by Brian O’Neill, Director of Instruction, Jack Nicklaus Academy Orlando

As the high school golf season is now underway in many parts of the country, we get a number of players, parents and coaches that are looking for the fastest way to lower their scoring averages. As a teaching professional the answer is simple, but for most juniors it is difficult to wrap their heads around. The actual percentage of shots taken inside of 50-yards is 60-70% of their total score! Most juniors don’t know this, they think it is how far they hit their driver that matters most, when it is actually just the opposite.

To achieve the goal of a lower scoring average, the plan moving forward should start with putting the player’s focus inside of 6′ feet. By creating a practice scenario that keeps the junior golfers mind on the task of making putts inside 4 feet to 6 feet, will significantly help their average scores lowering them by a staggering 3 to 5 shots per 9-hole round. When practicing these distances, measure and set-up a circle of tees around a hole that has a small break, and then have the player work their way around the circle. Many of you have probably seen Phil Mickelson doing this exact drill – and he has had a nice career as the result of his short game. Keep score of how many putts are made from 4 feet, and then 6 feet, in 10 attempts around the hole from each distance. By keeping the scores in a small log book, juniors will start to see improvement quickly and their confidence will increase.

Extend this area for improved scoring by putting the players focus on chipping from around the green in different conditions to get the ball to stop inside that 4 foot to 6 foot circle. Once again, keep score and log it in a practice book. The player will quickly see improvements in their score within a week’s time. By adjusting the time spent practicing to 75% on these two areas players will see immediate improvements on their average scores and their results during matches!

Practice Strong / Play Strong

Submitted by Brian O’Neill, Director of Instruction, Jack Nicklaus Academy Orlando