golf tips blog
How much thought do you put into that little white thing you smack around the golf course? Probably not much. You make sure to mark it in your own special way before placing it on a tee and beginning your trek across the wide expanse that is a golf course. But does it suit your golf swing? You use your golf ball for every shot you take each round. A properly fit golf ball can increase your distance, improve your accuracy, and help you hit the ball closer to the hole. All of which leads to lower scores.
There are hundreds of golf balls in production today. Some of them are from well known companies such as Titleist, Bridgestone, Callaway, etc. Some of them are relative new-comers like Vice, Snell, or the elusive Kirkland Signature. All say they are the best for your game. So how do you know which is truly best? The easy answer is you must try them. But that can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Another option is to use an online ball fitting tool. Most golf ball manufacturers have this on their website. But a bit of quick research has shown me that they will try to push you to their “premium” top of the line and most expensive ball regardless of the fitting outcome.
So what do you do?
Let’s discuss some golf ball basics. If you have ever cut open a golf ball (or picked up a ball that has been chopped by a mower) you will know that golf balls (much like ogres and onions) have layers.
The outer most layer, or the cover, is made of one of two materials: either urethane or surlyn. Urethane is a softer cover that is used in premium golf balls. The softer cover helps promote spin, especially in short irons and wedges, but is a less durable material. Conversely surlyn is a firmer cover that may improve distance but does not spin as well. Before you blindly reach for that Urethane ball so you can spin it like the pro’s, remember that increased spin includes increased side spin. If you play a fade you may find that it fades a little more.
In addition to the cover, there is a core. The core is the literal and figurative heart of the golf ball. Found in the very center, Titleist likes to describe the core as “the engine” of the golf ball. It’s what makes the ball go. Characteristics such as core stiffness, resiliency, compression, and size all factor into each ball’s feel, distance and control.
If you are purchasing a 2-piece golf ball that’s all there is, core and cover. However, almost every ball manufacturer also has a 3, 4, or even 5 piece golf ball. These extra layers are called the mantle. The mantle reacts to each club differently. It helps the core to increase distance and control spin off of the driver and works with the cover to increase spin with irons and wedges.
A 2-piece ball will likely go the farthest and straightest, but will be difficult to control around the greens. Inversely a 4-piece ball will often sacrifice a little distance for increased feel with your wedges.
Now that you know the basics, you can match your swings characteristics and your needs to the golf ball. There will still be a trial and error period where you will need to test out a variety of balls. The ball you hit the farthest may not spin enough around the green. And a ball that is great around the greens may spin too much when you hit your driver. You might find that the most expensive golf ball is not the best for your golf game – so spend some extra time fitting the best ball for you!
Three Lakes Golf Club
There are times on a golf course where I want to just pack my things up and go home, like when I hit a shot a little off line and it lands in the bunker. That’s not all, though -- when I get up to it, it’s plugged, like really plugged. Times like these are very frustrating, however we can get out of this “pit of misery!”
The first thing we need to think about is just getting out of the bunker plain and simple. It doesn’t really matter where, as long as it’s out. Next, unlike most bunker shots, we will not open the clubface for this type of shot. When we open the face it lifts the leading edge of the club to about the equator of the golf ball. So instead, turn the toe of your wedge down towards the sand, this will allow the leading edge to dig into the sand and help the ball lift into the air. This will more than likely not land soft so remember that it might come out hot and rolling. As long as we are out of the bunker we have made a successful shot!
Swing freely and often!
Three Lakes Golf Course
This week I will be talking about club selection when hitting shots into greens.
Day in and day out I see players hitting their second or third shots into the green but they can’t seem to get it up onto the putting surface, it’s always falling short. Why is this? One reason why is we aren’t hitting a club that can even get there in the first place. Then there is the case of catching one thin and sailing it over the green. In both of those scenarios I would say you may have had the wrong club in your hand.
To me, golf is a game of controlling our personal ego. What I mean by that is most of us always want to hit the ball further and we will stretch every inch of distance out of every club we have in the bag. We should stop that right now. When we are swinging as hard as we can there is a tendency to not hit the ball square on the face of the club and definitely not in the center of it.
So you have this shot sitting in front of you: 143 yards to a front red pin, barely a hint of breeze at your back. What do you do?
Instead of grabbing that 8-iron that you know you can hit about 145 yards when you hit it perfectly, take one extra club and aim at the center of the green, take a swing at 90% or even 80%. You will be amazed that you might make a better strike on the ball because you were under control of your swing. So next time you play a round of golf try to take an extra club into every green and let’s see if we hit a couple extra greens than we did the day before.
Swing freely and often!
Three Lakes Golf Course
The topic last week was Course Management, specifically regarding teeing off, so this week’s Freund Friday is going to touch on approach shots into the green. Often times golfers will walk up to the ball, use a range finder to determine the distance to the flag, grab a club, and aim directly for the flag. But is this always the correct play?
Golfers rarely doubt themselves. They visualize stuffing their approach shot right next to the hole for an easy tap-in putt. They are so engrossed with the perfect, successful shot they see in their head that they often fail to take into account the whole picture. Before hitting a shot at the flag stick be sure to check the hole location on the green. If a right-handed golfer, who naturally hits a fade, faces a hole with the flag on the very right edge of the green, aiming for the flag might not be the best choice. If they hit the ball at the flag with their fade they may end up in the rough to the right of the green with a short-sided chip (a very tough shot for anyone). But if they were to aim at the left side of the green then a straight shot should still end up on the putting surface, and if the ball fades then it will work its way towards the hole and is much more likely to have a reasonable putt.
The same idea works in reverse. Visualize the same pin position, only this time the golfer hits a draw. The common thought is aim for the right rough and carve the ball into the hole; this gives the player the best shot at a hole-in-one. After all, isn’t that what we are all trying to do? In this scenario the golfer is guessing how much draw they are going to play. If they draw it too much they will be on the green. If the ball doesn’t draw enough they are faced with a difficult chip and a very low chance to get up and down. But, if they aim for the flag, a straight shot is close to the hole, meanwhile a draw places them safely on the green with a good chance to hole the ball in 2 putts or less.
Let’s take this out to hole number 7 here at Three Lakes. Imagine the flag is in the back, left of the green. On the left edge of the green is a bunker. To the left of that is no-man’s-land. Like-wise if your ball goes short of the green and slightly left, you have a blind shot from the weeds and saving bogey from here is a good score. If you hit the ball long you will be left with an incredibly difficult flop shot to a green that is rolling away while navigating through the trees. Again, bogey is a great score from here. In this situation the smartest play is the shot that is most likely to stay on the green. If you fade the ball try to start your shot at the hole so that it fades into the center of the green. If you fade it too much you might end up just off the green with an uphill chip and a reasonable chance to make par. If you draw the ball (like I do), aim the ball at a spot on the green about 5 feet from the right edge. This way a straight shot still finds the green and a draw is working its way towards the flag.
The whole idea here is risk versus reward. Is the reward (a tap in putt) worth the risk? This is not to say you should look at every shot in a negative light. You should look at every shot reasonably. What is the most likely outcome? Minimizing risky shots often leads to lower scores. And isn’t that what we all want?
Three Lakes Golf Club
Golfers spend hours grooving that perfect swing on the range or rolling golf balls on the green. And by all accounts these are important (dare I say crucial) aspects of golf. But one thing most players put little to no thought into is course management. If you are anything like the average golfer then if the scorecard says Par 4 or Par 5 you instinctively reach for the Driver. After you smash your driver 300 yards down the middle of the fair way it is time to take dead aim at that flag stick. That is just how golf is played right? Part 1 of the Course Management Blog, will discuss strategy when teeing off and will include examples from multiple holes from Three Lakes Golf Course.
As mentioned above most golfers grab their driver to tee off on every hole that is not a Par 3. Logic tells us that the further we hit our drive the easier the next shot is going to be. But is that always true? Let’s dive in.
Statistics show that the closer the ball is to the hole the lower the projected score for that hole will be. However there are a few other factors to consider before teeing up your ball. The first is your shot shape and what is required of you by the course. Now if you hit your driver exactly where you want to every single time then stop reading now. This blog is not for you. But if you are anything like me then each and every drive is a guessing game. If you hit a fade or even a slice and the hole dog-legs left then you may want to think about hitting a club that will go straighter. Sure, there is the chance you could hit THIS drive straight. But there is a better chance that you will slice the ball out of the fairway and into the trees … or worse, out of bounds. Why not hit a 3 wood or a hybrid into the fairway? In this situation is the reward of hitting the ball 30-50 yards closer to the green worth the risk of 2 penalty strokes? This is a spot where you must decide the risk versus reward for yourself.
Let’s take this situation out onto the course. You are playing at Three Lakes on Hole 12. Maybe there is a little wind at your back. If you hit your best drive of the day maybe your ball will roll onto the green and leave you a putt for eagle. But there also is the chance that you slice your ball into the trees on the right and it drops onto the hill side or into the middle of 11. Now you have to avoid a string of trees while holding the green to give yourself a shot at birdie. “Ok, Tony.” You are probably saying right now, “I will just aim a little left and I will be fine.” This is a good plan. However, now you run the risk of:
a.) hitting the tree by 17 tee box and best case scenario your ball rolls into the fairway and you have a downhill 175 yard shot to give yourself a birdie putt. Worst case? You lose your ball in the arborvitae and have to re-tee hitting 3.
b.) Hitting that straight shot we discussed. But now you are aimed at 16 and more arborvitae and trees to maneuver around.
If you hit an iron or wood off the tee (something you confidently hit straight) you will reliably leave yourself inside 150 yards with nothing in between you and the flag. In my opinion this sounds like a much better shot and should result in more (and better) putts for birdie.
This thought process can be used everywhere on the course. Remember, the tour pro’s don’t hit driver on every hole. Maybe we should all put a little thought into it.
Three Lakes Golf Club
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