In case anyone is curious I will go ahead and let you know that I am no Stephen Hawking, in fact, I am no Bill Nye the Science Guy, or even Beakman. With that out of the way I will also tell you despite my lack of credentials in the scientific community I am a big fan of sample size. An example of the use of sample size in my daily life is student behavior, as a coach and teacher I can see a student perform a similar negative behavior 9 times and apologize when issued a consequence each and every time only to commit the same or similar offense a tenth time. In these cases I have all the samples I needed to know that the apology meant nothing and the behavior was likely to occur again. I believe that most logical human beings allow sample size to shape how they see and view a particular person, place, thing, action, or event even if they are not aware of what to call it. With all that said, there is a phenomenon in my life (and millions of other lives) that renders the belief in sample size importance useless, golf.
Like millions of other humans on Planet Earth I love golf, but I hate it. I can play 18 holes on any given day and leave the course feeling like pre-scandal Tiger Woods and return to the course the following day, with all of the confidence in the world, and leave feeling like Tiger Lilly, it is frustrating. Sample size means nothing to me in golf, I can hit 100 shots, 99 of which are garbage, but that one good shot keeps me thinking that I am on the cusp of “figuring this game out”, and I am clueless as to why.
Prior to last month I had not played golf in about two years and had been itching to do so for some reason since about Easter. With the end of the school year in late May I quickly took advantage of my less busy schedule and headed to the local golf course to play. I have played in spurts over the last 15 years with several layoffs of a year or more in that span but typically shoot in the low to mid 90’s with an occasional mid to upper 80’s score when playing consistently over a few months so I was not surprised that I shot a 101 in my comeback debut. Despite my poor score I hit enough decent shots to hook me back in.
My next four rounds saw me shoot a 97, 93, 96, and 98, which gave me a 5 round average of 97. Though not horrible scores, the amount of decent shots that I was hitting led me to believe that I could do better if I could just get in some consistent practice but the nearest public range was 45 minutes away and not very practical to visit daily. This is when I knew that I would have to get creative, so I did.
After checking the prices of golf practice nets online I knew that I had to have something hanging around my house or shop to use that would save me the 50-300 bucks being charged for the nets on the internet. It did not take long for me to remember my kids old disassembled trampoline and safety net stored in our garage and it was on from there.
I admit that it is far from beautiful, but it has been effective and I did not have to spend a dime. This one is hung from a tree branch by rope and the sides are tied off to a tree and fence. Though not aesthetically pleasing, it is tucked away in the corner of my backyard where only those in the backyard can see it.
The trampoline material is pretty much perfect for hitting with golf balls. It is hard enough to withstand the abuse of the golf balls but also soft enough to cradle the balls to the ground without them flying back at you.
My homemade setup has allowed me to hit hundreds of practice shots that I would otherwise not been able to due to the distance between my house and the nearest driving range. I can even practice while hanging out with my wife and little ones in the backyard (they like using it too).
The proof that my sketchy looking backyard driving range works is in my scores. I mentioned the first five rounds that I played this summer (pre-trampoline range) saw me shoot a 101, 97, 93, 96, and 98 for an average score of a 97 per round. I have played an additional five rounds of golf since setting up and routinely practicing on my trampoline golf net and have shot rounds of 87, 91, 89, 95, and 87 for a round average of 89.8. My upcycled trampoline mat has improved my game by just over 7 strokes per round!
Of course not everyone has an old trampoline mat at their disposal and there are more expensive and aesthetically pleasing tools that can be bought instead of made to improve your golf game and I have linked to a few below.
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Jake with tool-school.com