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Senior Golfer - On The Green

Mid-summer makeover: Make it smashing

The Putting Green

Grip it and rip it so that it soars high into the sky! Whatís your launch angle? Whatís your SMASH factor? If these sayings arenít part of your golf vocabulary, youíre in need of a mid-summer makeover.

Over the course of the years, itís been common for me to talk about the importance of hitting your drives in the fairway so that you can hit shots to the green from easy lies. Moreover, you may have read a column or two when I suggested the need to improve your short game if you want to lowers your scores. In fact, the fastest way to lower your scores is by spending time and effort to improve your chipping and putting.

All these pieces of advice are still true, but the tendency is to think that golf for seniors is the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Those were the days of 370-yard par 4s, where most seniors hit their drives short and straight. They hit the second shots short and straight, usually just short of the green, chipped up and sank the putt. If they missed the putt, they got a bogey.

In those days of yesteryear, it was common to find par threes of less than 170 yards, par fives of slightly more than 500 yards, and the average senior hit a five iron from 150 yards. Well, those days are long gone, and so we have to adapt our game to the new reality.

If you think that distance is overrated, listen to this statistic from my scorecard analysisóI am hitting the ball 14 yards farther than I did last year, hitting the same amount of fairways, reaching more greens in regulation and putting up lower scores. As a result, my handicap has dropped to nine as of June 1 from 10.6 at the beginning of the year. I am well on my way to reducing my handicap to six by the end of the year.

You will notice that I have not talked about my putting and short game, because they are actually slightly worse than last year. I recently shot an 81 with 39 putts, so you can see that I have a long way to go to improve my putting stats.

Does adding 15 yards more distance change your game? You bet it does and it makes the game a lot more fun. I recently hit a drive that went 295 yards, one of the longest drives Iíve struck, not just this year, but within the past five years. I hit an eight iron out of the rough from 150 yards away on a par four of 420 yards and it landed five feet from the pin.

Iím not only hitting my brand-new driver that I purchased in March from the golf store an extra 10-20 yards farther, but Iím not losing any accuracy. In fact, I feel like I can control the club much better than my old driver. And, even if it goes off line, it seems easier for me to hit a pitching wedge from the rough 120 yards than an eight iron from 138 yards.

All of this is to encourage you to look at your golf game. You can make a simple change, like switching golf balls, which can help you gain another five yards in distance. You may be sacrificing spin and feel, but then you might be hitting the ball on the green instead of short of it.

At a time when people are living longer, physical fitness has received more attention, golf courses have gotten longer, equipment has gotten much better, and golfers still think a 250-yard drive is terrific, isnít it time for you to rethink your golf game. Get more physically fit so that you can make a bigger shoulder turn and swing faster. Change your mental approach to fearless golf so that those negative thoughts arenít in your mind. Get custom-fit golf clubs for your golf game that you will allow you to hit the ball not only farther, but also quite possibly straighter.

Think young, hit it hard, and let the results speak for themselves.

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