You know, I give more credit to a 16 handicap that goes to a 3 handicap than I give to a Golfer that makes it to the PGA Tour. Don’t get me wrong – the PGA Tour Player is the greatest Golfer in the world. The skill level of this Player is off the charts. Though, a Golfer that has limited time to work on their game as they juggle family, career and the time those two factors take away from golf time – to be able to improve your average score by 13 strokes into the low single digits is more than impressive.
So for other Golfers that have the same factors that limit their time on the Golf Course – I asked a Monkey turned Player a few questions that might help you to start your chase to better scores. Because a wise man once said – “You can learn a little over a long period of time from your own experience, but you can learn a lot very quickly from someone else’s experience.”
Brian Warpinski is 41 years old; he has been playing golf since his late twenties. Up until a little over 3 years ago, he had hit a plateau of a 16 handicap. Brian knew he could get better and wanted to play better, but he was stuck. Because I respect Brian and what he has accomplished with his golf game of going from a 16 to a 3 while raising 3 young children and running a business in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he has about a 6 to 7 month season for golf – I believe he’s a good candidate to let other Golfers who aren’t happy with their Golf Games to hear his thoughts on how he improved so dramatically. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed interviewing Brian –
What’s the difference about your game at a 3 handicap versus when you were a 16 handicap?
Everything! Good lord, do you have enough tape to record the differences? The first difference that comes to mind is consistency. I’m so much more consistent than I was. This is not to say that I hit every shot good. I still hit too many bad shots. The difference is my bad shots aren’t as bad as they used to be.
Yet, what might be the biggest difference is probably my game from 50 yards and in. It’s astronomically better. What I used to think was a strong part of my game, wasn’t. I was kidding myself to think my short game was strong. Now this is where I spend most of my time when I get a chance to practice. And it’s the same with my putter. I thought I was a great putter until I started working with you. I really wasn’t a good putter at all. The difference is night and day.
Is there anything you’re doing now that you would’ve never thought of as a Monkey?
There are two areas of practicing. Now I’m practicing my putting with a 5 iron. The “Toe of the 5 Iron Drill” and “Putting with the Sand Wedge Drill” has immeasurably helped my putting! There’s not a Monkey alive using these Drills. When I’m on the practice green at my course I see Monkeys coming onto the practice green, drop 3 balls and just putt with their putter to the hole. I never do that anymore!
In fact, I never practice putting to a hole anymore. When I’m using my 5 iron to putt into a box, I get some interesting looks from the other Golfers on the green. And at first I was a little self conscious, but I’ve seen results and I don’t care what anybody else says. I know practicing like this has improved my scores dramatically.
I used to practice my putting a little bit, but spent the majority of my time hitting balls on the driving range.
What amount of time did you used to spend on the green as opposed to what you spend now?
Now I spend 80% of my time on or around the green and maybe 20% on the Driving Range. Before it was the exact opposite – 80% on the range and 20% on the green – and I think I’m being generous on the amount of time I’m saying I used to spend on the green.
What else are you doing that you would’ve never done as a Monkey?
Oh gosh, there really are a few things. Though one of the difference makers now is that I stick to using only one Drill when I practice. I just work on one Drill every time I can practice. In the past I would jump from Drill to Drill. And I see so many other Golfers doing this when I go to the Driving Range. They try one thing and hit a few shots. Then they move into another Drill and then another and another.
I know what Drill works for me and I stick with it. I know every shot isn’t going to be perfect, so if I hit a bad shot or two or three, I don’t abandon what I know is the correct Drill for me. I feel as though the more I practice this one Drill that helps my ball striking the most – the better I get at ball striking. But what I used to do was try a Drill and then move onto another Drill and then another. It’s like this Golf Magazine mentality that I need to try out all the tips they have each month in the magazine. And even though I wasn’t getting better using this process, I continued doing it like…. well … like a Monkey.
What’s the #1 thing that a Monkey does that you now say – “I used to repeatedly make that same mistake over and over”?
Fiddling. All I see Golfers doing is Fiddling with their swing. And I used to do the same myself. It’s make an adjustment to fix a problem and then another problem happens and you make another adjustment and then another adjustment and then more, more, more. And two thirds through the round you have no idea what you’re doing because you have made so many adjustments that you don’t even know what your swing is like anymore! And now you question everything about your swing by the end of the round.
Now I have one Drill I stick with. One Drill that I know I can go back to during the round that works for me. This stops me from Fiddling with this and Fiddling with that.
And although it might not get my swing back on the next shot or the next 5, but it’ll come back to me faster – sooner than if I tried 4 or 5 different things. And I feel more confident that I’ll get that smooth, solid swing back rather than the crap shoot of Fiddling and wondering what’s going to happen to my ball on this next shot.
By sticking with my one Drill, even if I hit a bad shot, I have a general idea where my miss is going to be. I know that if I hit a bad shot, I have an idea of which way the ball is going to go, so that I can aim for it. When I used to Fiddle – I’d had no idea where the ball was going to go. It was like – ‘let me try this on this swing’ and I’d be standing over the golf ball with no idea where it was going to go. I had no confidence in my ability to keep the golf ball in play and I’d be standing over the golf ball in doubt about my game.
It’s actually pretty scary to think that I was that lost just a short time ago.
How do you feel going from a 16 to a 3? Do you have a sense of accomplishment?
It feels pretty good. Last year I flirted with getting down to a 3 handicap and as I look back, I feel as though I’m much better than last year. This year I feel like its fun having people want to join me in my group because I’m a good Player. In the past I was somewhat intimidated to ask a group of Golfers that I didn’t know if they had room for me in their group. Now I have the confidence to play with just about any amateur Golfer – I mean there are still many people that can beat me, but I have the confidence to know that I can hang with a 1 handicap or scratch Player. Whereas when I was a 16 just a short time ago, I’d be more concerned with holding the group up or getting in the way of the low handicap and that would affect my game, my swing, the choices I made on the golf course, my score and ultimately the amount of fun I had.
You know, I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot I want to improve on. I’m not going to rest, pat myself on the back for improving from a 16 to a 3. I want to get better. When I first came to see you, I was a 16, the next year I saw you, I was an 11, the next year, I was a 7 and this year I made it to a 3. I want to further improve my irons, my bunker play and I need to get better at club selection. There’s a lot I want to do and I now have the confidence to believe I can become scratch.
When I was a 16, I like most Golfers dreamed of one day being a low single digit Player. And I’ve worked hard with the limited amount of time I have and living up in Minneapolis where it’s around 30 degrees and raining right now – it’s not always easy to find the time to practice. But, in my four trips to see you in Florida, you have gotten me on-track and I’ve improved each year. So I plan on continuing to come see you. We’ve got some more things we need to work on. But, I can’t wait to tackle them!
Brian, thank you for your time, I know you have a busy schedule. I’m looking forward to working with you again.
When a Monkey hits a plateau with their scores, they try so many different things, that they never leave that plateau
When a Player hits a plateau with their scores, the Player finds a way to improve
Go ahead, Be a Player!
Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life