Golf Nine Holes Instead of Eighteen


Most things in golf are based on eigh­teen holes. Most golf courses have eigh­teen holes, pro­fes­sional golf rounds are eigh­teen holes, and an offi­cial hand­i­cap is estab­lished based on eigh­teen hole rounds.

Golf­ing eigh­teen holes presents many challenges.

Find­ing the time is prob­a­bly the biggest chal­lenge for many of us. A round of eigh­teen holes typ­i­cally takes four or even five hours to play. Slow play is a real prob­lem in golf. Many new golfers lack proper eti­quette and sim­ply take to long to play. Search­ing too long for lost balls and not play­ing “ready” golf are two of the biggest prob­lems. It only takes one slow group on the course to really slow down play. Com­mit­ting four plus hours with our busy lives is at many times difficult.

It is much eas­ier to find the two to two and a half hours for nine holes. This is espe­cially true if you work dur­ing the day and want to squeeze in a round after work. Courses are less crowded on week­days than they are on the week­ends and sum­mer evenings are a great time for golf.

Endurance to golf eigh­teen holes effec­tively is another chal­lenge for many golfers. Many begin­ner golfers will get phys­i­cally and men­tally tired before the end of eigh­teen holes. This leads to miss hits and frus­tra­tion. Walk­ing, stretch­ing, and core strength­en­ing will all help you build up the sta­mina for 18 holes. Until you get there, it’s many times just eas­ier to golf nine holes.

You may want to estab­lish a hand­i­cap. Unless you’re plan­ning to play in offi­cial tour­na­ments, and if you’re a begin­ner you’re prob­a­bly not, there’s no need for an offi­cial USGA or R&A hand­i­cap. Most courses will help you estab­lish a local course hand­i­cap and this can eas­ily be done by using nine hole rounds.

You can even estab­lish a com­pli­ant course hand­i­cap by your­self by using one of sev­eral apps. Here at Shoot­ing 90 we rec­om­mend using The­Grint to cre­ate your hand­i­cap and track your stats.

Even if you still want an offi­cial hand­i­cap, you can still com­bine nine hole rounds to estab­lish one.

Golf­ing is a game that is meant to be fun and there’s noth­ing wrong with golf­ing nine hole rounds when you can’t do eighteen.

How to Fix a Slice – Stop Casting the Club on Your Downswing


We’ve pre­vi­ously dis­cussed the key for a golfer look­ing for how to fix a slice is to cre­ate an in to out swing path. Many high hand­i­cap and begin­ner golfers have the oppo­site, an out to in swing path, which is the main rea­son for their slice. Many golfers with an out to in swing path also “cast” the club dur­ing their down­swing. Cast­ing refers to straight­en­ing your wrists and los­ing the angle between your left fore­arm (for right­ies) and the club shaft very early in your down­swing which makes con­sis­tent ball strik­ing very difficult.

One rea­son for cast­ing is the ten­dency to lift the club up with your arms and hands to start the back­swing. This sets up what is referred to as a nar­row to wide to nar­row swing. Golfers with this swing lift the club dur­ing the back swing (nar­row), extend their arms and cast the club to begin the down­swing (wide), and finally col­lapse their arms through impact with the ball (narrow).

Cre­at­ing a wide to nar­row to wide swing is a great way to stop cast­ing the club.

If you watch any pro­fes­sional golf, you’ll notice that a professional’s swing is much dif­fer­ent. In fact it’s very much the oppo­site, a wide to nar­row to wide swing. A pro­fes­sional brings the club back wide with their arms extended, keeps a nar­row down­swing with their wrists still hinged, finally releas­ing the club by extend­ing their arms and going wide.

The fol­low­ing video by Simon Weston is a great expla­na­tion of a wide to nar­row to wide swing.

 

There are big ben­e­fits to a wide to nar­row to wide swing.

The first is a more con­sis­tent in to out swing, help­ing you to fix a slice. Rotat­ing your body with hip and shoul­der turn min­i­mizes you using your arms and hands to swing the club. It is dif­fi­cult to build con­sis­tency in a swing with a lot of hand and arm movement.

Sec­ondly, you lose club head speed and shot dis­tance when you cast the club. By keep­ing your wrists hinged until later in the down­swing, you cre­ate lag in your swing. Lag refers to keep­ing your hands in front of the club shaft and releas­ing the club right before impact with the ball. A wide to nar­row to wide swing pro­motes more lag and gives you a higher club head speed at impact.

One of the keys to a wide to nar­row to wide swing is get­ting your weight mov­ing for­ward towards the tar­get to start your down­swing. This helps to drop your hands down inside to start your down­swing. If you start your down­swing by drop­ping your hands before mov­ing for­ward towards your tar­get, you are more likely to come over the top with an out­side to in swing path.

Here’s a great drill from Karen Palacios-Jansen to help you start your down­swing by get­ting your weight mov­ing towards the target.

 

By not cast­ing the club on your down­swing, you’ll help elim­i­nate your slice, cre­ate more con­sis­tent ball strik­ing, and gain dis­tance through increased club head speed.

Fall is a Great Time for Golf!


It’s fall here in the north­ern hemi­sphere, and depend­ing on exactly where you are, this may mean noth­ing to your golf or it may mean you have a week left of your golf sea­son. Some of you live in places which allow you to golf year round. Some of us, myself included, live in a place where we have a sig­nif­i­cant win­ter. I thor­oughly enjoy four dis­tinct sea­sons, so while it does not bother me, the approach­ing win­ter means no more local out­door golf for me.

So while fall means your local course may soon be clos­ing, it shouldn’t mean you should not golf as much as pos­si­ble up until then. In fact, with the excep­tion of deal­ing with aer­ated greens and pos­si­bly mak­ing a new local rule to han­dle lost balls in leaves on the ground, fall golf has many things going for it.

  • Fall golf is inex­pen­sive. Let’s face it. Golf is an expen­sive sport. Two local munic­i­pal courses I golf on, St. Ger­main Golf Club and North­wood Golf Club, cost $45 for 18 holes in the sum­mer. Granted, even though these are town-owned, they are 4.5 star courses. Still, I don’t know about you, but $45 to golf is a sig­nif­i­cant cost for me. Today I teed off at 3 o’clock in the after­noon at St. Ger­main Golf Club, took advan­tage of their twi­light all you can golf rate for $14, and squeezed in 18 holes in the 3 and a half hours of day­light I had. Every course has deals like this. They’re still open and want golfers.
  • On many days, it is more com­fort­able to golf in the fall than in the sum­mer. For me, many days in the sum­mer are just plain too hot for golf. I’d rather put on a layer of clothes and golf in the fall than to sweat it out in the sum­mer heat. The weather for my round today was 52 F, sunny, and very lit­tle wind. The tem­per­a­ture was not too cold for my hands to get cold and I was very com­fort­able with a sweat­shirt and light jacket.
  • There are lit­tle to no bugs in the fall! The mos­qui­tos and bit­ing flies of spring and sum­mer are gone or nearly gone in fall.
  • The chance for severe weather in the fall is very min­i­mal. If fact, in gen­eral, there is much less rain in the fall. There were sev­eral times this sum­mer that my round was short­ened due to severe weather. Watch­ing the radar and not going out if there is a chance of storms is just not real­is­tic. Too many times you don’t go golf­ing and no severe weather turns up. So you end up tak­ing your chances and being forced off the course by severe weather. Never golf with light­ning in the area. Golf is never as impor­tant as your safety.
  • The fall col­ors are spec­tac­u­lar. If you are lucky enough to have a local course with woods, the course is an excel­lent place to see the chang­ing col­ors. Being out in nature is one of the great perks of golf and the out­doors are many times most beau­ti­ful in the fall.

While many of us are sad that another golf sea­son is com­ing to an end, don’t stop golf­ing just yet. Take advan­tage of all the things that fall golf has going for it and golf up until your course closes.

FixYourGame.com Online Lesson Review


There’s no doubt that hav­ing a golf coach is the fast track to improv­ing your game but very few of us have the time and money required to make that a real­ity. While there is a lot you can do on your own to improve your game, we’re some­times blind to many things with our game and this is no where more notice­able than with our swing.

While ana­lyz­ing your own swing will lead to improve­ment, it doesn’t com­pare with a golf teach­ing pro­fes­sional tak­ing a look. This is espe­cially true if you are new to the game. Have a teach­ing pro­fes­sional get you started in the right direc­tion. Even if you’ve been play­ing for years, we some­times slip back into poor fun­da­men­tals that we are blind to see. Have a teacher get your swing back on track.

For years instruc­tors have used video to help them improve their stu­dents’ swings. Now smart­phones have made it easy to record video of your own swing. The abil­ity to eas­ily upload these videos to the Inter­net has also opened the door for a rel­a­tively new form of golf instruc­tion – online golf instruction.

The idea is sim­ple. Shoot video of your own swing, upload it to a web­site, and have a golf pro­fes­sional review it and offer ways for you to improve. It’s been some­thing I’ve been con­tem­plat­ing for some time, so when Brant from FixYourGame.com offered to review my swing, I jumped at the chance.

Get­ting started at FixYourGame.com is very easy. I took two videos of my swing, one from behind down the tar­get line and fac­ing me per­pen­dic­u­lar to the tar­get line, filled out the online form and uploaded the videos. Within a few days my online les­son was ready!

Your les­son con­sists of two parts. The first is a writ­ten review with obser­va­tions and sug­ges­tions on areas of your swing to work on. Brant also included links to YouTube videos fea­tur­ing him­self demon­strat­ing proper technique.

The sec­ond part of your les­son is a video analy­sis of your swing. Areas of improve­ment from the writ­ten review are fur­ther ana­lyzed with your swing com­pared along side swings by pro golfers. My swing was com­pared frame by frame with Rory McIlroy’s and Luke Donald’s.

I felt the com­bi­na­tion of the writ­ten review, video analy­sis, and YouTube videos com­ing together to rein­force the three areas of improve­ment for my swing did a great job of empha­siz­ing what steps I need to take to improve.

Check out FixYourGame.com today for online instruc­tion for your game!

Two Areas of Fitness to Improve Your Golf


Many of us do not get enough exer­cise in our lives. The most handy excuse we give is that we sim­ply do not have enough time in our busy lives. In real­ity, we prob­a­bly lack the required dis­ci­pline and desire to lead as healthy of lifestyles as we should. It may be unre­al­is­tic to think we will imple­ment a full blown golf fit­ness pro­gram. Most ama­teur golfers sim­ply do not have this level of com­mit­ment to their golf games.

There are two areas of per­sonal fit­ness that golfers can focus on with lit­tle time com­mit­ment that will have the most pos­i­tive impact on their game, flex­i­bil­ity and endurance. Lift­ing weights is not one of them. Big mus­cles do not directly trans­late into hit­ting the ball far­ther and cer­tainly aren’t required for a con­sis­tent swing. Hit­ting your shots far­ther is achieved by increas­ing your club­head speed. Oth­er­wise bean­pole six­teen year olds could not hit 300 yard drives.

Flex­i­bil­ity is key in get­ting the proper rota­tion and turn in your golf swing. Many high hand­i­cap and begin­ner golfers do not have enough rota­tion in their swing. They com­pen­sate their lack of rota­tion by either sway­ing and swing­ing too much with their arms. Both of these actions can lead to an over the top, out­side to in swing which often results in a slice. Full rota­tion in your golf wing is ben­e­fi­cial in cre­at­ing a con­sis­tent, inside to out swing.

Increas­ing your flex­i­bil­ity will make it eas­ier to increase your rota­tion in your swing. While stretch­ing every­day is ideal, increased flex­i­bil­ity can be real­ized by stretch­ing as lit­tle as twenty min­utes three times a week. Pilates and yoga are two of the most pop­u­lar meth­ods to stretch today. The ben­e­fit of Pilates or yoga is that in addi­tion to increas­ing your flex­i­bil­ity, both also strengthen your core mus­cles (with­out lift­ing weights!). A strength­ened core pro­motes bet­ter bal­ance which helps with con­sis­tency in your swing.

Endurance is an area of fit­ness that most ama­teur golfers over­look. It is espe­cially over­looked by those who ride a cart. Why do I need to worry about endurance when I don’t even walk my round? You’d be sur­prised how many golfers tire by the end of their round because they’re sim­ply not in shape. Walk­ing more through­out your day is a great way to build your endurance and improve your over­all fit­ness. The eas­i­est way to increase the num­ber of steps you take a week is to begin walk­ing your golf round. Walk using a pull cart instead of rid­ing a pow­ered cart. There are also many other areas of your life you can increase your walk­ing. Take the stairs instead of the ele­va­tor. Do you have a dog? Take him for reg­u­lar walks. He’ll love you for it and you’ll be cre­at­ing a health­ier you.

Take at least a total of an hour a week to stretch your body. Find ways to include more walk­ing in your daily life. Your golf game will thank you for it.

Bushnell Hybrid Pinseeker Laser Rangefinder and Golf GPS System


Shoot­ing 90 has always rec­om­mended golf GPS sys­tems over laser rangefind­ers as the pre­ferred yardage mea­sur­ing device for high hand­i­cap golfers. Golf GPS sys­tems make it eas­ier to hit greens in reg­u­la­tion as they give you the dis­tance to the front and back of the green. While laser rangefind­ers will give you the exact yardage to the flag, going for the pin on every hole will often leave the high hand­i­cap golfer in green side trouble.

The Bush­nell Hybrid Pin­seeker Laser Rangefinder pro­vides the best of both worlds. It’s a laser rangefinder and a golf gps sys­tem in one.

The GPS gives the yardage to the front, cen­ter, and back of every green, allow­ing the high hand­i­cap golfer the abil­ity to think of their approach yardage as a range, increas­ing the odds of hit­ting more greens in reg­u­la­tion. The Bush­nell Hybrid Pin­seeker comes pre­loaded with over 25,000 North Amer­i­can courses and there is no sub­scrip­tion fee.

The laser rangefinder uses Bush­nell Pin­seeker tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide accu­racy within plus or minus one yard. This pro­vides the exact yardage on the holes where the time is right to go for the pin. 5x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion makes it easy to lock in on your target.

Con­sider the Bush­nell Hybrid Pin­seeker if you are in the mar­ket for a new golf GPS system.

How to Fix a Slice — Driver Setup


Swing­ing your dri­ver is dif­fer­ent than swing­ing any other club in your bag. Today’s mod­ern dri­vers and golf balls are designed for a high launch angle. The dri­ver is the only club that you want to hit the ball on the upswing. Most golfers know that tee­ing the ball high and hav­ing it for­ward in your stance is an impor­tant part of the setup for a suc­cess­ful drive.

Still, most high hand­i­cap golfers still strug­gle with how to fix a slice, even though they are tee­ing the ball cor­rectly and have it plenty for­ward in their stance.

The prob­lem could be as sim­ple as hav­ing the club head in the wrong posi­tion. Many golfers will setup with the ball for­ward in their stance and then put the club head directly behind the ball. This will nat­u­rally angle your shoul­ders to the left, which will pro­mote an over the top, out-to-in swing. This type of swing results in either a pull or the dreaded slice.

In the video below, Rob Bernard explains a sim­ple setup tip for your dri­ver to get the club head in a bet­ter posi­tion. Work on imple­ment­ing it dur­ing your next ses­sion at the prac­tice range.

Practice with Purpose


Many begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers will go to the dri­ving range and hit balls on a reg­u­lar basis. This is a great habit to get into as the fastest way to improve your game is through reg­u­lar prac­tice. The prob­lem is many golfers will hit the major­ity of the range balls with their dri­ver, rifling through shot after shot. Their prac­tice does not have any real focus. Struc­tured, pur­pose­ful prac­tice is needed so you will be able to con­sis­tently exe­cute shots when on the course.

Weekly time at the prac­tice range is the time to work on swing mechan­ics, espe­cially if you are still build­ing a con­sis­tent swing. Rep­e­ti­tion of proper swing tech­niques is needed to have a con­sis­tent swing on the course. On the course is not the place to work on your swing. Work­ing on your swing while on the course will undoubt­edly lead to mishits, frus­tra­tion, and high scores.

Video is the eas­i­est way to get instant feed­back while imple­ment­ing new swing tech­niques while on the range. Video gives you the extra set of eyes that are crit­i­cal in find­ing areas of your swing to improve. It’s essen­tial to use video if you want to get as much out of your time at the range as possible.

There are sev­eral apps which allow you to record and ana­lyze your swing. Two of my favorite apps are UberSense Golf  and V1 Golf.

None of us have all of the time we would like to prac­tice, so we have to make the most of the time we have on the range. That means prac­tic­ing on areas of your game that need the most atten­tion, the areas in which break­downs are lead­ing to high scores. Accu­rate stat track­ing is one of the eas­i­est ways to deter­mine which parts of your game to work on at the range.

You can make stat track­ing as basic or detailed as you’d like. For many years now, in addi­tion to my score, I track other stats on my paper score­card. I track fair­ways in reg­u­la­tion, greens in reg­u­la­tion, putts, and penalty strokes for each hole. I’ll then look at my rounds for the week before my weekly prac­tice ses­sion and imme­di­ately know areas that I strug­gled in. I also input these stats into a spread­sheet so I have an idea on how I’m per­form­ing in areas on a his­tor­i­cal basis.

Another way I have tracked stats in the past is on my smart­phone. Most of the golf GPS apps also allow you to track sev­eral stats includ­ing shot dis­tance. These apps do a great job of track­ing your stats and many have web sites where you can fur­ther ana­lyze them. I have one word of cau­tion on using your smart­phone to track a lot of stats while on the course. Do not let your phone dis­tract you from apply­ing your full con­cen­tra­tion to your upcom­ing shot. I see a lot peo­ple, myself included at times, spend­ing too much time on their phones.

Tech­nol­ogy is mak­ing stat track­ing eas­ier than it has ever been. GAME GOLF is a stat track­ing sys­tem that is far less intru­sive on the course than man­u­ally enter­ing stats on a smart­phone. By installing a tag at the end of each of your clubs and wear­ing a receiver on your belt, you sim­ply touch the tag of the club to the receiver before each shot. All that is required on the course is to remem­ber to “tag” your receiver before each shot.

Besides work­ing on your swing and spe­cific areas of your game, you’ll want to prac­tice real round sce­nar­ios. Here are a few exam­ples. Try get­ting the ball from tee to green. Work on hit­ting your dri­ver in the fair­way and then hit­ting your approach shot on the green. Another exam­ples is get­ting up and down from just off the green. Chip a ball on the prac­tice green and then sink the putt. Repeat these sce­nar­ios sev­eral times. By prac­tic­ing real round sce­nar­ios, you’ll find it eas­ier to take your game from the range to the course.

The ama­teur golfer has lim­ited time for prac­tice. It is impor­tant to make the most of it. I hope you’ll fol­low tips in this post to prac­tice with purpose.

Improve Your Pitch Shot


As begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers improve their game, they become increas­ing pro­fi­cient in get­ting near the green in reg­u­la­tion. They are putting in a lot of work on their full swing and that is show­ing results in get­ting near the green in one stroke on a par 3, two strokes on a par 4, and three strokes on a par 5. Many times this leaves an awk­ward 20 to 50 yard pitch shot left to the green.

Ama­teurs often strug­gle with the pitch shot. The biggest rea­son for this is that the pitch shot is not a full swing dis­tance for their sand wedge. Ama­teurs are some­times not sure the best way to con­trol dis­tance. Many try to vary the dis­tance of their shot by chang­ing the pace of their swing. This is extremely chal­leng­ing and requires a great deal of feel. A bet­ter way to con­trol the dis­tance of your pitch shot is to keep your nor­mal pace but vary the length of your swing.

Prac­tice your pitch shots with vary­ing swing lengths. Know how far you hit your pitch shot when you take your hands back to waist high and back through to waist high. Do the same for other ref­er­ence points, like tak­ing your hands back and through to shoul­der high, for exam­ple. By prac­tic­ing your pitch shots with dif­fer­ent length swings on the range, you will have much more con­fi­dence pitch­ing on the course. The rea­son is sim­ple. You will know how long your swing has to be to hit your pitch shot far enough to reach the hole.

Check out the video below as Thor Lokey explains vary­ing your swing length to dial in your pitch­ing distances.

The Wedges You Need in Your Golf Bag


The rules of golf state you can have no more than four­teen clubs in your bag. You can have any com­bi­na­tion of woods, irons, wedges and put­ters as long as the total num­ber does not exceed four­teen. Many golfers have three woods, a hybrid or two, six to eight irons, two or three wedges, and a put­ter. What clubs are in your bag depends on your cur­rent abil­ity and per­sonal preferences.

The wedges you carry in your bag play a vital role in your suc­cess. The short game is arguably the most impor­tant piece in becom­ing a bet­ter golfer. The wedges in your bag can either be the same model as your irons and an exten­sion of the set, or they can be a sep­a­rate set all their own.

Begin­ner golfers many times use wedges that are part of their iron set which is per­fectly fine. Almost all sets of irons include a pitch­ing wedge, with most hav­ing a loft angle between 46 and 48 degrees. Most iron sets have options for addi­tional wedges, includ­ing a sand wedge. Some begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers have the pitch­ing wedge as the only wedge in their bag, but it is highly ben­e­fi­cial to have a sand wedge in your bag. Sand wedges typ­i­cally have loft angles between 54 and 56 degrees. A sand wedge also has a wider sole and a higher bounce angle. The bounce angle lifts the lead­ing edge of the club off the ground. The design of the sand wedge along with proper tech­nique, allows you to hit sand shots from green side bunkers close to the hole. A sand wedge also lets you use a full swing to hit shots closer to the green instead of using a pitch­ing wedge with a shorter swing.

There is usu­ally eight degrees of loft angle between a pitch­ing wedge and a sand wedge. This leaves a sig­nif­i­cant gap between the full swing yardages of each club. Hav­ing to hit a yardage in between those would require using a pitch­ing wedge with less back­swing. Dial­ing in the dif­fer­ent yardages you can hit each of your wedges with vary­ing swing lengths takes con­sid­er­able prac­tice time. Using a gap wedge is an eas­ier short term way to hit the yardages in between your pitch­ing and sand wedges. A gap, or approach wedge, has a loft angle between 50 and 52 degrees and allows you to uti­lize a full swing to fill the yardage gap between your pitch­ing and sand wedges.

One final wedge that is avail­able for golfers is the lob wedge. A lob wedge has a loft angle of 58 to 60 degrees or more and is designed to get the ball in the air quickly allow­ing you to stop it on the green with min­i­mal roll out. A lob wedge is com­monly used by advanced play­ers as it can to dif­fi­cult to hit con­sis­tently. Advanced golfers some­times replace their gap wedge with a lob wedge while oth­ers carry four wedges.

The ideal num­ber of wedges for a high hand­i­cap or begin­ner golfer aspir­ing to play bogey golf is three — a pitch­ing wedge, a gap wedge, and a sand wedge. Mas­ter these three wedges and your short game will drive your suc­cess in becom­ing a bet­ter golfer.