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The secret to playing bogey golf is getting rid of those doubles and triples. Here's some advice on staying out of trouble on your local course.

Featured Course:

Genesee Valley South Course

Rochester, New York
Par: 67
Phone: (585)424-2920

Men's Summary:
Tees Yards Rating Slope
White 5270 64.4 104

Women's Summary:
Tees Yards Rating Slope
Red 5270 69.4 109
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This site is aimed at bogey golfers, which, face it, is most of us. It's not about instruction; rather it's about commiseration, philosophy, and getting by, with maybe a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

Today's Featured Column:



This year I began to notice an alarming trend in my golf game. It was going from mediocre to terrible! Here is a table to illustrate my point.

DateGHIN Index
Dec 15 201511.9
Mar 15 201612.5
Apr 1 201612.6
Apr 15 201613.7
May 1 201614.5
May 15 201614.6
Jun 1 201614.9
Jun 15 201615.0
Jul 1 201616.7
I thoughtfully considered the data available (I probably collect way too much dataÖ) and summarized:

  1. My putting sucks
  2. Iím unreliable off the tee
  3. I donít know how to hit long irons
  4. Or short irons
  5. Chipping isnít that great either

At this point, I felt a huge sense of relief. No matter what I did, I was bound to improve! Hereís what Iím doing:

Yes, putting is hard. But if ever thereís a line-of-sight between what you do with the club and what happens to the ball, itís putting, right? I mean, with a full swing, thereís a lot going on. Youíve got your foot work, your weight shift, the hinge points in your hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, the rotation in your forearms, it just goes on and on. But a puttÖ I mean, you can actually see with your own eyes how what you do affects the ball. Even if you never get to putt like Phil Mickelson, you should be able to get to only a couple three-putts in a round, right? So I've recommitted myself to putting. First, I always try to warm up putting before the round to get a feel for the speed of the greens. I especially try to get a good sense of how hard to hit a twenty foot putt. Second, I always pace off the distance between the hole and the ball. Third, I always read the putt from both sides. Fourth, I mark the ball, and align the label on the ball with the line I want to hit it. Fifth, I take practice swings until I'm confident in how hard to hit it. Finally, I hit the putt in the center of the clubface (for some reason, this is non-trivial...).

Unreliable off the tee Ė for those of you who play with me, youíll have noticed that I have a distinct fade, bordering on a slice. I have watched the Golf Channel long enough to know all the ďfixesĒ for a slice, and if I pay attention to what Iím doing, I can keep the slice held to a gentle fade. If you take the ďfixesĒ too far, thereís a fine line between a gentle fade and a duck hook, so I havenít progressed to actually hitting a slight draw yet Ė the gentle fade works just fine, usually. But there are certain holes where that shot shape just doesnít work. So I decided that on those holes, Iím not going to hit a driver off the tee. If I canít reach the green on my second shot, so be it, at least my third shot will be from in front of the green, rather than from under a bush or behind a tree.

Which brings me to hitting long irons. A long time ago, I spent the winter teaching myself to hit long irons, and eventually got pretty good at it. However, I need to remember what it was I learned all those years ago, and frankly, Iíve gotten pretty careless with my ďjust hit itĒ style of play. So now, Iíve resolved to focus: on my grip, my posture, my backswing, my downswing, my weight shift and my follow-through. Because if Iím not hitting a driver off the tee, that means Iím hitting a three wood or a long iron. Mostly, this strategy has been effective (but not alwaysÖ).

Whatís up with short irons? Why is it hard to hit a hundred yard shot??? Well, you can blade it, or chunk it, or yank it, or push it, but YOU DONíT NEED TO!!! All you really need to do with a short shot is hit it straight. Iíve discovered that, as satisfying as it is to take a full swing with a lob wedge and land it soft next to the pin from 70 yards out, my odds of success (not blading it, not yanking it, not pushing it) are significantly better if I take a half swing with my gap wedge. Now maybe you donít want to be making a half swing from 150 yards, but the general idea is: You donít need to kill the ball with 110% of your effort going into it. A short iron swing should be a comfortable one, one that goes down the line consistently. If thereís water or sand in front of the green, take an extra club, donít try and swing extra hard.

Chipping: Ah yes, chippingÖ This, like putting, is another one of those slow motion exercises where you can actually see what youíre doing and how it affects the ball. Chipping failures tend to fall into three categories:

  1. Hitting it the wrong speed: No cure for this but practice. Sorry.
  2. Hitting it fat (or chunky) and leaving it in the rough: Put the ball back in your stance, lean toward your target, and accelerate through the ball.
  3. Hitting it thin and blading it across the green. Dammit! Keep your head down and watch the ball!!! Once again now: Put the ball back in your stance, lean toward the target, and accelerate through the ball.

In all cases, commit to the shot. (Commitment is where you actually believe that what youíre trying to do will work. Thatís what makes it even possible to accelerate through the ball.)

Wow! Thatís a lot of stuff to work on, all at the same time! Howís it going? Itís going pretty well. In the past two weeks, my handicap came down by three points, and I tied for second place in the last flight of the club Stroke Play tournament. Keeping my fingers crossedÖ

P.S. Yesterday I shot a 92

P.P.S. But today I shot an 82!

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Background photo: #18, the Broadlands, Broomfield, CO

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