We are more than half way through the 15 EWGA Semi-Finals, with just a few more to go! Winners from all flights in all 15 Semi-Finals will advance to the EWGA Championship Finals at Hot Springs Village on October 6-7 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Whether you are gearing up for the EWGA District Semi-Final or the EWGA Championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition.
Golf is full of technology – not just for equipment and golf balls – but also when it comes to distance-measuring devies. Let's figure out which distance-measuring device is right for you and how you can use it to your advantage on the golf course.
According to the Rules of Golf, the use of distance-measuring devices (DMDs) – also known as golf rangefinders – has been allowed for use during a round since 2006 only when an optional Local Rule is introduced by a golf course or the committee in charge of a specific competition. In 2014, the USGA and R&A allowed the use of conforming DMDs in all USGA amateur qualifying events and championships. This has made the use and popularity of golf rangefinders more common.
There are two basic types of golf rangefinders – laser and GPS (using global positioning satellites). There are many types and brands of rangefinders on the market – from handheld GPS and laser units to watches and even units that clip on a hat, golf bag or belt. Basic units offer distance readings to the front, middle and back of the green. More advanced units show the entire hole graphic and allow for exact distances to water hazards, bunkers and other landmarks on the golf course. Your use of technology and level of details are two things to consider when purchasing or using a rangefinder.
If you enjoy technology, the features on some GPS units show the hole graphics. Many units require you to download courses that you plan to play. These types of rangefinders are great if you play multiple courses or pre-load courses you plan to play on a golf trip. They often times require a subscription to download the courses, but if you like details and don’t mind downloading and syncing to a computer, these units are extremely helpful when playing. If technology isn’t something you enjoy, go with a unit that has basic course information pre-loaded and doesn’t require downloading.
GPS units are great to use when you can’t see the hole or need lay-up distances to specific hazards (something most laser units can’t determine). Some GPS units have the ability to measure your drive (or other shots) which help you determine how far you hit specific clubs.
If you enjoy playing fast and want just basic information, you may prefer laser rangefinders – where you just “point and shoot” to get the yardage. One advantage laser rangefinders have over GPS units is they typically don’t require charging after every two or three rounds. Laser rangefinders are very accurate but require a steady hand to hold when looking for the yardage. They are easier to use since they don’t require downloading a course and purchasing a subscription service.
Many golfers prefer to download various rangefinder apps for use on smartphones. These provide a great solution to buying a separate golf rangefinder, however, are known to accelerate the battery use on the phone, plus require buying the app to download, then sometimes not all courses are available.
Regardless of which type of rangefinder you select, take advantage of the technology to help you determine accurate distances. You will find it helps with pace of play (you won’t be walking around looking for distances on sprinkler-heads) and you will save a few strokes on your score.
For every golf lesson you take, you and your instructor should ask each other what you want the outcome of the lesson to be. Unsurprisingly, you'll find that the response is usually one of these three answers:
But when is the last time that you really looked at your game and determined how to accomplish any of the above?
Laird Small, PGA Professional and Director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy shares a few tips on how golfers can improve their scores by reviewing seven key areas of their game.
So what are you waiting for? Go and incorporate a few of these drills and stretches into your practice and let us know how you improve and lower your score!
Summer weather conditions are often perfect for quick thunderstorms to develop. The National Lightning Safety Institute offers the following information:
"Lightning is arbitrary, random and unpredictable. Five percent of annual United States lightning deaths and injuries happen on golf courses. Everyone associated with the game should participate in lightning safety."
The United States Golf Association (USGA) makes available warning posters and stickers to inform players about lightning safety tips. As a golfer, you should know that the USGA Rules of Golf (Rule 6-8) allow players to discontinue play if they believe there is a danger from lightning. No other sport has any regulations related to lightning.
A good rule for everyone is: "If you can see it (lightning), flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it." I have also heard people say, “If you hear thunder, you will soon see lightning.” There was a friend of an EWGA staff member who was struck and killed by lightning a few years ago – on a sunny day on the golf course – so it isn’t anything to mess with. There is no round of golf so important to risk your life.
Some guidelines from the Golf Course Superintendents Association (GCSA) include:
If you find yourself stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. (Note: If you feel a tingling sensation and the hair on your arms stands up, squat in a baseball catcher's position, balancing on the balls of your feet, feet together, arms in front of your knees. If in a group, members of the group should keep at least 15 feet apart).
Follow the above advice to avoid the storms and play your way through a safe, fun and golf-filled summer.
Most golfers are lucky to take advantage of a few long weekends or a few days off that around summe holidays, including Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Many facilities during the summer offer activities with patriotic themes such as a Red, White and Blue tournament or a Flag tournament.
Red, White and Blue Tournament: Courses in the past have used three traditional colors to differentiate the teeing grounds – red tees for the forward area, white tees for the middle area and blue tees for the back teeing ground. (If a course doesn’t use these tee colors, you can refer to the event as Forward, Middle and Back Tournament.)
Here’s the format if you play in a Red, White and Blue Tournament.
Typically this event is handicapped so golfers are using net scores to determine which teeing ground to begin play on each hole. Tournament organizers could also determine which tees to use based on handicaps or average scores – having single digit handicappers use the back tees, bogey golfers using the middle tees and double bogey golfers using the forward tees.
Flag Tournament: Another popular golf format associated with patriotic summer holidays is a Flag Tournament. In this event, each person has an allotted number of strokes, then plays golf until his/her strokes run out. Then you stick a flag in the ground where your final shot is played. (For Fourth of July events, each player is given a small US Flag with their name on it.) Typically the fairways and greens on holes 15 through 18 are decorated with small US Flags and adds some fun to a Fourth of July golf course event.
Usually the allotted number of strokes is determined by adding your course handicap to the course par. So if your handicap is 13 and the par is 72, you would put a flag in the ground where you played your 85 shot from that day. The golfer who has his/her flag the farthest is the winner. This format is also called “Last Person Standing” or “Tombstone.” (You can use this same format called “The Tombstone Open” for a Halloween theme.)
Use these suggested formats to spice up your weekly game with friends or family. Regardless, use this time to recharge the batteries and connect with the people you care about while playing a round of golf.
Golf carts are a primary source of revenue for golf courses, so in most instances when you play in a tournament you will be riding in a golf cart. It’s important that you are aware of golf cart rules and etiquette. When you check-in with the golf course staff, they will let you know the basic rules and safely of cart operation. They are designed for golfer safety as well as to protect the golf course turf (teeing ground, fairway and greens).
If you are a new golfer, you may feel more comfortable having a more experienced golfer drive the cart. The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to check before driving a cart is to make sure your golf bag is fastened securely to the cart. You don’t want it to fall off – and risk being embarrassed.
When taking a golf cart, the golf staff will let you know if it is “Cart Path Only” (no carts allowed on the course at any time - mainly due to wet fairway conditions). If the conditions require “Cart Path Only,” take several clubs (plus an extra ball in case yours is lost or not playable) to save time from walking back and forth across the fairway and slowing down play. If the course specifies “90 Degrees” (drive your cart along the cart path to the spot of your ball and then make a 90 degree turn onto the course and drive to your ball).
You want to operate a cart with safety in mind. Limit the use to two passengers - don’t try to fit three people in the seat or let someone stand on the back by the golf clubs. Resist the urge to hang legs and feet outside the cart – some golfers have suffered broken ankles and legs from hanging legs and feet outside the cart. Operate the cart safely by observing signs directing you to stay on the cart paths or away from protected nature areas.
The general rule is to keep 30 yards away from greens, approaches and collars. Many courses will have ropes or signs showing when carts are required to return to paths. Additionally, most courses will ask you to stay on the cart path on par 3 holes. You want to use caution when going up or down hills and avoid sharp turns where the tires could damage the turf. Avoid water puddles, water hazards and of course bunkers. Making sharp turns, coming to an abrupt stop or driving too fast can also damage the turf. Cart use could change during the day, depending on weather conditions and may be restricted following a heavy rain.
Many newer carts offer USB outlets to charge a rangefinder or phone. Resist the urge to look at your phone while driving a golf cart – the same “rules of the road” apply to operating a golf cart.
It’s good cart etiquette to park the cart at the rear of the green or wherever allows you the shortest exit when done putting. Avoid the urge to park with two wheels off the cart path – many people leave two wheels on the path and pull off partially into the grass. A good analogy is – would you park your car in a driveway with two wheels in the driveway and two wheels in your yard? Then don’t do that on the golf course – if another cart approaches (maintenance, ranger or beverage cart) they can pull around your cart.
If using a push cart, the same rules apply, but of course, don’t walk with your cart across the green. (Some courses with sand greens will allow push carts to be taken across the green, but generally you should not do this, unless told by golf course staff that it’s allowed.) Some facilities also ask that push carts not get used on the turf between a bunker and green – on the collar and approaches. You also want to leave a push cart at the rear of the green as a courtesy to the group behind you as well as to allow for a quick exit.
Following these established guidelines for golf cart and push cart use will add to your enjoyment on the golf course.
Most of us are familiar with watching team golf in the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup or the Presidents Cup. Not only can it be fun to watch in person or via a broadcast, it’s a fun format to play as well. Most events held are the normal stroke play, yet playing as part of a team is common in the EWGA Cup as well as at many golf clubs nationwide.
While you are still trying to score the lowest number, the main difference between stroke play and match play is instead of playing the entire field, you are playing against the two people in your group. You could have one player who plays safe and the other player then can hit a risk/reward type of shot. You can adjust your strategy based on how your opponents are playing.
If you are playing in a two person team event, hopefully your playing partner is someone you enjoy playing golf with and as a team, you compliment each another – meaning one person could excel when hitting from the tee while the other partner may be a good putter or have a great short game.
If you are playing in an alternate shot event, it requires a bit more strategy. Take a look at the golf course or scorecard to see how the par 3’s and par 5’s line up with your strength. Does one teammate have a stronger iron game to benefit being the person to hit from the par 3’s? Does the teammate who hits a longer tee ball benefit from hitting on the par 5’s to take advantage of the distance? Think about this when putting if the alternate shot format means the person who sinks a putt will not tee off on the next hole.
Another important factor in a team event is momentum. When you and your partner win a hole, it creates a bit of momentum to help win the next hole. Once you win multiple holes, your shots will seem easier and you will settle in to playing relaxed golf. Take advantage of the momentum and keep it going in a positive manner.
Additional tips for team competition include relaxing and staying positive. If you are lucky to win a few holes early, it’s easier to relax and not feel the pressure of being behind. By keeping a positive attitude, you can focus on one hole at a time – remember, if you are trailing in the match, that it’s not over until you run out of holes. If you lose a hole, remain positive and realize every new hole is a new opportunity to win a hole.
Many people compete in team play by being more aggressive and making sure all their putting attempts get to or past the hole. Especially if one partner is playing safe, it allows the other partner to go for it and be bold with all putt attempts – since most times a short putt has little chance of going in!
Regarding conceded putts, remember you should enter your match expecting to hole out all your putts. Don’t expect your opponent to concede any putts to you. However, if an opponent concedes a putt, gracefully pick up your ball. You and your partner will need to discuss when you will concede putts or if you will expect your opponents to hole all putts. It’s a delicate balancing act, because you may be willing to concede putts only to get few or little conceded putts from your opponents.
Finally, expect that your opponents will hit great shots and make long putts. This will help you control your nerves – as you are less likely to get uptight when your opponents play well. If you fall behind in the match, remember there are many holes left and you and your partner are bound to hit good shots, make some putts and get good breaks.
Remember it’s a team event and your partner is there to help calm you down, encourage you and celebrate your great shots. Have fun and enjoy the opportunity to play together as a team.