Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smart Golf Lowers Scores

The Five Inch Course by John Lloyd Retzer
John Lloyd Retzer tells it like is on both and in his new pull-no-punches golf instruction book, The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. The book resonated with me because I've played, studied, and written about the game for more than four decades so I don't have any more delusions about my game. The majority of golfers, though, will probably read The Five Inch Course and decide its lessons really don't apply to them. All they need is another $400 driver, a few more hours of the Golf Channel, and another great swing tip from the attendant at the gas station, and they'll shoot par every time. Who knows? Maybe the Champions Tour is within reach!

It's not, of course, mainly because the majority of golfers won't play the intelligent take-fewer-chances brand of golf Retzer espouses. And that's a shame, really, because we could all play much better golf if we just dialed back our testosterone and followed his advice to adopt realistic expectations, play within ourselves, and stop pretending we can make a 160 wedge shot bend backwards out of the trees just like Bubba Watson. I rant about many of the same topics in Weird Golf.

Retzer hooked me in his introduction when he said:
"...this doesn't mean that lower scores are out of your reach. It just means that you have to play better golf with the swing you already have." 
He goes on to remind us that
"Four ugly strokes equal four pretty ones [on the scorecard]." 
His goal throughout the book is to teach us to work our way around the course in the least number of strokes, not with the longest drive. That often means leaving the driver in the bag, laying up on that long par four so you take double bogey out of the equation, and maybe even bunting a low runner 120 yards down a narrow fairway instead of taking a full swing that brings OB into play.

Retzer says some of his buddies call this "old man golf." I call it "smart golf."

The Five Inch Course is a collection of short mental game tips organized into chapters on practical topics like what to do before you play, how to think about what you're doing on the tee, what should be going through your mind in the fairways, and common-sense ways to save strokes on and around the green. The style is straightforward and highly readable with a bit of humor thrown in here and there.

Retzer's approach doesn't preclude taking risks or attempting that one-in-a-hundred shot over the water to a tight front pin. He just reminds us that we're going to be really, really sorry if we play that way on every shot in every round. Have some fun, he says, but remember that conservative play is the way to lower your score.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

1 comment:

Denny said...

Playing conservative golf is not bad. It definitely takes big numbers out of the scoring picture. Unless the odds are better than 50%, do not take the chance. You may still salvage par from your layup shot but should at least score bogey. Don't forget, bogeys and pars are good, doubles and triples are bad and to be avoided at all costs. Play smart.