Phil-tastic at Muirfield
What a great finish to the Open Championship. It is always better when someone plays well and wins rather than a player crashing and burning. Phil fired a final round 66, or 5 under par, to take the Claret Jug and the third leg of golf’s Grand Slam for him. Birdieing two of the final three holes was exciting and really sealed the deal. The weather was also pretty unusual in that seven days of sunshine in a row in Scotland is pretty rare, or at least it was when I was growing up.
I think the biggest thing you may have noticed were the inconsistent bounces that links golf offers, and Phil had two in his last three holes. On 16, he hit a great tee shot onto the front of the green, but it started rolling backward and ended up 20 yards short. On 17, he hit a terrific approach to the par 5 that hit on a downhill slope and rolled up onto the green. This is what happens on a links course and truly tests every player. How the player handles it usually dictates how well or badly they will do. The other obvious factor in Phil winning was his putting. How often does the player who putts best win?
What does that mean to the average golfer? To me it illustrates that good and bad bounces or luck are never far apart, and it should be part of your game to see both happen and not be either positively or adversely affected. Think of some of the good and bad bounces you had last time you played. How did you feel, and what was the outcome of the following shot(s)? Like all aspects of this game, it is always better to prepare for the worst outcome and be pleasantly surprised if that doesn’t happen. Remember that the golf course is the same for everyone, and that luck generally evens out in the end.
Lastly, you can never practice putting often enough. For those of you who really want to improve your games, spend at least an hour or two every week on the practice green and watch the scores fall.
Next week – practice routines for getting better
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.