If you were to look at your scorecard, where are most of the stroked earned? Let’s take a par 4 where you scored a 6. You had a drive, a iron shot, and then two chips and two putts. So you got off the tee box and toward the green okay. Things got interesting 50 yards or less. You need to focus on that last part of your game. What if the course was made up of only the last 40 yards and all you did was pitch and putt? It is time you go back to the beginning and find a pitch and putt course and work on only your short game.
One afternoon, I went to my local pitch and putt/miniature golf spot, Golf Land, to work on my 60° wedge that I found in my old golf bag. I figured this a great place to try out this club with no real consequences to my ego or handicap. I had played Golf Land ages ago and little had changed except all the development around it.
The pitch and putt course was empty except for a foursome of teenage boys playing together on hole #1. There was a chance of rain showers in the area but they were holding off for now. I jumped ahead to hole #3 to get ahead of the boys to allow everyone to enjoy the day at our own paces.
Adjusting to a shorter golf course
The standard pitch and putt course is short because pitching is the biggest swing used. Golf Land measures 290 yards for all 18 holes. At first, I regretted not bringing my laser range finder then I realized how stupid and pretentious that sounded. The scorecard supplied the yardage for each hole but I soon stopped looking at it and trusted my depth perception.
I played two balls to get the most for my $12 (I paid the standard $2 fee to play the second ball). I scored each ball separately in a head to head stroke play competition against myself.
The course itself was in decent shape with a grounds crew removing downed limbs form winter storms. The greens were like soft carpet that rolled slow. The small size of the greens made for good practice on getting my chips to stop on contact. This was perfect for the 60° wedge with it minimum roll. It took me some time on shots 2 to 3 feet off the green and I still don’t think I have the touch. When I return to a full course, I will choose another club I trust more for these shots.
The tee boxes consisted of turf mats with little rubber tees for people to hit off. The turf itself was probably decades old and now resembled tile more than carpet. The turf would skip the club head over the ball if I hit behind the ball which is a common error for me. It would look really bad if I brought my own mat to hit off of but the thought did cross my mind. I also thought of hitting from the grass next to the tee box. If you don’t like hitting from turf mats, you can add that to your poor play excuse list.
Par for each hole was 3. This allowed for a chip onto the green and then two putts since the greens grass and using a putt putt golf ball did not roll like a real game of golf. Lame excuse I know.
What I learned about my pitch and putt game
I had fun as the experience reminded me of younger golfing years. My friends and I would play pitch & putt instead of playing a full round of golf because it was cheaper and we lost fewer golf balls. When I drive by Golf Land in the summer, the players are made up of families graduating from miniature golf and teenagers playing together.
It was fun to focus on the short of the short game. Some of the misses would have pissed me off on the course but it made no difference to me. I was experimenting with a club and swing.
If you have a pitch and putt in your neighborhood, go out and support them. They make good places to knock off rust before hitting the course in the beginning of the season or if you have not played in years. They offer a great introduction to golf for young kids. I saw three generations of a family playing together, grandfather, father and grandson. The grandson had to be in elementary school but he dressed in style for the links and had his own bag (which his dad carried for him). Good family fun.
If you are in South Jersey, go check out Golf Land, www.golflandnj.com.