George Knudson once said “some of the finest shots in golf are struck by the highest handicap golfers”.
If a person could re-visit every shot played on a course on any given day, all kinds of wonderful things would be seen – a beginner holing a bunker shot from a buried lie, someone sinking a downhill slider with 10 feet of break from 40 feet and/or an average level golfer scoring a hole in one.
The best players in the world practice eight to 10 hours per day to improve their skills, but the very best they can hope for is to reduce the degree of non-performance on their worst shots.
Commensurate with a small percentage of improvement at the weaker end is an overall improvement at the other end. Translated, this means the better your bad shots, become the more you improve your performance.
No one can improve their best shots – a holed shot is a holed shot.
What you can do is develop a technique that reduces how poorly you hit your very bad ones and on up the ladder. Your bad shots improve where you found your average and your average improves to where you found your good etc.
So far, nobody has played 18 holes in 18 shots.
As Ben Hogan pointed out, “if you don’t birdie the first hole, you can’t birdie them all,” and to date no one has done that either, but some have come close. It’s believed only about four people have shot 55.
Every person who has ever played golf has hit at least one extraordinary shot, but why is it that a person can practice from dawn until dusk, seek and find excellent instruction, acquire the finest equipment, even have some natural talent and yet, the one thing they yearn for is consistency.
From time to time, everything comes together and a player will shoot a great score, win an event or lower his/her handicap, but the next day, wake up and the magic that produced a round of 24 putts suddenly accounts for 32. Back to the drawing board in search of another confidence-filling method.
So why then do the powers that select the contestants chosen to represent their countries in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup insist on using the performance records based on a two-year period?
We have all heard about the demise of the American team in Ryder Cup play in recent years. We have all heard how they saved the day in 2016 through the tremendous efforts of a task force. We have all heard how the task force miraculously met behind closed doors and came up with a formula to allow the American players to sink more putts than prior American teams.
More recently, not to be outdone, the Euro team, headed by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and captain Thomas Bjorn met and decided to change the qualifying criteria for their team.
I truly hope Pelley and Bjorn are equal in think tank acumen to an American task force. Otherwise, we are headed for continual victories by the USA.
By expanding the routes to selection, the Euro’s have made it possible to include several world class players who consider themselves part of the European Tour to qualify, such as Paul Casey. These changes are overdue in today’s rapidly changing world of golf.
In my opinion, I think both teams pay too much attention to their champions.
More often than not the players enjoying a hot streak that includes a major championship victory during the two-year points window are no longer ‘hot’ two years after their victory.
Players’ performances frequently ebb and flow at various times of the year. Only the very best can peak at will, Jack Nicklaus being one.
The new European selection process does see more weighting put on tournaments close to the actual playing of the Ryder Cup, but here’s how I think it should work. A Ryder Cup team should be decided with the first four spots determined by performance over the 12 months leading up to the event, the final six places on performance based on the three months play prior with two Captain’s picks.
The very best will be in the top 10 performers and the captain can decide the remainder. If you want the best, take the best current/ebbing performers before they temporarily lose the magic.