Strategy Archives - Troy Denton, PGA Professional - Golf Instruction

Golfing on a Budget

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It’s well known that golfing can be an expensive hobby. Between the cost of clubs and equipment, greens fees and memberships, you’re bound to pay a pretty penny for your time on the course. But, there are ways to play the game and still be frugal. So, if you’re golfing on a budget, here are some tips to get the most for your money:

Equipment

  • Buy used clubs. Buying used, especially if you’re just starting out, is a no-brainer way to save some coin. If you can look beyond the inevitable nicks and scratches that come with previously owned clubs, you can end up with a set that’s just as good as shiny new ones.  With that said, do make sure there’s no significant grooves, rust or dents and nicks on the shaft – these can negatively impact performance.
  • Absolutely MUST have a new set, but don’t want to pay the price?  All you need is a little patience.  If you wait until the new models come out, the previous year models usually go on sale. You can get clubs that are only a year old for much less than a brand new model.
  • Buy in bulk and when on sale. Think about the things you go through most often. Tees? Balls? Gloves? You can usually save money by buying larger quantities of these items – especially when they’re on sale – as opposed to buying balls and tees before a round or a glove only when yours wears out.

Fees – Green, Membership and More

  • Play later in the day for the best rates. Mornings and weekends are the most expensive time to play golf.  Most courses have twilight rates that usually start (depending on the course) between 2 and 4.  Waiting until the later times, and sometimes even weekday play, can save you money on the fees.
  • Walk, don’t ride. Skip the cost of cart fees by walking the course – and get exercise while you’re at it!
  • Don’t join a private country club. Most private clubs charge a hefty up-front fee as well as monthly dues. However, semi-private and public courses don’t reach so far in your pocket.  Consider this route, especially if you’re not interested in all the other amenities that a private course offers.
  • Really want to be a part of a private club? Most courses will have membership drives during a certain time of the year. Wait until these come around and you could pay a much cheaper price.

Golf can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be.  Start worrying about your game, not your wallet, by using these tips to cut down on your golf expenses.

Don’t Change your Warm-up Routine for an Event

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Round ThreeHow much do you warm-up before a casual round of golf? How much do you warm-up before a tournament? The answer to these two questions should be exactly the same.

Some people make the mistake of showing up early to a tournament or event to get in extra practice. Extra swings are fine, if this is what you normally do, but it can be detrimental to your round if it’s not your normal routine. Here are a few reasons why:

You don’t want to tire yourself out. Hitting 100 balls on the range might seem like a good way to get your swing consistent for the tournament, but the only thing this will do is exhaust you by the time you reach the back 9. Save your energy.

Too much practice before a tournament can mess with your mental game. The more balls you hit, good or bad, the more chance you have to overthink your performance. If a tournament seems more like a casual round, you’re more apt to play like that – relaxed and without pressure.

Finally, golf is all about tempo. When you practice longer than you usually do, it puts your tempo out of whack. Plus, the range before a tournament is neither the time nor place to start making changes to your swing, which is the risk you run when you increase your pre-tournament warm up time.

So, whether it’s a casual round or a high-pressure tournament, when it comes to your pre-play warm up, consider them equal.

Playing From the Rough

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Final RoundWe all find ourselves in the rough from time to time, so it’s important to make the right decisions on club selection, grip and stance in order to minimize the damage for that hole and your overall score.

In the rough, you’re usually dealing with thick, long and sometimes damp grass.  This affects club head speed and the direction of the ball upon impact.  With this in mind, your best bet is usually a more lofted club, such as a wedge, that will allow you to punch the ball out of the rough, and lay it in a well positioned spot in the fairway.  A higher lofted club might rule out getting on the green, but it also diminishes the risk of not getting it airborne enough to get out of the rough all together.

Grip your club firmly and choke up an inch for stability.  This helps with control when the grass wraps itself around the club neck, causing the club to twist in your hand.

And remember – don’t get too greedy with this shot, something that’s especially tempting when you’re in a deeper lie.  The goal is to get yourself back into good position on the fairway, and onto the green in the next shot.

 

Play The Up Tees & Learn Your Weaknesses

One of the toughest parts of any sport is improving on your weakness. It’s easy to practice the things that you are good at – it gives you confidence and makes you feel good. But the key to improvement is to be good at all aspects of a sport.

In golf, you need to be good at driving the ball, iron play, chipping, bunkers, and putting. Not to mention the mental side of golf! The best players in the world are very good at all aspects of golf. However, most amateurs have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s improving on these weaknesses that will truly make you a better player.

A fun exercise that can help determine your weaknesses is to play the forward tees at your favorite golf course. It’s a very eye-opening experience and a great way to practice different areas of your game. By playing the forward tees you will end up in different areas of the course and hit new shots and clubs on every hole. This will present new challenges to your game and most likely expose some weaknesses and strengths.

If you’re like most amateurs, you might see that you struggle with 40-90 yard shots. This is a common problem area and you’ll probably be in this situation a little more often by playing the forward tees.

You “should” score lower by playing from the the forward tees, so see if this is true. If not, then you should be able to figure out where you lost a few strokes and how to improve on those areas of your game.

An added benefit to playing the forward tees might be a faster round of golf. You’ll probably play the course in a little less time because you didn’t spend any time in the woods looking for your ball.

So next time you want to challenge yourself and do something new with your golf game, put your pride away and play the forward tees.

How Jason Dufner Won the PGA Championship

jason-dufner A few weeks ago Jason Dufner won the last major of 2013 – the PGA Championship. His total score of 10 under par was good for a 2 stroke victory over Jim Furyk. His calm demeanor and mellow attitude over the four day championship was the talk of the tournament and ultimately his key to victory.

So what can we take from Dufner’s “non-emotional” victory? In most rounds of golf you have probably have had lots of “highs” and lots of “lows.” The emotional roller coaster that golf can take you on is definitely what makes it such an interesting sport.

A “high” during your round occurs after you’ve done particularly well. Maybe you hit a few great drives in a row, chipped in, made a birdie, or even holed out from the fairway (like Dufner did during one of his rounds). It’s great to be in this state of mind – but it’s easy to get over-excited and lose focus.

On the other hand, there are points in your round when you can feel very “low”. These times often occur after a poor shot or a series of poor shots. Maybe you hit it in the water, out of bounds, or just made a high number. It’s easy to get stuck at a low point and not recover for the rest of your round. Golf is already a tough game and being in a poor frame of mind doesn’t make it any easier.

Somewhere between the two extremes of being on a “high” and being “low” is an ideal spot to be during an entire round of golf. This is the emotional state that Dufner managed to stay in during the entire championship. His idol is Ben Hogan – the ultimate “non-emotional” golfer.

When a good golfer has a good round of golf going – it’s almost a “boring” round of golf. Nothing too special – keeping the ball in play, getting it on the green in regulation, then two putts. If this player happens to have a few birdies in the mix – then it turns into a pretty nice round.

The important thing to take away here is not to let yourself get too “high” or too “low” during your round. Yes, you should celebrate your great shots – but don’t let them affect your strategy moving forward. Similarly, don’t let bad shots or bad breaks get you down. Stick with what you know and stay positive that you’ll start to hit good shots again. This will help you keep your emotions in check and score consistently better.

Learn From The Open Champion: Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson In Phil’s post-round interview he summed up the reason for his terrific 5-under par 66 on the last day of The Open Championship. “I putted soooo good” Mickelson said.

Phil managed to birdie 4 of his last 6 holes in the final round of his win at The Open, and attributed it to his terrific putting. So let’s see what we can take away from Phil’s spectacular final round.

If we look at some PGA Tour stats – the percentage of putts made from within 10 feet by the leading tour player (in this stat) right now is 89.95%. So let’s just say that the average tour player makes about 80% of putts under 10 feet. That’s a pretty good stat. What percentage do you think you make from this distance?

If we think about why tour players have such a good stat here is because their lag putting is terrific – they leave themselves makable putts when outside of 10 feet. When a tour player has a 30 – 40 foot putt – there’s a great chance that they will knock it very close and two putt.

So what do you need to work on? If your lag putting (putts from a long distance to the hole) is poor – then place most of your practice time focusing on longer putts. Try to roll them within a three foot circle of the hole – and always try to get them just past the hole.

However, if your lag putting is pretty good and you struggle with short putts – then place more emphasis on this distance. Work on keeping your club face square, striking the dead center of your putter (not on the toe or heel), and especially work on your nerves while over short putts.

The emphasis on putting well can’t be underestimated. Tour players know that when they are putting well, their chances of winning are much, much greater. This means that if you putt well, your chances of scoring lower are much greater too.

So next time you head out to the golf course, either before your round or if you head there for a practice session, make sure to dedicate the majority of your time to the putting green and working on your weaknesses.

Phil Mickelson’s victory is definitely a result of his preparation and dedication to his game – especially his putting.

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