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For better golf, read the course, be the ball.

“Golf is a simple game made too difficult by too many.”
-- Abendroth @ ’95.

That is a quote that I came up with a few years ago that described how I felt about the playing of golf and how it can be more simple than people make it. Today, let me talk about a variety of issues like reading greens, playing the wind and elevation changes that affect your golf ball.

Reading the wind and reading the greens is like an art, because there is no absolute to the facts and it is something you do by feel and it affects every person differently. If you can learn to not be confused by these factors it may help you.

First of all, think of the break of the greens as it relates to drainage of water. Look around the green and you can typically see where the higher points are. For example, if the bunker on the left side of the green is higher than the bunker on the other side, then that is the direction the green will break away from. This will also help you know if you are putting uphill or downhill to adjust for the speed of your putt. If you are chipping to the green, or another player is hitting before you, pay attention to that shot as you can really learn a lot.

If the green is dry and fast, the putt will typically break more that if the grass is long with dew on it as those will not be as fast or break as much.

Now let’s talk about the wind. It is unfair, I find, that you do not get as much help hitting into the wind as you do with the wind behind you. If you are hitting uphill and into the wind there is even more effect. The stronger player likely will have less effect on his ball in the wind while the weaker player or weaker shot will be more affected. So the point is, you need to take these things into consideration when hitting your shot.

Some players will try to hold a shot into the wind. Let’s say you are a right handed player, wind from left to right. You would try to hook the ball slightly to battle the wind and hit a more straight shot. One trick that I use is to not try to hit this shot very hard, as it is harder to draw the ball, but to swing easy on these.

Playing into a wind of 20 miles per hour, that may be a 2-club wind, or even 3-clubs if uphill. So if you are thinking about hitting an 8-iron with no wind, it could be as much as a 5-iron. Again, I don’t like to swing hard at these, because if you swing really hard, the ball will actually go higher into the air and now the wind will affect the shot even more.

So these ideas need to be practiced a bit and as the ideas sink in to the computer that is our brain, you can adjust on the course. Have fun with these different shots and you will play better golf and have more fun.

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