It wasn't exactly the result I wanted - or expected - but it was still great to watch the Solheim Cup this past weekend. Obviously, I love it when the ladies take center stage in the golf world and I have to offer a sincere "Congratulations" to Team Europe. As young as they were, they showed the poise and confidence of a team of fearless veterans. I don't know what the U.S. team could have done differently to change the result.
I know many of my students were watching - and especially my male students. Why? Because as they tell me - the LPGA game is a game they identify with more than the men's game. And it makes total sense. If you watched the PGA Championship two weeks ago, you saw players hitting 300+ yard drivers and 180 yard 7-irons on a course that stretched almost 7200 yards to a par of 70. I don't know how many of you can correlate that to your own golf game - but I promise you it's not many.
But on the women's side, where drives are often 240-270 yards, with 7-irons that go from 140-165 often; you are most likely physically capable of hititng many of the same shots you'll see on tv.
So does that mean you can compete against these ladies? Probably not even on your best day. But you can still learn quite a bit from watching.
Notice three things that the players at the Solheim Cup did that you can easily emulate and learn from:
1.) Manage the course: Many of the women players can't overpower a course like many of the men do. For them, hitting fairways is a premium and they have to plot their way around each hole - with angles, precision distances and smart layups or approaches. And you'll notice, their scores are as good as the men's. Be smarter about your game. Stay out of trouble, play to your strengths and leave yourself smart shots. You'll easily score better.
2.) Focus on tempo: If you watched Caroline Hedwall as she went an unprecedented 5-0 at this Solheim Cup, you noticed a player who was able to repeat her swing at will. Thus, with nerves running high during the last approach shot of the final day, Hedwall was able to remain calm and make a swing just like the first of the day, putting it to 5 feet and making the birdie. A repeatable swing is the key to great golf and one of the biggest components of that is a consistent tempo. How often do you focus on your tempo when practicing? Get yourself a metronome and go practice smooth, consistent tempo - you'll shoot better scores.
3.) Short game: We've all heard it preached - but how many of us really take it to heart? Pars are so critical at the Solheim Cup and bogeys are so devastating - so being able to get up-and-down from any place off the green can mean everything. Team Europe seemed to do it practically every time. Hence, their overwhelming win. Next time you head out to practice, spend at least half of your session on chipping, pitch shots, bunker play and even lob shots and your scores will surely improve.
The 2010 Senior PGA Championship was held at Colorado Golf Club - the same one that just hosted the Solheim Cup. That year, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples and David Frost went to a playoff where Tom Lehman ultimately prevailed. If you watched those men there - and then played that same course, there's no chance you'd be hitting shots from the same place with the same club as those guys.
But if you watched the Solheim Cup and then played the course, there's a good chance you could apply many things you saw and learned as you watched the ladies.
So this week's lesson is: watch more women's golf and learn the keys to their success. It will pay more dividends than you know for your own game.
Renee Trudeau is a PGA and LPGA Teaching Professional at the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL. You can follow her on Twitter (@trudeaugolf), Facebook (Trudeau Golf)or visit her website (www.trudeaugolf.com).
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- Solheim Cup