Are You Playing For Score?
“Play For Your PLAN, don’t plan for your score.” If you can live by this simple sentence on the golf course, you can succeed in playing well.
If you turn it around to say – “Play for your score, don’t plan for your PLAN” – you’re pretty much going to be a frustrated golfer. Or as we say – you’re a Monkey. And we all know there’s too many Monkeys out there for our own good.
So in classic Golf Improvement Weekly style, lets look at the negative of “Play for your Score” before we try to understand the positive of “Play for your PLAN”
The negative – “Play for your score, don’t plan for your PLAN.” 7.9 out every 8 Golfers I’ve seen play golf this way. You’re so concerned with your score that you get in your own way on the golf course. Your score on each hole overrides everything. Your score influences all your decisions. You score takes over your swing.
To play for score is putting unneeded pressure on yourself to perform to a level that you might not be ready to get to. For instance – you’re a 95 Golfer. You score 92 once in a while, but you just as often see a 102 as the final tally on your scorecard.
What score are you trying to get on every hole? Par. Or for some Birdie. Or still for some – they’re trying to hit every shot from the fairway or rough into the hole. Or for some – they’re trying to work the ball by hitting Draws and Fades. Wait, lets talk about “working the ball” another time.
Let’s just focus on the Monkey trying to make Par on every hole.
You get to the 1st tee and you say to yourself that you need to hit a good Drive in order to have a chance of hitting a short iron to the green so you can 2 putt. And with the pressure of not only starting your round off with a good tee shot. And with the pressure of not topping your tee shot in front of the 3 other Golfers in your group. And with the pressure of knowing you need to really hit the ball straight a long way to be able to have a short iron to the green. What happens?
You’re pretty much putting too much pressure on yourself – a once or twice a week Golfer for 8-months of the year – to succeed. And then you hit an ok Drive about 200 yards down the right side that leaves you about 195 yards to the green.
So what do you do now?
Well you’re playing for Par aren’t you? Then you need to go for it! You need to hit your 3-iron or 3-wood or 5-wood or what ever you use to hit the ball from off the ground to 195 yards away.
So the important question now is – What percentage of the time will a PGA Tour Player hit the ball on the green with their 3 iron? Well, before you say 60% of the time, let’s take a look at some interesting numbers that can help you understand why you have less than a 10% chance to do the same.
Brad Faxon, who has been on the PGA Tour since 1983 and has accomplished more in golf than you will in your golf career (9 victories on the PGA Tour, over $17 million won and a 364 yard drive this year in a tournament) averages hitting only 55% of his Greens in Regulation.
So, you say – “Well Marc, he’s hitting 55% of his Greens – then why can’t I expect to hit 3 out of 10 from 195 yards away from the green?”
And my answer is because that 55% is as high as it is because it also includes all the sand wedges, pitching wedges, 9 irons, 8 irons and 7 irons that he hits to the green. And using those clubs, he hits about 70% of his Greens in Regulation. Which says that he only hits the green about 33% of the time with his 3 iron and 4 iron.
So if a guy that has played on the Ryder Cup team and has played multiple times in the Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship – only hits his 3-iron on the green 3 out of 10 times – what results should you expect?
I mean the guy has won 17 million US Dollars playing golf. How much have you won? 5 million? 1 million? 50 bucks?
You’re a 95 Golfer for a reason. It’s not like there’s a Committee of Golfing Gods that look down on us and say – OK, you see that guy? Let’s make him a 95 Golfer. And see that Lady over there? Let’s make her an 88 Golfer. And that guy over there – lets allow him to play the PGA Tour.”
You are where you are because that’s your skill level at this time. And if you’re a 95 Golfer, you have less than a 1 in 10 chance to hit the ball on the green from 195 yards. Now before you get mad at me and cancel yourself from getting Golf Improvement Weekly in the future – you must understand I’m saying this based on results!
Because I can be a nice guy sometimes – what do you say if I give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you can hit your 3-iron or 3 wood or hybrid club onto the green from 195 yards away 3 out of 10 times? Let’s say that I allow you in this example to hit 3 out of your 10 balls as well with your 3 iron as Brad Faxon, the guy that’s 19th on the all time Money List.
So, because you now hit 3 shots as well as a PGA Tour Player, you have 3 balls on the green. The million dollar question is –
Then where are the other 7 balls you hit?
And how many of those 7 balls went into the water on the right? How many did you top that rolled about 75 yards into a fairway bunker? How many went into the woods on the right? How many into the woods on the left?
How mad did you get when you hit that ball into the water? And what about that tension you feel after having to take a penalty stroke so that you’re hitting your 4th shot from 120 yards away from the green knowing that you need to hit it into the hole on your next shot to make par. And that you’d be lucky to hit it on the green and 2-putt for a 6. Does this play a factor on your next tee shot?
Then after you take that 6 – you’re on the next tee box looking at a green 552 yards away and saying to yourself – “I need to hit a great tee shot here so that I can then hit my 3-wood close to the green and then have an easy wedge onto the green so that I can 1-putt for birdie and make up a shot from my double bogie I just got on the 1st hole.”
Have you ever been in this situation before?
So you try to really get into this Drive and pop it up about 75 yards and then because you need to make up for lost distance from your tee shot (and you need to make up for the double bogey you made last hole) you take your 3 wood from 477 yards away from the green and slice it into the trees about 190 yards away from where you hit it. And then you punch your 3rd shot back out into the fairway and use your 3 wood again from 287 yards from the green (dreaming you can reach the green with this, your 4th shot, so that you can 1 putt for par). And of course you try to swing too hard and your club hits the ground about 1 inch behind the ball – as your ball flies about 143 yards leaving you with your 5th shot from 144 yards away to a flag that is on the front right of the green, directly next to a deep sand bunker.
Knowing you need to get this next shot close so that you can 1 putt for a bogie 6 (and be only 3 over Par after 2 holes), you aim towards the flag to try to get the ball close to the hole. You hit a good shot that looks like it’s going to land next to the flag, but somehow lands in the sand. Your next shot – your 6th on this hole, which you must make into the hole from the bunker for a bogey – you try to get the ball just out of the sand and land about 2 feet onto the green so that the ball will roll close to the hole. And because you don’t want to hit the ball too far, you compensate by decelerating and leave the ball in the sand.
Now, knowing at the very best, you have to hole out from the bunker to make a 7 – which would make you 4 over par for the first two holes today – you start to feel some tension as your chances of having a good 18 hole score is coming to an end before you’ve gotten 1/9th of the way into your round. You get your next shot out onto the green and 1 putt for an 8. 5 over after two holes!
Been there? Done that?
And then on the 3rd tee the whole process of having to hit another Drive better and longer than any you have ever hit before continues to mount! Because you definitely need to hit a great drive here so that you can have a short iron into this hole so that you can get it close so that you can one putt for Birdie. Which would put you at 4 over par after 3 holes.
But in reality, what really happens?
The story repeats itself again. Same stuff, different hole. It’s no wonder that by the time you get to the 9th hole you can’t wait to have a beer. Because with the amount of stress that you experienced over the first 9 holes of continually needing to hit better shots to make up for your bad shots is causing you to mentally overheat!
That is what playing for score will do for you. Do you know anybody that plays like this?
Contrast that to someone I know that had never broken 90 – that went out one day with total commitment to – “Play for your PLAN, don’t plan for your score” – and shot an 83 for 18 holes. Pretty impressive, huh? Well this is after he made a bogie on the first hole. If he had worried about making up for that bogie by having to hit a great tee shot so that he’d have a short iron to the green so that he could get the ball close to the hole so that he could 1 putt for a Birdie on the second hole – do you think he would’ve come back to shoot his best score ever?
“Play for your PLAN, don’t plan for your score.”
Monkeys play for score. And think they can hit the ball better than Brad Faxon!
Players are too focused on their PLAN to notice their score while on the golf course!
Be a Player!
Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life
Golf Made Simple!