Practical Golf Lessons: Second-Serve Golf

Know what a second serve is? In professional tennis a player gets two chances to serve. Usually, his or her first try is a “power shot.” The server puts everything into the shot and tries to rifle it passed his opponent for an “ace.” An ace is a shot that the second player fails to return on the serve.

If the server misses the first shot, he or she hits a second. The goal of the server hitting the second shot is to get the ball in play. Since a miss here costs points, the server takes something off the shot to make sure he or she gets it in play. That’s the second serve.

What’s this have to do with improving your golf game? Actually, it has a lot to do with it. You can use the idea of the second shot in tennis as a practical on-course golf lesson to improve your game, a golf lesson that gives you a chance to learn by doing. It’s akin to getting instant golf tips after hitting shots. Below are some examples of what I call second-serve techniques. Experienced teaching pros provided these examples. They’re not only simple to do, they’re also fun to try.

A Month of Mulligans Golf instructor John Elliot suggested this one. The problem with golf is that you only get one shot. That’s what creates tension on the course. If you miss the shot, you end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Often, you know exactly what you did wrong on the shot and how to correct it. Maybe you used the wrong club, or you tried to hit the shot too hard. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to hit the shot again?

Go ahead. Take another try at it. Give yourself a month of mulligans. Course and time permitting, play for a week or month giving yourself a mulligan on every shot. If you hit a bad shot, drop a second ball and hit the shot again. See if you can hit it better. It’s a great learning device, something I’ve used in golf instruction sessions with students.

After a month or so, reduce the time period to a week. Then try a day or two. After that, try a mulligan per hole for a day. You get the idea. Make it into a game with yourself. This second-serve technique will not only improve your shotmaking but also your consistency.

Apply the 10-Yard Rule Here’s another example I use when giving golf lessons. This one comes from Bob Toski, a teaching pro. Apply the 10-yard rule to your bad shots. Instead of playing from the rough or the bunker, play from the fairway. If the ball goes into the rough or fairway, drop a ball 10 yards back, but don’t take a penalty shot. Then hit the shot.

Toski’s second-shot technique improves shotmaking and injects more consistency in your game. It also builds confidence because you begin to recognize how it feels hitting the ball from the fairway all the time. In addition, it teaches you why it’s important to stay on the fairway. Most people improve their scores by 5 to 10 shots per round using this technique. Try it for a month, a week, or whatever feels comfortable. You’ll see improvement.

Use a Shorter Club Teaching pro Peter Kostis, who you’ve probably heard on golf telecasts, recommends this example. Many recreational golfers fire away when hitting from the tee. They grab their drivers, take their stance, and blast away. They’re so pre-occupied with distance that they’re unwilling to give up the 20 or 30 yards a long club produces. Unfortunately, this approach often gets them into trouble.

If that’s you, try this second-serve technique. Every time you hit a bad drive, tee up a second ball but use the 3-wood or 5-wood instead. Take a shorter, more relaxed swing. Going to a shorter club has its advantages. It takes the pressure off and makes hitting the fairway easier. Try this technique for a round or two. See how it works. You’ll probably generate better scores.

There’s three examples from teaching pros. But you don’t have to be a pro to come up with one of these second-serve techniques. You can do it yourself. It’s relatively easy. Just make sure it has some instructional value to it.

Regardless of who comes up with the technique, second-serve golf improves your game and helps reduce your scores over the long term. In addition, you’ll enjoy playing more and generate a lower golf handicap. Give it a try.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse