Are you thinking about buying a new set of irons, getting a new driver, fairway wood, hybrid, wedges? Make sure you try before you buy! It is the Demo Day season at golf courses so find out who is having a demo day and head over and try out some of the new 2018 clubs. Some golf courses invite a single manufacturer at a time to show their product. Other courses invite a group of companies to go head to head with each other. I enjoy those types of demo days as I can really compare all the different clubs on that day. Look for Demo Day posters at your club or look online to see what courses are hosting demo days as they are usually open to the public.
Some people feel they aren’t a good enough golfer to be fit for a set of clubs. I feel that is not true, a properly fit set of clubs will make you play better. The other important thing to remember about buying golf clubs is to be fit by a PGA of Canada Professional. Most golf courses have a fitting cart to help in the process and some have a Trackman or Flitescope that can give you the specifications of each shot you take. Golf clubs are very sophisticated and buying off the rack is not always a good idea. Things you need to take in consideration, other than what type of club are you looking to buy, are: shaft flex, shaft weight, steel or graphite shafts, loft, lie, grip size, and set make-up. Golf is a game for a lifetime and if you love the game you deserve golf clubs that are fit to your specifications. Do you buy shoes that don’t fit? No, because they hurt your feet. Well, clubs that don’t fit you hurt your golf game!
As I was growing up, my friends and I were always outside playing games. Most revolved around sports but at times there were some very intense imagination games played. The one constant were the rules but the wildcard was how to play under those rules and that’s what amped up the fun level.
When it comes to the game of golf, players can apply the same logic and make that Saturday/Sunday morning round a touch different from the 18 hole, play your own ball format.
Craig Loughry, with Golf Canada, suggests trying something other than stroke play and see how that fits into your regular tee time. You might get more than just your foursome playing along.
“Any version of that where you’re partnering and just taking the best shot of yours or your partner’s that obviously helps in including more people in I guess what you might call a social competition. It can get serious but allowing the higher handicap players be part of a team, they will be more likely to say yes to that competition than on their own where they might feel a little intimidated.”
Match play is the simplest alteration to you just playing your own ball. You go one on one with another player using your handicaps to level the playing field. You can also use match play as a foursome to partner up with another player and use a best ball format to go hole by hole.
He says partnered events are starting to creep into courses around Canada more often these days as one-off events and he’d like to see it become more of an every-day play type of thing in our country.
“Countries like Scotland and Ireland, they play most of their golf partnered. They do play a lot of match play but they do a lot of partnered events,” he said.
A popular version over seas is the alternate shot format with both partners teeing off and from there you choose which ball to play and alternate shots until you hole out.
“You can imagine what that does for pace of play there. They play fairly quickly over there for a lot of reasons but one of them is because they are playing foursome type events and that’s just for normal, everyday play.”
There are plenty of versions of scrambles to choose from and it can be a full field of players taking part or Loughry says take one day and make a change to how you play your round. For some high handicap players, it might take away some of the pressure they might feel playing with lower handicap golfers.
“When you introduce the concept of a partner, you have someone to lean on. The neat thing about partnered events is it also works the other way,” he said. “So, if your partner hits a bad shot, they may leave you in a bad spot and you might feel a little more pressure but at least you’re able to have a better chance of being in a better spot on the golf course when you do have a partner.”
Loughry says the partner style of golf is not something you see in North America for the most part and he’s not sure why it doesn’t pop up on a more regular basis amongst foursomes out for their daily or weekly round.
“It’s still golf. Why not try something a little bit different?”
Another foursome competition called Wolf is another option. At the start, the teeing order is decided by flipping a tee and the order is rotated (on the first hole 1,2,3,4, on the second hole 2,3,4,1, on the fifth hole 1,2,3,4, again and so on).
The Wolf is always the last player teeing off each hole and then he selects a player to be his partner for that hole or he can go it alone against the other three. If the Wolf and partner win the hole, each gets two points. If the non-wolf partners win they get three points each. If the Wolf wins the hole playing alone he/she gets four points and if another player beats the lone Wolf then all players except the Wolf get a point.
Another version is having partners chosen by the two shots which are left of the fairway and the two which are right. Then you can play a best ball or alternate shot with the lowest score getting the point.
No matter how you slice it (pun intended), shaking up that regular round of golf can be fun, interesting and challenging.
Other than a golf ball and maybe some pocket change, what have you go to lose?
April 27, 2018
Golf in New Brunswick has started as of today as I write this article. The Algonquin Resort, Petitcodiac Valley Golf Club and the Sussex Golf & Curling Club are open for play, with more course to follow in the near future. This is the time of the year we all look forward to and I hope we get some great weather in the next 5 months (am I asking too much? I think not!!). So how do you start your golf season?
Have you played all winter down south and are ready to head out to the 1st tee? Have you worked with your PGA of Canada Golf Professional this winter and ready to play? Do you dust off your clubs and head to the Driving Range to see if you can find a swing? Do you dust off your clubs, call your Pro and book a lesson first? Or do you dust off your clubs and head to the 1st tee?
There are a few options and they all sound great, but if you haven’t been down south or been working with a PGA of Canada Golf Professional this year, I would recommend booking a lesson and getting your season started off properly. Have some good mental thoughts and something to work on at the driving range, and then head out on the course. Make sure you stretch your muscles before hitting balls or playing the course and if you are tired after 9 holes, call it a day and try to go for 18 next time. You definitely do not want to hurt any muscles so soon in the season.
Remember, stretch, get a lesson, go to the driving range and then hit the course. Enjoy the season and may you have the best scores of your life this year.
How many of you have said at least one of these statements?
- “I hit the ball so well on the driving range, I wish I could take my range game to the golf course.”
- “I was sinking everything on the practice green.”
- “My practice swing is perfect.”
How many of you like to practice? Some people do not but realize they should in order to improve. So, if you like to practice or not, you might as well “Practice with a Purpose”.
Hitting a large bucket of balls is probably not practice, exercise, yes, practice…it is according to what you call practice. A good golf practice is working on your golf game as you would on the golf course. How many people have you seen take a bucket of ball, dump them out, grab their driver and start pounding balls? That is not practice… that is taking your frustration out on something. When in a round of golf do you tee up with a driver and do that again for 50 balls? No where! So here are some tips for how to practice with a purpose:
- Stretch your legs, arms, shoulders, and neck. Do some arm rotations, squats, lunges anything to warm up your muscles. Then take practice swings both left-handed and right-handed as this loosens up both sides of your body. Then hit a few half wedge shots and you are ready to go.
- Set your alignment sticks (or a golf club or two) on the ground towards your target, do not say your target is “out there somewhere” pick a target and see if you hit it.
- Use a pre-shot routine (a routine you do the same every time for each shot on the golf course so should be doing each time on the driving range) – pick your club, pick your target, visualize the shot, step up towards the ball, take a practice swing, step up to the ball, look at the target again, exhale and swing. Are you in balance? Did the shot go where you had hoped?
- Pre-shot routine then hit.
- There are two types of practice, 1. Blocked and 2. Random, both have merit. Simply put, Blocked practice is hitting the same club for a group of shots, especially useful if you are trying to work on one specific thing with 1 specific club. Random is changing clubs and targets for each shot or two.
- Go to the putting green, start with shorter putts and work your way back. If possible, flat putts, uphill, downhill and breaking putts.
- Go to the chipping/pitching green and work on all different shots with different clubs to different holes.
- Stay hydrated.
On the range, I like to play 9 holes of a course I know. I take out a scorecard, look at the yardage, picture the hole and play it. For example, I define my fairway on the range, do my pre-shot routine, hit my driver, figure how far I hit it and if it is in the fairway or rough, estimate my yardage to the green, pick whatever club will get me there, do my pre-shot routine, if I missed the green I can chip or pitch my next shot to a target, if I hit it on the green and the putting green is near, I can go hit a putt or two. So you are practicing like you are playing. If the 2nd hole is a par 3 then pick your club for that yardage, do your pre-shot routine and try to hit your green.
If you can chip/pitch and putt onto the same practice green, challenge yourself to see how many golf balls you can get up and down out of 10.
There are different ways to practice which can make it more engaging and fun while actually learning. Doing a pre-shot routine every shot on the course and on the practice facilities makes everyone a better player. Practice like you play gives a whole new way to practice. We are all busy people so make your practice time worth while. I would like to see people eliminate the “hit and rake” practice from there repertoire. You know the one, where people hit a ball and before it lands they are raking another ball over and swinging away. Use a pre-shot routine for each shot – Pick your club, pick your target, visualize the shot, step up towards the ball, take a practice swing, step up to the ball, look at the target again, exhale and swing. I would rather see someone do this for 20 shots than hit a large bucket of balls with no purpose!
Remember, golf is still just a game, keep it fun!!