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How to Stimulate Golf Interest Through Self-Competition

The 9th Secret

An enduring method of insuring continuous progress is to stimulate interest by competing against yourself in practice. There are a number of ways in which this can be done.

1. With putts: Putting practice on the average practice green is very tiresome, primarily because so few shots are hit in comparison with the length of time one is on his feet in playing one ball from cup to cup. A method I have found to be more effective is to practice when there are few people around. Select a hole which does not give a level putt and scatter 25 balls around the cup at a distance of about seven feet. This will come close to duplicating putting conditions as they actually are on the course. You will have straight putts down hill, straight putts up hill, all gradations of putts breaking from left to right, all gradations of putts breaking from right to left, and all the effects of grain. Jot on a score card the number made out of each 100. Then transfer these numbers to a chart which will enable you to strike an average after each 1000 putts. Compete against these scores. Interest never lags and improvement is inevitable.

2. With chips: Use a bag of 50 balls. First play them all to the nearest cup on the practice green. Jot on a score card how many result in "gimme" putts. Then play to the second nearest cup, and so on to each cup from that particular position. The next day move in the opposite direction around the green. After
you have made a complete circuit, strike a percentage. Then repeat the process, competing against your former scores.
An alternative method which takes a little more time but has a number of psychological advantages is to combine chipping with putting. Use nine of your best balls. Chip to the nearest hole, then sink the ensuing putts. Every two holes constitutes a round. Aim at getting a par of 36. The distance to the hole should be varied each time. It will surprise you to see how many chip shots will drop, and you will also be surprised at how many of the short putts will turn out to be quite difficult. The practice of putting and chipping in combination is the fastest method I know to lower scores. It is also a good way to keep your game from deteriorating if you do not have time to play full rounds very often.

3. With wedges: Beginning ten yards from the green, drop balls in a straight line away from the green at intervals of about a yard. Each shot is thus a little longer than the one before. Keep moving away from the green until you reach the distance at which the club is no longer effective. With wedges, either strike averages as before or note how many consecutive shots you make that leave you with a reasonable putt to finish the hole. With the latter system, if you want a short practice session, stop as soon as you hit five consecutive perfect shots—and then move on to practice with another club. You could extend the series to ten, or could practice until you broke your record for such shots.

4. With irons: With other clubs, move back from the green, again dropping balls at yard intervals or less. Keep a record of how many shots out of each 100 are hit to the putting surface.

5. With woods: Since there are generally 14 drives on the average 18-hole course, keep records to see how many of each 14 practice shots are good playable drives. When you arrive at a point where you can hit 14 consecutive drives in a row, you know that you cannot lose very many strokes off the tee.