5 April 2006

The Secret to Scoring Well
    "Shhh.....Don't Tell Anyone"!

People often ask me what the most important factor, or part, of the golf swing is? If you didn't know, it's "Consistency". It doesn't matter how erratically you jab, swipe, poke or slash at the ball, if you can do it the same way every time, you can score well!

Regardless of how far your ball ends up from where you intended it to go, if you can repeat that exact swing over and over again, producing the same phenomenon, then all you need to do is compensate for the variance from your target by changing your body alignment. Presto! You can score well! It might not be pretty, but you'll probably even make some money off your buddies! Perhaps guys who have been at the game much longer than you with prettier and better "perceived" swings than yours!

What's more important, a swing that looks good but you cant guarantee where the ball is going, or one that produces the same ball flight every time. Of course ideally both, but lets face it were not all pros and most people aren't in a position to invest the time needed to realize this. Changing and fighting with our swing to improve it until we get old, decrepit and physically cant play the game any more is a loosing battle.

Can you remember a time when you used to score better than you do now? Three months from first touching a golf club I shot a "39" on half. I had received no instruction, had no swing thoughts and really, "no clue"! I would just swing at the ball, crush it, and it felt good! With most shots I'd usually have picked up my bag and begun walking before the ball had even landed. I didn't have to watch it because I knew where it was going "with confidence", like you'll occasionally see the pros on tour do after they execute a perfect shot!

My ball would start low and left of my target line, then rise up with a big "banana like" slice and drop softly to the "right" of where I had hoped it would go. As this was the case I found by tweaking my body alignment "left" of my target, the prescribed amount for "that day" (The amount would change a little on any given day), the ball would eventually end up where I wanted it! I didn't fight it, I accepted it, and scored well.

I consider any score in the 30s on half to be a pretty respectable score even today! Most would, and I've spent fifteen years of actively trying to improve my score and swing. That's approximately 67,788 holes of golf later! So...what have I been doing? Sleeping?!

The difference between my swing then and my swing now can be seen in the quality of my missed shots. I have learned a much more "Neutral" swing, which basically means the club head is traveling straighter through the strike zone achieving consistent ball flights. My old swing, although consistent, sacrificed allot of distance and power with the "Banana ball", and when I did happen to hit the dreaded "straight ball", it was out of the park!

What can we learn from this? How can you save yourself some grief?

Well, when you find a shot or a swing that you can reproduce consistently, keep it! It's yours! It came to you from the "golf gods". That doesn't mean don't try anything new, but, don't forget the swing and shots you can execute with confidence. Your "Bread and Butter" shots, so to speak. Save that data, file it, store it in your head, and back it up! Put a name on it so you can remember it and easily access it on demand!

"My 95yard 9iron half shot that stops", or that from the deep ruff "controllable" 6 iron jab that gets me 145yards closer to the green "guaranteed". Whatever you have to do to label it so you can remember it easily. Attaching them to specific yardages makes the whole process simpler still.

This "will" build confidence, and the more times you find your self around the course executing shots with confidence and some form of consistency, you "will" score better! Take it from me, a not so old yet crusty golf guy who has seen, in retrospect, perhaps the error in his ways?

Bennett Galloway, 5 April 2006

Previous Columns
  • Hakone, the Gem of Kanagawa and a Resort Golfers Paradise
  • Golf in Japan: A primer to golfing in Tokyo
  • Time to thaw out that golf swing
  • Golf made easy

  • About Bennett
    Bennett is a long time resident of Japan and the Director of Golf for Gotemba Golf Club and Belle View Nagao G.C., in Shizuoka near Mt. Fuji. Member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a teaching professional, providing lessons for all ages and abilities, in English or Japanese. He also specializes in in-bound golf tours to Japan with Golf Shizuoka and Golf Hakone.

    Contact Bennett »