[PART 1] Free Your Mind, and the Wedge Will Follow

My spirits were high driving home last week from my local course after one of my numerous short-game practice sessions. I had accomplished two of the three goals I set for myself. The first was to get just a little bit better at whatever I practice. The second was to apply at least a portion of the dozens of hours of free wedge play instruction I obtained on You Tube tutorials.

–Just a quick note here, there are literally thousands of hours of wonderful, free, ‘how-to’ instruction on that platform, covering hundreds of real-life needs; from recreating Aardvark hot sauce to how to do Zombie makeup–

My last, but by no means least, goal was this time, just for once, not to lose any practice balls…Let’s just say, that didn’t go entirely to plan and now, somewhere off the back of the practice green, lies one of my practice balls.

But, as stated, my spirits were high. Losing only one ball anytime I have golf clubs in hand represents an improvement. The problem is not that I’m just not a good golfer. No, the real problem is that I’m a confused golfer.

My “enjoyment” of the great game of golf spans four decades. I’ve competed in club tournaments, charity events, and at one time I even boasted a single-digit handicap. Sure, it was the first single-digit—a nine—but it was an accomplishment of Palmer-like proportions for me. And through it all I’ve taken pride in the fact I’ve never taken a lesson.

(I just realized I might be doing a little too much boasting. But that’s okay, we’re talking golf! We’re supposed to brag a little about our accomplishments, even if some are embellished.)

Now that I’ve gotten a little older, and have the ‘advantage’ of watching the afore mentioned You Tube tutorials, I play to more of a twenty-plus something.

The purpose of this article though, is not to say that internet instructors are the problem. Obviously, they all possess golf skills far superior to mine. And the wealth of free knowledge on the www. means the game is now more accessible than ever–which is great for the young up and commers. But in some cases is can cause problems.

Since October is “Wedge Play Improvement Month,” let’s take a quick look at pitching to illustrate the problem…

One video tells us to play the ball back in the stance for a low running shot, and forward in the stance for a higher shot with less roll. Another video promotes playing the ball in the center of the stance on all pitches.

We are supposed to remember when to open the face, square the face, hinge the wrists or keep them straight on the backswing, and to lock the leading wrist in place or let the wrist break down to launch the ball higher. Do we open the stance, play from a square stance? When do we open or close the face, the stance? Do we lean the shaft forward or let the clubhead pass the handle? I’m so confused!

And that was exactly the problem I had during my practice rounds last week…

Because even though I managed to get home with eleven of the dozen practice balls I brought in my practice tube, as I reflected upon and evaluated my pitching practice, I realized that my shot pattern was as helter-skelter as my instruction had been.

I tried every wedge play drill, recommendation, and fix I could remember and got a wide variety of results. So, what was I to do, how could I improve before I played my next round? Then the answer came to me like an epiphany bestowed upon me by the golf gods: spend more time getting internet lessons, because it was obvious I had not learned enough.

So, along with my weekly routine of hitting one large bucket of balls, and one chip and putt practice session, I spent every possible waking hour watching game-improvement videos.

– Forrest Nelson

This is the first part of a two-part feature written by one of our most loyal Ultimate Golf fans, Forrest Nelson. To get notified when the second part lands, sign up to our email list by putting your details into the form on our ‘contact us’ page.

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