There’s a popular saying in sports: Practice makes perfect. Short game guru Dave Pelz came up with a better one: Perfect practice makes perfect. Having studied the way golfers work on their games for years, I can make two educated assumptions about the average weekend golfer and their practice habits.
- Most golfers don’t spend enough time practicing.
- Not enough of that time is spent working on the short game and putting.
Golf is one of those games that rewards you proportionally to the work you put into it, so it’s not hard to see why the average golfer doesn’t improve from season to season. Since most people don’t have the time to dedicate to practice golf, you have to maximize the time you get to help you improve.
When I was in college I
frequently skipped class to play golf tried to schedule my days in such a way that I could play golf between classes, and when playing golf alone I started inventing games to keep my mind and game sharp. One of these games was a worst-ball scramble. Like many people do when playing alone, I played two balls on every hole. In a normal scramble you would hit two shots, select the best shot of the two, then proceed to hit two balls from that spot and so forth until you hole out.
The worst ball scramble is the exact opposite. The player hits two shots, then selects the worst shot between them and hits the next two shots from that location, then continues hitting from the worst ball until the ball is holed out. This game is very difficult, which also makes it fantastic practice for your game and your mind.
- Worst ball scramble forces you to focus and concentrate on hitting two good shots every time, because you will be playing your next shot from the worst of the two
- Worst ball will test your patience and mental fortitude. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a shot close to the hole knowing it won’t count because you missed the green with your second shot.
- In order to hole out and move to the next hole, you must make a two putts in a row, since the worst shot on the green would be a missed putt.
- You’ll find that your thought process on the course becomes much more conservative. You’ll be much more inclined to hit something other than a driver off the tee in order to stay in play, and you will tend to aim your approach shots towards the middle of the green with greater frequency. This conservative mindset is common in the pro game, but most amateurs simply aim for every flag and usually pay the price with higher scores.
- Playing a worst ball scramble is great practice because you will likely hit as many shots in 18 holes as you would in 3 normal rounds of golf, especially on and around the greens. Extra reps!
- I’ve seen touring professionals shoot 85 playing this game with me. There is nowhere to hide. Playing worst ball will immediately identify the area(s) of weakness in your game.
If you play golf alone or in a twosome, worst ball is a fantastic and challenging game to play. It will help you work on the weak areas of your game and help you focus and force you to plot your way around the course in a conservative way, which will help any golfer in the long run. Give it a try the next time you have a lazy Sunday afternoon to spend on the course. Just bring plenty of golf balls!