Selection of Club and Target (The 90 Percent Rule)

by Rolf Deming, Head Teaching Professional, Arnold Palmer Golf Academy at Saddlebrook Resort

This is probably something that you will never hear spoken at any other golf school, but you are about to hear it here. One good way in which most players can improve their game is to cheat!

Yes, that was no misprint. CHEAT!

No, we are not suggesting or condoning the flaunting of the rules of golf. They are inviolable, and without strict adherence to them, recording your true score is impossible. No, we are suggesting that you cheat when you select your club and your target. Suppose that you could play a baseball game where your team was allowed four strikes, the other team three; a football game in which your team needs seven yards for a first down, the opponents need ten; or a basketball game where you shoot at a basket four inches wider than your oppositions’. The odds are greatly stacked in your favor.

Golf can be such a game. Here’s how.

Whenever you face a shot, you should employ a three-step process;

(1) Identify the various possibilities. Example; shot to a pin tucked next to a lake fronting the green. Option one; go for the pin. Option two; hit to the back portion of the green. Option three; lay up short of the water. Too often, we operate on autopilot; par four or five, drive it off the tee; if we can reach the green, go for the pin; when putting, try to hole it. These are sometimes appropriate strategies. Sometimes not.

(2) Analyze each strategy in light of your skill level, your strong and weak areas, how you are playing at the moment – all factors that might be relevant to the shot.


There you have it. You are now playing a game in which you have a 90% chance of winning. Just one thing; remember to be realistic. Don’t try to attempt a 220 yard carry over a lake if your normal drive carries 215.

Even the short shots have options. A three foot putt can be lagged gently or hit firmly into the hole. A short wedge can be struck to stop next to the hole or hit below the cup to leave an uphill putt. All shots possess multiple options. You simply need to identify, analyze, use our “90%” rule, and cheat!

Class A  PGA Member
Head Teaching Professional
Arnold Palmer Golf Academy at Saddlebrook Resort
Rolf spent four years as a member of the PGA Tour and two years as a member of the PGA Senior Tour. Rolf competed in three U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship. Rolf has 10 State titles and over 80 additional tournament victories. Rolf has dedicated much of the past two decades to teaching players of all levels including European LPGA player Paula Marti, and communicating the fundamentals to the game of golf.  Rolf has written articles for various golf publications, including Golf Tips Magazine and developed our current program workbook for the Player Development Program .


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