The old golf adage 'Drive for show, putt for dough' has been around for as long as I can remember and I am only 48 so it's fair to say that the terminology is rather old to say the least. So is it true ? Well according to new statistics the game may just be changing with the leaps and bounds in technology so perhaps by hitting a ball an extra 30 foot with the new and improved drivers it may just get a golfer to within birdie range a bit more often.
The rather well worn saying however will probably not disappear over night, particularly when it's the local club golfer we are talking about who more often than not will pick up a few dollars from his playing buddies if he chips and putts a little more precisely than those who simply belt a drive and hope for the best.
Is there merit in perhaps slowing it down, hitting it straight, staying out of the rough and then using the short game to finish the job ? I am not much of a golfer though that is exactly what I do more often than not on the odd occasion that I have a round of golf. Most golfers can hit a long ball off the drive but what separates an average golfer from one who goes around under par ? The art of finishing the job, anyone can start it.
Look at a tennis player, most can rally, it's the way you first start the game as a kid, you try to out rally the opposition and it's what makes it fun. Rallying brings out the excitement in a player, the adrenalin of being in a battle and there is nothing more satisfying than winning a rally because you had more patience or precision than your opponent.
So what of the other side of the coin in tennis ? You can't keep rallying forever as you get older because you simply will run out of steam so you need to be more precise with how you finish a point. You have to find small windows of opportunity that to the quiet observer may not even exist but in your mind you are playing a game of chess and you can see things that others can't. In a nutshell you will look for a way to get to 'the green' safely, with a minimum of fuss, close enough to the flag to sink the final putt.
You are looking for par or better every time you play tennis, a bogey will simply not cut the mustard.
So how do you get within 'birdie range' when you play tennis ? You play the percentages, you don't expend any more energy than you have to and when you see an opportunity, well, it's simple really, you take your pitching wedge and you set yourself up for the most simplest of 'putts' or in a tennis player's vocabulary, a volley. So is it that simple ?
I believe that rallying in tennis is a young man's game, perhaps something that will stroke your own ego if you do it for a set against a young fellow and grind out a win however in the end that set may just have drained you of enough energy to finish the match and losing 2 and 2 in the final two sets will do nothing for your self esteem. You need to pace yourself as you age in tennis, play smarter and spend less time in points, more time inside your opponents head.
I often say to students of all ages that you need to find a way to finish a point because 30 shot rallies don't do anyone any favours, in the end it will wear you down. It's not to say you look at 'suicide' missions to the net but you can't tell me that in a 30 shot rally your opponent won't give you ONE shot that you can take advantage of. It all depends on your perception of the game and how you see a point unfolding, the net trajectory of your opponent's shots or the speed of your opponent's swing. There are ways to end a point, it just depends on whether you own the balls so to speak to play that precision chip and whether it will present for you a birdie putt or simply a par that may just be good enough.
Tennis is a sport that can be played pro actively or reactively but it all depends on you and what sort of person you are, how you are built, how fit you are, how old you are or how patient you may be but you have to decide fairly early in a match on just what role you are going to adopt.
Personally I can't drive too far any more so I work on my short game and try to finish things with precision rather than try to out hit the opponent. It may be good in the short term and fuel the ego to try to match it with a big hitter but it will wear most players out in the process.
There's more than one way to win a tennis match, get to the green without overplaying and make the putt........