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Playing smart is the only way to play

By JAKE FURR Reflector Sports Editor [email protected] • Jul 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM

I have referenced Tip Cup a lot in these columns, and this one will be no different.

Take the way Tip Cup played in that US Open, and do the complete opposite. When playing golf, the smartest way is always the best way. Don’t go breaking every club in your bag, don’t keep dropping your ball from the spot over and over and for goodness sake, don’t hit the same shot the fourth time after going in the drink the previous three times.

Here are some tips to help you play the game smart and keep your scores low.

Mind Game

When putting, the best thing you can do is not change your mind. When you get behind your ball and determine your line, set up to your putt and stick to your instincts. The best view you can get on your line is from behind the ball as close to ground level as possible. Trust that view and determine your line and speed from there. If you want to take a practice stroke, take it from behind the ball while you are staring down your line. Set up to the ball and make your stroke based on what you learned. Do not change your mind as soon as you get over top of the ball. When you are bent over the ball and looking at it sideways, your view is distorted. Do not trust that view. Trust you line and remain totally committed to it.

What a Relief

There are many times you can get a relief during your round. Cart paths, immovable man-made objects and sprinkler heads are just a few examples. And many times, you can take a better relief than you may think. If you find your ball in the rough and on top of a sprinkler head, you do not have to drop your ball in the same playing surface. The rule is, you get one club length of relief no closer to the hole. So if your club length reaches out to the fairway, you may drop your ball on some thinner grass to get a better lie. It seems like you are taking advantage of the rule because you are, but it is very legal. Always use the rules to help you when you can; golf is hard enough as it is.

Ignore the Myths

There are three very popular myths in golf that you should avoid. The first game from arguably the best to ever play, Arnold Palmer. Everyone things he said, “Trees are 90 percent air.” When he actually said, “Trees are 90 percent error.” Thanks to this play on words, many golfers think they can go through trees because it is mostly air and they are wrong. If you have tree trouble, play it smart and hit your ball back in the fairway. It is a lot better than trying to hit your ball through the trees only to have your next shot with just as much tree trouble.

The next myth is a well-struck ball will not be affected by the wind. That way of thinking is borderline insane. Sure your ball will not be affected at the start of its flight, but as it slows down and approaches its landing zone, the wind will certainly move it fairly easily. So be smart and play the wind. It may not look like the right decision at first, but you will be happier with the end result.

Finally, the myth of all putts breaking towards water is just as insane. The grain of the green will most certainly grow towards the water, but the slope of the green will determine the break of your putt. Don’t think about the grain of the green and the water around the green. Hit a smart putt by looking at the slope.

Lay up

Now this one will make ol’ Tin Cup cringe, but do not be afraid to lay up. This shot can really save your round, and had Tin Cup used it, he may have won that US Open. Many times a lay-up shot comes on a Par 5 of a long Par 4 and it is used to give you a better shot into the green. Many times this shot is not pulled off successfully because it is one that you do not may much attention to. Instead of focusing on your shot because you are going for the green, you take your mind off of it because you are just hitting the shot to an open fairway. Pick out a specific target in the fairway as you would if you are hitting it to the green and take your shot like you are going for the putting surface. If you narrow your focus, you are less likely to hit a bad shot and ruin your lay-up stroke.

Drive Safe

A lot of the dumb golfing comes off of the tee and the use of the driver. Call it a macho thing, but players think they have to drive the ball 350 yards like the pros so they swing out of their shoes and end up hitting a wild drive. Instead, use these safe driving tips. Stay tension free and loose. Tightening your grip or arms will cause you to not make solid contact or generate enough clubhead speed. Instead, concentrate on your posture with a straight back and keeping your head still. Swing with about 80 percent of your full power and let the club do the work. If you go anything above 80 percent, you will cause yourself to have extra movement and stress with your swing. 

Two very important keys to a good drive is to make a smooth and slow backswing and to end up with a balanced finish with most of your weight on your front foot. If you concentrate on these two things, you will find more consistency with your drives and in return, many more fairways to hit out of.


Do you have some golf tips that have helped you? Send them to [email protected] and you could see them used in a weekly golf tips column throughout the summer.

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