By BRUCE MEADOWS

   

NOVEMBER 2023

  

  Where to lose – or save – strokes

   What is the toughest shot for you?

    For some, it’s the driver . . . trying your best to keep it in the short grass or at least out-of-bounds. Not to mention hitting it far enough so that the effort doesn’t embarrass you.

    Maybe it’s that second or third – or more – shot out of the light rough, or the heavy stuff.

        Or perhaps it’s any shot out of the sand. That’s the one gets my vote.  Some lies are so bad, with slim chance of clearing the lip of the bunker, I  often swallow my pride and hit the ball to the side and on to some grass.

   Better to lose one shot than two or more!

   But the toughest shot for many golfers is that “touch” shot with a wedge or whatever club you choose from around the green.

   How often have you hit a decent drive and a pretty good second shot that missed the green, but not by much? Then you chunk your wedge or hit it too solid and end up 30 feet past the cup.

    Personally, as I have explained before, unless it’s a shot that requires loft to fly a bunker, I use my chipper-putter, putter weight with a 7-iron loft. 

   But many a decent score has been inflated by poor play around the green.  As some of you know, I work in the pro shop at Fairgrounds GC, and watch a lot of golfers buy a big bucket of balls, then proceed to pound their driver or fairway woods.

   Not nearly as many use those balls to work on the area that usually costs them the most strokes – the short game.

   Golf Magazine recently published an article that attempts to simplify the short game around the green, or at least to help golfers a little.

   Here are some of their suggestions:

   Shorter shots often call for more touch and finesse, requiring a player to dial in their distance control in order to have it stop as close to the hole as possible. Sometimes that means using a check and release, while other times it may mean trying a bump and run.

  “Regardless of what option you prefer, when you’re capable of hitting an effective short chip shot, you’ll see tremendous improvement in your scores. Using a Texas wedge can be a good choice for short chip shots, but that’s not always a viable option depending on the conditions, course layout, etc. That’s why you must get comfortable hitting wedge shots from extra close.

  

1. Grip it low

  Placing your hands low on the grip of your club will effectively make your club shorter — which, by physics, will deliver less power.

   Oftentimes, this is one way to tell if a golfer is going to make a smaller swing, which is necessary on these shorter chip shots.

2. Use a narrow stance

   Similar to gripping it lower, narrowing your stance will help produce a smaller swing since it limits your body’s ability to move. By doing this, it also allows you to be more aggressive with your shots.

  So put your feet together so that they’re nearly touching, as this will limit both your flexibility and your backswing length.

3. Mirror a putting stroke motion

   To help limit the size of your backswing on these shorter chip shots, try to mirror your putting stroke. By doing this, you’ll keep things short, allowing you to have more control of your shot.

   The more you can equate this motion, the more it can help you intentionally control your swing size and distance.

4. Place your thumbs down

    To help eliminate unnecessary swing speed, keep your thumbs pointing down to the ground throughout your backswing and follow through. This will also help limit too much swing size or hinge.

5. Use a slower backstroke

   Many amateurs often make the mistake of taking the club back too fast and then trying to slow down as they approach impact. That’s never the way you want to hit a golf shot — especially not a short chip shot!

   Since momentum is hard to stop, take a slower backswing to feel more in control, as this will give you more awareness of the size of your motion.

6. Think ankle-to-ankle

   Many golfers are visual learners, so one way that can help on these short chip shots is simply measuring your swing size relative to body parts.

   Since you’ll want to keep the length of your swing small, try to feel the club more from ankle-to-ankle. By doing this, it can help create a smaller backswing and produce less speed and power.

7. Smaller should equal slower

   Smaller swings should always be slower, so don’t try to add something you don’t need.  Even if you happen to take a bigger backswing, simply allow the club to fall to the ground naturally, rather than trying to add false speed that you don’t need or want on these short chip shots.

8. This golf bag drill can help minimize the backswing

   If you’re typically a big swinger, it can be tough to adjust to using a smaller swing on these types of shorter shots.

   One way to help limit your backswing is by placing your golf bag behind you. The objective is to avoid making contact with the bag.

   By creating a maximum swing limit in practice, you’ll help train yourself to duplicate that smaller swing when you’re out on the course.

9. Stop going back by going forward

   Many golfers often have larger backswings the more they try to focus on limiting it. So another great way to limit your backswing is to start your forward swing sooner. By intentionally starting forward, you’ll avoid the urge of going too far back.

10. Reverse grip — left hand low

   If you have trouble controlling both your swing size and distance on chip shots, a suggested method is using a similar grip to putting. This means placing the left hand lower (for right-handed players), which should make it difficult to take a large stroke.

  I agree with a lot of these suggestions, especially the one about using a putting stroke.  My thinking is, the fewer moving parts, the better the result.

   Good luck.

  You’ve had long putts, but . . .

  You’ve had long putts, for birdie, par, bogey or worse, but you’ve never had a putt like this one.

   Back in September, according to Golf Magazine, eight competitors visited Kohler, Wisc., to participate in the 2023 World’s Longest Putt Finals. What they didn’t know at the time was that before they left, one of them would sink the longest putt ever recorded.

Their ultimate gathering place, Destination Kohler Resort, is best known for its Whistling Straits course, host of multiple majors and the 2021 Ryder Cup.

   But in addition to the Straits and the celebrated Blackwolf Run course, the resort features The Baths at Blackwolf Run, which consists a 10-hole par-3 course and a two-acre putting course, which is where the world record-breaking moment went down.

    According to World’s Longest Putt, the final round of the competition, won by Mike Born, featured a treacherous 401-foot putt over rolling, sloping terrain with too many breaks to count, which was 6 feet longer than the official Guiness World Record for longest (non-tournament putt.

   While no one sank a 401-footer during the official event, the competitors hung around afterward to make more attempts. A 401-foot putt is no easy feat, even for World’s Longest Putt competitors. But just as the sun was setting and threatening to end their quest, Jay Stocki set up for one final try, 

   And he drained the monster put to claim a world record.

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  Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions. I appreciate them and would like to get as many as possible.

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And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, let me know and I’ll make some inquiries. Email me at bmeadows4sports@aol.com