Lower Scores are Never Boring, and We Need a Short Game to Do It
Face it, men. We haven’t really thought this through properly. Women have made better sense of it than we have, but even they need a moment to reflect. We have grown up in a love affair with our drivers. If you have reached the grand old age I have, you might take time to reflect on how many buckets of balls have received the driver treatment in your lifetime. If your memory is accurate, and if you are being totally honest with yourself, it might give you a major “What have I done?” moment. The more you love the game, the more it will hurt.
Like most men, I have pounded away at the range trying to crack through the barrier represented by one or another of those signs far out toward the back fence. Now, such behavior is a case of diminishing returns, and if I, we, want to reach lower scores, I and we have to grow up. First, we must realize that for many of us, that pounding doesn’t work, because it tends to be mindless, or at least semi-mindless. We think of mechanics and our latest lesson for the first few balls, and then comes the hour of vacant caveman pounding. I can understand why I did that as a young man. There were female golfers at that range, and on the course, who badly needed impressing. However, it took many years to figure out that my destiny was calibrated to produce my ugliest shots when women I wanted to impress were nearby, and Heaven forbid, watching. Imagine how I would have been in front of a gallery. I’m so glad that I kept my day job.
Now I turn to today’s article penned by Ron Kaspriske for Golf Digest, introducing a five-part video featuring noted teacher Jeff Ritter – on the short game. He puts our neurosis into words, very clearly and easy to understand. The title of the video sequence is called “Bad-Ass Short Game,” which lets us know that he means business. In the series, he addresses the bunker, the chip, the pitch, what he calls the “dreaded” half-wedge,” and even putting. I don’t need help with putting. I just need them to stop moving the hole while I’m in mid-stroke. But, I will admit to the need for assistance with the short game. According to Kaspriske, we don’t worry so much about the short game because the results are not so visually catastrophic. We shouldn’t fall for that any more! So, we don’t send a short wedge into the trees most of the time. Have you ever shanked a short wedge, and heard the giant influx of strokes on to your score card? We spend more time around and on the green than we do on the tee box. We lose more strokes there as well.
The video product suggests that in addition to good instruction, the whole thing is demystified and simplified. It also suggests that one can find a technique best suited for his or her natural athleticism, or lack of it, I presume. If Jeff Ritter can get me out of the bunker looking good, and cure the shanks, I’ll buy one for all my friends – the video series, that is. The bunker? If I thought it impossible to hit a beautiful driver in front of the ladies, the bunker would have been the most humiliating spectacle a human imagination could invent. I’ve been around the block with bunkers. They just hate me, and teachers leave scratching their heads. The chip? That’s fine when the shanks aren’t visiting town. Pitches? Some good, some bad. Then, there is the half-wedge. Ritter suggests delofting at impact, but over-lofting is my life’s work. Everything I hit under an 8-iron looks like a flop shot. He suggests teeing it up and grabbing your highest loft club. Then, with a shallow backswing, deloft the face at impact. I tried something like that once with long irons, but I was trying to pick the ball up as if it were a driver. It takes real courage to bring an iron down on the ball, and until recently, I thoroughly lacked it.
I don’t care much whether the ladies like my shot, and I never appear in front of galleries. As a golfer, I am now ready to come out of my room and act like a grownup. Come on, men, let’s give it a try – chould be fun.