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Golfing with the Guru

Dave Pelz's Short Game Schools Help Golfers Put Their Shots on the Green, and Into the Cup
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

Standing on the 18th tee of your favorite golf course, you survey the fairway stretching into the distance, and you smile. You've had one of those rare, great days on the links, when everything has clicked. Your ball striking has been crisp. You've managed to avoid hitting out-of-bounds. And, miraculously, you've only three-putted a single green. All that stands between you and the first sub-90 round of your life is a 400-yard par-4. Life is good.

You stripe a magnificent drive into the short grass. You poke a crisp iron up near the dance floor, so close to the promised land you can smell a par. With two well-played shots you've hit your ball 400 yards. Time to get up and down. Time to shoot in the 80s.

But from the edge of the green, you chunk one chip, skull another one and, demoralized, three-putt from 20 feet. Two strokes to go 400 yards; five more strokes to hole out. Instead of recording your best round ever, you are left with a bitter memory of what might have been. Disconsolate, you storm off the course, pausing only to briefly consider dumping your clubs in the trash can on the way out.

Sound vaguely familiar?

Approximately two out of every three shots you play on a golf course will be made with 60 yards of the flag, including putts, which account for between 40 and 50 percent of your score. Yet most of us aren't very good from 60 yards and in. We'd rather spend the majority of our practice time on the driving range, blasting balls into the stratosphere with our oversized, graphite-shafted, titanium bazookas. We'd rather hit a bucketful of epic shots, watching them sail high and far into a beckoning net, than become a master of the short game. To most golfers, it's more fun to feel the power of nailing the sweet spot than it is dribbling hundreds of eight-foot chips on a bumpy practice green.

That's why most of us post scores that resemble those of a National Basketball Association game gone into overtime.

For the few among us who aspire not to the Herculean lengths of a John Daly, but, rather, the surgical precision of a Corey Pavin, merely setting aside 20 minutes a week for practice on "touch shots" doesn't accomplish anything--except a sore back--if you don't know how to practice.

That is why the Dave Pelz Short Game School may be the most powerful learning tool in the rapidly growing field of golf education. In three very full days, golfers of all abilities discover how to putt, chip, pitch, blast from the sand and, most importantly, practice effectively. They learn to be their own best teacher.

You may be familiar with the name Dave Pelz. A regular contributor to Golf magazine and the author of the instructional tome, Putt Like The Pros, Pelz is generally regarded as the world's foremost expert on the short game: all manners of shots that occur within 60 yards of the flag. A former NASA research scientist with an obsession for golf, Pelz has spent much of his adult life applying the same scientific principles he employed on the space program to putting and chipping. Dozens of celebrated golfers--Tom Kite, Lee Janzen and Peter Jacobsen, to name a few--credit Pelz with teaching them the mysteries of the short game, supplying them with the kind of powerful competitive advantage one enjoys when one knows more than the opposition. Pelz is the world's foremost short game guru.

Like David Leadbetter and Jim Flick, other celebrity golf teachers generally unavailable to the everyday hacker, Pelz rarely gives lessons to amateurs. (Several times a year, though, he conducts premium-priced "signature" sessions.) Usually, Pelz's distilled wisdom is disseminated in clinics taught by his personally trained instructors, who impart the guru's lessons with assiduous accuracy. Attending a Dave Pelz Short Game School is like hearing the gospel from a substitute preacher: The voice is different, but you still get the message.

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