Decades ago, life was easy. Golf life, too. There were distance poles on the side of the fairway, indicating 100, 150 and 200 meters or yards. It was measured towards the front of the green and you would add a good portion to the green center or the flag, whatever you were aiming for.
In between poles you would either roughly estimate or pace out manually. These measures were of course very rough but fine for most golfers nonetheless for hundred years.
Then modern technology hit the golf course as well. Nowadays it’s common to ask for exact distances, and when I say “exactly”, I mean exactly. A margin of three meters doesn’t seem to be OK anymore – you need exact figures.
I couldn’t resist myself either, as you can imagine, so in the end I use both a laser and a GPS device. But let me explain what I think of both devices and what I believe these are targeted at. Because not every style of player would be equally happy with both devices.
Generally I truly appreciate the technology that made its way to golf as well. I also believe that, correctly used, it can drastically improve your game. But it does require some thought process and less ego—yes, I’m talking to you, middle aged male golfer.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we:
Continue reading GPS or laser rangefinder – that is the question
Luckily I was playing quite a bit lately, not too much, but I managed to get at least one round of golf scheduled in a week—which is quite an achievement for me. Anyway, I played often, practiced more than usual on both range and the putting green and I do see some improvement. Yes, I still do some stupid shots like anyone else but I feel more confident with my swing, get back to the touch and feel around greens I once had and my long play becomes more predictable.
One lesson learned is definitely that it was a good thing to decrease swing speed. This helped me a lot swinging on the right plane, creating a repeatable rhythm and a way to get the club to the ball always in the same horizontal and vertical axis. As well has this created a possibility for me to synchronise the upper, lower body and arms a bit better. Now I can swing easier from the outside to the inside in order to create straight shots where in the past particularly woods went way left. And in terms of distance, I might lose some metres here and there, but I’m still long enough, longer than average and I really prefer 200m straight like an arrow over 230m but 50m off line into the next water hazard. Smart course management, keep it in play, that’s what counts!
Furthermore I started to use a laser rangefinder which definitely helps on the range a lot to practice with a certain goal. Instead of just hitting bucket after bucket trying to shoot as straight as possible, I pick special targets, get the exact distance, pick the club I would have taken on the course, align and shoot. Three or four balls max, probably play around with different trajectory and backswings and then look for another target and do the same thing again.
Many more rounds to come! Surely have to do some severe putting sessions: (1) sloping and (2) distance control are on the agenda. Sometimes I struggle with wrong green reading in combination with wrong speed. Especially on very contoured greens this becomes an issue, and 3-putts are the result. In the second half of the year I try not to leave my putts short to give each and every one of them a chance. This in combination with better green reading should bring down my putting average of 36 down to something more like 30 over the next weeks.
Given the above, I’ve written down my main factors or goals I’d like to achieve over the next, say, 12 weeks:
- No triple-bogeys anymore, safety first, no snowmen on par-5s, play such a hole with one stroke more in mind, this releases pressure for the third shot into the green
- Not more than three 3-putts in one round
- Try to make at least five 1-putts
- Less than 36 putts on average per round, e.g. five 1-putts, ten 2-putts, three 3-putts (=34)
- Aim for 50% GIR, easier for par-3s and par-5s but in my case pretty tricky with par-4s
- Break 90 on every round, sounds high but actually is not easy to achieve every single round. Obviously depends on the course, but with my handicap on my home course taking into account the course rating, it’s exactly 90 what I would be allowed to score.
- Less than four strokes penalty, as well highly dependent on the course but we have water everywhere and four balls lost to water is pretty normal. But penalties kill the score and therefore should be avoided at all times.
Keep your fingers crossed!