NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - You'll be happy to know that I've formulated a standardized test, of sorts, to determine whether you have what it takes to be a really good golfer. There are undeniable factors that can be relied upon to produce consistent results, sometimes for the good but mostly, not so good. Let's get right to the test.
Your personal history is made up of experiences that either qualify or disqualify you from becoming a scratch golfer. After each example I'll list whether it is a positive or negative factor towards achieving that goal. Almost any one of these negatives that describes you puts you out of the running. For those who rate highly, there is a long but rewarding road ahead. And for those who find that their golf life is destined to be mediocre, there is always Over The Top Golf, a blessing in disguise, another road to where the other guys are going, and a much shorter and less expensive road at that.
First of all, age and sex aren't under consideration as determining factors as long as you are playing from the correct tees. If you are 65 and routinely hit 160 yard drives, you don't belong within three tee boxes of the tips.
Age when you first learned to play golf: We all know that a proper golf swing is a learned skill rather than an innate one. Kids who are introduced to golf before their teens and then stuck to the game for a reasonable amount of time have a good foundation. - POSITIVE. If you came to golf later in life -NEGATIVE.
Exposure to other sports: Especially baseball, softball, hockey and tennis; there is a different set of dynamics that must be unlearned in order to learn the golf swing - NEGATIVE.
Self-taught golfer: You are a collection of swing tips. Regardless of whether you plan to take conventional lessons in the future, you have taught yourself enough bad habits to guarantee you'll be unsuccessful. - NEGATIVE
Fitness level: Being in good physical condition - POSITIVE, Being out of shape - NEGATIVE.
Free time: You'll need plenty of available time if you're going to go the "lessons and practice" route. A lack of free time is a definite - NEGATIVE.
Desire: Are you willing to work hard, keep up with practice routines, etc? Working hard is the difference between being an occasional jogger and getting up and running every morning before work. Don't have that fire in your belly? -NEGATIVE.
Outside-in swing: Do your divots point to the left? -NEGATIVE
Short game/Putting: These important facets of the game are as crucial to scoring as a sound swing. Becoming deadly around the greens requires practicing proper mechanics, practicing the effects of different clubs, types of grass, etc. and then practicing some more. Lack of a good short game is a definite NEGATIVE.
Course difficulty: No matter from which tees you play, playing Bethpage Black every day vs. Bethpage Green will result in a higher handicap. Not much anyone can do about that. - NEGATIVE
I don't want to demonize golf pros and golf doctors who advertise how they can cure your slice, correct your hook or fix your over the top golf swing. For golfers who can say they don't possess any of the negative factors, pros are invaluable. But for the rest of us, the ones with busy lives or ten-finger baseball swings, before signing up for golf lessons ask yourself whether you have what it takes. Don't ask your pro because he'll say you do.
My opinion? I say you don't. You don't have what it takes because virtually none of us do. That's one important reason to consider an option that doesn't require you to learn anything new. Over The Top Golf. Just five set-up changes and, using your own swing, you'll be on your way to a good golf game. Develop your chipping and putting as well and you might just be on your way to a great golf game.
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