Entries Tagged as 'short game'

The challenge continues!

It is some time since I posted – and my golf has continued to progress (and periodically regress) over the last few years.

Gawler 4thOver the last few years  my golf has improved, and I AM hitting the ball better and am capable of better scores. For a brief period of one week a handicap of 1.0 was achieved – and then back to a playing handicap of 2.While manageable on my home course the challenge of playing on other a new track, and playing close to my handicap, is still great.

With the opportunity to play in the South Australian Senior Amateur came a chance to test the “new and improved” game in a different setting. After three competition rounds it became clear that home ground advantage is great, and playing on a  variety of courses under competition conditions is important to raise the standard of your game.

Gawler Golf Club, at Sandy Creek in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, is a sandbelt  country course,with kikuyu fairways and well maintained greens.

Gawler 2013Unusually each nine starts with a par 5  (parallel holes). And there is one quirky hole – the 8th. A blind tee shot over a rise to a narrowing fairway is the  most unusual, and perhaps the worst aspect of the course design. Despite this it is an interesting hole.

The 8th was difficult but manageable. Three rounds – bogey, par, birdie.  Any drive over 200 metres needs to hug the right of the narrowing fairway or it will run into the rough down the hill on the left. The approach, from a downhill lie, needs to be right of the flag to avoid bunkers on the left, and  stay on the left sloping green. Once on the green the problems are not over. Any putt over about three feet is easily miss-able.  My par was the result of a missed four foot putt, the birdie a 12 metre putt, left breaking about 8 feet and running down the hill! Go figure!

Gawler 10thThe ‘easy’ par 5’s (at less that 450 metres) proved difficult. No bunkers, but a well placed second shot is needed to be in a position to see down the hill to see the small greens that seem to slope away toward the back.  Despite being capable of reaching these greens easily in three my score against par for the 6 times I played these holes was 7 over!

While scoring better on the shortest hole on the course (4th Par 3 97 metres downhill) three putts on two occasions on this vast green did not help my overall result.

At the end of the competition I walked away in 19th place, and ranked 219 on the Australian Seniors Order of Merit from my one Seniors event for 2013.


What did I learn from the experience?

  1. Good driving and high Fairways in Regulation % does not guarantee good scores.
  2. The short game is king…. too many three putts doesn’t help your score or confidence
  3. A few good holes is not enough to have a good score. Day 2 included a 7 over nine, with two triple bogeys!
  4. Confidence is vital.
  5. A home club handicap is not a true reflection of a golfers capability.
  6. In the end it is only a game.




Target 2…now further away.

Weather forecast 8-15 degrees, with showers in the afternoon.  It’s a little cold early in the morning, but 15 degrees seemed to be OK.  The day started with hope.  Another stableford at Royal Hobart, the course in good  nick and no breeze. 

My first (the tenth) was a wipe with a double bogey. After leaking my first tee shot right and having to hack out square, a poor chip blew away the chance at a point.  At the turn I had gathered my wits and started to play consistent golf. Two more poor chips had not been costly and I had 16 points on the card. 

A little bit of drizzle had come and gone, but the sky was  not looking good.  Drizzle turned to downpour as we ventured down the first hole and the game got harder. Putting through casual water was standard fare for the next four holes. I coped OK for the first two, despite drives just easing right. Then it fell apart. Three points over the next five holes effectively wrote off my round. What went wrong? 

  • Tee shots -three to the right, two to the left. Three shots gone….
  • Chipping – one badly short, one long. Two shots  gone…
  • Putting – a six foot downhill putt (on a dry section) became a nine foot putt back that missed. One shot gone…

At least I finished with three pars (two realistic birdie chances) in the last four holes!


FIR: 28%  GIR: 44%  Putts: 34  Score: 28 points Handicap: 5.5/playing off 6

Related Posts:

  • Three holes
  • So near and yet…
  • Goal for 2010
  • Kew Golf Club
  • Ratho – oldest golf course in Aus
  • Greenacres
  • St Helens – Tasmania
  • Three holes…

    It only took three holes to destroy my round.

    For 11 holes I had battled, and yet has stayed within range of my handicap. After a great opening hole played in regulation it was 11 holes before I managed to drive the ball on the fairway. Even so I was just 6 over the card and a birdie on 12 improved the situation.  From there it was only up…or so I thought. A bit of luck on 13 (my second bounced off a tree into the light rough) was followed by a weak approach into the bunker. Unfortunately the ball just rolled in and rested on the down slope. Two poor bunker shots followed, and the third one left me with a 7 metre putt for a double bogey. I missed!   Down 14 I missed the fairway left (all the other had been on the right) but had an eight metre putt for par. Three putts  followed.  On 15 I was pin high but right, and a soft lob wedge meant another chip was required. Two putts later and the triple, double, double sequence was complete.  To cap off the round another three putt on 18 took my total putts for the day to 36.

    So how did I play? Remarkably I thought I did well to walk off with a net 80. (Par is 72) I finished  mid-field in the monthly stroke. With five putts that lipped out (one is rare, five unheard of…), another that stopped on the lip, and a chip that was 3 centimetres short the score could easily have been seven shots better, even with two wasted bunker shots and a lousy chip. Golf is a game of centimetres, and the final score doesn’t ell all the story.


    FIR: 21% GIR:33% Putts: 36  Score: 85 Handicap: still 4.9

    The future: 

    The next round to drop off my best ten is a 2 over. It will be replaced with an 8 unless I break 80.  Potentially my handicap could go out to 5.5 with another poor score.  Roll on Saturday!

    Practice or play?

    You have two hours or less of daylight left. What do you do – practice or play?

    To relax and enjoy the evening – play nine holes or more.  To instill swing changes – practice!

    For me Tuesday was time on the range.  After hitting full iron shots it was great to strike all 15 drives well – consistent and long. I’m not sure if the measure was right but with a slight tail breeze they all ended up around or past the 250 metre mark. From there it was time spent chipping and putting.  While it is good to practice full shots  over half the game is played around the green. That’s where over half the practice should be spent.

    This Saturday’s regular competition is the next test of swing changes and work on the short game.

    One step forward?

    A visit to a different course was not a good thing for my handicap, but was a good way to spend the morning.  “Woodrising” a.k.a. Devonport Golf Club was my home course over 20 years ago, and it was good to return to the course on the weekend. While the course has not changed a great deal I was impressed with the quality of the greens. Fast and true,  they were well prepared for my visit and a delight to play on. The visitors from clubs around Tassie who were visiting for the Clarment Shield were fortunate that their competition coincided with my visit!

    So how was the round?   12 over the card doesn’t sound too great, especially when it is seven over the handicap you are on and 10 over the one you are working for, and adds .1 to the actual handicap.

    FIR: 14%         GIR: 39%       Putts:35 or 1.944 per green

    These are not impressive, and if we add in some poor chips and bad bunker play the overall result was bad news.

    Yet I came away happy that progress is being made. Only three drives were in difficult positions, the rest were within a few metres of the fairway. Most were straight and close to the linbe I chose.  My game fell away at the next hurdle, approaches to the green.

    On reflection I concentrated hard on my set up and swing off the tee, but had been hitting my iron so straight and well that there was little thought about swing and more about result. On most holes I was within range of the green with my second shot, yet only hit 39% of the greens. 7 of my 18 shots to the green went right.  There is one area to work on. Around the greens is another. Perhaps it was the pace of the greens after two weeks on recently scarified putting surfaces but on Saturday my short game was not up top the mark.

    Hope remains. The driving has shown great steps forward, the next step is to get the rest of the game up to the mark.

    A good weekend for Aussies – and more statistics lessons.

    Adam Scott hit form at the Australian Open, Allenby won the Netbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa and Michael Simwas named Nationwide  Player of the Year. It was a good weekend for the Aussies.

    The performance of Adam Scott at La Perouse was remarkable for the best and worst of reasons.

    He finally returned to the ball striking that had carried him into the top echelon of world golfers over previous years – that’s the best. He missed two putts of under 60 cms – that’s the worst.  With a lead of four shots or more Scott had a margin to play with. In other circumstances those two missed putts could have consigned him to the also rans.  With such elementary mistakes in a local tournament one wonders whether Scott can live up to his earlier promise and grab a major.  On the evidence of the last weekend he still has some more work to do yet.

    At the other end of the scale Michael Sim is the first Aussie to be voted Nationwide Player of the Year.  iseekgolf identifies the list of his accomplishments for the year.  Nationwide Tour Statistics have Sim ranked No. 1 in Scrambling (71%) , Putting (28.18), No. 5  in Driving Accuracy (78%),  No 5. in Greens in Regulation (74%),    and No. 25 in Driving Distance (297 yards).  Those statistics show that the work on and around the green is more important than how far you hit the ball. Woon Joon Lee is the longest driver on the tour at 312.7 yards,  but greens in regulation and scrambling are less than 60% and he averages 1.2 more putts per round than Sim (that’s 5 shots a tournament!).

    So which part of the game do you think the average golfer should practice most?

    Another interesting aspect is the comparison with PGA tour stats – where the best driving accuracy was 74% and Greens In Regulation leader (Aussie John Senden) was at 71%.  It probably means that the PGA courses are set up tougher than the Nationwide Tour – and Michael Sim still has work to do to really make his mark at the next level.

    As Nationwide Tour leader he is in good company and we wish him well as he jons the PGA Tour full time in 2010.

    And Robert Allenby?

    His win in South Africa came with top ten statistics in all categories except eagles, double bogeys and other scores. He was No.1 in sand saves, 3 in GiR and 5 in putting. Watching the TV news it was also clear that Stenson lost in the play off because of a poor approach and a worse chip out of the rough.

    Focus your practise

    Steve Stricker topped the USGA putting leader board with an average of 1.726 putts per hole, just over 31 putts per round. His scoring average was 69.5. Almost half his shots were on the green, and if the 14 drives are added 45 of his 70 shots are with driver of putter. The USPGA website records his driving accuaracy at 66.8% and Greens in regulation at 66.7% (as at 4/12/2009). That means that for about 6 holes each round he was pitching, chipping, or playing from sand bunkers.

    A little time analysing our own rounds will pay dividends and point us to the areas that need practice. For the average golfer at least 45 shots will be with driver or putter. Add the par 5’s and there are probably four long irons or fairway woods to be played. Rest of the shots will be played to or around the greens.

    So… if you want to shoot lower scores consistently practice putting, chipping and pitching, and then your driving.  All those hours spent hitting full shots with your long or mid-irons on the range may be fun, but practising your short game and putting will really improve your game.