What is Your Tipping Point?

The definition of a tipping point is “the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.” This particular phenomenon is the root of great golf. It helps define a path to success through mini steps of a larger challenge.

Every year, I hope to experience one or two tipping points that leads to lower scores. Last year, unfortunately, I did not achieve a tipping point on any aspect of my game and as a result, I did not really improve. It is a bit disappointing, but that is the nature of amateur golf.

tipping-point-illustrationTo add some context, the lower your handicap, the more difficult it is to reach a tipping point. This is not to say it cannot be achieved, on the contrary, it just means that we need to focus our efforts more on realistic goals.

For example, early in my career, my chipping from 15 yards was the worst. I was okay from farther or short distances, but from 15 yards I rarely got up and down. To rectify this hole in my game, I devised a practice plan that was a bit out of the ordinary.

Most players would drop 50 balls from 15 yards and whack away until they felt they master the shot. I decided to approach this challenge going forward and backwards. Here is how the drill went:

  • I set up 10 balls at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards.
  • Using the same club, 52° gap wedge, I started at 5 yards. I chipped all 10 balls.
  • I moved back to 25 yards and hit all the balls.
  • I moved to 10 yards and hit all the balls.
  • I moved to 20 yards; hit all the balls.
  • I moved 15 yards and hit all the balls.
  • Lastly, I repeated the same drill and hit 2 balls instead of 10 following the same pattern.

It was amazing the results I gained. Not only did my worries about hitting from 15 yards disappeared. To add a bit of reality to drill; I conducted this drill 4 times over 4 different practice sessions. Also, I putted every ball in hole. Additionally, I adjusted my grip and weight distribution several times until I was comfortable making a short chip. One cycle of the drill takes between 30 and 40 minutes depending on how close you chip the ball to the hole.

The tipping point to this story is not how well I chipped from 15 yards, but how my entire short game from within 25 yards raised to the next level and beyond. Now, I believe my short game is the best part of my game. Today, it is where I save and gain strokes the most.

The tipping point is important in golf. It is a noticeable point in time that produces that “ah ha” moment and our game dramatically improves. Next year, I am looking forward to finding another tipping point, I am just not sure what it will be.

Did you have a tipping point in your game last year?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

4 thoughts on “What is Your Tipping Point?

  1. Jim, I found a tipping point of sorts and it happened after my summer full swing implosion. My move and my head were so far underwater and the lesson I took served as a life ring and filled me with renewed confidence. I couldn’t leverage that into going low but it was relief enough to get my game back to my standard level.

    Another thing, I find your chipping drill fascinating and need to try that. Did you putt all 10 balls from each position or just when you used two balls?



    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure if I have a specific distance I hate more than others but your drill sounds like a great idea anyway. I’m skipping the course tomorrow in favor of a practice day and this sounds like a perfect way to start. Do you make notes during these sessions? Maybe things like clock positions for back swing for a specific distance with a specific club? I was kind of thinking that starting a book like that might be helpful for me as a project this coming year.

    As far as tipping points go, for me it seems more like evolution. But then, I really haven’t used a plan to get to my current 8.5 handicap. Until last year, I refused to pay attention to what I should be doing in favor of trying to perfect my own interpretation. However, that last year of being obstinate saw my game in real trouble and me trying everything I could to tone down or get rid of a monster hook I had fallen in to. I was even hooking my wedges.

    I finally swallowed my pride and paid attention to things like how you are supposed to hold the club, stopping the sway in my swing, etc. and practiced in the backyard for a couple of weeks until I felt some comfort level with that. Then, before taking it to the range or the course, I took a lesson and allowed the pro to help me get those basics right. And teach me how to make a proper swing.

    Over this last year, I have managed to not only get my game back to the level it once was, but I have surpassed it by about 5 strokes (which by the way corresponds to something else I read here). But to move forward from here, I think I am going to need to develop a plan of attack and would love some suggestions.

    Right now, I don’t think there is a specific area in my game that is worse than another.
    Consistency is the Holy Grail I seek of course, but, faith is key to that, so my assumption is that my best course of action is to practice, practice, practice. Not just go to the range and hit balls but drill the consistency and the faith/confidence into me.

    But is that all I should consider, or do you have other considerations I should take into account.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      Wow. Where to start. First, I do not find using the clock drill on my back swing helpful because of the variables to every shot. It is a valuable drill for players of a much higher handicap to build consistency. Second, I do not take notes, but create a training plan with specific goals. Sometimes the goals last a day, others over several practice sessions. Lastly, there are so many aspects of my short game to work on, I try to pick some that covers more than a specific skill (as explained in the article). There is so much to do with so little time. That is about it for now. Let me know if you use my suggestion and how it worked out.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s