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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ray Floyd's Ten Biggest Amateur Mistakes

My tagline for this blog is "It's All About the Score." While I cover a number of different things from what happens at different events to how you can improve your swing, almost any player can cut a number of strokes from his or her score by applying some simple, common sense strategy.

Raymond Floyd
Raymond Floyd won 22 official PGA Tour events that included four majors -- two PGA Championships, one US Open and one Masters. (That doesn't include his worldwide or Champions Tour wins; add those and the total jumps up around 66.) He knows a little bit about strategy.

In his 1998 book The Elements of Scoring he wrote that he struggled to become a winner when he made it onto the Tour. It was two years between his first two wins, and another four years before he won for a third time. As he put it. "I didn't run into a lot of players with more ability than I had. But on the tour, I ran into plenty who were scoring lower."

But after he turned forty -- he was nearly 44 when he won his US Open -- he says, "I had come full circle as a player -- from having all the tools but few skills, to having the skill to make the most of the tools I had left." His tools were his physical techniques, and his skill was his ability to use those techniques effectively when he didn't have his A-game.

Raymond includes a list of ten mistakes that amateurs consistently make that sabotage their games. And it was so blunt and easy to understand that I thought I'd pass it on.
  1. Underclubbing
  2. Swinging too hard
  3. Automatically shooting at the flag
  4. Not playing away from trouble
  5. Missing the green on the wrong side of the flag
  6. Trying for too much out of trouble
  7. Trying shots you have never practiced
  8. Panicking in the sand
  9. Misreading turf and lie conditions
  10. Consistently underreading the break on the greens
Then he devotes an entire chapter in the book to these problems, exploring how they show up and why you need to avoid them.

Note that only two of these -- numbers 7 and 8 -- are technique problems. The others are simply a matter of either not knowing your game or refusing to act on what you know. Raymond says that number 4, for example, is typically the result of a player trying to play a shot that he or she knows they can't play (like trying to draw the ball off a hazard when you always hit a slice).

These mistakes are simply the result of refusing to accept your limitations during a round. They add strokes to your score, strokes that you could avoid if you just used a little common sense.

Listen to what Raymond says. Avoid making these mistakes during your next round and see if your score isn't lower.

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