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How to Break Par Like Wells Adams

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Welcome to My Best Score Ever, a new mini-series from The Par Train where we examine the ins and outs of players who have recently shot their personal best.

In this session we look into a couple Best Scores Ever from Wells Adams of The Bachelor fame, as well as The Par Train’s own, Evan Singer who sit down to report what it took to score their personal bests.

Before The Round

A quality process is key to giving yourself the best chance at scoring your best. The average tour player spends between 45 minutes to an hour and a half warming up. Some of us don’t have that kind of time. If not the same amount of time, at least an equal amount of shots by percentage could be taken. A reasonable warm-up breaks up shots into thirds between putting, chipping and full swings. For older players or those with physical limitations, this might be adjusted to include more or less full swings depending on what their body needs to feel appropriately stretched, but not exhausted by the end of the round.

Developing a quality process can be dynamic, altering order or amount of time. The goal is to find a few exercises that help a player to feel relaxed and confident. Psychologically, it is to anticipate the next shot, starting with the first shot as a chance to enjoy the feeling of hitting a pure golf shot.

The Opening Tee

The mechanics to a golf score are not complicated. However, at the first tee, it is easy to get lost in feelings of fear, as if the first shot is going to carry more weight than any other shot during the day. As has been previously expressed on The Par Train podcast, a round is nothing more than a collection of individual shots. The goal is to remember that the trick to playing your best is not by hoping to play your best, fantasize over scoring low or fearing shooting high. It is by focusing on each individual shot and repeating a process to give yourself the best chance as possible to making that shot happen.

Work from the pin backwards.

Ben Hogan used to walk the entire course backwards before a tournament. I imagine this was a meditative time, but also a chance to see the course from the perspective of the designer. The average player might not have the time to stroll the entire course. The point is to try to see the course from the green to the tee.

There are great apps available for players to look at each hole from a satellite view and strategize accordingly. Whether this is done before a round or on the tee for each hole, it is a key piece of process to have a plan which works from the ideal putt, backwards to the tee shot that will provide the greatest possibility for success.

Look for the Uphill Putt

Uphill puts provide a physically greater chance of being made. This is a physical phenomena that has to do with the nature of gravity. The area of putts that will go in expands when being rolled uphill. If hit on a downhill putt, will lip. This will be consistently reiterated, if a score is anything, it is the result of probabilities and skill. By behaving in such a way to deliver the greatest probabilities for success, a player can reduce stressful situations and take advantage of physics. Each green or pin location is unique and may not lend itself to an uphill birdie putt. In these situations, the strategy would look for the easiest chance at avoiding three putts.

Find your Ideal Number

Getting on the green in regulation is a product of strategy and ball dispersion. Create a wedge matrix by knowing the distances of each wedge hit full, three quarters and half swing. Going through this process will help players understand their ideal distance. For example, sixty yards might be in between a three quarter sand wedge and a full lob wedge. This would make for an awkward distance and should be avoided. 110 yards might be a full swing with a gap wedge and as such is a preferable distance. Play to numbers. Whether on short par fours, or par fives, developing a favorite distance will position players to see more birdies as they can avoid low percentage shots that require a great amount of feel.

Large Targets are Easier to Hit

The typical mentality for most amateur players consists of hitting the ball as far as possible every shot. Course designers are aware of this tendency. If you review your local course, check out the distance to the trouble. How far down the fairway does it become more narrow? Professionals may seem untouchable from the perspective of driver distance and control. Of course they are better than everyone else in the world. A big part of their success derives from making better decisions.

I’ll share a personal example of a hole that recently caused an unnecessary double bogey. This is a fairly straightforward, easy par four. 347 yards from the back tees, slightly downhill with OB left, treeline right, and a huge tree in the middle (just left of the fairway bunker). Adjust distances as needed.

Option A) 290 Yards+ Driver-Chip In the history of playing this hole, I have only seen one occasion of someone driving this green. More often than not, longer hitters will end up left of the greenside bunker with an awkward 50 yard shot to a green that slopes away. Yet nearly every player sees this as a green-light special and bombs their drive. If not on the green, the best case scenario is a 25-50 yard chip from the fairway. This is typically an awkward distance to approach from as spin is limited and the green does not hold well since it is sloped from front to back.

Option B) 260 Yards 3 Wood / Hybrid-Wedge

Decreasing in risk is the play to the left portion of the fairway. This section of fairway narrows almost 50% and but leaves the player with an approach with a more full swing. While less risky than hitting driver, the question is, does the risk of hitting it to around 100 yards justify the nearly 50% reduction in fairway size over option C? For some players, 100 yards is their number. If they are in love with the 100 yard shot and do not share the same confidence from 130, perhaps the risk profile works for their game. This would also largely depend on their confidence in their 260 yard club. Keep in mind, the area of fairway they are trying to reach is about as wide as the green.

Option C) 220 Yards Hybrid/Fairway Wood/Long Iron-Wedge/Iron The third option entails hitting the tee shot to the 130-140 yard range. The fairway is at its largest in this area. The tee shot has not become extremely easy. A full swing can be taken and the ball will land softer with a reasonable amount of spin. If the ball can find the right side of the fairway, the greenside bunkers can be taken out of play.

Make a Plan, Hit to a Number

How do you proceed? The point is that most players have not ever gone through an entire round trying to hit to a number. In this analysis, the odds of hitting the fairway increase by 50% simply by the physics of hitting to the 130 yard mark where the fairway is at its widest.

This strategy guarantees that there would be more fairways hit during the round. Lost balls or tree trouble stresses out the entire game. A missed approach shot still allows for a par save. However, a tee shot that is hit OB all but guarantees a bogey or worse.

Maybe the trick to shooting your lowest round is not related to ball-striking or having a lights-out putting performance, but has everything to do with a more intelligent strategy of aiming at the bigger targets.

The Fat of the Green

The same strategy for hitting fairways can be implemented onto approach shots. Rather than shooting the number to the pin, a much more conservative way to make greens is to measure to the front of the green. This is the minimum distance required to make the center of the green. The decision making process around club selection is made more conservative. Seeking greens results in more greens in regulation as sucker pins and missing the green long is eliminated.

A regular dispersion according to conservative decisions will reduce anxiety around performance because the player is not attempting to achieve something as difficult. This creates a feedback loop where a player feels more confidence throughout the round, anticipating shots rather than fearing the possibility of mistake.

Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

While pragmatism can rule the strategy, results are a mystery. A birdie can happen from anywhere. Allowing for results to unfold with curiosity and optimism is what it means when people say, “let the round come to you.” The next shot is all that can be controlled.

The singular shot in front of you can be best executed by remembering the intention of shot shape and committing to executing the plan throughout the hole, throughout the shot.

When You don’t Get What You Want, You Get a Lesson

Through the process of seeing results, learning from mistakes is a great way to remain optimistic, or, at least neutral throughout the round. Distance control is always changing with people’s physical abilities, or swing changes. Rather than blaming unfortunate results on a poor swing, you just learned something about your dispersion with that club. This information could be useless in the event of a freak incident lateral or topped ball. However, it could be a trend if observed and remembered. These trends can improve self-awareness concerning distance control and lead to the best round of your life, even if it doesn’t happen today.

Check out the Pod

Wells Adams (@wellsadams), guest host and bartender on ABC's Bachelor in Paradise, hops aboard the Train to not only share a few Bachelor secrets but more importantly tell us how he broke par for the first time. This is a brand new mini-series where we break down how those magical rounds actually occur. Full disclosure: Evan's first round after this interview tied his best score ever so Wells' mentality works!


Want to get coached by the bestselling author of Zen Golf Dr. Joe Parent and Par Train Co-Host Evan Singer for an online 90 minute workshop? Sign up asap before the seats sell out. October 6 at 5pm PST but will also be sent out as a recording for those that can't make it live!

Performance Apparel: Want 15% the best fitting performance golf apparel in the game? Tap this link and you'll never wear anything other than Rhoback again.

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