From the PGA

A Lesson Learned: The Artistry of Golf

By Mike Malaska, PGA
Published on

Phil Mickelson proved to be an artist of many skills.

Those golfers who have learned how to master a wide variety of shots can usually manage their way around the course in better fashion than most, allowing them to get the most out of each of them.

For you to get the most out of your game, you should practice a wide variety of shots, understand what you can hit on demand and then manage your way around the course based on what you can do. It sounds simple but most amateur golfers tend to practice one type of shot, accept it as all they have, and then force that into situations where it can hurt more than help. So what do you do?
  1. Practice a variety of shots
    Most players understand when they need a chip vs. a pitch, and certainly, you should practice both. But how about the low punch with a five iron that might run out a long ways towards a downhill green? And can you play both a fade or draw with off the tee? The more you practice learning how to curve the ball the better you will become. Introducing a variety of shots into your repertoire will make practicing more interesting, more fun and help you in a variety of situations.
  2. Understand what you can do
    Once you've practiced hitting the high draw, it becomes more than just an option when you need it on the course; it can become a scoring weapon. That back left pin is now a birdie opportunity, not a menace to your scorecard. You now have more tools to help you recover from errant tee shots, or more alternatives to get close to the hole after missing the green. Golf is not just about hitting your good shots well, it's about the ability to recover from your misses (and we all miss!)
  3. Manage your game
    One of the most common mistakes golfers make is knowing the shot that's needed is not one they can consistently pull off—and trying to do it anyway. In time, you may develop those shots you need (keep practicing) but until you can pull off the shot seven or eight times out of ten, stick to what you know on the course. Your scores will reflect smart decisions as much as your golf skill at the end of the round. I often encourage students to go out and play 9 or 18 with just 3 clubs. Most will pick a 5, 6, or 7 iron, a wedge and putter. And amazingly, they often end up shooting one of their best rounds.
There are always multiple ways to approach a hole and the old adage is, "There's no room for pictures on the scorecard." Whether you have championship skills and can decide to hit a knockdown 7 iron into the wind or are just trying to learn to hit a pitch shot over a bunker, know there is no one right way to play a hole or a round, and the more variety of shots you have, the better your chances of success.