Back in the days of the Red Dog Saloon, everyone knew the length of his or her pace and from that could walk off distances. Chances are, if you are 75, you’ve learned pacing at one time or other in your youth, or should have. One pace is two steps, a left and a right. When you are pacing you start on your left foot count every time your right foot comes down. (We used to slap our right leg and count the next number on the way to the destination). Then, when you get to your objective – the golf hole or the edge of the park, you take the count of your paces. Then you multiply it by the length of one pace. The average man has a pace – a left and right step – of about 5 feet.
Don’t spend a fortune in $8 and $12 buckets of balls to develop your shorter shots. Instead, you should find your own practice area for your Short Game and pace off distances within it to practice your shorter “pitches.” This small area of grass may be the outfield of a baseball diamond, unused during the week. It may be on the back grounds of large office complex. Or it may be in a remote corner of a city park. Remember these are unused areas in much of the workweek, untouched and yours to use. One great golfer, Seve Ballesteros, grew up poor, hitting his balls on the sand beaches of his small fishing town in Spain. He became one of the best golfers ever at hitting the short shots approaching the green…especially when he was in a sand trap. (He became no. 1 in the world — and poor no more!)
Hopefully you will find a lonely place with wide open grass, mowed just short enough for you to keep the ball in sight. You claim this territory like the cattlemen claimed grazing land, because you are there first and know how to use it. These spaces can be yours to learn the Short Game – that is everything from 100 yards out, to the green itself. To improve in golf, however, you must have a target, and you must know how far that target is. You cannot learn much if you just hit the ball out into the wide-open space (pleasant as that may be the first few times).
So, one of first things you should learn is how to pace out distances. Here’s why: Much of the delight you will have in golf is the discovery of your own talent, and you will find that in practice, and more practice… every time you have a free hour. For that, you need a solitary practice ground, where you know how far your targets are away from you.
You can continue to work at this practice area only if you use it precisely, with no swing more than a half swing at first. You must hit the ball with very little power until you can always hit it straight. And when you can hit it straight you must pace off just how far you want to hit it, because the second rule is that you must not hit it too far, out of your decided boundaries. Terrified drivers or broken windows in the neighborhood are a sure way to lose your precious space. Do not hit it anywhere near someone walking their dog.
Now you can hit hundreds of balls inside this practice field, and get very good at pitching the ball thirty feet, then 50 , perhaps 100 or more feet – toward a target and hitting precisely, not wildly. You’ll learn to swing methodically and relaxed, and to bring the edge of the club between the ground and the lower half of the ball – lifting it into the air — every time. You will get better and better, and you will do this for Free!
Copyright 2019 — David Hon