Average Golf Score Still 100? How Can That Be?

Hard to believe but according to a 2014 National Golf Foundation report the average golf score is STILL 100 and has been about the same for decades! How is this possible?

The modern game is replete with advanced clubs and balls, better playing conditions, better fitness and nutrition, more and supposedly better information, lesson videos on the internet, the Golf Channel, and the like.  With all these so-called advances it just doesn’t make sense that the average player can’t break 100! Something is clearly wrong.

Not only does the average score remain high, player data from the most prestigious golf organizations including the National Golf Foundation (NGF), the PGA of America, and the USGA also indicate high rates of attrition.

Player attrition is blamed on many aspects, the most common being:

  • Game takes too much time
  • It’s too expensive
  • Game is too difficult

These are all viable points BUT I believe that the main issue lies within the world of traditional golf instruction – I mean what else is left to consider? The insane and readily accepted orthodox doctrine of head down, left arm straight, make a shoulder turn, right elbow in, weight shift, etc. is just too hard and frustrates new and experienced players alike!

If the game is too difficult then it’s that way because it’s been made to BE that way through so-called traditional golf instruction.  If traditional instruction is as large a part of attrition as I think it is, instructors, teachers and coaches need to wake up, do some real work on how people learn physical motion, then apply that education so their students can improve. It isn’t easy to do.

Whether a teacher or a player, breaking through orthodox doctrine is exceptionally difficult and requires an understanding that some think harkens back to a different era – the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s when fundamentals meant something different and swinging a golf club was a physical event that came from athletic intuition. A time before re-treaded how-to magazine articles, You Tube, Golf Channel and the internet.

If it’s true that all things old become new again, then today is the day when you’ll be allowed to just use your hands and arms to swing a club and hit the ball!  Go ahead, just do that. I dare ya’.!!!  When you do, you’ll be pissed about all that time you wasted trying to figure out what to do with your lower body!!

This is much like golf was taught in the 30’s and 40’s when most teachers were also excellent players. They used a different language than is used today today but it was effective.  Back then, it was a learning language composed of sense, feel, intuition and an emotional awareness that got players around the course and back home again.

Harry Vardon refers to the “low man” in one of his books. Who was the low man? He was a player who was a 20 handicap or less amateur! How can it be that a score of 92 was so highly respected back then!  The answer is Arnie’s Army and television!

Television ruined amateur golf! Television has made average players think that they’re supposed to be better than they could ever be!  How can it be that today – even with all of our technology – most players tend to use statistics and swing technique intended for professional use – not for the daily-fee and/or club player. Television. Kostis talking about width and NOT SAYING  “don’t try this at home” is ridiculous! Less than 1% of my students can accomplish such a feat! Television makes the rest think otherwise.  Listen up people: 340 yard drives ARE NOT NORMAL. Even the low man need not entertain such fantasies.

At this juncture, it’s important to realize that the Old-School Golf Professional (where I learned how to play) was looked up to and respected.  There was no internet, Golf Channel, or 1,000 magazine articles on how to swing. Placing trust in and relying on the Professional was without question.  Today, golf instructors in general are seen as snake-oil salesman.  Is it true?

I unfortunately have to say yes.  The business of teaching golf has changed from a viable means to an end to something that needs to be scrutinized at every step.  Television, general technology and the internet haven’t made things any better.  Understanding what “keeping the head still” REALLY MEANS has been replaced with angle of descent, hand plane, power angles, launch angle, and a hundred other data points. What happens? Keeping the head still means nothing at all – and if it does, it’s so difficult to understand that the average player just gives up, accepts mediocrity, and trudges along doing the same ol’ crap until they die.

Many instructors are victims of traditional doctrine themselves. They don’t continually research and evaluate their profession, continue their professional education, or taken any additional college courses. They are stuck, just like a player gets stuck.  Except for a cookie-cutter approach, they don’t know what to teach, when to teach it, or even why they are teaching.

If you’re looking for something different and you like to think different than the rest, we would be a good combination. If you need a traditional language approach, then you should look for another golf instructor.  I would not be your guy.

Average Golf Score Still 100? How Can That Be?

Golf Tips Revised

Pretty sure I’ve done this before but just in case here are some really general tips about playing golf:

    Lower hands are better than higher hands
    Narrower stance is better than too far apart
    Slightly closed to the target line is better than open (square to the path)
    Favoring the right side is better than favoring the left
    Right elbow down and in is better than right arm straight
    Ball more forward for longer clubs (hit on slight upswing)
    Head up is better than head down (it’s OK, you’ll still be able to see the ball)
    Let your hands and arms strike the ball from BEHIND your center line
    Allow backswing to finish BEFORE starting towards the ball
    Fire right side into back of ball (Ballard)
    Swinging any club behind you is better than lifting it straight up (radial)
    You can only REALLY keep your head still if it’s BEHIND YOUR CENTER THE WHOLE TIME
    Chips go low and run out (7-8-9 iron)
    Pitches go high and stop (pw-sw-60-etc.) Using these everywhere around the green is a dumb idea.
    Higher hands work better than lower hands
    Weaker grip works better than stronger grip
    Try PW or 9 iron out of sand – you’ll be surprised
    The closer you get the harder the game gets – be calm around the greens
    Open to the line stance means you can see better
    Try slicing your putts onto your line – you’ll be surprised (Vardon)
    Be tall on long putts
    Be short on short putts
    Look all around you for gravity’s effect. Course designer is trying to make you just look at the green! It’s a trick!
    Pushing the ball with the right arm is easier than pulling with the left wrist (just sayin’)
    Find high targets off the tee and swing there. Looking at the fairway (ground) will make you swing down.
    Deep, slow breathing actually works (brain needs oxygen)
    Feel club in you fingers for better “shot sense”
    If you suck on the front and not on the back, or vice-versa, divide 18 by 3. Now you have 6 hole increments and no front or back!
    If you’re having a hard time – just think about time. As in  “…in twenty minutes this isn’t going to be happening like this.”
    To relax, make fists as tight as possible for as long as possible – then let go.  You’ll be surprised
    Eat small bits all day
    Drink small bits all day
    No burgers or dogs at “the turn”


Golf Tips Revised

Golf Tip for June 3rd

Weather you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, golf is hard to play, let alone understand. No one will ever know all there is to know about the game – and there lies the beauty and magic of the game!  Golf is elusive. Golf is confounding. Golf is demoralizing and exhilarating at the same time. Golf is even really stupid sometimes.

Most understanding about how to play golf begins with the swing.  There are about a million ways to do it but most players are always looking for the magic bullet – that one thing that will bring about great golf shots every time.  As you might guess, there is no such thing. But, you can know this to be true:

  • Golf is really hard so it’s best to make everything as simple as possible
  • You can’t know what to do with your swing until you can freely swing the club.  What that means is:  “Swings”  are usually learned via a mind-numbing series of things to do instead of learning what the whole swing feels like first then turning your attention to a couple of very fundamental parts – but never forgetting how the whole thing goes.  Most players don’t know what a swing actually feels like.
  • A golf swing is a physical event not a mental exercise.

Stop by my campsite on the driving range and I’ll give you a quick overview of  whole vs. part leraning.  Don’t worry, it won’t be a lesson so you needn’t be concerned about messing up your game.

too many thoughts


Tip of the Week

I was stunned recently when a junior golfer I was with didn’t know who Jack Nicklaus is. I did, in a loving and professional way, slightly admonish his Dad who was standing nearby. So, this weeks golf tip is for the youngsters who need to know and for everybody else who wants to hear some really great tips.

Jack Nicklaus – Golf Channel 12 Days of Instruction 2010 – YouTube.


Golf Tip of the Week – Driving

I know lots of people don’t like to read stuff about how to golf. I also know that a picture is worth a thousand words – BUT – Harry Vardon (Google him) had some very interesting things to say about driving the ball and hitting fairway shots – two areas where so many golfers get stuck, obsessed, and even angry!  Vardon thought that driving the ball and was among the EASIEST shots in golf.  Stick with the read – it just  might free you up on the tee.  (Highlighted text is mine.) 

220px-HarryVardonThis section is from the book “How To Play Golf“, by Harry Vardon,  1912. Also available from Amazon:How To Play Golf.

Chapter V. How To Drive

THE easiest strokes in golf are, I think, shots from the tee with a brassie and from the fairway with an iron. Therefore I would suggest to the beginner, or to the person who is almost resigned to mediocrity, that he should settle down at once to the task of mastering those shots. They are not difficult; but they are impossible unless the player knows how to swing the club properly. The golf swing is different from anything else in sport. It deserves to be called an art. There is only one way of executing it correctly. At least, that is true of its fundamental features. From time to time one hears and reads of various kinds of swings. Years ago, for instance, the talk was all of the St Andrews swing. That swing consists of sweeping the club round the legs until the arms will allow it to go no farther without moving the body, and then bringing the implement back in order to be able to raise it comfortably. To all intents and purposes, it is a matter of going out of the way and having to return to the right track. When the upward swing is three-quarters completed, the adept at the St Andrews method is on the same track as any other proficient golfer at the corresponding stage of the ordinary swing. The latter has simply gone straight to the point, while the devotee of the St Andrews style has taken a round-about route. Sometimes one hears of a good player having a “flat swing.” I venture to say that if the swing is correct, it cannot be “flat.” Again, the expression means that the player starts on a track which he must abandon. A person who never soars above a half-swing may certainly make it a “flat” one, but he will not often be a good golfer.

I do not suggest that the afore-mentioned variations in the early part of the full swing are necessarily fatal. What I do say is that they are useless, and that, from three-quarters to the top, and thence to the moment of impact, there is only one proper course for the club-head to follow, and that all accomplished players follow it. It requires a genius to start on the wrong track and get on to the right one.

There are people who declare that the perfect way to learn golf is to learn it backwards. That is to say, they advocate a scheme whereby the beginner practises putting for a start, and works his way by a kind of inverted curriculum – the mashie, then the iron, then the cleek– until he studies the full swing with wooden clubs. At first blush, the idea may seem to have something to recommend it. For one thing, it is novel, and a novelty generally possesses a degree of charm. What, however, contributes most to the plausibility of this plan is the fact that the player is taught to hit the ball farther and farther and make his swing longer and longer. There is an appearance of logicality about the notion of beginning in a small way and gradually rising to the glory of long hitting.

A little reflection, however, will show that such reasoning is a delusion where the study of golf is concerned. If the short shots were easier than the long ones, it would be all right, but it so happens that approaching is about the most difficult part of the game. As for learning to putt first, I should imagine that anybody would become heartily sick of the business before he had half completed it. I do not know when a person can be said to have learnt putting. There are certain points well worth studying in connexion with it, but there is no infallible prescription for making the ball go into the hole every time – or even every other time. I wish I could discover one. In connexion with the full swing, there are golden rules which can be learnt, and the practice of which will produce success. And it is best, I think, to begin with shots for the practice of which there exist plenty of data.

Therefore, let the neophyte, or the player who fears that he is an incurably bad golfer, resolve to master first of all the way of executing a shot off the tee with his brassie. This is the easiest full shot in the realm of golf, and the accomplishment of it always affords a thrill of pleasure and encouragement.

Moreover, once he has made himself proficient at it, the knowledge thus acquired will be a considerable help to him in playing the more difficult strokes. I suggest a brassie rather than a driver, because the former, having a slight loft on it, generates the greater amount of confidence. Moreover, as it is the less whippy of these two wooden clubs, it is the simpler to control. The methods of making a shot from the tee and a shot from a good lie on the course are – or should be – identical. The skilled golfer often employs his driver with great effect when the ball lies on the fairway, although, in such circumstances, it is perhaps a little the more difficult club to wield satisfactorily. The beginner cannot do better than seize upon the easiest stroke of all, which is the brassie shot from the tee. Once he is master of it, he will find the driver joyous to use. The two clubs being of the same length (it is important to see that they do not vary in this respect), the driver will be much the same in his hands as the club with which he has been practising. The troublesomeness of its straight face, which at the outset might have been considerable, will be unrecognized now that he feels sure of hitting the ball, and, what is equally important, he will have made a friend of the brassie. The latter is often regarded as the hardest club to use on the fairway. That perhaps is only natural. On the tee, the ball sits up temptingly, entreating a strong blow. On the turf, it seems to be sitting down, and there arises the necessity of picking it up cleanly, and, at the same time, hitting it with all the neatness and power that were inspired by the sight of its shining face raised clear of the ground. Therefore, the player is in every respect well advised in getting on good terms at once with his brassie. Let him have a low tee (the lower, within reason, the better) and, in due course, the driver will present no trouble to him, and the brassie, when he takes it for a shot through the green, will be an old friend. For, as I have already said, the methods of using the two clubs should, under favourable conditions, be exactly the same. When the lie is unfavourable there are certain variations which can be explained later.


Side-Arm Golf Swing?

During Sunday’s WGC broadcast,  Gary Koch  said that the golf swing hadn’t really changed since the beginning of time and that the real change has been in the description of what a swing is.  Peter Jacobson responded that he thought that was basically true – that no matter what – the golf swing remains a side-arm physical move.  I agree with both.  Me and a few other rebellious teachers attempt to minimize the list of things to do and emphasize that swinging a club is primarily a physical event – this is the different description that Koch was referring to.

Side-arm-physical move? You bet. If you are right handed you should basically be using the right side of your body to operate the golf club. The left side of your body should only be used for stability. If you have swing keys that are all left side based – you are in a serious physical conflict right off the bat – just like trying to write your name with your left hand!  If you are a lefty – and I mean a REAL LEFTY – then the opposite is true.

Next time your at the driving range – try activating your dominate side and forgetting about the other side. You just might be shocked at what you discover.