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The Steve WenPetren Project, Parts 7 and 8

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

So where has my golf blog been the past two weeks? I can ask the same thing about my golf game, which decided to abandon a couple of weekends ago as I shot a crowd-pleasing 117 which included at least a dozen penalty strokes and a few missing sleeves of golf balls. The one positive to that 117, and really when you shoot a 117, it’s important to find that silver lining, was that I didn’t have a single three-putt until the 18th and final hole.

And that in essence is part of the true beauty of the game, it’s unpredictability. They say in football, any team can win on any given Sunday, but in golf, you can shoot a 117 on any given Sunday (or Saturday in this case). Heck, on any given Sunday, a cigar smoking, over-40 Irishman can win the British Open for his first major championship. But I could just as easily shoot a 97 the next time I play that course, as easily as I shot that terrible triple-digit score. So while it was easily the worst scoring round I’ve had since starting lessons, it was also the best putting round I’ve had since starting lessons. Ironically, putting hasn’t been covered yet in my lessons, so I’m self-taught for the time being.

But thank you to readers Kevin Low and John Sheeler for inviting me out for a fun time, even if I did a fantastic job of embarrassing myself. I will have a much better showing next time out, I can guarantee that since it couldn’t get any worse.


This lesson, held three weeks ago, wasn’t really as much of a lesson as it was a personal shopping adventure for me. Not only does Steve provide excellent tutelage, but he also fits golfers (and hackers) for new clubs. Considering my irons are from a period before Justin Bieber or even Miley Cyrus were known-commodities, it was time to treat myself to an upgraded set. Plus, with my birthday in a few weeks, just seemed like perfect timing (thanks Maggie). My driver is also something that Fred Flintstone might have used back in the day, so I’ll probably have to replace that too. The 3-wood is still new and I refuse to part with my Tom Weiskopf putter, which is now going on 20 years of usage.

So for the hour, Steve kept handing me different Ping irons, with different club faces, different grips, and different shafts. Simply put, I just was told to hit the ball and see how it felt. And for those who’ve been reading since the beginning, you’ll remember in Lesson #1, Steve had set up a machine that was designed to track where I hit the ball, how hard I hit it and how far, except that I was so bad, the computer wouldn’t recognize any of my swings, or was embarrassed to do so. There’s not much else to report on this, Steve emailed me some data analysis from my swings, which was cool to see, and now it’s just a matter of getting the new clubs, which I’m very excited for.

Ladies, stop snickering. Now that I got hitting out of the bunker under control, and since we’re still at least a week away from learning how to hit a driver or 3-wood off the tee, the most frustrating part of golf for me would be having to chip from right around the green. Anything outside of 50 yards I feel pretty confident it, but those really short chips from the fringe or the rough behind the fringe always gives me problems, in that I somehow manage to hit the ball thru the green and then have to chip again from the other side.

The pointers Steve gave me actually helped. I don’t know why I’m surprised, considering he IS a golf pro and gets paid to do this for a living. But just like with the sand bunker lesson, after going thru this short game lesson, I came to realize that once again this is a lot easier (not easy, but easier) than I’ve made it out to be all these years. We actually took to the practice green with a bucket of balls and from the fringe practiced chipping towards a hole (heh heh “a hole”) about 30 feet away using my 60-degree wedge instead of my pitching wedge. First, Steve had me close my stance. Instead of my normal shoulder width apart stance, my feet were now maybe 2-3 inches apart, the ball still in the middle of my stance.

The next important step was to put about 75% of my weight on my front foot. From there it was a simple matter of a slow backswing about halfway back, while rotating my hips, and then like every other swing, a full-follow thru with turning my hands over along the way. After a few errant swings where Steve pointed out that I was trying to lift the ball instead of taking a normal swing, I started to get the hang of it and learned how to judge distance and trust in the club, meaning that it may feel like the ball is going to roll off the other side of the green, but when hit properly, a little spin is put on the ball and it slows down. After a few successful consecutive swings, we aimed at a hole about 10 feet away. The goal was to hit the same way except with less of a backswing. Again, it worked, and I even holed one out, although Steve wasn’t impressed, and said he would be only if I hit six in a row, but even then he wasn’t positive he’d be impressed.

Feeling pretty good about using my 60-degree wedge, we switched over to the pitching wedge. Once again, the setup and swing are relatively the same to the 60-degree wedge, but with less of a backswing, so whereas I would take about half a backswing for the hole 30-feet away, I would only need to do about a quarter backswing. Ironically, I left the lesson feeling better about using the 60-degree wedge around the green, but in the two rounds I’ve played since this lesson, it has failed me, but the pitching wedge worked much better. So the lesson as always, this game is unpredictable.

The Steve WenPetren Golf Academy is a great place for golfers of all ages and experience (or lack there of) to learn how to become a better golfer. For more information or to book a lesson, please check out www.stevewenpetren.com

One Response

  1. Sucks you had your only 3 putt on the 18th with all the $$ on the line. Sheeler thanks you ha. Sorry we were so intimidating, just drink more next time!

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