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Long Driver or Short Game Wizard?

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What’s more important to you – thinking of yourself as a Long Driver of the golf ball or a Short Game Wizard? I think this is a good question for you to ask yourself. Now the answer can’t be – “I want to be a combination of both.” For this question it has to be either one or the other. So which is it? Are you going to be the bigger hitter in the group or the golfer that can get the ball Up-n-Down from anywhere within 50-yards of the green.

I think everybody needs to find their style of play and become a Master of that style. Become so good at one particular aspect of your game that it makes up for your other weaknesses. As opposed to the Monkey that says – I want to have equal ability in all aspects of my game. Get real – that’ll never happen. You know why know it’ll never happen? Because there has yet to be a successful Player that has done that. Every great Player has their strengths and weaknesses. So what are you going to practice when you get your next opportunity?

Remember – Play to your Strengths and Practice your Weaknesses!

You can’t say that phrase enough! Do you know anybody that goes on the golf course and instead of playing to their strengths on every shot, they start to play a game called – “I’m going to try something new on this shot” golf. Trying something new is an awesome thing to do. You’ll should always have an open mind on trying new shots or new things in your swing. Let me rephrase that – You should always have an open mind on trying new shots or new things in your swing after careful consideration of the source of this information, the risk reward of trying it and the use of common sense. But, there is one place that you should probably never play – “I’m going to try something new on this shot” golf. Where would this place be?

On the golf course with other golfers around!

Where should you try new things to see if they work? On the practice area and then after success on the practice area, where should you try these new things? After you have seen some success on the practice area – meaning a little bit of consistency – go out on the golf course by yourself, when the course isn’t busy and there won’t be any distractions. Use a few golf balls and try these shots out to see if you can consistently hit a good shot. And then based on the success you had by yourself – if you did have success, take it to the golf course when others are around.

I liken this to the actor or actress that practices their lines in privacy before they ever go to rehearsal with the rest of the cast. The reason so many plays on Broadway and elsewhere are so successful is because of the process of practicing by yourself and then when you’re successful in memorizing your lines and how you want to portray the character – you do it in front of the rest of the cast. Successful golfers do the same!

So now that it seems that I’ve gotten away from the original subject of would you rather be a – Long Driver or a Short Game Wizard – let’s get back to it. Or maybe I never left that subject. Because to be successful in either of the 2 categories you need to know what is your strengths and what are your weaknesses!

“Marc, I’m a long hitter of the golf ball, I enjoy hitting it long and my ego enjoys the praise I get from others. There’s a sense of pride in hitting it long.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Now how can we use this to our advantage to play better? Well it always goes back to – Play to Your Strengths and Practice your Weaknesses. Because from what I see, it always seems as if the Long Hitters are on the Driving Range, pounding Driver after Driver in order to get longer. Nothing wrong with that. Except if you’re a long hitter and you do gain 10-more yards over the span of 1-year – how many strokes will that help you to improve on the golf course?

Use your strength of the long ball to your advantage and it’s a huge advantage to hit it long. Yes, you still need to practice your Driver to maintain what you have and to hopefully get better over time. Yes, go on the golf course and hit past everybody to give yourself those wedges and 9-irons to the green. But, dang it, practice your weaknesses, which could be and probably is your short game.

“Marc, I’m a wizard around the green. I love the challenge of using my touch and feel to play shots around the green that nobody else would ever think of or attempt. My ego loves it when big hitters blow there Drivers 40-yards past mine and then I make this amazing par as the long hitter misses the green with their wedge, then ends up 3-putting for bogey.” There’s nothing wrong with being a Short Game Wizard that makes Pars. Now how can we use this knowledge to play better?

If you want the answer, just look at the paragraph above about the long hitter and reverse it as if you’re speaking about the shorter hitter that’s a wizard around the green. It’s really that simple – Play to your Strengths and Practice your Weaknesses. Listen, your strengths will always be your strengths and your weaknesses will always be your weaknesses. Now your strengths might go into a slump every once in a while, but if it’s truly your strength, it’ll come back. But, the key to improving your scores is your weaknesses.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link. It’s like the Monkey that always says – “Why can’t I ever hit my Driver?” “Why do I always hit behind the ball around the green?” Why can’t I…..?” The answer again is quite simple – It’s because it’s your weakness and you haven’t spent enough time practicing to improve it! And the Monkey says – “Well yes Marc, I did practice my short game 3-weeks ago. I came out to the driving range and hit a few buckets of balls working on my shoulder turn. Then I went over to the short game area and worked on my short game for a half-n-hour. I started to do really good and I thought I had it until the next day I played 18 with my Buddies and did terrible around the green.”

I call that the old “Weakness Switcheroo”. When you practice something and you say “I think I got it” Then when it comes to crunch time on the golf course it again becomes – “Why can’t I….? You need to be careful of your weaknesses – they’ll fake you out better than when Muhammad Ali “Rope-a-Doped” George Foreman. Your weakness will disguise themselves as strengths once in a while – tricking you into thinking – “I got it” – and then when you need that weakness to work, it leaves you in your time of need.

Why is this? The best answer I can give you is that it’s your Weakness, it’s not your Strength. And if you except that answer you’ve already improved your game. Because once you understand that that’s just the way it is – you’ll then put more effort into your practice. You’ll understand that maybe instead of hitting those 3-buckets of balls, you could’ve went right to the short game area for 15-minutes to get a feel for what you need to do. Then go out on the golf course for as little as 4 or 5-holes by yourself to practice your weakness on the golf course where it counts.

You go out to the golf course and play one ball from the tee. Then play one shot to the green. Then whenever you’re within 50-yards of the green, you should play 3-balls from that spot. 3? Why 3? Because you’re putting pressure on yourself to repeat on the golf course not on practice green, but on the golf course where it counts! You make a good shot on the first one and now the pressure builds to hit a good shot on the second one and you then you do hit a good shot – you’ve now improved. So now it’s up to your third shot to show you that you can do it when it counts. Now the pressure is building – you imagine that you’re on 18 at Augusta National and you need to get up-n-down for Par to beat Tiger by a stroke. And you swing back and hit 3-inches behind the ball and fail. What do you do?

You say – “this is my weakness and I still need to improve – I hit 2 out of 3 shots well and I know I can do better”. Weaknesses are weaknesses and there is no such thing as an instant solution. So you go to the next hole and you try again. And after a few weeks of doing this once or twice a week instead of just going to the range and continually practicing your strengths like 100% of the Monkeys do – you start to see improvement when you play your regular round with your buddies.

Don’t Play to your weakness. Understand what they are and practice them. Don’t Practice your Strengths. Understand what they are and Play to them.

So would you rather be a Long Driver or a Short Game Wizard? Your answer could tell you a lot about what your strengths and weaknesses truly are. I would bet a good sum of money that whichever you choice at the beginning of this article is in reality what is already your strength. And this is not to say that if you picked to be the long driver that you’re the longest Driver around, but what it does say is that you Driver is more of a strength of your game and your wedges are more of a weakness. So whichever one that you did not choose is the one you probably should be practicing.

Play to your Strengths and Practice your Weaknesses.


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