Graduating from the Dave Pelz Scoring School with a C-plus average
Three full days at the Dave Pelz Scoring School held at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort outside of Atlanta went by rather fast. There was a lot to learn, and it was pretty fascinating. It was presented in a very logical and entertaining fashion.
But while we all understood our new techniques, doing it was another matter. Indeed, there are no quick fixes, even if you spend 24-plus hours at it.
So what can we conclude from the three-day crash course on short game and putting? Golf is difficult, and to all those who say they simply need to practice more to get good, this would definitely change your mind. You can practice all you want with poor technique, and now I’m convinced more than ever, you won’t improve.
And if you have bad habits in your short-game shots, and almost all of us do, they are hard to undo. We learned this week that proper short-game technique is counter-intuitive to our instincts of wanting to scoop or decelerate or get our lower body ahead of the shot – all disasters in the short game.
In the end, we were left with this thought: “If you leave here with nothing else, realize this: It’s more important where you putt from than how well you putt.”
In other words, the key to lower scores is hitting good bunker shots, chips, finesses wedges and distance wedges to get it close, because no matter how good you are at putting, your chance of making long ones is slim and none.
These are skills that very few people master. So if you really want to impress your friends, find a way to get skilled in the short game.
But I won’t kid you; none of us in this small class – with two excellent instructors (Ty Waldron and Jason Sigler) watching our every move – left here with great short-game skills, although we were all vastly improved from our initial evaluation. I felt like my putting and chipping will be immediately improved, but finesse wedges and bunker play will be a work in progress.
What made this experience so valuable was that we got a plan, which included a personalized binder with critiques and fixes as well as fundamental step-by-step building blocks, complete with drills. We are not clueless anymore.
Waldron, a well-respected pro originally from Florida, said when he went through the instructor training years ago that it wasn’t until the 25th day that the light went on for pitch shots. “But once you get this,” he said, “it’s very low maintenance.”
One of my classmates asked not to be identified. He would like to surprise his playing companions in a couple of weeks or so with his improved skill, which will come after he starts to ingrain his new habits.
Our other students were Chuck and Cheryl McQueary, both of whom are retired from public service and live in our nation’s capital. I was especially impressed with the way the McQueary’s encouraged each other, a sign that they are still in love after more than 37 years of marriage. And that was truly beautiful.
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