FINALLY, the official Golf season begins for anyone not living in California, Arizona, Florida, or Las Vegas. It’s that time of the year when the new clubs have found their way into the bag; hopefully, all of your questions have been answered, and it’s time to see if the five months of research and hitting into a screen will pay off. It’s awesome.
I fall into the same bucket. Being from Seattle, my “season” growing up was from April 1-Nov 1. I had seven months to accomplish my goals which usually consisted of shooting 59 every time out, which is insane. Frustration ensued…consistently.
My expectations were completely out of whack, and knowing what I know now, my preparation was all wrong.
Having had some serious exposure to the best players in the world, I realized something that completely changed my perspective. NOBODY is looking for perfection; EVERYONE is looking for consistency.
We can’t chase perfection; Golf is an imperfect game, but what about setting yourself up for a consistent season where the scores improve, the bad shots get playable, and you actually evolve as a player. It’s not impractical to strive and get better every year and well into the retirement years.
I think I have found the recipe, and I’m excited to share it. It’s POSSIBLE with the right mindset. That’s what I want, I’m 45 years old, and I truly believe my best golf is still ahead of me.
I’m going to tackle this from an equipment perspective, and in that, you will see some practical physical tips that will help as well. In all honesty, they go hand in hand.
How?… Well, this is where the methods of the best players in the world can help you.
Here are the best five tips I have learned to have a great ’22 season and set yourself up for success in every season to come.
- Know thy bag and know thy self:
This is one I had to concede to over the years. I have been hovering around a scratch player for the better part of 25 years, but I know to my core that until maybe a year ago, I was constantly fighting against myself. My bag was always set up with major holes in it, and my opinion was always to “make it work.” For the casual golfer, that’s a viable way to go. By casual, I mean a player more focused on enjoying the time out with friends and not really attached to the score. HOWEVER, that’s a small part of the population in my experience. Most of us want to improve, make breakthroughs and beat those friends we are enjoying the company of. What I learned over the last year was that your bag shouldn’t really have any holes in it; there cannot be a club that has disaster built into it. FOR EXAMPLE, I lean towards the 💎💎💎 heads in each driver line-up. I have played GREAT golf with those drivers, but the consistency was always hit or miss. IT WAS NO PROBLEM when I was swinging well, but I definitely had a foul ball or two when I was a bit off. The new stability of the Rogue ST line has helped that a lot, but I wanted MINIMAL big misses. Hence, the Rogue ST Max D switch eliminated my big right miss and many other variables. I have one shot with it, a soft draw with ZERO surprises. The driver for me is still a scoring club, and if I can step up on any tee with very little guesswork, I’m already ahead of the game. I know I cant fade it. Never could. So why fight something that doesn’t exist? This goes for anywhere in the bag. Do you struggle with anything longer than a six iron? So why is there a 4 or 5 iron in the bag? Maybe a UT or a Hybrid is a better fit. Do you need four wedges? Maybe simplifying to four is the best way to give you more options in the longer clubs. If your short game is a problem, the answer isn’t more options; it’s eliminating variables. Start to take a good look at what you do CONSISTENTLY well and vice versa. Get honest and adopt some new strategies (and clubs) that will help you play consistently well, not every solar eclipse.
- Time Management:
This is one I got from a coach on TOUR that changed my entire practice routine. It’s a condensed, no-nonsense approach that leaves ZERO room for just hitting balls.
Practice now looks like this:
-No swing videos (this is hard, lol): The more I see my swing, the worse I get.
-On range days, 100 balls max with specific targets working on posture, pre-shot routine, and alignment. 50 of these will be with 9-LW then (5 shots) 8/6/4/5-wood/3-wood/Driver, and the first and last ten shots are with an eight-iron at 50% speed to focus on the strike and sequence. That’s it.
-On playing days, it’s 15 shots at 50%, five wedges, five 8-irons, five 5-irons, five fairways, and five drivers.
This also worked for equipment/fitting. If I am trying something new, IE shaft/head, etc., I give the set-up nine shots. That’s it. If my center strike number isn’t 6/9 or above, the club will not work.
Try this; it changed me.
- Build extra clubs into the bag:
I mentioned this when Rogue ST launched; the stability of the line gave me extra options. I now have a stock shot, fairway finder, and full tilt, where I had only stock before. That was it. Sure I could hit other shots, but the success percentage was not on my side. Rogue ST (woods and irons) gave me STABILITY to rely on good shots across the face. THAT’S HUGE.
I just added two clubs right there. Another example is the Apex UW that I just put back in the bag. I have been in and out of a 5-wood for some time but what I found when I dug deeper was that from 225-240, my greens hit and fairway % increased with UW, AND I was able to hit the UW DOWN, with spin. I can hit 5-woods down but with spin? NO. I was married to the 5-wood but technology has offered a new way and the performance benefits can no longer be ignored. If I want to play well I have to evolve and let go. Sorry, 5-wood.
- Build In Quality misses:
On TOUR, one of the fascinating things to watch is our TOUR reps mitigate the big miss and build in a good one. It goes up and down the bag. For example, a player may have a 3-wood that checks off all the boxes in normal conditions but tends to lose its integrity when a player has to turn one hard right to left. Most of the time, the player is fighting a lack of spin and can’t rely on controlling the ball CONSISTENTLY. What I’ve seen happen is our reps make the overall profile of that club more forgiving by increasing loft a bit (maybe 15 to 16) or adding internal weight to the back portion of the head to increase spin a hair. The solution is always found in +- 200-300RPMs of spin. For whatever reason, it’s somewhere in there that the club goes from pretty good to a gamer. For us normal folk, I suggest you work backward from here. Start with the most forgiving profile you can stand and back your way into the extra shots you want to hit. That goes across the bag. I’d rather have your bag packed with fail-safes than rely on hopes and dreams. In my bag, it fell around the irons specifically. Switching into the Rogue ST Pro (4-PW) gave me a look and feel I WANTED and the performance and forgiveness I NEEDED. With the extra forgiveness and ball speed with Flash Face and the AI-designed faces, my primary miss, which is always center thin, flies ALMOST like a center strike. With my TCB, I might sacrifice 5-6MPH of ball speed on a center thin strike, and with Rogue ST Pro, I only lose 1-2MPH; that’s roughly a ten-yard difference.
- Ball first, clubs second:
This is the most important nugget I can offer. I don’t care how well your bag is dialed; if the ball ain’t correct, it won’t matter. Some fitters will disagree, but I will die on this hill. I have had some gnarly setups that, on paper, should have worked out great but ultimately became inferior because I was committed to the wrong ball. Ball speed is great, but proper spin and wind stability mean much more. I would trade in 5 yards of carry distance for a ball I knew would spin and hold its line in the wind. I see that practice on TOUR all the time. Sam Burns, for example, plays CSX, but the CSX LS will actually make him a 1/2 club longer. So why the CSX? Because spin equals control, reliability, and trust, whereas the absence of spin delivers the opposite. To be fair, this is one example. I have seen CSX LS work the other way with much success. The point is to find the right ball for you working from the green back and build the set around that, It’s literally a game-changer.
So now what?
It’s mid-April, so the clock is ticking. I implore anyone who wants to be consistent to integrate these tips into your game. YES, there are a million other factors to consider, but at a baseline level, these are things that you can actually CONTROL. Golf is perceived as a relaxing game but it’s actually chaotic mentally, the faster you can harness that chaos and eliminate as much white noise as possible, the better you will become. Sounds a lot like life, right? Life is so enjoyable when it’s simple….so is golf. Ask Rahm, Xander, Burns, or Gooch; the fewer variables they have to manage, the better the results.
The PGA Tour is hard enough and there is no award for the most complicated golfer.