|Every once and awhile you come across a great golf drill that helps break up your range time. Playing the 9s is one of those great golf drills that sharpens your shot making and helps to build some confidence when you face similar challenges on course. The other component that is really enjoyable is the addition of perceived stress on each and every shot. Closely simulating, I don’t know, playing golf? Bingo! If you want to play well you must practice well. People that are aimless in practice will pretty much mimic those results when it counts. Got a question for you. Have you ever played a course with a 300 yard wide fairway? Me neither, that’s why practicing on the range without very specific targets can be detrimental.
Playing the 9s
The 9s, how do you do it and why does it work? It’s really simple, and it’s something I learned from a Golf Digest bit that Johnny Miller did a few years ago. Seen it crop up other places on YouTube, but his method seems to work best for me. Follow these steps, rinse and repeat as often as you like.
Simple right? Well, in theory it is, but it’s demanding if you have exacting standards. For example, give yourself a small target, say a 15 foot circle. When you hit the fade, make it fade into the target. Try to control the depth of the fade (how much the ball fades). If it’s an issue for you, you know where you need to improve. The straight shot is a straight shot. I’m not talking about the ball that starts out straight and leaks a little bit to the right….that isn’t what you want….you want it straight to the target. Same goes for the draw. Starting out you may only get 2 out of 9, but that’s okay. If you are really strict on your grading those misses are probably pretty serviceable come your Saturday foursome.
I can honestly say, the best I’ve ever done is 8 out of 9. The high draw eludes me, especially under pressure. Good to know for the future when htting that shot means something. You can mix the drill up if you like, start with the draws, finish with the straight shots if that jiggles the change in your pockets. Maybe you want to start with the high shots across the board, it’s all you my friend. The only rule is you have to hit all 9 shots and you only get one attempt at each. Keep score to track your ball striking progress. I’ve found I can get a lot of meaningful work in and not have to hit 500 balls in the process. Don’t be that guy hitting balls without purpose, it’s counter productive. You can up the ante further when you play with a friend. Can we say $1 a game? Now, now, not advocating gambling, just putting a little skin in the game. Make it for a coke, whatever. Practice with purpose and intention and you will see your results skyrocket.
Hope you like this drill. Drop a comment below…appreciate the feedback.
Hit’em straight and good luck on your next round.
We remain transfixed on an icon, hoping against hope the old glory will return. If you were around for the Tiger run or halfway paying attention to the world of golf in the last 20 years, you were witness to something extraordinary. As the fictional shark in the classic horror film Jaws was depicted the perfect eating machine, Tiger was likely the most efficient closer in sports history, more aptly, a “perfect” winning machine. For the sake of appearances that seemed to be the case, that’s the story the marketing gurus led us to believe. How better to sell us shoes? Tiger Woods won with a tenaciousness not seen often in the world. He was the legend of John Henry incarnate, swinging his hammer at an impossible rate. The promise of Muhammed Ali making good on declarations before entering a ring. He was Vito Corleone with an offer we simply could not refuse. His audience tuned into a pristine Sunday theater watching the red shirted gladiator eviscerate his opponents with a cold malevolence buffeted only by the tip of a Nike embroidered cap and a handshake. He, Tiger Woods, was the perfect iconic sports figure for the better part of a decade.
Those of us who were and still unabashed supporters of Tiger are left after the wreckage of his downfall to defend his greatness and sift about the shrapnel of his historic demise as an epic hero. There is an old adage….something to the effect of “don’t get too close to your heroes”. Your heroes are human flesh and bone with many of the same failings as the guy cutting you off in traffic. It’s often difficult to see them in the vivid magnification of a microscope. Prone, unprotected, decidedly pedestrian. The article The Secret History of Tiger Woods, by Wright Thompson is a very well written examination of who Tiger Woods may really be. How Superman for all his strength is really just Clark Kent, without the snug fitting pajamas. Our real guy doesn’t stand a chance with Lois Lane. He might not stand a chance with her personality filled sister. A guy searching like the rest of us, a little lost, his internal compass amiss. It’s a strangely jolting essay that conjures something in the empathetic realm stirring, at least for myself, a distant compassion for our protagonist. Tiger is a real dude, just not the one his endorsers are paying vast sums of money to promote their products. That guy is an impossibly mythic embodiment of what so many want to be the absolute….the truth as it were.
Looking at the people I follow, you know, the people who are the cool kids in class. The athletes, the entertainers, the difference makers in this world, we are so often let down by their mortal and often moral failings. After all, whom better to judge than the spectator? It just shouldn’t be, things should remain on script, heroes should never get grimy tinged with the soot of reality. In the case of Tiger, I can’t say I was surprised….I don’t know the man. When you know someone, not through the portal of spectacle, but through genuine fellowship, you have earned the “right” to be surprised. We the audience, the patrons of the world Coliseum haven’t earned that right. We haven’t the right to demand inclusion into Tigers world, yet our insatiable curiosity somehow continually prevails when it comes to this cat. We simply must know how the machine works. The all-powerful Oz must relieve us of his mystery and spill forth the secrets in his closet. Does he not have a debt to pay? It really should be “little glass houses for you and me”, not pink…John Mellencamp should rewrite his song, maybe we should make a demand? For all we really know, this article is another in the fabric of innuendo and supposition melded with some facts and some first person account. I dare not debate the veracity of this composition….it’s really fine work and I couldn’t stop my consumption. Guilty as charged, I loved the work. I am a patron after all.
I have but one hope after reading this piece. My hope is that Tiger comes back healthy. That he gets the opportunity to do what he does best and ultimately decides to leave on his terms when he sees fit. He owes us nothing, but selfishly, I want to be watching on a future Sunday rooting for Tiger the golfer. As for Tiger the man, I wish him and his family well. We know not the reality of his world. We can pretend to, but we don’t know. Honestly, do you know your next door neighbor as well as you think you do? “He was such a quiet guy, kept his yard up, always said hello…..I’m just appalled he was keeping body parts in the freezer”. So while articles like these are a form of perverse entertainment, remember, we still don’t know the whole Secret History of Tiger Woods. Only the people that are part of his inner circle are in the know….and I guarantee many of them might not know about the shallow grave in his backyard.
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A fair amount of progress and regress, such is the life of a golfer. My quest to get into the 60’s (specifically 66) has gotten off to somewhat of a tumultuous start. On a glorious late winter/ early spring Saturday 36 holes was in the cards. The schedule set up perfect for the epic day. Feeling good, body, mind and spirit. This could be the day, felt anxious to get out to the course and see what shakes out. Why so confident? Well lets take a brief examination of the reasons for my confident feelings.
My gym work has been pretty consistent and I am feeling stronger every day. As much as I hate Tony Horton, I love him. P90x is kind of my go to system for a total body workout. I call it, functional strength. At the range, the ball is coming off the club with muster and I don’t tire as easily when working on my mechanics. Ball striking and swing in general feels like it’s in a very good place. Too often we search for extra yardage and more consistent ball flight in the oceans of new equipment. Fishing for new sticks is fun, but in many cases ultimately unsatisfying and expensive. In reality, putting down the potato chips and getting off the couch can produce those sought after gains. Just to be clear, not going from the couch to the fridge…it’s to the gym my friends.
Trying to get back to a “go to” shot shape. Somehow, I randomly forgot the importance of not trying so intently to hit the ball straight. Yes, being able to hit the ball straight is good. What’s bad is when you plan for it to go straight on the golf course and it does something entirely different. I’m a fader, sometimes more than I like. Would like to consider myself a “power fader”….true most of the times with the exception of when it doesn’t, well, power fade. Why not hit it straight if I can? Hitting the ball straight is extremely difficult, especially under pressure. Having a shot shape you can hit consistently will help you score. Jack Nicklaus may be the father of this philosophy and in general I play my best golf when I remember it. The thought is you greatly expand the width of the fairway when you employ a shape to your shot. To keep it simple, if I can hit a controlled fade I can now take aim at the left side of the fairway (right handed golfer) and fade the ball to the middle. If I hit it dead straight, I’m still in the fairway, just on the left side….good to go. Provided I fade it correctly, I’m in the middle of the fairway which is never bad even if you’re laying 8. Dare say I overcook my fade, AKA a slice, I’m still in play on the right side of the fairway or in the right rough…”hang on ball, hang on”. The system works if you draw the ball as well, just reverse everything I said or look at it in a mirror. It’s not a perfect methodology, but it works if you can pull the shot off. If you snap hook your drive or completely wipe it….well, then, that’s a bad shot and I don’t care where you are aiming….it’s off the planet. You can learn more as to why in Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus.
I know, I know, it’s probably the most important part of the game. If you two putt every hole, that’s 36 shots. Halfway to par, my math is stellar in this regard and beyond reproach. You par 70 peeps, stand down, I understand your qualms with my perception of perfection. Anyway, though I putt like everyday, mostly on my Birdieball home green, I haven’t given time to actual putting practice. Say what? You know, drills, benchmarks, actual pressure putting in my practice. My lack of focus has turned me into a putting nave drunkenly putting balls across the green recklessly. Yes, in the literary world you should pick up on this fact as the use of foreshadowing. Distinctly, a restless foreboding heavy with lament and dissatisfaction. Words are so cool. Anyhow, take heed my friends…be very careful.
Epic Day- Semi Successful
The first round commenced at 8:00 am with my regular group. Skins game etc. Playing the straight ball, I hit what amounts to low left QuailDuck, a whole new breed of ugly, nestles in the fairway bunker. 170 to the hole, I hit an awesome 6 iron that’s about 2 feet short of perfection and rolls mercilessly back into a bunker fronting the the green. Hit a nice sand shot out to about 6 feet, uphill very manageable par putt. Important that we remember the foreshadowing I mentioned previously. Good putt, but I just miss, ball dives low right at the hole. From there I proceed to make 5 bogies in a row. For those following along at home, playing in a skins game and making bogies isn’t ideal. I manage to finally make a putt on the 6th hole….from a foot after an excellent chip for my first par of the day. Finished the front with 41.
The back 9 started okay, nice drive, on in two, defensive two putt, par. Birdied the 2nd whole with a 10 footer. Bogey the 3rd with a duffed chip (note to self….um don’t do that). Deftly par the 4th. Eagled the 5th from 150 out with an 8 iron…yes, a skin, thankfully. A natural 2 normally holds up, but this particular hole a lot of guys stroke on….I’m not one of them, so to be honest I was a little wary. The USGA Handicap system can give and so taketh away. From that point, smooth sailing in except for the double on 8. Hit a putrid 7 iron wipe from 160 out after a perfect drive. Short game and putting killed the mojo there. 78 final tally, actually won a couple of skins. Where do you think I might be able to make up 12 shots?
The back 18 was better in terms of my overall play. Still didn’t make many putts, but my iron game was much better so I didn’t leave many chances for untimely 3 putts. Short game was spotty which accounted for a couple of blow up holes. Namely hole number 1 which set me up with a triple to begin things. Ended up shooting 77. Now we just need to make up 11 strokes. Needless to say, a neglected short game will hurt you when you need it. Meaningful targeted practice is the key. Anyone hear an echo? Oh wait, might be the hollow in my interior of my skull.
That’s the latest update….well, to date I guess. Will shift my focus a bit to how I practice and the tools I will implement to track my course play. If you’ve ever done a P90X workout, you know Tony has this saying that gets drilled into your head. “Write it down, if you don’t know what you did, you won’t know what you have to do”. A truism in it’s finest form. If your plan is to improve, you have to keep a tally of what you did in order to know what you need to do to get better. So, we will do so and I plan to share with you some of the drills and tracking materials I use. For now, cheers and hit them straight! Wait, no, don’t do that. Hit’em with a shot shape you can repeat. Wow, that really doesn’t roll off the tongue like hit’em straight.