The 5 Games Within The Game of Golf

Elvis Elvis

There are 5 games hidden within the the meaning of the word ‘Golf’. Here’s a quick explanation of the basic parameters of those 5 games.

Game 1. The Long Game

This is the game that concerns your driver, woods, and long irons. It is the most difficult to master because you are trying to merge distance with accuracy.

A wayward tee shot can be very costly in terms of extra strokes such as going out-of-bounds (stroke and distance – 2 penalty strokes), finding water (drop ball at point of entry – 1 penalty stroke), into a sand trap, a lost ball in a waste area or heavy grass such as fescue.

You get the point. Slices, hooks and wild shots are a very real threat to any golfer’s long game. However, once you can be reasonably consistent with your long game, it can be invaluable to better scoring.

Game 2. The Short Game

This part of the golf experience is a little easier to learn to control because it deals with finesse instead of raw power. And the one thing that can cause a golfer grief is the mis-direction of raw power in the long game.

The short game is all about coaxing the ball to the green using short irons and wedges and very soft hands. And by that I mean ‘ feel.’

One of the masters of the short game is Dave Pelz. He advocates the use of a 4-wedge system (which I use faithfully) which, when studied and implemented into your game, can save anyone, even the beginner, many unnecessary strokes.

(For more information about this system or Dave Pelz’s excellent golf instructional books, either visit your favorite bookstore or visit Amazon.com or Amazon.ca)

It’s not that difficult to learn how to select the right short iron and the amount of swing speed required to ‘ feel ‘ your ball into an advantageous putting position. But it does require understanding, know-how and practice. The short game is my favorite of the 5 games of golf.

The 5 Games Within The Game of Golf

Game 3. The Putting Game

There are many schools of thought on putting techniques. For me, the most successful and easiest to execute is the pendulum stroke, using a conventional putter.

You simply draw the putterface back from the starting point (the ball) and then forward through the same distance. If your backstroke is 10″ then your follow-thru should be 10″.

For line of travel of the putterhead, you need to use your arms and chest to create a triangle and then without moving your wrists, just twist your trunk backward and forward to create an in-line stroke.

Putting is also very much a game of feel. If you want to learn the quickest way to become accurate with a putter, go to a range with a practice green and practice by sweeping the ball into the cup from the point where the ball lies on the green.

No backswing. Just place the putter up against the ball and push it forward like a hockey stick nudging a puck. You’ll gain invaluable insight into the required force for different length shots.

Once you’ve done this for about 10-15 reps successfully, introduce the backswing to the equation and you’ll notice it’s easier to execute more accurate putts.

Make sure the practice green you use has varied contours. You want to be able to practice playing breaking putts as well as straight-in distance putts.

It would be a massive undertaking to try and explain the different techniques here at this website that would teach you all that you need to know about these aspects of the 5 games of golf.

Whole books have been written about the intricacies of the short game and putting. My favorites are both by Dave Pelz as mentioned above in the Short Game article. This guy is a regular golf scientist. And he makes it easy for anyone to grasp the methods he puts forth in his books. I highly recommend you check them out.

Game 4. Course Management

Course management concerns taking information about a particular golf hole and deciding what your best plan of attack will be to achieve your best possible score for that hole.

Variables such as length of hole, wind speed and direction, placement of sand traps or water hazards, fairway width, degree of difficulty, and club selection are all factors that may have an effect on the outcome of your score for that hole.

This is why the professionals show up at tournaments on Monday or Tuesday . They want to be familiar with the conditions and layout they will face when they tee it up on Thursday. The less guesswork involved, the better the chances of a good showing when it matters.

Though most amateurs like ourselves don’t have the benefit of practicing on an unfamiliar course, we can still use our course management skills to get the best possible performance out of our game. It is the satisfaction of knowing you played a good strategic game that will keep your enthusiam for the game humming in high gear.

Game 5. The Mental Game

It has been said that golf is 90% mental. (Sometimes it feels like you’ve become 90% mentally un-glued after a particularly frustrating round!)

Greater players than I have unceremoniously tossed entire bags of expensive clubs into very deep golf course ponds in a fit of anger after the golf gods have had their way with them.

I’ve seen putters wrapped around tree trunks and 5 irons abandoned with a flick of the wrist into a farmer’s field. And the expletive deleted’s that accompany these actions would make sailor’s and truck driver’s turn red with embarassment.

However, none of that needs to occur anymore with the proliferation of mind training techniques specific to golf that are available today.

I use 3 different mental training tools to help keep me focused on the task at hand without losing it because my swing won’t co-operate on that particular day or my putting skills have suddenly deserted me. And they have helped me improve my scoring as well as keeping me focused on my appreciation for the incredible gift this game is.

Just remember to give yourself a lot of time to learn and keep a good attitude and before you know it, you’ll be looking to challenge your friends to a friendly game of Golf. And loving every minute of your new-found fun.