Play Golf from Shorter Tees for Club Selection Like the Pros

By Ed Ibarguen

Watching the Pros Can Improve Your Golf Game

A quick story about one of my students. I think you will be able to relate to it. We had an outing here at Duke one day, it was a really special day for us for the Duke Children's Hospital. We had Freddy Couples, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Michelle McGant. I noticed that one of my avid students that was taking lessons every two weeks to get better was following Freddy Couples from the first tee all the way to his final putt on eighteen.

About a week later he signed up for a lesson and we were driving down to the range and I said John, are you playing better. He said, I am playing better, I am hitting the ball much better but I am just not scoring any better. He said I just do not understand it. I said you used to miss the greens a lot and then you would chip it up and then you would score about the same. Now aren't you hitting the greens more often, aren't you hitting more fairways? And he said yes you are right.

Practice Actual Golf Shots

So remember, sometimes when you are improving your ball striking your scoring is not going to improve because you are balancing that little off the green chip. But it went even further, is aid to him at the bottom of the range, let's not do the lesson here at the range today, let's go out on the golf course. As we were driving out I said I noticed you were out the other day watching those golfers, how did you enjoy that? He said man, we had a great time. I said I guess you like Freddy Couples? He said I love Freddy Couples, I would give my right arm to play like Freddy Couples. I said that is an interesting concept, let's go out to the first tee and let's think about Freddy.

Play Shorter Tees to Improve Your Game

Number one, did they play all the way back? He said no they did not, they played the blue tees, I was kind of surprised by it. I said well I happened to be there when they were talking about it on the first tee and they said it is plenty of golf course from back here, we don't need to go all the way back. Well those are three Major Championship winners that said no we don't need to go all the way back. But I see so many of the amateur players that say we are playing this course all the way back, we are going to get every bit of it today.

The Pros Hit Longer Shots

Then I said to him what tee do you tee off from Johnny? He said I tee off from the blue tee too. I said that is interesting, you tee off from the same tee as Freddy Couples. I said do you remember where he hit it on the first hole? Freddy had actually hit a three wood off the first tee and he hit it down there to 128 yards from the first tee. We drove down there in the cart and sure enough Johnny remembered within three yards of where that ball was. I said ok Johnny, you are absolutely right, he was right here. Then I said now the ball is right here, 128 yards from the green. I said what club did Freddy hit off the tee? He said a three wood. I said look back at the tee, what club would you have to hit to land right here? He said I would have to hit my driver. I said what tee would you have to play from? He said I don't think I can get it here from the blue tee. So right away he is beginning to understand that Freddy Couples hits it a lot further than he actually does.

Then I said, from 128 yards what club did Couples hit? He said he hit kind of a three quarter wedge, landed on the green at about eight feet. I said what club would you play from 128. He said my gosh, it is an elevated green, the wind is usually in your face, it would be at least a 9-iron, maybe an 8-iron. I said let's move up where you are going to hit a pitching wedge and we drove all the way up to about 110 yards away from the green. I said Johnny, for you to play like Freddy Couples you would have your ball right here, the equivalent of a pitch shot. What tee would you tee off from? He looked back there, he looked back, he looked again, he looked back and said Ed, I don't think there is a tee on number one that would put me this close to the green. So what I tried to let Johnny know, and what I want you to think about, is try something different. Let's play like the pros. Let's play like Tiger Woods. In other words don't play from the wrong tees. I see so often at Duke somebody tees way off on a tee that is way too far. They go driver, three wood, 7-iron into a bunker that they can not get out of onto a green that is too fast to play. That is no fun. Move on up.

Play Like the Pros By Shortening the Course

Play like the pros so that you are hitting nine irons, maybe eight irons, seven irons. Giving yourself the chance to knock the ball on the green, maybe make a birdie and mostly pars and occasionally a bogie. That is a lot more fun, it will take less time. Try it. This weekend tell your foursome let's play like the pros, let's play from a distance we can handle.

Category: Practice

About the Instructor