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Coming to GIPS With Your Game
Harry Hurt III
May 20, 2002
What kind of golfer are you? Fill in the Golf Instruction Profile Scorecard to find out
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May 20, 2002

Coming To Gips With Your Game

What kind of golfer are you? Fill in the Golf Instruction Profile Scorecard to find out

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PLAYING ABILITY

FREQUENCY OF PLAY

1. Low proficiency
(Average score 90 or higher)

Monthly

2. Middling proficiency
(Average score 80-89)

Weekly

3. High proficiency
(Average score 79 or lower)

Daily

All golfers can be divided into two types—hookers and slicers. Sure, everyone has hit a ball straight, but that doesn't happen very often, not even if you're a Tour pro. Each of us has a tendency to hit the ball either left or right. That tendency forms the essence of our golfing personalities and has profound implications for how we go about improving our games.

It's easy to determine whether you're a hooker or a sheer. If, as sometimes happens, you tend to hit your iron shots in one direction and your drives in another, the curvature of your drives, particularly the bad drives, is definitive. The driver offers the purest test because it has less loft than irons and therefore imparts less of the backspin that helps make a ball fly straight.

The prevailing direction of most people's shots is to the right, which means they are slicers. Although there has been no formal survey, veteran instructors say that more than 85% of their students are banana ballers. True hookers, as opposed to those who occasionally pull shots, are a rare breed but generally have the potential to become better players than slicers because hookers already have shown that they can release the club face through impact. As Harvey Penick observed in his Little Red Book: Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf, a sheer must learn to hook the ball before he can learn to hit it straight.

Hookers and slicers are advised to take opposite tacks in almost everything, but both share the same starting point on the road to playing better golf: They have to map out an effective learning program.

There are two instructional approaches from which to choose: error correction (fixing a specific swing flaw) or swing development (rebuilding the swing from top to bottom). Each approach has pros and cons. Error correction can produce immediate improvement but is more of a Band-Aid than a lasting cure. Swing development aims to make lasting improvements but can be frustrating, complex, expensive and time-consuming. Which approach is right for you depends entirely on who you are.

Finding out who you are requires some work. To help, I've devised the Golf Instruction Profile Scorecard. The first step in establishing your GIPS is to determine your frequency of play, the most important variable and the one over which you have the most control. Then you must assess your playing ability, your level of prowess as measured by your average score; and your personal aspirations, the realistic goals you set for yourself.

To establish your frequency of play, use the following scale:

1. Monthly You play or practice 12 times a year or less.

2. Weekly You play or practice between 36 and 52 times a year.

3. Daily You play or practice at least four days a week.

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