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Is the golf season really over?

by Donald Crawley

Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

Donald Crawley Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- The PGA Tour season is winding down and many golfers have started to consider putting their clubs away unless, and until, a vacation in a sunnier clime appears on the agenda. What a predictable culture we live in these days. Happily, that which this year 'round golfer puts forth is read all over the country, likely the world, but it makes me smile that so many golfers are thinking that the ?season is over? because the sun and the pros have taken a hiatus of sorts.

If you are a mid-westerner, as soon as the Labor Day weekend rolls around, you think summer is over, Fall has arrived with the hunting season hand you are chasing small creatures instead of searching for small white balls secreted under some Autumnal leaves. I am not a hunter but I do know that many of my golfing clients would love to play some fall golf but dove season is first, then deer, then the big game, and that will take care of any leisure time through October. For others, many others, it is NFL time and every weekend will be spent in front of the tube watching every possible game. It is the nature of the fan, country and sport. Try tracking rounds of golf played in Nebraska when college football season starts and you will see a tremendous downward trend. Once the Corn Huskers hit the field, golf clubs begin to gather dust.

Meanwhile, Fed Ex is expending millions of dollars on the PGA Tour hoping to start a fifth major or, at least, grab all TV ratings and achieve some sort of mass exposure at the end of the season. Maybe.

In the northern States, the weather can be fantastic for golf in September and October, but the kids are heading back to school and there are so many other commitments that steal away the golf time. In southern States and the sunshine belt, we contend with mother nature and have to overseed - so much for interrupting that. That occurs in mid September through mid to late October when the native Bermuda grass is ?scalped? and replaced with cooler climate rye grass for the winter months. Consequently, the desert courses are ripped up and groomed getting ready for the snow birds to arrive to lush green grass. I hope that all this news is not accelerating storage of your clubs.

Instead, it is time to sort out the men from the boys, the girls from the women. Where is your commitment to your golf game? How well do you want to play? What are your goals? This is a great time to answer those questions. If you have desire and motivation to improve and realize your potential (at least on the golf course), now is a perfect time to implement your improvement plan. The courses are quieter, most club competitions are over, the family vacations have been taken and you can get ready for the complete golf make-over.

That being said, here are a few steps you can take to get you on the right track.

#1: Bottom line: Take a look at your year to date. What was your average score or index handicap at the start of your season? What is it now? Better or worse?

#2: Honest evaluation: Break your game down into four areas. Driving. Fairway shots. Approaches within a wedge length (less than a hundred yards). Putting. Where is the scoring leak?

If you complain of ?inconsistency,? analyze and find out where the majority of missed hits occur. If you drive the ball in trouble on more than two holes out of the fourteen drives that are commonplace on any course you need help with your tee shot.

If you drive the ball in the fairway most of the time but can?t hit the green from within 200 yards, you need work on your fairway shots. This might include fairway woods and long irons. Some people do okay on their first two shots but can?t get the ball on the green with a wedge. Major bummer! Be more specific as to what your ?inconsistency? level is at any time, where you are best, so to speak. If you are taking more than 36 putts a round, get on the putting green and work it out.

#3: After identifying the weak links in your game, write out some commitment goals and keep them simple, as well as short term, so that you can see the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. Let?s say you regularly take 40 putts. A reasonable and attainable goal would be to two putt every green, getting your putting average down to 36 putts per round. Start working on your pace of putts, or distance control, to become a better lag putter, someone who lags or rolls the ball the correct distance all the time. If your fist putt is two feet from the hole, and not five feet you have drastically increased your chances of making that second putt. Did you know that the best in the world make 90% from three feet but less than 60 % from six feet?

#4: Don?t practice to get comfortable, practice to get better.

#5: Work on which of the four areas need the most help. We all need improvement in every aspect but prioritize your precious practice time. Let?s say you have one hour to practice, and the weakest area is the scoring shots - little chips and putts. Don?t go to the range and beat the heck out of your driver to impress yourself, friend or date! Hit a few for exercise and fun, but spend at least 50% of your practice session on, and around, the putting green. On practice session number two try and find a way to play three or four holes rather than beat up balls until they are asking for mercy.

#6: If the weather doesn?t allow you to play golf, go to the gym, take a stretch class, throw the medicine ball and strengthen those abs and core muscles.

#7: Watch the golfing studs on TV and copy their attitude and rhythm as much as you can. You are not about to become a clone of Tiger.

Make use of this beautiful time of the season, it isn?t over until it?s over.

In closing, do you think anyone will beat Tiger and stop him from that $10 million prize? I don?t. Not that he needs the money but little Sam will just get another trust fund.

Augusta #10
The par 4, 10th hole at Augusta "Camellia" is one of the toughest holes at the Masters at 495 yards.

Donald Crawley
Donald Crawley

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs? Golf Schools, consultant to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and presently at the Boulders Golf Resort in Arizona.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002, he won the Southwest Section PGA?s Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at dcrawley@luxuryresorts.com.


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