Fairways & Greens: Golf tips to help with those pesky 5-footers

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Rodney Harwood

Editor’s note: Ephrata graduate Kenedee Peters is a three-time 2A state medalist headed to Washington State University on a golf scholarship next year. Othello junior Patrick Azevedo is an 2A state medalist winner and a top five finisher.

I was watching an interview with Tiger Woods back in the heyday and he was saying, “I wasn’t putting particularly well today, so I just kept hitting it closer and closer to the pin.”

Most of us haven’t sacrificed our childhood for a golf game for the ages, so getting it closer isn’t an option. But I have given some thought as to how the average golfer, to which I am one, can make some significant improvements in their game. The purpose of this column, which will run regularly throughout the summer, is to provide a couple of things to help you make that significant drop from 95 to 90 to 85.

From there, anything is possible, even the major drop from 85 to 80. But after that it takes far more work than I’m willing to put in. So let’s see if we can’t get out of the 90s to somewhere in the 80s on a regular basis.

I decided to go straight to the top or in this case — Generation Next. Kind of like, if you can’t figure out your cell phone, ask a five-year-old. We have two of the best junior players in the state right here in the Columbia Basin in Kenedee Peters and Patrick Azevedo. Peters won three of four 2A state medalist honors during her career at Ephrata High School. Her junior career includes being named the 2015 WSGA Junior Girls' Player of the Year, a Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA) state champion, and she qualified for the U.S. Girls' Junior and IMG Academy Junior Worlds.

Azevedo took the Washington state golf scene by storm two years ago, winning the 2A state medalist honor as a freshman. He finished in the top five this year as a sophomore and is arguably one of the best junior golfers in the state in any classification. He is a three-sport athlete at Othello, so his focus on golf is mostly during the spring and summer. But he has lowered his scoring average to 72.

Both Peters and Azevedo were named the 2018 Central Washington Athletic Conference golfers of the year.

Today’s thought of the day is putting, particularly those pesky five-footers. You know, the ones that look so easy, but are so easy to miss.

Azevedo, who works with the Jeff Bender Golf Academy in Kennewick, has this idea for improvement. Take a little time on the practice green and see if this doesn’t restore confidence for your next round.

“The game is to set 10 tees a putter length from the hole in a circle,” Azevedo said. “Set a ball down next to each tee and make all 10 in a row. If you miss one start all over again.

“When you feel like you have improved, reach for higher goals. Instead of 10 in a row make 20, 30, or even 40. When you feel very comfortable as I do, make 100 in a row. This sharpens concentration and burns the stroke into your mind.”

Peters goes to Joe Thiel’s World Wide Golf School in Olympia to get her game in shape. Here’s a couple of ideas she has to improve your short game.

“Take a yardstick and mark it half way up. Lay it down on the practice green and roll putts off it,” said Peters, who will play Pac-12 golf next season. “The sheer redundancy of doing it over and over and over again builds a confidence in what I call Player One. Player One is the belief that you can make it. Player Two is the thought that you can’t. It’s a constant battle in believing in yourself and that you will make every putt.

“I also put tees at that five-foot circle around the cup and putt. Even with the straight putts, it’s about making the same stroke over and over again. Take nothing for granted. Don’t just walk up, take a quick glance and roll it. Make sure you know what it’s going to do. These drills are something you can do in your spare time to help with your focus.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

But think about it, if you par just three holes a side and don’t make double-bogey, that’s a round of 84, which is pretty close to a dancing naked-in-the-streets number for me. I don’t know about you, but the odds of making double are far greater than making birdie.

These simple ideas can help make the next round, the round of a lifetime. And always remember, “It’s a good day for bad golf.”

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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