You’re a better golfer than you think you are.
I was interested to read an article in last month’s Golfer Pacific about Omokoroa Golf Club greenkeeper, Nathan Kerr spending two weeks in the USA helping out at the Wells Fargo Championship PGA Tour event earlier this year.
The most amazing thing to me was that for the duration of the event, he was a part of the 85 person grounds team – that’s right 85 people were working on that golf course day and night just to have it in the right condition for a single week long PGA Tour event!
Considering that the average golf course in NZ has maybe one to two ground staff and knowing that a lot of golf courses in the country don’t have any paid employees looking after them, I got to thinking just how different, the conditions that the PGA Tour events are played in are from the conditions that the average golfer in NZ plays in.
You may be thinking, what does that have to do with golf coaching?
Well, one of the more common things I’ve observed over the years is that a lot of golfers watch golf on television in the hope that they will discover some tip, idea or secret move that will help to improve their golf game.
On the face of it, watching the best golfers in the world playing the game that you are looking to improve your skills at seems like a logical thing to do, however it seldom works in practice and usually, has the opposite effect of making the golfer worse over time.
The main reason for this, is just how different the conditions and support that the professional golfers you see playing golf on television have, as opposed to the reality of what golf is for the thousands of golfers around NZ who aren’t professional golfers.
‘Real golfers’ like you deal with massive variations in the golf courses they play throughout the year, due to weather, seasonal factors and course maintenance.
The professionals on television don’t seem to play on recently cored greens, any dew on the greens seems to have disappeared by the time they play, while temporary tees and greens don’t seem to feature on television much either.
As you are probably aware, golf is a much easier game to play when the condition of the course is good and the weather is helping the golfer, which is what the professionals on television have most of the time as their circuit moves location depending on the season.
What about the pre-game preparations of the professionals on television?
They must be the same as a ‘real golfer’s pre-game preparations of turning up to the golf course a few minutes before they play, having a few practice swings, chips and putts then teeing off – right?
Well, not exactly.
The first thing that most of the professionals that you see playing golf on television will do before each round is an hour or two work out and their pre-game stretches with their own personal trainer or physiotherapist, before they fuel up their body with the food and drinks that their personal nutritionist has recommended.
Are you doing that prior to playing each round, I wonder?
Do you have your teacher or coach standing beside you on the practice range watching and adjusting your basics and golf action, while you go through your daily hour and a half pre game warm-up which covers all parts of your game including hitting many drives, bunker shots, chips and putts?
Are you tuning all the weight settings or changing shafts on your clubs to produce that extra yard or two of distance off the tee or to make sure that the slight fade you have been hitting while warming up with your driver (hitting 300 metre drives of course) actually becomes a draw on the course prior to heading to the first tee shot of the day?
It’s starting to look like the professionals on television have a slight advantage over the ‘real golfer’ when it comes to how prepared they are to hit that first tee shot exactly where they want to.
Which brings me to the caddy that the professionals on television have for every round of golf that they play.
Does your caddy stock your golf bag full of the two dozen or so brand new golf balls, the dozen new golf gloves and of course your ‘sharpie’ for signing all the autographs after your game?
Is your golf bag usually stocked with all of the carefully measured and prepared drinks and snacks that your nutritionist has worked out that you need for this round?
Has your caddy updated the topographical course guide and map with today’s flag positions and done all the calculations to the lay-up points on the holes that you had worked out with them during the practice rounds?
You don’t have all of that done for you by your caddy before you play each round – how on earth do you play golf?
For most ‘real golfers’ the answer is quite well, when you compare the conditions and level of support that you have each game to that of the PGA Tour pro.
As you can see, if you attempt to improve your game by watching golf on television, it’s unlikely that you will have anywhere near the same level of preparation and support before every game, which means it’s unlikely that you will be able to apply something that you may have seen on television to your golf game with any great effect.
I’d like you to take a minute here and give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ as you really are a better golfer than you think you are to have the scores you have in the conditions that you play in.
One more thing, you might be interested to know that the professionals that play golf on television generally don’t watch other professionals in the hope that they will discover a ‘tip’ to help their golf game.
So, if you’re not convinced that you really are a better golfer than you think you are or you would like to improve you golf game in some area, instead of spending hours watching golf on television for that elusive ‘tip’ that you think you can apply to your golf game.
Head out to the practice area and work on your golf game or if you need some support to know what to do to improve and don’t have a golf coach that you go to regularly, you can find one at www.pga.org.nz/find-a-pga-pro or if you happen to be somewhere nearby, you can find out more about my golf coaching elsewhere on this website.
Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.