Taking periodic inventory is useful to a business, as well as an individual in the course of a life. And for a golfer, it should be done fairly frequently. There are so many moving parts of the body, nuances of the mind, and different skills one needs to navigate a round of golf, day to day and week to week. The key is establishing a baseline for each aspect of the game. Where are you at with driving, iron play, chipping and pitching, putting, trouble shots, different lies, working the ball, the mental game, ability to concentrate, practice, goals, handicap, and attitudinal factors? It’s a daunting and to play it well takes determination and effort. There are very few natural golfers who need little training or practice. Sam Snead comes to mind but even this Hall of Famer wasn’t perfect, his major regret not having won a U.S. Open.
So what do you need to work on? Your handicap can give you some answers. The average flight of your golf ball can tell you others. Do your drives slice into the weeds or the woods or worse? Or do they hook into trouble in the other direction? Do you often top your approach shots? Or fat them? Or pull them? Or push them way off the green? Do you just suck at fairway woods? And do fairway bunkers make your knees rattle? Do you have the chipping yips, as many do? And have you not the vaguest idea how to pitch a ball over a sand bunker onto the green? The average number of one-putts or three-putts are yet other barometers of where you excel and where you lack.
Fear not. All these skills are learnable, no matter what your age, gender, race, religion, physical or mental condition, or general lot in life. All you need is a plan for tackling each in order of priority. The good news is you’ll probably be fine in some and need work on others, and that’s how to determine your goals and priorities. More good news is that you don’t need to go it alone in your skills training. There are PGA instructors in just about every area of the country. There are a vast array of YouTube Channels with competent instructors and videos of present and past pros swinging their swings in regular or slo-motion. There are many books and magazines that cover all aspects of the swing and challenges of the game. And there’s your playing companion who offers completely worthless advise on your last slice out of bounds. I would ignore that last resource!
Of course, the most important factor in all this is time. There’s a lot to this game that needs practice, and practice needs time. That I leave up to you, as every person has his or her own considerations around time. All us have the same amount of time in a day, but prioritize those 24 hours according to our individual situations, obligations, and goals. Telling you how I divvy up my days would be of no value to you. That’s your job, as I’m sure you’re well aware of.
Good luck with your game.
If you need a couple of models for the above, we saw them this past weekend in Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer. These two legends of the game take regular inventory, make adjustments when needed, keep up their fitness which allows them the practice time so necessary to make changes, and maintain their mental and attitudinal approaches to the game…and life. I congratulate both men for their accomplishments and dedication to the game.
If you’d like a useful guide to this sometimes daunting game, consider my new book, Golf 360: For Current Players and Those Considering the Game (Sacajawea Press, Vancouver WA, 2021). Thank you.