|The first step to getting out of the sand is making sure you're carrying the right tool for the job. (Michael Zito/Eclipse Sportswire)|
The key to shooting lower scores should start with your set make-up. The best way to determine your ideal set make-up is to analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have determined which golf clubs you have trouble hitting, you are on your way to seeing your scores come tumbling down.
Most amateur golfers build their golf sets the traditional way. Driver, 3 wood, 4 or 5 woods, iron sets 3 to PW, a couple of sand wedges and a putter. The first step to lower scores is to start thinking in an untraditional way.
Start by removing all the clubs from your set that you have a difficult time hitting on a consistent basis. For many golfers, it's the fairway woods and long irons. Instead of carrying three fairway woods, just keep the one you hit best in the bag. Next, eliminate the long irons you fear as soon as you pull them out of the bag. For most average golfers it's the 3 and 4 iron.
A good alternative to fairway woods and long irons are hybrids. The shorter shaft length along with a more compact head helps most golfers hit these clubs much better than the harder-to-hit fairway woods and long irons. The end results are solid shots that give golfers increased confidence, which leads to better swings.
Finally, take a lesson from Phil Mickelson, and put three or four wedges into your bag. I recently played golf with a higher handicap player who tried to use his pitching wedge to get out of greenside bunkers.
In the first 12 holes, he was in four bunkers, and it took him three shots to get out of each bunker. He was bunkered on the 16th hole, and by this time I could not stand by and watch this anymore.
I gave him my 60-degree sand wedge and a few pointers on how to use the club, and said give it a try. To his great relief he swung that wedge; the ball came out stopping about 15 feet from the hole.
I yelled to him, "Go out and buy a sand wedge!"
Every golfer should carry at least three sand wedges in their bags as the first place to improve your score is from around the green.
June 9, 2009
Les Miller was a longtime Golf Writers of America member who covered golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gave him a unique background and ability to help golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.