Friday, February 14

Harvey Penick's 'Magic Words' for Cutting 5 Strokes Off Your Score

"IMPROVEMENT COMES IN PLATEAUS," says golf legend Harvey Penick (1904-1995) in his classic golf instruction book, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf.

Harvey Penick
It doesn't come stroke by stroke, he adds.

If you want to cut three or even five strokes from your game, Penick has some simple advice. Put the driver back in the bag. Stop pounding golf balls with the long clubs on the driving range.

"The short game. Those are the magic words," Penick says in his chapter titled "How to Knock Five Strokes Off Your Game."

"The higher your score, the faster you can lower it—with the short game."

Penick reminds golfers for the umpteenth time: about half the strokes in a round of golf come within 75 yards of the hole. He taught and observed amateur and pro golfers for seven decades. Penick says this about practice:

"If I ask an average golfer what percentage of his practice time he spends on his short game in comparison to hitting the longer shots, he'll probably tell me he gives the short game 10 or 20 percent. This is usually a fib.

"The average golfer will devote 15 minutes to stroking a few putts before he heads to the first tee, and that's about it for the short-game practice."

What should you do instead?

Penick says spend 90 percent of your practice time on chipping and putting.

"[I]f you want to knock five shots off your game in a hurry," Penick says, "leave your long clubs in your bag and head for the green."

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Harvey Penick was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. Penick coached hundreds of golfers, including Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls and Kathy Whitworth. The annual teacher award presented by the Golf Teachers Association is called the Harvey Penick Award.

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