Okay, so the title is deceiving, this isn’t about whether you are prepared to drop a ball in the rough and squeal ‘found it!’ to your playing partners or signing for a five when it should have been a six. Honesty here means do you really know what is important in your golf game? Do you THINK you know what areas of your game need working on, or do you KNOW you know?
Some golfers feel they need huge changes and significant cost (coaching, new driver, new irons) to reduce their handicap. In reality, if golfers actually conducted some self-research, they might be surprised at the results.
It isn’t difficult to identify where improvements are needed…if you want to.
Don’t say it, do it
Golfers often state ‘I want to improve my putting this year’ to their buddies in the bar but it won’t make them a better putter.
Many golfers think that if they say it often enough then it will magically be so, like when they say they drive the ball 280 yards…they did once. They tell the story so many times, they convince themselves they do it all the time.
If Jordan Spieth or Justin Rose wanted to improve their putting from five feet, they wouldn’t just talk about it would they? They would spend hour after hour on practice drills to make that improvement – they would actually do it.
Honesty is the best policy
So ask yourself honestly, what are your shortcomings? Game improvement starts because you ask yourself some pretty honest questions and you give yourself some pretty honest answers:
Can you reach the fairway?
Are you hitting enough fairways?
Is your strike a consistent one?
What is your shot shape?
How many greens are you hitting?
Do you take more than one shot to escape from sand?
Are you hitting the green from 100 yards?
Do you always give yourself a chance to get up and down from off the green when chipping?
Do you three putt a lot?
Can you hole out with confidence?
Are you good at distance putting?
Do you miss the odd two footer?
Does anger make you play better?
Does your anger cloud your judgements?
Do you really want to improve?
If a golfer can’t be honest with themselves, then improvement will be difficult. It’s a fact that the better a golfer becomes, the more acutely aware they are of their own failings.
Identify your weakness
Identifying where the biggest impact will be felt is the starting point. I’m going to generalise, but it will probably felt biggest in the short game.
Answer these questions honestly:
Are you good wedge player?
Are you chipping the ball consistently close?
Can you be a better putter?
Bob Rotella wrote a book once entitled “Golf is not a game of perfect”, so stop wasting energy on self recrimination or trying to hit the ball 300 yards. A good shot is one that doesn’t leave you short-sided, blind-sided or in a hazard, not 320 yards down the fairway. Chances are you will still have to hit another shot onto the green, whether it’s from 80 yards or 150 yards you’ll still be faced with an approach shot.
Pitching, chipping and putting can mask a lot of failings in your long game. But hitting the ball long means little if you can’t pitch, chip or putt.
Give yourself a score out of ten
Nest time you go out to play, give yourself a mark out of ten…be honest…on all aspects of your game – bear in mind that a missed four footer is usually far more costly than a drive twenty yards left of a fairway!
It doesn’t matter how many greens you hit
There isn’t a player in the world that manages to hit every green in regulation. It happens so seldom that the pros can remember the times when they last did it. The reason they score well is because when they do miss, they have the skills to recover and make par.
The guy that hits the most fairways in a tournament or the guy that hits the most greens doesn’t usually win; the winner is usually the player that holes the most putts or scrambles best.
Which would give most amateur golfers reading this a huge indication that they should be starting their game improvement routines on their short game! So be honest with yourself, spending thousands on your irons, hybrids and drivers won’t improve your score if you can’t get the ball in the hole!
(And if you think that means buying a new putter…you haven’t really understood anything, have you?)