Survive and Advance

There’s pressure and then there’s everyone you know watching you play in the shootout pressure. I can not think of a greater challenge to an average golfer than attempting important shots in front of a large home club crowd. Typically reserved for member-guest events and other such competitions, the shootout is a real torture chamber for the nerves. After a weekend of grinding through a flight of similarly skilled teams, the best of the bunch get their shot at country club glory. Shootouts are comprised of sorted personalities. Teams that have been playing together for years, partners with business relationships, family member squads, and obscure friendship duos all come for their chance at some cash and to put their name on a plaque. With dozens of on-lookers surrounding each swing, it requires tremendous concentration to perform well. Every shot is riddled with tension. Make the swing, hole the putt, or face elimination. Although the challenge of winning the shootout seems daunting, someone will indeed raise their arms and achieve the unthinkable. There are betting favorites, lovable underdogs, and of course the ones nobody can stand. With drinks flowing and players forced to play through a raucous atmosphere, there’s no telling what might happen and usually, the day is defined by a surprise putt, an unfortunate mishap, or a momentous swing nobody saw coming. That’s the beauty of it. A shootout is unpredictable but there are always countless witnesses on hand to see how a new grill room legend unfolds. It’s simply one of the best environments in golf.


If you enjoy these musings, you’ll probably like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

Five Dollars at a Time

There’s always a match taking place at my golf club. Five-dollar Nassaus get traded more than bad jokes. Even though nobody gets rich, the stakes feel high. That’s what pride will do to a golfer. Everyone wants to be a winner. Most will never lift the club championship trophy, but they can earn the feeling of getting paid by their opponent on a weekday evening in the grill room. Abe Lincoln’s face neatly folded in your wallet is a fine reward for sticking it to a friend. It always stings though when you have to hand over the cash. That’s why the matches matter. Having a little on the line will make you play harder. We inflate the importance of a five-dollar Nassau in order to feel a fraction of the nerves that come from larger events. Those three-foot putts on a Thursday night might not mean much in the grand scheme but they matter in the moment. The shots you pull off when playing against your pals become the basis for confident swings down the road. It’s good to turn up the pressure. It’s fun to play for money. We all get a little better five dollars at a time.


If you enjoy these musings, you’ll probably like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

The Short Side

Hitting an approach shot to the short side of a tucked pin is not a good feeling. It takes ample space to make a proper pitch. Having none doesn’t bode well for the prospects of an up-and-down. In such tight spots, hope for a par save seems like wishful thinking. The rescue effort still must be made though. The only priority is to get a putter in hand as soon as possible. A bad chip can take par out of reach. It’s best to sell out for the putting surface no matter what. Getting to the green is essential to the save. While it may be tempting to try something risky, the prudent path is to play well past the hole. The flat stick is a much more likely hero than the wedge. With little room to operate, the wise golfer will insist on finding salvation through a long putt rather than risk falling short again. There is no greater test of course management than this. Unfortunately, most players fail. The passing grade is awarded to the golfer who plays the odds correctly. A reasonable putt for par is all we should aim for.


If you enjoy these musings, you’ll probably like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

A Game of Misses

The golf swing is a pretty complex operation. Hitting a great shot is not an easy thing to do. Most swings will result in a miss-hit and managing those results is a key determinant for scoring. Ever since I was a boy, my Grandfather has told me that golf is a game of misses. He taught me to think in terms of where to miss best and insisted I learn the art of recovery. Both of which have shaped the way I play the game. Thanks to Gramps, I’ve developed a knack for thinking my way around a golf course and finding inventive ways to make par. Appreciating the frequency of misses is also important for keeping a level head. A miss is nothing to be mad about. It’s just a situation to deal with. Frustration will only compound the problem. A better approach is to anticipate the misses and be prepared to overcome them. It starts by playing better odds and missing in the right place as much as possible. Par is often found through the path of least resistance. As Gramps might say, “a good miss can help you get where you want to go.”


If you enjoy these musings, you’ll probably like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

The Club Life

There are a lot of good reasons to join a golf club. The most important of which is the chance to be part of a culture. Finding a proper fit is key. For me, I enjoy being able to compete with friends in an environment that is fueled by a love for the game. At our club, a shared passion for golf manifests in Tuesday skins, Friday FourBall matches, a standing game on weekends, and monthly tournaments — all of which offer an opportunity to find some small amount of fleeting personal glory. There are also endless evening walks with dogs, the sight of children running around the practice green, and many good stories shared among friends. I’m a member there because of the atmosphere we all create together. While at the club, I get to laugh a lot, and all our families at times seem to merge into one large unit. I also find plenty of chances to prove my golfing ability. The friendly and competitive nature of a club is a wonderful thing to be a part of. There’s always a game to be had and as long as you can ante up for the bet you’re in. It may not be for every golfer, but to many joining a club is the gateway to falling more in love with the game. That has certainly been the case in my life. Because of the culture, I spend a ton of time at the golf club. It’s somewhere I always long to be. The club is a part of my life and my life is part of the club. That’s a feeling I hope every golfer can have. If you can find something similar, or another culture that suits your taste, I hope you’ll dive in. There’s a lot to love about a club that feels like home.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

Member/Guest Season

I’m not sure who first invented the idea of member/guest golf tournaments, but I’m sure glad they did. Some of my favorite golf memories have been born from the long laugh-filled days of these competitions. It’s hard to have a bad time while engrossed in such an indulgent environment. When invited to play, I jump at the chance to participate. It’s a lot of fun to get lost in golf with friends for a weekend. These club tournaments are marked by heavy pours, interesting personas, and tense putts. The food spread is obscene and the smack talk is turned up to the highest level. No matter the format it’s always a good way to compete with kindred spirits. You’ve got to really love golf to spend that much time and money on it in a 48-hour window. The member/guest experience was made for the golf junkie and I’m unquestionably part of that crowd. I’ve been on some winning teams but most of my member/guest record is defined by side-splitting jokes, bets that don’t payout and playing as much as I can before having to return to the daily routine. Being in the mix is always exhilarating, however, the real enjoyment comes from the people I meet and the places I get to know better. No two events are the same and I wish I could get to play them all. Member/guest tournaments always leave me with a small headache and a smile — signs of a good time had by all. It’s a scene that suits me well.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

The Artful Dropper

It’s never a good feeling when reaching in the bag for a new ball to put in play. Losing an orb to a hazard is both frustrating and bad for scoring. It may even feel worse to find the ball and be forced to drop due to its lack of playability. Either way, when we have to reach for our rule book it’s a sign of trouble.

Dropping sounds like a simple practice, but in reality, it’s something that requires a bit of skill. There is obviously an element of chance involved — balls do bounce after all. However, the artful dropper can both find a good spot and land the ball there.

The rules for dropping have changed quite a bit over the years, but it has always been something great golfers pay special attention to. The modern version is surely to the player’s advantage. To release the ball from knee-high yields much better control over the end result. Good lies from the drop have become much more plentiful. Still, some golfers have shown a proclivity for dropping their penalty shot safely in desirable places.

A bad drop is one of golf’s worst possible results. The relief is costly, to begin with, and when it results in a poor spot to play from we feel shorted by the golf gods. With the ball in hand, it’s important that we get the drop right. Those are the little differences that add up when the round ends. Show me a golfer who carefully studies their drops and I’ll wager they have a low handicap.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

A Great Place to be Stranded

I can’t imagine how many times I’ve found myself huddled under a tree or beneath a shed with friends during a rain delay. As much as I hate to come off the course, I still enjoy the chance to catch up with my pals when there is nowhere else to go. While the water falls from the heavens we find time for jokes and country club gossip. There is chatter about those with generous handicaps, opinions on the state of the course, and lots of talk about the shenanigans we all get into together. The rain pounds the ground around us and the runoff sheets over the fairways we are escaping but under our makeshift shelter is an enjoyable environment. Belly laughs and the sound of beers opening is a perfect accompaniment to the beats of a southern thunderstorm. We check the radar, but despite seeing shades of green and red on the screen all around us there is no rush to go in. Why head for home when we can hide from the world right here a bit longer? The golf course is a great place to be stranded in a downpour. Nobody is in a hurry to break the huddle.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this year as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

Down the Stretch

Fall marks the final few holes of the year. It’s the point in the round where I start to think about the score. Even though it’s best to concentrate on the shot at hand, it’s hard not to assess how things stand. Fall is the last chance to make a run at a good number. It’s a final opportunity to turn things around. If I can finish with a flurry of good swings and perhaps make a few putts then I may just get out of this year with my head held high. It’s not a fresh start per se, but it is a reminder that I’m running out of chances to make this trip around the Sun the best it can be. If you think about a year like a round of golf, then you know how good it feels to make some birdies coming home. We all like to close well. Fall is when the final grind kicks in. It takes focus to finish strong and the cooler weather is a signal to get serious. There are only a handful of holes left this year and I plan to make the most of them. Fall is about getting back on track. With a couple of good shots and a decent break or two something special could still occur. I can still post a score that I’m proud of, but I’ve gotta get it going right now.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this Summer as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J

Being Blown About

When the wind picks up, those with a talent for getting the ball in the hole really shine. The short game matters greatly in any round, but especially when everyone is missing greens because of the howling breeze. Some players panic when the wind starts to puff while others see opportunities. There is no better equalizer than the wind and the player who can scramble tends to rise to the top. Imagination and concentration are both required to be successful with the scoring clubs — a truth most evident in a gale. The player with great touch and feel is at a tremendous advantage here. When many players become frustrated with the wind, the ones with a proper short game start seeing a path to victory. He who gets up and down conquers all.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this Summer as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J