September 23

Why YOU Should Be Playing Best Ball Golf

Golf Lessons


Everyone wants to know what their potential is.  In golf, we want to know what our best possible score can be.  That’s why we all should play best ball golf at least a few times a year.

Best Ball Golf is the way to find out how good you are.

So- how do we do it?  We take two shots, and keep (as well as count) the best of the two.  Simple, really.

I know, I know… another face palm moment.  But my belief is that people don’t try this enough.  We need to see how good we can be.

Why, you ask?  Because it can really pinpoint where our faults are.  Look at driving: let’s say at your course there’s fourteen holes where you play driver off the tee.  If you have 28 chances to hit driver (14 holes x 2 chances per hole) and 22 can at least be considered acceptable, that’s a pretty good indicator that driving isn’t your problem.

We can go on down the line with different shots.  An example of where you could be messing up is chipping.  If for every time you get two cracks at hitting an acceptable chip shot and you flub both… that could be an indicator of where you need help.

Let’s focus on the positives of playing best ball golf, shall we?

If you’re a golfer trying to crack 100, give best ball a chance.  What would you feel if you found out what you could score if every shot was as good as it could possibly be?  What if you finally broke 100?  Or 90?  What if you broke 90 and still found you were leaving shots on the table?  That just means even more potential for growth!

Playing best ball golf is almost intoxicating; it’s an incredible feeling looking down at a score you never thought you’d see!

My hope is, seeing just how much potential you have motivates you to practice, even if you’re stuck indoors.  It worked (well, works) for me.  My best ball round ever was a 77.  I’ve come close to matching it, shooting 78 a few times.

Further Reading: Simple Steps to Find Your Golf Big Gain!

Is that the theme from “Jaws” I hear?

Of course, if we talk about best ball golf, we should talk about its polar opposite: worst ball golf.

Worst ball golf is where you play two of every shot, but keep the worst.

I’m going to warn you: best ball golf could be called thrilling; worst ball golf is FRUSTRATING

But that’s OK, because it’s supposed to be.  It’s not an exercise in futility- far from it.  But it’ll teach you about perseverance, with a capital “F**K this game!”.

I’m kinda kidding, but not really.  If you let it get to you, you run the risk of wanting to walk off the course.  Don’t let that happen!  If you can withstand it, worst ball golf can be very educational.

Let’s take the term “in jail” for instance.  When you find yourself in jail, that usually means you’re stuck in a grove of trees.  Too many people will try to “thread the needle”, fitting their ball into a tiny (read: less than five feet wide) opening between two oak trees.  The margin for error is almost nil, but there’s always some voice in your head that says “I can make this shot!”.

No, you can’t.  The Law of Averages is against you on this one.  But that’s what worst ball can show you.  Try it with  your first shot and see how you do.  Now, play safe with the second shot.  Which outcome was better?  If you’re the majority, I’m betting it’s the second try.

I’m not coming down on you, though, because I find myself doing this, too.  In my head I’m Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood

This guy; Source: Flickr

swashbuckling away, with that same shit-eatin’ grin believing that no man (or tree, sign post, or any other immovable object) can defeat me and my trusty golf club.

That was a hard lesson to learn.  Harvey Penick, in his “Little Red Book”, calls it “taking your medicine”.

There’s no need for a hero shot.  Take your medicine; chip the ball back to the fairway and work to do no worse than bogey.  You can do that, can’t you?  Incidentally, that’s where the “medicine” comes in: you need to accept that bogey is the new par for this hole.  If you get a par, that’s great!  Celebrate it like you got a birdie.  But don’t hang your head if you two-putt for a bogey.  As the old cliche goes: live to fight another day.

Worst ball golf is excellent in that it shows you the possibility of different shot types/situations.

 More Reading: Swing YOUR swing- don’t worry about how it looks!

The best part about worst ball, in my opinion, is that it shows you how potentially bad you can be.  Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?  Finding out about how much you (potentially) suck is a good thing?  I can hear you now: “who the hell is this guy, and why am I still reading this?!”.  I get it.

But that’s why you should do it.  Remember the “polar opposites” ideology: if best ball golf shows you how good you potentially are, worst ball golf shows you how bad you potentially can be.  If you think you had a bad round, remember that score from worst ball.

It’s almost always not as bad as it could be.

Now it’s your turn: if you’ve played best ball or worst ball, what were your scores?

About the author 

Justin Blair

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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