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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 317
BETTER – BY DESIGN No matter your level of proficiency it’s all but guaranteed that, as a golfer, you are on a constant search for improvement. People will try everything from new clubs to tips from friends to YouTube advice in their hunt for lower scores yet they somehow manage to overlook two of the simplest paths to getting better. The first is enlisting the help of a PGA professional though this is hardly ground-breaking information and, let’s be honest, is likely falling on deaf ears. If you’ve been playing for any length of time and haven’t yet availed yourself of the services of a qualified coach it seems unlikely you’ll do so based on the advice of a double digit handicapper who writes about the game for a living. The second road to lower scores, however, is one that is not only endorsed by one of history’s greatest players but adds a layer of intrigue to the game that can become a lifelong passion in itself. “Every golfer worthy of the name,” Bobby Jones once wrote, “should have some acquaintance with the principles of golf course design, not only for the betterment of the game, but for his own selfish enjoyment. “Let him know a good hole from a bad one and the reasons for a bunker here and another there, and he will be a long way towards pulling his score down to respectable limits. “When he has taught himself to study a hole from the point of view of the man who laid it out, he will be much more likely to play it correctly.” The mere mention of golf course architecture is enough to cause a glazing over of the eyes in some but Jones’ theory works and there is evidence to back it up. Some months ago I was involved in a lengthy Twitter discussion with a golfer I have never met and the topic turned to golf course design. An avid player for four decades, he declared little to no interest in the subject and was adamant that the way the holes are arranged had little to no bearing on either his score or enjoyment of the game. After some lengthy back and forth he eventually determined he would like to know more and asked several of us for advice on books that would be good for a beginner. Having been recommended Grounds for Golf by Geoff Shackelford and The Spirit of St Andrews by Alister Mackenzie*, there was little further discussion. Until last week. The subject of course design once again came up and our internet friend was asked how he had gotten on with the two books. His answer both surprised and delighted as he revealed he had enjoyed reading both tomes but – and this is the important part – now found himself both scoring better AND enjoying the game more. “Now playing conservative on challenging holes,” he wrote of his new approach. “Average score six Rounds before December 88.2 average score six rounds after December 85.5 “Improved by 2.7 strokes avg/round Better understanding architects’ intent.” Every golfer reading this would be ecstatic with a three-shot improvement in scoring average over the course of a couple of months but it was his next Tweet that I found most pleasing. “I feel much more like I’m playing golf vs hitting a golf ball around the course,” he said. “The mental understanding is surprising to me and discovered that I’ve been playing this game wrong for over 40 years. All result of reading a few books.” So not only has our lifelong golfer improved his game but he now enjoys playing more AND has a whole new facet of the game to be interested in. It’s a three way win that’s good for him as well as being good for golf. And it’s a lesson we can all learn from; we can get better. By design. *If you have any interest in learning about golf course architecture these two books are an ideal starting point. Grounds for Golf is out of print but available in Kindle format from Amazon while Spirit of St Andrews is available both as a paperback and digitally. THE View ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast we e kly. CLICK HERE to listen.
2018 50 Favourite Courses
GA Express 318