Continuing from last weeks ‘Why Henry Hates Golf’ we left off with Henry saying to Marc that he is frustrated with his game and wants to become more consistent. Marc starts to speak about what the best players do to become more consistent and Henry is eagerly awaiting his answer.
“Well Henry, first you’ll need to find where your strengths and weaknesses are in order to really know where you need to practice.”
“Marc I know what my strengths and weaknesses are; that’s easy. My short game is the strongest part of my game. And my driver is my weakest. I can pretty much chip on to the green and 2-putt every time. I just have trouble hitting the fairways. If I can hit more fairway’s, my scores will drop instantly!” Henry said.
I could see Henry starting to get the look of dreaming of what it would be like to hit the ball great every time.
“Henry, before we just say that the strong part of your game is your short game and your weak point is your driving, let’s do some games and see what the results show us.” Henry answered before my lips stopped moving like he was waiting for me to stop talking.
“There’s no need, my problem is 100% definitely my Driver. If I can hit it consistently, I can score in the low 80’s. Let’s just start there. Whenever I’ve been to a golf lesson, we just started hitting golf balls with a 7-iron and moved into the Driver after about 15 minutes. Why don’t we just start there?”
“We could just start there, but that hasn’t helped you in the past has it? I asked Henry in a semi-sarcastic voice. Well, it helped a little, Henry, whispered. I guess I got better for a little bit, but it didn’t last long. Were we working on the wrong thing in my golf swing?” Henry asked. “Maybe we should’ve worked more on the swing plane of my swing. Marc are we going to put my swing on video to work on the swing plane?”
“Henry, if you want to start to see improvement, you must start looking at golf improvement in a different way. We need to start calling everything you did before today as your past and everything starting now as your present. The way you’ve been going about trying to play better golf in your past has not worked. It has brought you mostly aggravation and disappointment because you haven’t played up to your expectations and people you know that you should beat, are beating you routinely.”
I continued, “Keep this thought in your mind – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. If you adapt this quote to golf, it’s what you and 1000’s of golfers like you are doing – Practicing the same things over and over and expecting to see improvements. In order to see improvements in your game you must start practicing smarter. You must find what your weaknesses truly are. Most golfers that I see assume they know what their weaknesses are and in actuality, what they think are their weaknesses are their strengths! So they spend most of their time practicing their strengths, instead of their weaknesses.”
“So you are saying that although I feel my weakness is my driving, that my driving is probably my strength? And that my short game is my weakness? OK, so let’s start! Henry said, where do we go from here?” Henry asked.
“We are going to start with your ball striking” I said. “What club, 7-iron?” Henry asked.
“Henry, lets start with your sand wedge.” Henry in a somewhat puzzled voice asked, “Sand Wedge? Are we going in the sand?” “No Henry, we aren’t going in the sand. We’re going to test your ball striking with your sand wedge. The thought being, if you can’t hit your sand wedge solid from 15 yards off the green with a short stroke, what are the chances of hitting a solid 5-iron from 175-yards from the green?”
I continued as we walked towards the practice green, “I want you to hit these 10 balls into that box I made on the green.” I had already made what we call ‘The Box’, by putting 4-Bamboo Sticks in the ground around the hole. Each Stick is placed 6-feet from the hole and it makes the shape of a square. “Henry, When you can hit 7 out of 10 into that box, we’ll move on. But, we’ll continue to practice trying until you can get 7 out of 10 in the box. The thought being, if you’re not hitting the ball consistent enough to get 7 into box from 15 yards away, what are your chances of consistently hitting a 5-iron or driver solid on a full swing?”
“Well Marc, that’s a fair assessment.” “Henry, before we start, I want to give you some statistics of the results of a few levels of Golfers because if you don’t know what’s expected of you and don’t have goals to shoot for, it’s very hard to get to the next level. The average 90-shooter gets 4 in the box. The average 80-shooter gets 8 in the box and the average 2-handicap gets 10 in the box and 1 in the hole.”
Henry started chipping The 1st chip was short of the box, 2nd long, 3rd in the box. 4th was short, 5th was short, 6th in the box. 7th short, 8th in the box, 9th short and 10th in the box. Henry, lets look at your results so we can see where we need to go next. You had 4 in the box, 5 short and 1 long. What does that tell you?
“Marc it says that I need to practice my chipping. It also shows that half my balls where not just short of the hole, but short of the box and the front of the box is a good 7-feet short of the hole. The ones in the box are pretty good and I could probably putt those into the hole. But, that says I am only getting up-n-down 4 out of 10 times from just off the green. Do you see this often from people that think their short game is the best part of their game?” Henry asked, even though he knew what my answer would be.
“Without a doubt. And we play this game not only for your short game and seeing how many times you can get up-n-down, but it also tells us about your ball striking. We can’t forget that if 5 of your balls are more than 7-feet short, 4 are in the box and 1 is more than 7 feet long, from such a short distance, how can you expect to be consistent with longer more difficult clubs from longer more difficult distances?”
“So Marc, what you’re saying is that I need to practice more around the greens, until I become more consistent with the sand wedge before I start practicing my other clubs?” Henry offered.
“Yes, but I think you’ll improve and be moving on to the next clubs faster than you think. See, Karate has done a much better job than golf has in letting the participants play to their skill level.” Henry blurted out, “Karate!?”
“Yes Henry, Karate. In Karate you’re given a belt according to your skill level. The lower belts like a white belt knows his or her skill level isn’t as high as a black belts skill level, so you practice skills that will get you to the next level which is yellow. Then when you are a yellow, you practice skills that will help you move on to an orange belt, and then so on up to a black belt. But, a white, yellow or orange for that matter, know they can’t do the same things as a black belt. If they did, they’d probably end up hurting themselves. So their practice is set-up to help them work on their way up the order of belts.”
“So Marc, are you saying that I am a white belt that is trying to play like a black belt? And that has been hurting my progress?” Henry offered.
“Henry, you’re the best! Yes, that’s what I’m saying. We watch golf on television and we see Tiger hitting a 3-wood from 250-yards from the green and we think we should play the same shot as Tiger. But, Tiger is a Black Belt.” Henry interjected with laughter “Tiger’s probably a 10th degree Black Belt in golf terms!”
“Henry, you’re right. You on the other hand are probably a Yellow Belt in golf. You shouldn’t be trying to practice the same stuff as Tiger. You need to practice the things that’ll get you to be an Orange Belt, which is the equivalent of a high 80’s shooter. And that’s what we’re going to speak about right now!”
“Henry, what makes the ball go up in the air?” Henry answered, “loft.” “Yes Henry, loft is part of the answer, but what makes the ball go up and stay up?” “Getting underneath the ball?” Henry said with a semi-puzzled look.
“Not really” I said. “My thought is this – If you don’t know what truly makes the ball go up in the air, how are you going to be able to do it consistently? What makes the ball go consistently up in the air for every club, not just the sand wedge, but every club is…”
Look for the solution that will help Henry become a more consistent golfer in next week’s Golf Made Simple Golf Improvement Weekly as Marc outlines what it takes to become more consistent and confident.