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Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's The Short Game, Stupid

When I was in high school, I was really struggling through a geometry class, and I went to get tutored by my fifth grade teacher, a wonderful nun named Sr. Teresa.  When I explained my troubles, she went to the board and wrote "KISS" in big block letters and asked me what it stood for.  I said, "Keep it Simple, Stupid."  She replied that I was close, but in her mind, the last "S" stood for sweetheart - after all, she was a nun.

I thought of this story as I had my latest revelation about where to find the shots I needed to take my 9 handicap closer to a 5.  It's the short game, stupid, I said to myself.  It may have taken me a long time to get there, but now I am convinced that is the answer.

I have spent the last 15 months working very hard on my full swing, trying to get it close to a repeatable motion that I can count on under pressure.  After qualifying for my club's Presidents Cup and Club Championship, I feel like I am finally in a good place with my swing - or at least a playable place.  But the problem with spending so much time on my full swing is that I neglected practicing my short game, which is where the strokes are.  So almost every time I am out on the course, I shoot between 80-84, but i do it with 36 putts and only hitting about 1/3 of the greens in regulation.  Not good.  That means I am essentially throwing away 8-10 shots a round through three putts and not getting up and down around the greens very often.

I have finally gotten it through my thick Irish skull that I need to rededicate my practice time to focus probably 60-70% on chipping and putting.  This is even the kind of stuff I can practice in my living room.  The mechanics are easier to master than the full swing, and success is all about touch, so the more you practice, you really will see the results on your scorecard.

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