Golf is often viewed from the outside as a sport that is very slow and quite repetitive. It may not seem like the most creative sport in the world – you hit your shots, putt the ball in the hole and then move on to do it all over again on the next hole – but in reality, golf actually is a very creative sport, and the more creative you can be, the better I think you’ll become.
Creativity can be applied to any part of the game really. You can see on tv sometimes how some pros attempt crazy shots from unbelievably difficult lies, sometimes pulling it off, sometimes not. You can certainly use your creativity in your long game and experiment with the way you hit the ball; intentionally hitting it low/high, making it curve from right to left or left to right. There are many different ways in how you can learn to control the flight of the ball and use it to your advantage on the course.
The part of golf where I personally think creativity is the most important is in the short game. And improving your short game is an efficient way to lower your scores.
The cool thing about the short game is that there are endless possibilities and different ways for how you can hit a good chip shot, for example, from one and the same lie. You can experiment with different clubs and try to hit the ball lower or higher. Depending on the green you might also want to experiment with different landing spots, trying to fly the ball on the green or landing it on the fringe, letting it bump onto the green. As I said, there are endless possibilities and the best part is that there are no right or wrongs. This essentially provides you with an opportunity to bring out the creative side of yourself to figure out how to hit the best possible shot from the spot and lie that you’re in.
With practice and experience, you might find some type of shot that you’re more comfortable with, and that becomes your go-to type of shot. Although I definitely recommend having this type of ‘security shot’ that you feel comfortable with, there will always be times when we end up in places where we’re forced to experiment and hit shots that might be a bit more outside of our comfort zone. For that reason, the better you can get at dealing with different types of shots and lies in practice, the better you’ll become at dealing with challenging positions that you might end up in on the course.
An easy way to work on this creative side of your short game in practice is to throw the ball into different lies around the practice green. Never hit the same shot twice in a row since you want it to be similar to on the course where you only have one try. Also, make sure to throw or drop the ball into a lie rather than placing it, as placing the ball for every shot will put you in a perfect lie every time, which we all know doesn’t happen every time (or even that often) on the course.
I would also recommend trying to change clubs and try hitting shots that you would normally hit with your sand wedge, for example, with your 7 iron and see how it turns out. By doing this, you’re forced to experience a bit and it might not work out every single time – which obviously is normal and totally fine. The point is just to try and see how there really is no right or wrong club and no right or wrong way to hit a shot. The options are endless and it’s about figuring out what works best for you and what gives you the best chance to get the ball up and down.
From my own experience, I can say that this type of practice has been a key for me to get more comfortable around the greens. Sometimes it almost makes you surprised to see how you can actually hit a good bunker shot using a 7 iron or bump and run the ball close to the pin from a tough lie in the rough using a 9 iron instead of a lob wedge.
Do you incorporate creativity into your short game practice on a regular basis? If not, try it out and let me know how it goes!