Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Great Short Game in Golf is Like a Great Defense in Other Sports

Here are some practice challenges we had this week at SMU.  We just finished qualifying, so I had a good chance to pore over the stats and see what needs to be addressed.  After many years of coaching, I have decided that defense wins championships in most sports and to golf, that means short game.  If you have a great short game, you are always prepared and never out of a round.  With that in mind, if my teams had a signature, it would be a strong short game.  Judging by our first qualifying, we have some work to do, but I am really pleased with the hard work I have seen and the focus placed on putting and wedges.  As we prepare to travel, we are getting ready for all we will face with putting and wedges and also some specific preparation for The Country Club of Lincoln.  We won Big 12's on that course in 2006.  It blew hard and most greens are guarded by bunkers, so bunker play is important.  It is also important to be a good wedge player, due to the tight fairways and small greens.  With that in mind, here is our practice for the week leading up to the tournament.

Hit 20 balls from 50 yards.  All must finish on the green, half must finish within 10 feet, five must finish within five feet or you need to do it again.  Now do the same from whatever distance you choose within 100 yards.  

Find a high lipped bunker and get 10 balls up and down.  You can’t go at any hole twice in a row.  Change it up.  After you are finished, hit from plugged lies until you get five out and within 10 feet.  Now hit 5 shots from uphill, downhill, and both sidehill lies.  You must get all out and within 10 feet of the hole to finish drill.  After five shots move on whether or not you accomplish the goal and go back to any spots you had trouble with.  Ask for help if you need it.

With a teammate, have an up and down contest.  Carry two clubs and a putter.  Flip for first shot and then winner has honors.  Winner picks shot.  All shots must be putted out.  First one to ten up and downs wins!  No points on ties.  Today, loser has to pay 2 I am Not Worthys!
Play nine holes.  Play two balls.  Play your own best ball.  Make some birdies!

When you finish playing, one hour of practice is putting practice.  Here are your challenges today:
1.  DAILY GAME: Make 10 putts in a row. Three from 3 feet, three from 4 feet, three from 5 feet and one from 6 feet.
2.  Putt from 6, 9, 12, 15 and 20 feet.  You get 10 putts from each distance.  Don’t use the same line or spot for these putts.  Mix it up!
Record how many you made.  That is 50 putts.  Double your makes and that gives you a good idea of your percentage of your chance for birdie on green hits.
3.  Find a teammate and play 21.  You have to choose 1st putts that are at least 30 feet.  You get a point for being within a putter length, 3 points for being within a putter head length and 5 points for making it.  Play to 21.  You have to hit 21 on the number.  If you go over, you have to go back to 15. 
4.  Today, put tees in a 5 point star around the hole at 3, 6, 4, 8 and 5 feet.  Go around the star 5 times and let me know how many you make of 25.  You can choose to do your routine or not, but you cannot start over.  Focus on each putt!  We will keep track of the team record for this!

Finish the day with chipping practice:
Play 18 holes of chipping by placing 6 balls off the green at intervals of 3 feet from the green. Chip the first ball from 3 feet off the green and then putt out. Chip the 2nd from 6 feet off and continue at 9, 12, 15, and 18 feet. Record your results. Change clubs as needed. Did you need to change the landing point of your chips also? Repeat three times.

“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain

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