Improving Through the Ages

By • Category: Features, Improvement

You’ll find a lot of tips on this site to help you improve your game, and I’d like to think that everyone from beginners to very good amateur players can find something to take away to the Golden Tee machine the next time they play.  But what happens if you seem to “max out” at a specific skill level?  Are there things you can still learn to help break through and improve your game even more?  Well the friendly folks who frequent the Underdog forum started up a thread on aspects of the game that have helped THEM get to the elite level where they currently stand, and I wanted to pass their comments along to you!  So, I’ve broken down these comments (and added a few of my own) into skill brackets, with 1 being a beginner and 10 being a pro.  Try to find yourself within this range, and then read the comments corresponding to that level to see what you can work on to make your game even better!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Golden Tee!  Here you’re learning the nature of the trackball, how to curve shots (whether intentionally or unintentionally), and how roll and backspin affect your shot.

You’re starting to understand how to play the elements (wind and rain), and you learn how much wind affects the ball on each shot while also learning how rain kills the ball (especially now on 2010).  You also know to club up or down based on elevation changes.

Expanding beyond palming every shot, you learn to thumb and how thumbing distance differs from palming distance.  You’re getting consistent with your short putts, making most anything under 30 feet.  You’ve learned how to play more break on uphill putts and less on downhill putts, and, more importantly, you’re figured out which putting approach works best for you (palm or thumbs).

You’re really starting to consider the loft of your club with each shot, learning when it’s best to choose the 5-wood over the 2-iron, or vice-versa.  You’ve also gotten out of the habit of using backspin on every approach shot into the green.  Instead, you know the best conditions to use backspin and roll based on the slope of the green, the wind, the pin placement, and the loft of your club.  This helps you put more approach shots close to the flag.

You’ve added more shots to your game, such as pullback thumbs, pullback palms, and hammer shots, learning how each of these can increase/decrease distance of any given club.  You’re learning the carry distances of each club to know when you can/can’t carry a rough lie.  You’ve almost eliminated rollover putts by pulling back to C slightly and hitting it smoothly forward.  You’re effectively cutting the ball into the wind when the situation demands it.  You know when to put your ego aside and club-up instead of trying to pound one less club and coming up short.  You’ve learned shortcuts on many holes that give you an advantage over a novice.  You’re also getting more comfortable playing with different clubs and balls, and you’re not afraid to change clubs on a course where you know it will give you an advantage.

You really understand how the trackball is designed and how it works, and, because of this, you understand how spinny and non-spinny shots differ.  You also avoid the trackball issue by a non-spinny C3 shot that happens when you hammer it out towards 3 and make the ball “jump” off track, causing your ball to come off straight ahead instead of out to the right.  You’re able to accurately shoot B1 and B3 shots when needed.  When there aren’t many other factors to consider, you try to line up your approach shot with the wind to give yourself the best chance of putting an approach shot close.  Also, you know where to leave approach shots distance-wise to have specific clubs into the green.  You make almost every putt within 50 feet, and you’re pretty good at bump-and-run chips with a single-club, like a 7-iron.  You respect the wind, especially with your wedge, rotating once or twice when needed.  You know where NOT to go on each shot, avoiding foolish mistakes most of the time by being smart.  Finally, you’ve come across the “old birds” (the 2005 hybrid set) and have learned how they can help you.

You’re able to hole-out bump and run chips with many clubs, depending on the situation.  You’re consistently hitting the ball smoothly to generate power as opposed to just hitting it hard.  You can feel the correct angles of your pullback and follow-through, so you will reset your pullback until you know it’s right, and you’ll know upon impact whether or not your follow-through is on line.  You’re able to consistently make 70+ foot putts because you understand how they differ from putts under 65 feet.  You know how and when to thumb long, big-breaking putts as opposed to palming them, especially big left-breaking putts for right-handers.  You’re in the good habit of keeping your hands clean and dry before each shot.  You’re effectively scoring Great Shot Points to help you in the standings.  Finally, you’re able to avoid going on tilt after a bad shot, and you know when it’s time to stop playing because other influences are affecting your game.

You’ve got your distances mastered in any situation, including 3/4 shots like a 200-yard 5-wood.  You also know how much to club up when shooting through that tree because you know how much the tree will knock it down.  You’re getting good at cutting chips into the break, which help them roll out more consistently and enable more hole-outs.  You’ve been playing in tournaments to help build experience.  Finally, you have a good understanding of your own personal strengths and weaknesses, and you’re not swayed into straying outside your comfort zone when competing with others.

You instinctively know the exact loft of your clubs from an unseen lie, which allows you to clear an obstacle or avoid a big mistake by going around.  Your chipping is outstanding — you are not afraid to chip out of the sand or onto a lofted green aggressively to a front pin, when the penalty for coming up short would be at least 1 stroke.  You’re also able to nail chips with severe side slope.  You have the confidence that you can make any shot if you have to have it.

Your goal is to hole-out almost every approach shot, and you’re able to do this once per round on average.  You don’t miss putts, and you make almost every chip.  You’re having a lot of success in tournaments because you’ve mastered the mental game as well as the physical game, and your opponents are scared to play against you when money’s on the line!

You’re Andy Haas :).

And finally, at ANY level, it’s ALWAYS beneficial to play with, and learn from, players who are better than you!  Whether that be at your local bar or at a tournament half-way across the country, you can always learn something new from that other guy.  So, try to incorporate friends and Golden Tee pros alike into your routine, and I guarantee you’ll come away with some tips to help your game!

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is a Golden Tee addict from Chicago, IL, thirsty for tips and tricks!
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3 Responses »

  1. My sentiments exactly! Very well thought out and put together. Unfortunately I have rarely had the opportunity to play with level 7 and above players other than attending the 2007 Midwest Open. So my progress on a year by year basis comes slower than I would like. But you have given me a lot to think about as far as improving my game!

  2. Not a comment
    I need help!
    Each time I play now it has me teeing off at the red tees.
    I have top keep going top the random tee setting.
    How do I get it back & stay at the blacks?
    Can someone help me with this?

  3. mur: you get the black tees on the holes on random tees that give you the blacks, does that make you happy?
    i`m probably a level 4 lol

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