Do you ever feel like golf can get a bit too repetitive at times? Especially playing the same golf course and the same tees over and over. It may even be playing the same skins games with the same groups every weekend.
What if you could change up the way you play the same golf course, improve your game while doing so, challenge yourself, and have more fun?
The following variations of challenges can be done alone or with other players and is a great way to mix up your regular game. Also, each of these will still allow you to post a legitimate score toward your handicap if you so choose.
The following ideas are not new and I have personally played each of them as practice while I was playing professionally.
So what are they?
Playing With Irons Only - When I say irons only I mean do not even have them in the bag when you play. This removes the temptation to abandon the challenge and hit them. By removing woods the object of this challenge is to emphasize accuracy and ball placement. This removes the distance aspect from the game almost completely, especially on Par-5 holes. This is a great way to improve your iron play and course management. Since all Par-5s and maybe even some Par-4s become unreachable in two you know have to play to a strategy. Do I hit it as far as I can closer to the green or do I lay back to my favorite yardage and get up and in from there. Just because you have all irons do not go out there and try and hit them harder to make up for not having woods. That is why I say play up a tee box or two. To give you a comparison, I usually play golf courses from 7,000 - 7,200 yards. To play irons only I would play between 6,600 and 6,800 yards. This should also change up the golf course allowing you to hit different clubs into greens you normally wouldn't.
No Greens - Yes you read that right. No greens, meaning miss greens in regulation on purpose. This challenge is designed to improve your short game. I know you're thinking I'm crazy as many golfers miss enough greens on accident, myself included, but I promise you it has a benefit to your game. It will improve your short game vias repetition. This game is especially helpful to those that do not have a place to practice their short game. Not every course has a chipping green and even if they do sometimes you are limited to a small selection of shots. When you play this game also try and miss in different areas so you get a variety of different shots. If you just miss short on the fairway run-up to the green you will most likely just be playing the same shot on every hole. Although that would still be good in a way that is not really the objective here. A good way to do make sure you mix up shots is to divide the holes into where you will miss. With 18-holes you can break it down however you choose or something like; 5-holes miss short, 5-holes miss right, 4-holes miss long, and 4-holes miss left. This should put you in areas where you may need a flop, a pitch, or a bump and run. The more you attempt different shots the better you get at them. This is regardless of technique as you developed the muscle memory of what works best for you to pull the shot off.
No Wedges - This does not include your pitching wedge and just like the no woods game it means to take them out the bag for the day. I mean no extra wedges like a gap, sand, or lob wedge. Out of all of these, this is probably the most challenging I have personally tried. The purpose of this is to not rely on your wedges for every shot around the green and become more creative. Also, this is great for course management as you may have to lay back off a tee or on a par-5 to hit a full shot. For example, if you drive the ball 260 yards on a 300 yard par-4 and hit a sand wedge 40 yards, well without it in the bag you may have to hit a 3-iron off the tee to give you a full pitching wedge or 9-iron into the green. If you find yourself too close to a green it forces you to learn how to dial back your swing for distance control, at least your pitching wedge. Which can come in handy at times when you need an extra shot on a windy day. It gets a bit tricky when you accidentally get into a bunker, but you can learn how to manipulate almost any club to get out of a bunker. I will do a video on that when the weather gets warmer. When you learn different shots with different clubs not only does it improve your game to have more selections, but you will notice more fun as you pull off different shots. Especially when your playing partners notice.
Those are just three different games you can play to mix things up, challenge yourself, improve your game, and have more fun. I hope you are willing to give these a try and see the benefits they can have to your game. Get your friends involved and challenge them to one of these games.