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'An improving golfer is a happy golfer' - Ivan Morris

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

WHEN discussing the modus operandi for improving the skills standard of junior golfers with the Head Pro at Killarney, David Keating, a number of interesting ideas that would help anyone who is serious about becoming a better player emerged.

These ideas are not new. I have used some of them myself for more than fifty years and always found them to be helpful.

There is nothing better than improving one's skills to increase one's playing ability and enjoyment of the game; an improving golfer is a happy golfer.

1 - Play a nine hole 2-ball scramble on your own; using the worst ball after each shot. After 6 attempts, you should be able to match your handicap.

2 - Reverse this drill and use the ‘best ball’ to see what score you are capable of achieving at your best and what your handicap could be - if you worked diligently at improving your game.

3 - Play nine holes without woods. Take note of how many greens and fairways you manage to hit. As you play, drop a separate ball at the 100-yard marker on each hole and record your score from there. (I really like that one)

4 – Every time you play, keep a stat sheet and note strokes you play from within 20-100 yards of the green - how many shots you take to hole out and how far from the hole your first putt was.

5 - On another day, play a separate ball from the 150 metres markers, you should be able to shoot 54 or less (a lot less, if you fancy yourself)

6- No matter how much or how little amount of time you have available for practice, 66% of the time should be spent on the short game. Even the best players in the world rely on a razor sharp short game to achieve low scores.

The average pro hits no more than 12 greens in regulation, which requires a maximum of 29 putts to break par.

7 - Golf should be taught from the hole back to the tee, but hardly anybody ever learns it that way. Whaling away with the driver on the practice tee is not the right way to go!

8 - Unless there is big trouble over the back of the green, always play for the back portion - it's usually wider there and you'll only rarely reach it.

9 - The best 'new equipment' that anyone can buy is a good golf lesson.

10 - A little talent is wonderful but exceptional things can happen with minimal talent. Here are a dozen things that require 'Zero Talent.' 1-Enthusiasm and Passion. 2-Being Prepared. 3-Positive Attitude. 4-Persistence. 5-Being Coachable & Willing. 6-Listening. 7-Honesty/Integrity. 8-Showing up on time. 9-Doing extra-effort. 10-Being Energetic. 11-Being willing. 12-Fearlessness.

You can go a long way in this world with that dozen and if you don't have them all the talent in the world won't help you.

11- Improve your mental approach by asking yourself what a good caddy would say to you after a bad shot? Your self-talk should mimic the positivity and balance of a good caddy's advice. Never beat yourself up after any poor shot. If I have learned anything about golf it would be to suggest that you always pump yourself up with positivity.

Doing the opposite is a waste of time and energy and it will eventually bring you down.

David Keating is based at Killarney Golf Club and is the Munster Branch GUI coach in Kerry. He was voted Callaway Golf Club’s World Fitter of the Year in 2003. He is the only Irishman ever to win this prestigious award.

Custom Fitting

I AM frequently asked about my attitude to custom fitting. I am convinced that a good custom fitter will help any golfer who can hit the ball reasonably solidly but whose shots consistently fly to the right or left of the target or not far enough.

To play ‘straighter and more consistent’ golf your clubs must fit. If your clubs are too upright you will hook the ball. If your irons are too flat you will slice the ball. New technology nearly always gives us a yard or two of extra distance.

If your driver is more than five years old - you could easily gain 10-yards from a properly-fitted, new driver. 10-yards puts you one club length nearer the hole. The nearer you are to the hole, the easier it is to score low, generally speaking.

The harsh truth is – if your equipment is more than 5 years old - you have allowed the high-tech era to pass you by without any extra effort on your part except part with some money.

I have no time for the school of thought that says: Equipment does not matter because a good player can play ‘good’ with anything and a bad player will play ‘bad’ with the best of equipment.

I prefer to tell my friends that a qualified club fitter can determine the optimum equipment for their swings and can recommend the appropriate loft and lie, length and flex of shaft to help anyone become better.

The ‘good news’ is that due to more aggressive competition, the average price of a high-tech driver today is 25% less than it was in 2005.

The cost of a set of irons is similarly down and the best news of all is technology is improving all of the time.

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