Saturday, September 19 2020


Gizmos and the short game

Update: July, 22/2018 - 09:00

by Robert Bicknell

A recent study looked at how often different groups of players get up and down from around the green. The pros do it 65 per cent of the time. A 10 handicap does it 30 per cent of the time. And a 25 handicap does it 15 per cent of the time. 

OK, it’s easy to understand why the pros can do it 65 per cent of the time because they have the skill to pull off almost any shot they want. They have many different shots in their arsenal and can use many different clubs. To be honest, the only reason why it’s 65 per cent instead of 85-90 per cent is because their playing conditions (READ: 10-12 speed greens) are more difficult.

Ten handicappers have more skills than the 25 handicappers and the sad fact is that high handicap players almost never spend enough time practicing the short game. I see this every day at the driving ranges when I teach. Everyone wants to hit the long ball, but relatively few bother to spend an hour chipping and putting.

The fact of the matter is that the easiest way to lower your scores is to focus on the short game.

Statistics don’t lie.

Nex time you go to the practice range, set aside 30-60 minutes for chipping, putting and sand practice. Practice chipping different distances with different clubs, don’t just rely on the wedge because it’s a low percentage club. You’ll be surprised how fast your game improves.

Here’s a case of putting your money where, not only your mouth is, but also where your heart is…

The Bluffs at the Ho Tram Strip once again sponsored a huge Việt Nam Junior Open for 100 players. This is the 4th year in a row that they have sponsored it and, being the Bluffs, it’s not just a few per cent discounts, but the whole shebang.

The Bluffs provided one practice round, plus three tournament rounds for free, plus discounts on rooms at the Grand Hotel and food.

Obviously, the Bluffs understands that to grow the game you need to start with the kids and they are 100 per cent correct. All growth starts with the youngest and moves progressively upwards. Sure, it’s nice to have wealthy 50-year olds shelling out big bucks on memberships and green fees, but they are the “now” and not the future.

Golf is, and always has been about “sustainability.”

When we build and maintain golf courses, we strive to do so in such a way the club will last for 50-100 years with minimal repairs and changes. We also consider the land around us when designing.

For example, when I built the 18-hole, Par 3 course at Trang An, we had to cut around 2,000 pine trees from the forest. But to offset that, I replanted three new pine trees for every one tree cut. This ensure the forest will be there for future generations to enjoy.

It’s the same with junior golf.

For every adult player we should have at least two or three new youngsters learning the game. This will ensure that golf will be around for a long time. Sustainability.

Of course, the biggest problem is getting the kids to put down the smart phones and iPads long enough to understand there is a world of fun out there that doesn’t require WIFI access. I know because I am at war constantly with my 13-year old daughter who seems to have a gizmo in her hand during every waking moment.

Now I understand why my father acted the way he did.

Fortunately, she does enjoy golf from time to time, but I require her to do homework first and golf second because, well, priorities.

Junior golf should be a big priority in Vietnam if we want to ensure the game is around for a long time. Besides that, it also provide a safe outdoor activity for them. They get physical exercise, fresh air and they learn how important it is to know the rules.

The bottom line is that many clubs in Viet Nam claim to be the best, but The Bluffs demonstrates why they are the best time after time. First the Asian Tour with Sergio, now full sponsored Junior events.

Now, will other clubs follow in their footsteps? — VNS

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