get. Whatever club gets the ball up and out of the rough and running on the green like a putt faster is the club I want in my hand. The more you play around with this approach, the more you will fine-tune what works for you.
Once you have a plan for what you want to chip with, step into the Play Box. You are not viewing this club like a wedge or an iron; you are viewing and using it like your putter. In your mind, swing the club at the same speed and along the same path as you would if you had a putter in your hand from the same lie. The results will leave you amazed as you watch the ball roll along the line heading towards the pin after exiting the rough with ease.
Take these two tips to the course with you the next time you play. One is a mental-game tip, and the other is physical. The combination of the two allows you to navigate a course with a mission and put yourself in a position to lower your scores immediately. No matter what your handicap is today, you are guaranteed to drop strokes if you execute both of these pieces with your full time and attention on the course.