The Masters: 14 Little Known Fun Facts About Augusta National

Masters

 
If you’re like me, the beginning of Masters Week is filled with more anticipation than the coming of Christmas morning. I start thinking about the iconic CBS golf announcer Jim Nantz and his famous “Hello Friends” opening line to begin weekend coverage and it sends chills down my spine.

It’s the same for me every year. The week begins with watching Golf Channel’s Live from the Masters on Monday morning. Next comes the flood of e-mails in my inbox from friends inviting me to join Masters pools. After the beating I take every year in March Madness I probably shouldn’t allocate any more funds, but I do anyway. Then comes the Par 3 contest on Wednesday afternoon where wives and kids get to caddy in oversized white jumpsuits and the roars of tee shots finding the bottom of the cup echo through the Georgia pines. By the time Thursday coverage starts it’s been made clear to my girlfriend that I am not to be bothered with yoga classes or healthy food for the next four days. To cap it off on Sunday, I invite anyone that wants to join over to watch the final round where we eat too many pimento cheese sandwiches, drink sweet tea (mixed with something else) and dress in Master’s green.

the masters
The Masters. Source lincolncitygolf.org

 
For most golfers, the Masters is indeed a tradition unlike any other. Not only is it the symbolic beginning of spring and the first major of the year, but it’s also the only one that returns to the same venue every year. What began as a vision of the great Bobby Jones to be a gathering of friends nearly a century ago has become the most celebrated tournament in the game. Over the years there have been career-defining moments that we all remember but there are also countless stories and anecdotes that are less told but equally important. If you’re curious to know a little more about the hallowed grounds of Augusta National and the Masters, read on.
 

Alister McKenzie Never Saw the Finished Product of the Course He Designed

Alister McKenzie was a renowned golf course architect who designed some of the most revered courses in the world dating from 1905 until 1933 when he completed his final work, Augusta National. When the club’s founder, Bobby Jones, played Cypress Point in California (another McKenzie design) he knew McKenzie was the man he wanted to design Augusta National. With the course ready to open its doors and the inaugural Master’s tournament slated for the early spring of 1934, McKenzie passed away on January 6th just a couple months before the tournament was to be held.
 

the masters
Alister McKenzie. Source myusualgame.com

 

Tournament Officials Kick Announcers Off the Air if They Don’t Follow the Rules

There is no denying that the decorum expected at the Masters is unlike anything else in all of sports. For announcers doing the broadcast, spectators are to be referred to as patrons or gallery. Calling them fans is strictly forbidden. Just asked Gary McCord and Jack Whitaker who violated the rule and were promptly dismissed from their posts.
 

Gary Player is the Only Masters Winner Not to Have His Jacket Kept at Augusta National

When Gary Player won the first of his three green jackets in 1961, he took the jacket with him as winners are allowed to do. Augusta asks that jackets be returned the following year where they will be stored from then on. In the years that followed his victory, Player developed a habit of perpetually forgetting to return his jacket. It is now on display at the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida.
 

the masters
Gary Player. Source golfdigest.com

 

It Hasn’t Always Been Called the Masters

When the tournament was first played in 1934, it was called the Augusta National Invitational. It wasn’t until 1938 that founding member Clifford Roberts coined the term Masters. Fellow co-founder Bobby Jones never like the term and often referred to the tournament as the “so-called Masters.”
 

Augusta National Couldn’t Afford to Pay the Purse to the First Winner

Horton Smith was the first winner of the Masters. The initial plan was for the club to have 1,800 members from which revenue would be generated and purse could be paid. At the time of the first Masters, however, the club only had 76 members and there wasn’t enough money to pay the winner. Horton eventually collected thanks to a private collection taken up by the membership.
 

the masters
Horton Smith. Source golfhistorytoday.com

 

Augusta National Closed During WWII

Despite several attempts to raise money to keep the doors open, Augusta National was forced to close during WWII. During the war, the club used the land to raise cattle and turkeys in a failed attempt to make money.
 

Green Jackets Were A Bit of an Accident

In 1939 members of Augusta National decided to all wear green jackets so that spectators (patrons) could easily identify them and ask questions. It wasn’t until 1949 that Sam Snead was the first winner to receive a green jacket.
 

Green Jackets
The Masters. Source upi.com

 

Local Caddies?

It wasn’t until 1982 that players were allowed to bring their own caddies. Prior to then, they were assigned local caddies who knew the course inside and out. One of the most notable local caddies of all time is Carl Jackson who began caddying for Ben Crenshaw in 1976. The relationship continued for more than 30 years.

One of the most indelible images is Masters history is the two embracing on the 18th green in 1995 after Crenshaw’s emotional win shortly after the death of his lifelong friend and coach, Harvey Penick the week before the tournament.
 

How Did Rae’s Creek Get its Name?

The iconic creek that meanders through holes 11-13, known as Amen Corner, was named for the property’s original owner, John Rae, who passed away in 1789 long before Americans even knew what golf was.
 

Rae’s Creek
Rae’s Creek. Source theaptc.com

 

The Masters Almost Never Came to Be!

In 1934 founding members Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones petitioned the USGA to host the US Open. When the USGA denied their request, they decided to host their own tournament called the Augusta National Invitational.
 

Arnie’s Army Started at the Masters

In 1958 Augusta National granted military personnel from a nearby army base free admission to the tournament. As a former military man, Arnold Palmer was a huge hit with all the soldiers in attendance. As Palmer passed a scoreboard during the tournament, a military member hung a sign that read “Arnie’s Army” and the moniker is still used to describe the King’s fans today.
 

Arnie’s Army
The Masters. Source golf.com

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower Is More Than A General and President

Eisenhower is the only president to have ever been a member at Augusta National. On hole 17 a large tree overhung the fairway on the left side that Eisenhower purportedly hit more than any other member. The tree affectionately became known as the Eisenhower tree. Unfortunately, the tree was cut down after it suffered serious damage during an ice storm in the winter of 2014.
 

Whose Jeff Knox?

Anytime an odd number of players making the cut at the Masters, a marker plays with the first player out on Saturday and Sunday morning. So who is the marker at Augusta? None other than Jeff Knox. And Knox isn’t just some 4-handicap that’s lucky enough to play alongside the game’s greats. He’s not only an Augusta member but the guy can flat out play. He holds the course record from the member tees at 61. He’s won the Georgia Mid-Amateur three times. He’s also a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

When Knox plays as a marker his score is not officially reported but it’s pretty well known that the 50+-year-old has a decent record against some of the game’s best notably beating the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. If you ever get the chance to watch the Masters early on Saturday or Sunday morning, keep an eye out for this guy.

 

A Tradition of Amateurs

Augusta’s founding members, Clifford Roberts, and Bobby Jones were both amateurs their entire career. That tradition continues to be reflected at the Masters every year. The winner and runner-up of the U.S. Amateur and winners of the British Amateur, Asia-Pacific Amateur, Latin America Amateur, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur all receive invitations to the Masters the following year. While it’s rare that one of these players finds there a way to the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon, the amateur with the lowest score at the end of the tournament receives the Low Amateur award and a piece of coveted Augusta crystal for the feat.

If you’re a golfer and the Masters isn’t your favorite tournament of the year, you need to have your head examined. With the trimmings of southern hospitality and a rich golfing history steeped in tradition, there exists no greater stage in the world for the best players usher in the beginning of spring. While we all remember Nicklaus’ iconic win in 1986, Larry Mize’s chip-in on hole 11 to beat Greg Norman in a playoff in 1987 and Tiger’s 12-shot victory in 1997, there is so much more to the Masters worth mentioning that goes overlooked. As you watch the Masters this year, take time to appreciate the minor details and little tidbits that are barely mentioned and you’re viewing experience will only be enhanced. In the meantime, I have to get to the ATM and turn in my pools.
 

Learn How to Hit a Draw in 3 Easy Steps

How to Hit a Draw

 
There’s a reason golf course homes on the right side of holes are cheaper than the ones on the left. It’s because 90% of golfers are right-handed and hit slices that break windows and land in swimming pools on the right side. If you’re like me, you’ve hit plenty of sliced, weak shots to right that either end up out-of-bounds or short and right your intended target. You know that hitting a draw (right-to-left shot) is preferred because it goes farther and isn’t as affected by the wind. But for the life of you, you can’t seem to make it happen. You’re in luck as we are here to help.

Hitting a Golf Ball
 

Understanding the Difference Between a Hook and Draw and a Slice and Fade

The lexicon of golf is bewildering at best. While you probably have a grasp of the terms that describe a shot that curves right (slice and fade) and one that curves left (hook and draw) the distinctions go a touch further to define what you’re really after.

A slice is a shot that curves hard to the right and ends up in trouble. A fade is a shot that curves slightly to the right but is controlled.

Conversely, a hook is a shot that curves hard left into the junk. Draws are controlled shots that move gently from right-to-left.

 

What Makes a Golf Ball Curve?

There are a few factors that cause a shot to curve either right or left.
 

Swing Path

Chances are you slice the ball more often than you draw it. If pay close attention, your shots probably start left of your intended target before slicing. The reason slices start left is because the club is traveling on an outside to inside path (moving left to right, this being for a right-handed player) through impact.

Outside to Inside
Outside to Inside

 

Face Angle

Face angle is what causes shots to spin one direction or the other. If the clubface is open at impact (pointing to the right for righties) the ball will curve to the right or slice. If the face closed at impact (pointing to the left for right-handers) the ball will curve to the left.

Having a basic understanding of swing path and face angle gives you a base from which you can start to turn that viscous slice into a controlled draw. We polled a number of top PGA Pros and below are our best tips for hitting draw

For players that start the ball slightly right of the target and hit draws, the path is inside to out through impact.

Inside to Outside
Inside to Outside

 

Setup

As with any shot in golf, setup is where everything begins. If you don’t get setup correct every time, you’re setting yourself up for inconsistency and unnecessary compensations during your golf swing. If you’re going to learn to hit solid shots repeatedly you have to make sure your feet, shoulders and hips are all aligned to the target, your ball position is where it needs to be and your posture is correct.

Alignment

When you’re setting up to any full shot, picture a train track starting at your ball and running to the target. The ball and clubface should align with the outside rail pointing directly at the target. Your feet, hips and shoulders are the inside rail and point parallel left to the target for right handed players.

If your clubface and ball are not pointed at the target or your feet, hips and shoulders aren’t parallel, your chances of hitting a solid shot in the intended direction are slim.

Ball Position

As we discussed in our article How to Hit a Driver, the position of the ball is going to vary depending on what club you have in your hands. While drivers, fairway woods and irons should be played forward in your stance, irons and wedges should be in the middle. Getting the postion of the ball correct for the club and type of shot you’re playing is crucial.

Posture

The golf swing is an athletic motion and having proper posture gives you a solid base and while allowing you to swing in balance. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width, your knees a little flexed and your torso tall and solid. Notice how much more athletic the posture on the left looks than on the right.

How to Hit a Draw
Golf Posture. Source meandmygolf.com

 

3 Easy Steps to Hitting a Draw

Step 1 – Create an Inside to Outside Swing Path

One of the toughest things about the game of golf is that what you feel like you’re doing is most often a lot different than what you’re actually doing. In the case of most amateur players that slice the ball, the feeling of golf swinging the club from the inside is usually a path that is either still slightly outside to in or straight down the target line. This is easy to check by taking just a few short videos of your golf swing from the down the line angle. If you find yourself struggling to deliver the club to impact from the inside, try dropping your right foot back at address. This allows you to create more room to make a full shoulder turn on the way back and for the club to come from the inside on the downswing.
 

Step 2 – Swing Your Arms Around Your Body

When you’re first starting to learn hitting a draw, make it a point to emphasize your arms swinging around body as opposed to up and down. Players that slice the ball have swings that are too vertical, creating a steep chopping motion. Moving your arms around your body creates a flatter move that has the club coming from the inside instead of the outside through impact.
 

Step 3 – Remember to Have Low Hands on the Finish

Next time you’re watching the Pros on television, make it a point to notice the position of their hands on the finish. Players trying to hit fades will finish with their hands level or above the head. Conversely, players trying to hit draws will finish with their hands much lower, at or just above their front shoulder.
 

Two of the Best Practice Drills to Help you Hit a Draw

If you’re serious about learning to hit a draw instead of slice, you need to realize that it isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of practice and there are sure to moments of frustration when you feel like throwing in the towel. To help you get the most out of your practice, we’ve listed are best drills for creating a repeatable swing that hits the ball right-to-left.
 

Water Bottle Drill

This is my all-time favorite drill because the feedback is instantaneous. All you need is a bucket of range balls and half-filled plastic water bottle. To begin, set the water bottle two or three inches behind the ball and just outside the target line.

From here all you’re trying to do is swing the club from the inside without hitting the bottle. If the club hits the bottle, it’s a sure sign you’re club is moving from the outside to the inside instead of the inside to the outside. This might seem extremely awkward at first and your contact won’t be solid. That’s okay, you’re making a drastic change to the path of your swing so stay patient.


 

Alignment Stick Starting Line

Once you feel confident that your swing the club from the inside to the out, it’s time to put it to the test. Remember, a proper draw is a shot that starts right of the target and curves a little left back to it. For this drill, take an alignment rod and stick in the ground a few yards in front of your ball exactly on the target line.

Once you’re set up, hit a few shots trying to start the ball to the right of the stick and watch it curve back to your target. Once again, this might take a fair bit of practice but once you can do it consistently, it’s something that you should be able to take to the course.

How to Hit a Draw
Alignment Stick Drill. Source youtube.com

 

Video Guide on How to Hit a Draw

 

Draws and Course Management

Hitting a reliable draw is the holy grail for any player that fights a slice and wants to hit solid shots that go farther on a consistent basis. Even if you’ve mastered hitting a draw consistently, it doesn’t mean that you should fire at every flag and hit driver off every tee.

Tee shots on dog-leg right holes might not suit your eye as well as someone that plays a fade. To give yourself the best chance of hitting the fairway, make sure you tee up on the far left side of the tee box. This maximizes the amount of room you have to start your tee shot down the right side and let it work back to the middle. If you feel like your driver might go through the fairway, don’t be afraid to sacrifice a little distance for accuracy and use a fairway wood or hybrid.

When your tee shot finds the fairway, it’s tempting to fire your approach straight at the flag regardless of where it’s located on the green. There are some flags that are tough to get at with a draw however. A great example is a flag that is cut in the front, right part of the green over a bunker. In order to get this shot close, you have to start it out over the bunker, hope it curves back and flies the exact right distance. The chances missing this shot in a bad spot and making a big number are high. The smart play is to start your shot at the pin and let it curve to the middle of the green leaving yourself 20 or 30 feet and virtually guaranteeing an easy par at worst.
 

Conclusion

Learning to hit a draw consistently will do wonders for your golf game. Your shots will travel farther, fight through the wind, your confidence will grow and you’re sure to shoot lower scores. The road to get there however, is one that takes time and a lot of practice. But if you’re willing to fight through occasional frustration and stay the course, you’ll come out on the other side a much more complete and consistent player.

A Practical Guide to Leading Your Next Golf Buddies Golf Trip

golf buddies

 
Aside from waking up to watch the final round of the Masters or every round of the British Open, I relish my annual golf trip with my buddies more than anything else. The trip gives us a chance to get away from our better halves and enjoy some much-needed camaraderie amongst ourselves for a few days.

I’ve been doing these golf-centric rendezvous for several years and have learned my share of do’s and don’ts. As I grow older, I have come to realize that these trips aren’t about cramming in 36 holes a day for a week straight. Been there, done that and it doesn’t work. What I have come to realize is that we aren’t as young as we once were, and people have obligations of family, work, coaching and financial limitations that make dream trips to Pinehurst or the British Isles nothing more than a dream.

The good news is that you can still book your annual buddies’ trip, not break the bank and have a great time. Below are my best tips to make sure that everyone has a good time on the trip you think about all year.
 
Golf Buddies
 

You Don’t Need to Drink Champagne on a Beer Budget when with your Golf Buddies

I’m fortunate to live in the great state of Oregon and Bandon Dunes is the site of my annual golf trip. It’s affordable for Oregonians in the winter. I’m lucky.

A successful golf trip with your buddies doesn’t have to be hallmarked by exclusive courses that cost an arm and a leg. I remember a spur-of-the-moment boys trip to Boise, Idaho in September where we never paid more than $60 for a green fee, cart included.

With a little research, it’s easy to find places that everyone can get to and there are hundreds of quality courses that fit everyone’s budget. If you do this work upfront, you’ll attract more players and you’re sure to have trip to remember.
 

Start Planning Early

Whether your group is four or 44, planning is key to a successful buddie’s trip. The last thing you want is any loose ends not to be tied up.

Planning can start as far out as six months in advance. A good place to begin is an email thread that invites everyone on the trip and let’s them know that spots are limited. Doing this and asking for commitments in advance plants a seed. You’ll likely get a barrage of responses that say, “I’m think I’m in” or “Sounds great and I’ll get back to you.” While this is annoying, at least you can establish a baseline of what your budget and reservations look like.

From here you can start making tee times and reservations for places to stay. If you do these things in advance, it’s likely you’ll receive favorable treatment of discounted rates on both rooms and golf.
 

Fast Pay Makes Fast Friends

After you send out that initial e-mail it’s important to start collecting deposits. Even if it’s just $50 per guy for rooms, collecting this money upfront alleviates your liability and gives your golf buddies an incentive to see their commitment through. Trust me on this one, I’ve made the mistake of paying before collecting and I won’t ever do it again.
 

Be Fair and Be Square, Remember these are your Golf Buddies

 
You’re at the point that you have some commitments and deposits. Now the real fun begins. You need to communicate the format to everyone involved. Unless you’re spending your last penny to go on this trip in the first place, chances are you and your buddies want to enjoy some friendly competition with a few dollars involved. On my annual trip, each player pays $40 a day that goes toward daily skins and payout as well as the overall pot. If you have one good day, you’re sure to break even at worse.

The biggest key is to make the format fun and competitive. After you get everyone’s updated handicap, your options are virtually limitless. Below is my favorite format for groups for four or more. Feel free to get as creative as you want.
 

Ryder Cup

While it’s not likely you’re going to attract passionate fans from both sides of the Atlantic and be broadcasted on national television, there’s nothing better than a friendly competition that divides your group in two. Using the match play format, you can come up with creative pairings that award each match a point toward the team total. The team that ends up with the most points at the end of your trip leaves with a few bucks, bragging rights and a “trophy.”
 

Speaking of Trophies

Golf Buddies
 
Belts with huge buckles were cool for a short while but they aren’t anymore. When you’re on a buddies’ golf trip, you’re not vying for the world heavyweight boxing title. You should choose an award that is special to the group. For me, the winning team wins not only a few bucks but a coveted chalice that I purchased for $12.50 at a thrift shop when I was in college. That’s a story for another time but it’s sacred in our group. Your prize should be too.
 

Too Much Golf

Whether your trip is for a weekend of a week, there is a lot more involved than the golf. At the end of the day it’s about spending quality time with friends you don’t get to see every day.

I remember the first time I flew in three friends to my hometown in Oregon and arranged world-class golf for six straight days. By day four, we were all burnt out and no one wanted to play the last two days. If you’re going to be at a destination more than two or three days, taking a day off in the middle of the trip is a wonderful idea. Let your friends explore the local sites on their own and meet in the evening for a great meal where everyone has a chance to catch up and recant the day’s non-golf adventures.
 

The Best Things Come in Moderation, Including Moderation

This trip is your one chance to cut loose and have a good time with your friends. You should enjoy yourself. There’s going to be a night or two when everyone wants to tell the same stories from a decade ago just like they did last year. This is usually accompanied by some food and some adult beverages. Have fun. You’re only with this group once a year… But remember you still must play golf the next day.
 

Early Bird Get’s the Worm, Said No One Ever on a Golf Trip

Golf Buddies
 
Don’t get me wrong, I love being the first group out on a Saturday morning when my surroundings are quiet, and the smell of freshly mown grass permeates the air. As romantic as these rounds are most days of the year, getting proper sleep on your buddies’ trip is imperative for everyone. Chances are there are going to be some late evenings and the libations will flow so there’s no sense in making early tee times. Teeing off between 10:00am and 11:00am gives everyone the chance to sleep in and have a leisurely morning.
 

Sandbaggers Beware

Chances are your group represents a wide spectrum in terms of ability, so you need to play a net format where appropriate handicaps are given and make agreed upon adjustments after each round.

I remember being on a trip one year and the first day my opponent was a 16 handicap and shot 74. Safe to say I didn’t stand a chance and was not a happy camper after the round. Much to this player’s dismay, his handicap was adjusted for the rest of the trip and he was never invited back. You don’t want to have anyone like this guy in your group.

While people do play above their expected levels from time to time, adjusting at the end of play each day keeps everyone competitive and in the game.
 
Golf Buddies
 

Conclusion

Trips with your golf buddies can be a lot of fun. They give you a chance to bond once a year for a few days and don’t have to cost a fortune. If you start planning early and make sure everyone is on the same page with each facet of the trip, you’re sure to make memories that last a lifetime and create a tradition you can look forward to for years to come.
 

The Secret to Hitting a Golf Driver Straight and Far

How-to-hit-a-driver-2-1

 
If you’re reading this article, then you’ve probably been left speechless while watching golfers with names like Rory, Dustin, Jason, Justin, and Brooks bomb drives down the center of the fairway on Sunday afternoons. Top Tracer Technology, employed by NBC, CBS, the Golf Channel, and others, shows us real time data, such as 180 mph ball speeds and 335 yard carry distances. For the best in the world the driver is a critical offensive weapon and it should be for you too. Although you probably won’t sniff the numbers of the flat-bellies on TV, there are some basic things you can employ to help you hit longer and straighter drives more consistently.
 

What’s a House Without a Foundation?

How to hit a driver
 
Setup, setup, setup!

In my teaching I constantly hear people tell me about all their swing ailments and what they read in the latest version of Golf Digest. After watching them hit a few errant shots, I inevitably stop the lesson and have the following conversation:

Teacher: “So [insert student name] you live in a nice house. It’s full of all the things you treasure in life: family pictures on the wall; granite countertops in the kitchen; and that his and hers bathroom you’ve always dreamed of.”

Student: “Yes! I love my house.”

Teacher: “What would happen to your house if it didn’t have a foundation?”

Student: “It would crumble around me.”

Teacher: “Correct. Think of the golf swing the same way. Your swing, even with all its quirks, is capable of producing decent golf shots. Without a proper setup, however, you create bad habits that lead to mishits and inconsistency.”

The truth is that setup is something any golfer can get right every time. The setup is the foundation that allows the swing to happen. And the best part? It’s easy! You haven’t even started your swing yet!
 

Driver Setup

The setup with the driver is a little different than with irons. Because the ball is on a tee, you’re actually trying to catch it slightly on the upswing. For this reason, your ball position should be slightly inside your target-side foot (left foot for right-handed players).

How to hit a driver
 
When you set up with irons, you’ll notice that your shoulders are fairly level. This position helps to create a slightly descending angle of attack, with the hands and shaft leaning ahead of the ball at impact. Since you’re trying to catch the driver on the upswing, however, tilt your spine slightly back so that your front shoulder is a little higher than your back shoulder. This will help you stay behind the shot and catch it solidly every time.

How to hit a driver
 
Because most amateurs want to hit the driver as hard as they can, they unconsciously grip the life out of the club at address. If you’re gripping the club too hard, then you’ll see the whites of your knuckles and even the veins in your forearms. If you have tension at address, any chance of making a smooth swing in good tempo is gone. While you want control of the club, make sure your hands, wrists, and forearms are relaxed.

Before you head to the range and try to fix your swing with every tip you’ve ever read, take time to check your setup and the three keys mentioned above. Chances are that many of your problems can be solved before you take the club back.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

As mentioned above, most golfers equate swinging fast with hitting the ball far. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you overswing, you rarely catch the ball solidly and the result is a shot that travels way off line.

Two of the best driver swings in the game are Vijay Singh and Fred Couples. Even at over 50 years old, both these players still boom it and they never look like they’re in a hurry. The key to their long and accurate drives is the time they take at the top of their backswing. By taking an extra second or feeling like there is a short pause, you give the shaft time to fully load and your body a chance to sync all the energy you’ve built up. From here, you’re able to make your downswing with proper timing and deliver the face square to impact.

I recommend watching some video of both Vijay Singh and Fred Couples to gain a visual sense of what it means to “take your time” at the top.
 

Fred Couples Explains the Key to His Golf Swing

 

Balance is Key

I get the question in nearly every lesson I give, “How hard can I swing?” The answer is simple—as hard as you want, BUT you have to maintain your balance. If you’ve spent time watching any of the names mentioned at the beginning of this article, then you can count on one hand the number of times they have lost their balance. Of course they are finely tuned athletes that spend hours in the gym, but the truth remains: if you’re not in balance, then you’ve got no chance of consistently hitting solid drives.

A great way to tell if you’re swinging in balance is seeing if you can hold your finish until the ball lands. If you can do this consistently with a driver, then you’re swinging in control and within yourself. You may look kind of silly holding your finish for so long, but trust me, your long game will thank you for it.
 

The Fairway Isn’t Your Target

When most players bring the driver out of the bag they are aiming for the fairway. Sounds pretty reasonable right? Aren’t you supposed to hit your tee shot on that big beautiful piece of turf? The answer is, yes. In order to hit more fairways though, picking a precise aiming point like a tree or the edge of a bunker, narrows your focus and gives you greater margin for error.

If you watch the best players in the world, they all start their routine from behind the golf ball. This allows them to find a fixed point at which to aim their drive. Next time you go to the range, do this on every shot until it becomes second nature.
 

Have a Go-To Shot

How to Hit a Driver
 
Anytime you pull the big stick out of your bag, you should make an aggressive move. But there are certain holes on every course that really test your mettle off the tee. If you’re going to make a good score, then you have no choice but to find the fairway.

It’s on these holes that it’s crucial to have a “go-to” shot that you’re confident in. A great way for many players to develop a reliable shot is to tee the ball lower. When you tee the ball down, the flight is lower, so it spends less time in the air where it has a chance to curve off line or be affected by wind. A lower shot hits the ground running, will end up in the fairway, and will cost you only minimal distance.
 

Conclusion

While the putter is unquestionably the most important club in your bag, getting off the tee consistently gives you the chance to score well and build confidence. If you find yourself struggling to hit fairways or getting the distance you want, then remember these tips before you go read another instructional article or buy the latest training aid. Until next time, keep it in the short grass.
 
 

24 of the Most Popular Golf Betting Games to Play at the Golf Course

Golf-games-1

 
While golf is a game you play for leisure, chances are you relish a little competition with your buddies as well. Not only does having a friendly match against friends give you a chance for bragging rights, it makes you better. You’re not likely to be playing for millions of dollars on Sunday afternoon, but you can still spice up your game with a friendly wager. That’s why we’ve compiled our comprehensive list of golf games ranging from the friendliest and most basic to some that are more complex and could leave your wallet a little lighter or heavier depending on the outcome.

When considering a game with your buddies, it’s important to account for everyone’s handicap to keep the playing field fair. For example, if your handicap is 12 and your partner’s is 15, your partner should be spotted one stroke on the three hardest holes (holes with handicaps of one, two and three). Handicaps for each hole can be found on your scorecard. This form of a game is called a “net” scoring, whereas a match where no strokes are given is called “gross” scoring.
 

The Top 24 Most Popular Golf Betting Games

Golf Games
 

Stroke Play

Stroke play is the most commonly played game in the United States. In stroke play, players each count all their shots throughout the round and add them up at the end. The winner is the player with the lowest total score.

Match Play

Match play is a format that tracks how many holes a player has won against his or her partner. The preferred game in the British Isles, a player’s total strokes only matter on a hole-by-hole basis. If player A scores four on a hole and player B scores 6, player A is said to be “one up”. Whichever player wins the greater number of holes in a match is the winner.

Stableford

Stableford scoring is another alternative to stroke play in which points are used to tally a player’s score. Though there are variations, one point is awarded for a bogey, two points for a par, three for a birdie, four for an eagle, and five for a double-eagle. The winner is the player with the highest point total at the end of the match.

Best-Ball

A best-ball format is a game for foursomes when players are split into two-member teams. The lowest score of each team is counted on each hole. For example, if player A makes five and player B makes four, the score of four is recorded for the team on that hole. This game is often played in a match play format.

Golf Games
 

Scramble

Scrambles are a fun format that encourage low scores and can be played with anywhere from two to four players. To begin, each player hits a tee shot and the best shot is chosen. All players hit from that spot and the best shot is again chosen. The process is repeated until the ball is holed. This is a great format for company fundraisers or less competitive tournaments where the emphasis is on having fun.

Alternate Shot

Alternate shot is one of the most difficult formats around. Two-person teams simply alternate shots until the ball is holed. If player A tees off, player B hits the second shot. In the traditional format, one player tees off on even holes and the other on odd holes. Alternate shot match play is a great format for foursomes when all players are of similar ability.

Chapman

The Chapman format is similar to alternate shot but with a slight twist. Each player on a two-person team tees off. Player A then hits players B’s second shot and vice versa. After the best second shot is chosen, alternate shot is played until the ball is holed.

Nassau

Nassau is a popular game played head-to-head or with two-player teams pitted against each other. Most often played using match play, the score on the front nine is worth one bet, the back nine score one bet, and the 18-hole total another bet.

Golf Games
 

Skins

Skins is a great game for two or more players. A player is said to have won a “skin” when he records a score lower than anyone else in the group on a particular hole. If the low score is tied, the skin is carried over to the next hole making it worth two skins and so on. The player with the most “skins” at the end of the round wins.

Bisque

Bisque can be played with just two players or among multiple groups. A variation on “net” scoring where players get additional shots relative to par on the most difficult holes, bisque allows players to instead choose the holes they want strokes on prior to the round. Stroke play scoring is used and the lowest 18-hole score wins.

O.N.E.’s

Ones is popular among groups that play on weekly basis. O.N.E.’s is a net game where a player’s total score is determined by adding scores together only on holes that end in O, N, or E (holes 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18).

Best Nine

This game is great for players with higher handicaps or those who are prone to the occasional blowup hole. Players’ scores are simply their nine low scores on the card. Best nine is fun to play among multiple groups.

Golf Games
 

Triple Six

A game meant for foursomes, triple six sees each player pairing with another in six-hole matches. Player A and player B play against player C and player D for the first six holes, players A and C pair against players B and D for the next six holes and players A and D pair against players B and C for the final six holes. The most popular scoring system for this format is best-ball.

Gruesomes

Gruesomes is a great game that sure to incite good-natured ribbing among friends. Perfect for foursomes made of two two-member teams, each player on a team hits a tee shot and the other team picks the worst tee shot from where alternate-shot is played until the ball is holed. Match play is the best scoring format for this game.

Nine-Point

A great game for threesomes where points are allocated on each hole for lowest to highest scores. The player with the lowest score earns five points, second lowest score three points, and the highest score gets one point. If two players tie for the low score, they each receive four points, and the highest score one point. If two players tie for the high score, they each get two points and the lowest score is awarded five points. The player with the most points at the completion of the round wins.

High-Low

High-low is a game for foursomes made of two-player teams. On each individual hole, the high scores and the low scores on each team each compete against each other for a point. For example, if players A and B score six and five and players C and D score four and three, players C and D earn a point for the lowest high score and the lowest low score for a total of two points.

Golf Games
 

Bingo, Bango, Bongo

This is a fun format for twosomes, threesomes, or foursomes of mixed abilities. Scores don’t count. Instead, a point is awarded to the first player to reach the green, the player closest to the hole, and the first player to hole out.

Side Bets

Golfers are notorious for getting creative with different formats and adding extra bets to their games to spice things up. Also referred to collectively as “junk”, side bets are numerous and can be a fun way to keep everyone in your group interested throughout the entire round. If the game you’re playing with your buddies simply isn’t enough action, consider adding one or more of the following side bets.

Greenies

Also referred to as “KP’s”, greenies are awarded to the player that hits their tee shot closest to the hole on a par 3. How much money each greenie is worth should be determined prior to the round.

Long Drive

Just like it sounds, long drives are awarded to players with the longest drive on a particular hole. In order for a long drive to count, it must end up in the fairway.

Golf Games
 

Sandies

A player is awarded a “sandy” anytime he gets up-and-down from a bunker in two shots.

Double Birdies

If your group is playing a betting game that awards points or units for the low score on a hole, making birdies worth double the normal amount creates some volatility and adds pressure.

Presses

If you’re playing a Nassau or Triple Six where there are multiple matches within a round, then adding presses allows players to either a chance to bet “double or nothing.” For example, if you are two down after four holes on the front nine of a match playing Nassau bet, then you may choose to “press” the front nine. When you press, the original bet still stands, but an additional match is started. If you lose the original bet, but win the press, then you break even on the front nine.

Coughing

Golf Games
 
When playing games where points or units are used for scoring, players that are losing may want to increase the amount each point or unit is worth in an effort to win their money back. “Coughing” needs to be agreed upon by everyone in the game and should not get to the point where people are uncomfortable with the amount of money exchanging hands.

Conclusion

I speak from experience when I say that betting on the golf course is wildly fun, but can get out of hand. What starts out as a friendly game amongst friends can quickly turn sour if the amount of money exchanging hands becomes uncomfortable. In order to keep friendships intact and prevent somebody’s day from being ruined, there are few things to keep in mind.

Before the round starts, make sure that everyone in the group understands the game and is comfortable with the amount of money at stake. It’s also important that everyone agrees on how many strokes each player is getting to avoid any accusations of sandbagging. Setting a limit on the amount of money a player can lose might also help keep the mood light. If you ever find yourself not understanding the game or uncomfortable with the amount of money you might lose, then it’s always best to decline and opt for simply enjoying your day on the course.

Golf is the most difficult game in the world and more often than not we lose against Old Man Par. Instead of trying to grind out your lowest score every time out, try playing some different formats that keep things fresh and provide a little competition. Whether you’re just playing for a beer in the 19th hole or a few dollars, responsibly adding a friendly wager to your round is not only fun, but is sure to make you a better player.

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