People don’t understand how to get better.

I was playing a round of golf recently with a friend. I played poorly, but almost by design. I like to play rounds of golf where I work on the same things I am working on the range and don’t keep score.

Try different feels to achieve results, etc.

During this round, we were paired with a single. I sprayed a couple of drives, hit a wedge from the fairway really fat, had bad distance control, hit a punch out of the trees to a par 5 that ended up in the water trying a hero shot and picked up a few 3-5 footers to hit an additional chip or two while seeing a group or two on the next tee.

I generously shot a 39 or 40 if I take putts I picked up to hit more chips.

Made a scummy par on the par 5 tenth and on 11 tee I asked my buddy to video my swing because I wanted to try something that ended up in a block slice hybrid in the trees.

On 12 tee the guy asks me what I did for a living and told him I taught golf.

His response was he expected golf pros to be better golfers…lol. The irony of that comment has so many levels.

A little put off I said, “It’s not obvious I am trying to work on things? You can’t see the fact I can drive it over 300 yards, haven’t hit a pitch or chip outside of 5 feet and have a decent looking putting stroke?”

“Well, you aren’t going to break 80 and pros should be able to break 80.”

I responded that I was trying to test some things out. He said that’s what the range is for. I said, that’s what practice rounds are for. He said the money is won and lost on the course.

Big mistake.

Our little bet was I would win $10 for every shot I was under par the last 7 holes, he would win $10 for every shot I was over par.

I birdied 12, just missed on 13 and 14, birdied 15 and 16 (After knocking it 20 feet with driver on a 330 yard par 4), routine par on 17 and nearly made eagle on 18.

Moral to the story. Sometimes the golf course is for practice too.

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17 Comments

  1. Bruce

    Would have loved to see that guy’s face after you finished on 18.

    I said this very same thing to my buddies I played with this past weekend…….”This is strictly for practice.” I’ve been on the range working on things for the last few months and have hardly played. Sometimes you just need to intregrate new things that you’ve been working on becuase it’s just a natural tendency to revert back to old feelings when you get on the course.

    Reply
  2. RBIm Developer

    Lot of easy picking money from noobs out there.
    Good practice round.

    Reply
  3. Rick

    Its easier to head to the range for an hour than the course for 4-5 hours.
    But, I’ve been working at the range for some 12 years and haven’t gotten any better.
    Finally decided golf isn’t my game. Maybe if I’d consolidated some of that range time in rounds, things might have been different.

    Reply
  4. Will

    I always improve faster with course time than range time. It seems, psychologically (in my case), that being on the course, even just working on things, that there’s a premium on finding what works quickly and sticking with it in order not to waste strokes, even when I’m not actually keeping score. And those changes last longer with less work than from range sessions, as well.

    Reply
  5. Calvin

    Well, I should be really good by now. I’ve been trying things on the course for years.
    I hate the range. The best I can say about constant experiments on the course is that you discover a lot of things that don’t work and a precious few things that might come in handy as special trouble shots. Finding a go to swing on the course is one in a million.

    Reply
  6. Jason

    You may not have been an example of this….but at a lot of places I play, people practicing on the course directly contribute to 5+ hour rounds. That said, most people’s definition of practice is probably different than someone at your level – so it is different.

    I can’t do it. I can’t bring myself to going to a course and not bringing my A game (whatever that happens to be) – which may be part of why I am such a hack. I probably don’t know how to get good at this game.

    Reply
  7. HoldTheLag

    There’s a time for range practice and course practice – I’d think the latter can increase as you get legitimately better. It’s the people who need way more time at the range that clog up the course when they decide to practice there.

    Reply
    • Calvin

      Au contraire. Every shot I hit on the course is counted toward my score and a large percentage of them are experiments. I play 18 in 3 hours walking and toting. The slowest round I ever suffered through was playing behind an anal “scratch” in a cart who labored over every shot like he was birthing the second coming.

      Reply
      • HoldTheLag

        That last sentence was making me imagine very unpleasant things, good work.

        Reply
      • HoldTheLag

        Thanks for that, but please do note that my handle was tongue in cheek from the moment I created it!

        Reply
      • woody

        Yeah, I figured you might be yanking Monte’s chain.

        Reply
  8. woody

    The course will help you get better, but not by experimenting.

    At the range you will probably be less target oriented, and may end up just belting them out there.

    At the range, you will probably be hitting several shots with the same club. On the course, you are changing clubs with each shot.

    At the range, you will probably have a level lie each time, and you will have the same amount of vegetation involvement. On the course, you will get hilly lies, and grass of various lengths.

    On the course, you will probably hit more wedges and scoring clubs than you hit at the range. More putts, too.

    On the course, you may face more pressure, with a $5 or $5K Nassau.

    Reply
    • Jason

      “At the range you will probably be less target oriented, and may end up just belting them out there.”

      I hear this all the time – and still think it is a myth. My range has a wonderful array of targets, staggered down the center, and on both sides. You can practice any targeted shot you want. When I hit a bucket at the range, I deliberately step away after each ball, approach it from behind like a shot, and align myself. I know you were generalizing – but I think very few people (at least of those who are dedicated enough that we read Monte’s blog) sit there and hit 20 7 irons just straight out there in a row without consideration of a target.

      When I have time, my range sessions are playing holes on the range….so I’ll take the scorecard from my home course, and play each hole based on how I hit the last shot. We open with a 500 yard par 5 – so after I am done warming up, I’ll hit my driver.. If it is a good shot, I will then either hit a FW wood and try to cover the rest of the distance, or lay up with a 7 iron into position…then based on that shot…blah blah…it’s slow range practice – but it is how I (as a hacker) simulate being on a course without slowing up a golf course when I only have 30 min or an hour or 2 two practice.

      That said, I do agree with you that amongst GenPop, there are a lot of people who go to a range and hit a bucket of 50 balls without ever resetting or realigning, and hit 25 7 irons and 25 drivers….and are not practicing in a manner that is likely to yield good results.

      Reply
  9. Mike Divot

    Was this guy’s name Jon Robert? He seems to have picked up all his golf knowledge from golf.com.

    I hope you gave him some advice to help him on those last 7 holes. “Hold the lag a little more. Try my power move: widen your arc. Trap the ball to really compress it for crisp irons.”

    Reply

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