Want to Shoot Your Age? Some Tips From a Master

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Shooting 80 at 80

We met Dave Wells a few weeks ago.  He’s the guy who then had shot his age 75 times.  

He’s up to close to 80 times now (his goal is to make it 80 times while he is still 80 years old).  I thought if anyone could give advice on what it takes to “Shoot Their Age” it would be someone who has done it.  A lot.

So I gave Dave a call and asked him to give some pointers to those of us who will have to live to 95 before we even think about the possibility.  Following is our interview.

Tips On Shooting Your Age

As Dave explained when we last talked, his nickname is “Iron Byron,” given to him by Dr J- Julius Erving.  It’s a nickname he earned by being so consistently accurate with his driver.  And that led to his answer to my first question.

SYA:  Let’s just jump right in.  How are you able to Shoot Your Age so often?  What’s the secret?

DW:  Well, first of all, the older you get, the more strokes you get!

But the first thing I’d say, is what Ben Hogan said:  “Regardless of how great a putter you are, or how great you are with your irons, it all starts with the driver.  You must put the drive in the fairway.”  The tee shot is the most important thing.  I’ve been fortunate because that’s the strongest part of my game.  I do everything I can to make sure my tee shot always makes the fairway.

SYA:  If you’re that consistent, you probably remember the last time you hit one out-of-bounds…

DW:  Absolutely!  I can remember the course, and the hole.  It was six years ago.

SYA:  Wow!  I can remember my last time, too.  It was…well, never mind.  So how far do you hit an average tee shot?

DW:  It depends on where I’m playing.  If I”m in Arizona, where we spend a few months every winter, I can hit it 220-230 because of the roll you get on those hard fairways.  Back in Memphis, with ten yards of roll if I’m lucky, it’s close to 190-200 yards.

That means my second shot is often with a hybrid or fairway wood.  I would say that is the second most important shot for me, and probably anyone trying to shoot their age.  You aren’t as long as you used to be, so you will be hitting longer shots in.

I had a pro here (TPC Southwind in Memphis) tell me I was as consistent with a fairway wood as anyone he’d ever seen.  I get a lot of practice!

Short Game

DW:  I always analyze every round.  I know that on average, 47% of my shots are from 50 yards and closer to the green.  I also know that to shoot my age, I need to be under 30 putts per round, and I count them the way the pros count them.  If I’m not on the green, it’s not a putt.

SYA:  So there are a lot of times you’re having to pitch and chip on longer holes.

DW:  That’s right.  I used to use my sand wedge primarily to chip with, but a friend of mine was so good at it, I asked him what he used, and he said a 9-iron.  He ran the ball more, and was almost always up and down.  So I started using my 9-iron and it really has helped my short game.

Final Thoughts

DW:  It’s all about the math.  I know where I stand about any point in a round.  I can have 4 bogeys per side.  If I birdie a hole, then I get an extra stroke to play with.  If I bogey 5 on the front nine, I know I have to play better on the back to make it up.  And any 3-putts are going to really hurt.

SYA:  Which set of tees do you play from?

DW:  Our senior tees, which are called the Club Tees, are around 5800-6000 yards.  I started playing those a few years ago.  I am eligible to move up one more set based on my age and handicap, but I’m not ready for that yet!

SYA:  Any Final Suggestions?

DW:  Again, get your tee shot in the fairway.  Hogan said it’s the most important shot because it’s the first shot.

Shooting Your Age thanks Dave Wells for his insight.  Congratulations Dave as you reach the 80th Shooting Your Age score.  I think a celebration article when you hit 100 will be in order!

Until next week, thanks for reading, and Enjoy Shooting Your Age!

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