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"Good short game is key to low scoring" - Ivan Morris

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris - The voice of Limerick Golf

WHEN the best golfers on the planet compete in tournaments like The Masters and the action is shown on TV - there is a golden opportunity to 'go to school.'

I’m not suggesting that we can all learn how to hit the ball 340-yards+ off the tee but we can be taught how to go about saving shots around the green.

In golf, every shot counts. A tap in putt has exactly the same value as a drive that flies 'out of sight.' While few are capable of hitting 340-yards drives, every one of us is capable of caressing a 30-yards chip to within four feet of the hole and sinking the putt.

Accuracy around the greens separates the good from the average; the great from the good and winners from losers. Being clinical around the greens, improves everyone's score.

Voila! You become a better golfer. It's as easy as that. Without good short games, even the best of ball strikers are no good!

An average golfer, regardless of handicap, loses between five and ten shots from inside the 30-yards mark every time he plays. Zero three-putts and all putts from six feet and less in the hole in one stroke would see 100s become 90s; 85s become 79s; 72s become 69s.

Chipping to within four feet every time, leads to dramatically lower scores. It sounds easy but, of course, it isn't. It won't happen unless you practice but a little bit of short game practice won't hurt you or tire you out.

It is possible for everyone to become better at the short game whereas finding an extra 50, 25 or even 10-yards off the tee (in 98% of cases) is not remotely possible.

Missing a fairway doesn't always cause us to lose a shot, nor missing a green with an approach shot either, but playing a poor chip or missing a putt will ALWAYS cost us a shot. A shot that we will NEVER, ever recover.

The current Irish PGA Champion, Tim Rice, is noted for his short game expertise. While continuing to play on the Irish PGA circuit, Tim is also focusing on building a career as a golf coach, specializing in the short game.

Make saving shots around the green your goal. Contact Tim (085 4140190) or through the pro shop at Limerick Golf Club (061 414083) for one-on-one or group short game lessons. You won't regret it.

By the way, Tim dispatches the odd 300-yards drive into the stratosphere so he can help you drive the ball further too.

A Game for Life

ONE of golf's most appealing features is it can be a game for life. How sad it is to see more and more young people who have learned to play golf as kids, know the rules and understand the 'difficult' etiquette of the game drifting away from golf almost as soon as they leave school.

The loss of 50,000 club members (including juniors) over the last 10 years or so suggests that something is wrong and not enough is being done to keep young people active in the game.

It seems to me that in spite of busy junior programmes in many golf clubs, young golfers are tolerated rather than encouraged?

Importance of Good Grips

YOU won't get better advice than this to start the golf season. New grips on a favourite set of clubs can have a dramatic an effect on any golfer’s performance, confidence and feel-good factor.

New grips can be as beneficial an investment as buying a new set of clubs and, needless to say, considerably less expensive. Most golf club grips are made out of rubber. Rubber deteriorates with age; it hardens and loses it tackiness, becomes shiny and difficult to hold onto.

Grip size and thickness is important too. Having the incorrect thickness effects shot patterns, shapes and trajectories.

If the grip is too thin, it encourages over active hand and wrist movements that lead to inconsistency and hooking.

If a grip handle is too thick, hand and wrist action is restricted which causes loss of distance and slicing.

To ensure your grips will feel fresh and tacky they should be cleaned regularly with warm, soapy water.

A golfer who neglects his grips is bunkering himself.

Pat Elmes, RIP

I was sad to hear about the recent passing of one of the Midwest's most decorated and elegant golfers, Mrs Pat Elmes (a member at Castletroy GC and Lahinch GC)

The three-times Munster Champion (1964, 1968 and 1972), Mrs Elmes, who was a hockey and tennis player in her youth, was a regular on the Munster Interprovincial team from 1965 until 1979 and subsequently acted in the non-playing captaincy role.

Her fellow members at Castletroy (where she was Ladies Captain and President in 1966 and 1991 respectively) and also at Lahinch, gave her an impressive send off when forty former Ladies Captains performed a guard of honour at St. Nicholas's Church, Westbury.

It was no more than Pat deserved - a lovely, down to earth, no nonsense person who loved her golf, her game of cards and her many friends. May she rest in peace.

Words of the Wise

GOLF careers will be shorter in the future because so many of the younger set are burning themselves out, through over training and swinging too hard and too fast, their bodies just can't take it.

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