Playing Golf Old School

Is this playing golf ‘Old Scool’?

Long before electronic measuring devices were introduced, may golfers, including myself, would pace the course for distances. Courses would meticulously measure ranges from sprinkler heads or as a minimum from the 200, 150, and 100 yard markers. They are used by experience players to estimate distance and I have to say that I was pretty accurate. This method of playing would be now be considered ‘Old School’.

Recently,  I introduced a small poll and 67% of the respondents use electronic means to measure distances on the course. This number is not surprising and I have to say that I am included in that number.

This is a sign of the times and most players feel that distance accuracy is important for club selection, type of shot being played and distance control. I cannot argue with these points and that is why I use my Garmin Approach 6. However, (there always seems to be a however), I am not sure that using my device has helped my game as much as I think.

When I played golf ‘Old School’, I was focused on my game. Because I had to pace of distances, I was constantly thinking about club selection, where to hit the ball, where to leave my ball for the next shot. I understand that I should be doing that now and I do, yet I am not as focused on my game as before.

Reliance on an electronic measuring device has empowered my brain to relax and wander in between shots. I no longer have to find the proper maker, pace off the distance, do the math, estimate yardage for the pin location, or estimate the distance over hazards. It all magically happens with my GPS. Of course knowing the distances is a benefit because it reduces yardage errors, but my mental side of the my game seems to be weaker because of it.

Now, I am not advocating eliminating my GPS. That would be folly. I am suggesting that I need to find a way to replace or improve my mental focus to play golf the ‘Old School’ way, but with new technology. There is something to be said for playing golf in a traditional manner as it has benefits, at least for my game. I am not sure how I am going to crack this nut, but I will be giving it some thought over the winter.

Do you miss playing ‘Old School’ golf?

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

12 thoughts on “Playing Golf Old School

  1. Jim,

    In ways I do miss playing old school. Takes me back to playing as a kid. I think I feel more connected to the course playing that way. Walking the course and pacing off yardages. However, tough to give up the edge a laser or gps provides!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, you’ve opened the possible floodgate with this article. Since 1991, the average men’s handicap index has dropped from 16.3 to 14.4. Is some of that attributable to distance finding technology? I would argue it is not and is due mostly to advances in playing equipment.

    As you correctly point out, electronic devices impinge on our lives, brains, and privacy, distracting us everywhere including the golf course. I would bet the average golfer would benefit, as you say, by putting the device away and measuring distances old style. My range finder battery died on me mid-round last time out. In the time it took me to get a replacement in, I reverted to pacing off yardages – no problem. It has been ingrained in me and I easily adjusted.

    Great thought provoking post; thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I agree that the lower handicaps are due to equipment advancements and measuring devices. As I said earlier, I am sure there is a happy medium in there somewhere, it is a matter of finding it. Unfortunately, with the use of electronics everywhere, it would be difficult to convince the younger players to put the electronics away and enjoy playing golf in its purity. Thanks for the stat on lower scores, it is an interesting one.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to admit I am wedded to my (now old school in itself) Garmin S2. If visiting a new course I do like to buy the course guide booklet, though these days there often isn’t one, as I find that helps broaden interpretation of the course. Cheers, Rob

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never found a range finder or GPS device useful. I choose my club and swing speed based on sight, feel, and the course markers. And that is good enough for me. It doesn’t help me to know I’m exactly 95 yards, 1 foot and 2 inches to the flag. I don’t practice to that precision, so how could it?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I doubt many of us amatuers are going to be pin hunting at 225. Certainly not me and my handicap is just 3 behind yours.

        The one area where I can appreciate their availability and use is when you are playing a new course. Being able to “see” around corners and over the horizon to get distances you can’t measure with your eye or experience is where they excel and become useful tools.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Jim
        I have to agree with Kevin,
        I am not the kind of guy to go pacing the course …checking my gps ( and hoping the battery has enough life for the round). For me its all just some extra stuff to weigh me down.
        In my opinion golfing is just me against the course and elements.
        100-150-200 flag markers are enough for me.


      • Steven

        I definitely played that way in the past. I enjoy immersing myself in a round of golf. It is something I have gotten away from time to time. I guess it is time go slide back to ‘Old School’ golf. Great to hear your thoughts.



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