100 Golf Tips To Break 100: Part 1Into the Rough > Golf Features
Published 23/06/2012 15:05:21
Looking for tips 50-100? See part two
When you are on the green, always go through your normal putting routine to hole out your putt - even on the short ones. I don't know how many times I've seen people (even Professionals) go to tap their putt in backwards, rushed, frustrated, etc, and end up missing the putt. If you have to make a funny stance to putt around someone else's putting line, just mark your ball and wait to putt.
Come to the course prepared for any weather conditions. I've left the house before with calm blue skies and figured I didn't need to pack my rain gear. Suddenly, after several holes in to the round, a major storm moved in out of nowhere bringing with it a torrential downpour and fierce winds. The lack of preparation caused me to give away several shots because I was either rushing my shots to get out of the rain and/or I felt cold during my shots.
Take care of yourself on the course. Playing a round of golf takes numerous hours and requires a good amount of physical and mental energy. To keep yourself sharp, always have some food and drink in your bag for the round. You never know when there will be a day when the water coolers, that may normally be available on the course, are empty or the food and beverage cart doesn't make it's usual round.
If you are going to bend an iron to a stronger loft, be careful to not turn the iron into a 'dig' iron. The farther forward an iron is bent, the less the bounce is exposed and the more the iron will dig into the ground.
You can offset this by literally grinding down and rounding off the leading edge of the club to re- expose the bounce. You may want to consult with a good club fitter before doing this, though.
Be wary of changing your wedges to different ones or even modifying the specifications (loft, lie, bounce, etc) of your current wedges. Simply changing the loft on your wedge by one degree can indefinitely throw off your touch. The golfer (out of both amateurs and Professionals) with the best short game I've ever seen has been using the same wedge for 30 years.
When you leave the bunker, tap your shoes with your club to get the extra sand off of them. It's good etiquette to leave sand in the bunkers and not track it onto the green.
Make sure your putter face is clean before you putt. I've had a single grain of sand visibly change the direction and distance of my putt and cause me to miss the putt.
Practice putting (at least on short putts) with the ball retrieving stick taken out of the hole.
If you've ever been to a major Professional Tournament to watch the Pros putt, you may have noticed that all the flagsticks are pulled and laying on the side of the green.
I know this means you'll have to bend over to retrieve your ball out of the hole, but I believe it's better to practice with the same rules and norms that you'll deal with on the course. It can be a bit nerve-racking to face a short putt on the course when all of a sudden there is a big open hole and you don't have the comfort of being able to ram your putt into the hole using the stick as a backstop like you did on the practice green.
If you hit into the trees or hazard several times out of every ten that you play a hole, take a different club and play the hole differently.
As an example, I always used to play this one par-4 with my driver. Even though I was close to the green it seemed like more often than not I would struggle to make par and sometimes make bogey.
Since I switched to 3W off this tee, I've only missed the fairway twice in the last couple months, and always made birdie or par on the hole.
Change out individual shoe spikes as soon as you notice that they are wearing down. It's senseless to give away a shot(s) and ruin a good round because you slipped during a swing.
You may not need as much distance as you think to play good golf. As long as you have enough length to get on or near the green in regulation you can still shoot a good score.
During one round, I shot 73 (with a double bogey) and didn't use anything more than a 3-iron off the tee. On a couple of the longer holes, I couldn't reach the green in two, but was still able to make pars by hitting my short pitches close to the hole and then making the subsequent putt.
When you practice, reserve some time on the range for playing holes. Hit a tee shot, hit an approach shot, and then hit a 'feel' pitch shot. This will mimic what you are doing out on the course, plus it adds a short pitch shot in to your practice routine; something that would likely benefit most golfers.
If your golf glove or hand is dirty in the palm or fingers after playing or practicing, it's time to clean or at least wipe off your golf club grips.
Wipe off your irons and clean out the grooves after every shot and before you put the club back in the bag. Using the club each time with a different amount of dirt in the grooves affects the amount of spin on the ball. This in turn can affect the shot shape, shot distance, and your overall consistency.
If you are looking to develop further consistency on the course, take a video camera with you and have your playing partner record each of your swings. You might be surprised at how different each swing can be.
Use the video as a guide to isolate the on-course swing you like, and practice making that swing the one you mimic from start to finish until you can go all the way through the round making each swing the same.
You might still hit some funny shots here and there, but developing a more consistent swing will help lead to a higher level of consistency in your shots.
You can learn a lot about someone (even a beginner) and how they act in business and life by how they deal with the various situations that they encounter in a game of golf. It's a sport that reveals character.
Unless you play with the same people every time, inevitably you will eventually play with people that you like and those that you do not like. That said, good players 'learn' to adapt to these situations and not let what other people are doing affect their own game.
Be careful of watching other people's swings during a round of golf.
On numerous occasions I've seen shorter hitters pick up their tempo and try to hit the ball too hard to keep up with the longer hitters in the group. Very rarely does this help and more often than not it will cause you to play worse and hit shorter shots than had you not done it in the first place.
In these situations, just play your own game and be confident with your own routines and capabilities.
The putters I have seen with the best day-to-day distance control use pendulum type strokes with very little muscular effort, meaning that if they want to hit the ball farther, they just make the backswing longer and let the putter acceleration happen with gravity versus using their muscles to hit harder at the ball.
If you notice that you are getting ahead of yourself by trying to assess what your total score might be if you just make such-and-such score on the next few holes, try to stop yourself and steer your focus into the present situation.
You might experience a bit of a back and forth type tennis match inside your head before arriving back in the present, but better golf is played with a mindset in the current moment.
Just as you can get fitted for clubs you can also get fitted for a brand of ball that could better suit you and your game.
For example, I remember I was getting fit for a ball one time and there was a distance difference for me of about 50 yards from the shortest new ball to the longest new ball. Different brands of balls will actually be more or less accurate than one another as well.
Considering this, I'd advise you to always use the same brand ball when you play golf and practice your short game. You'll get more consistent distances and have better touch.
If you are playing for score, it's probably better to avoid trying shots that you haven't recently or ever practiced.
One time I was coming down the stretch 2 under par. On the par-4 17th, I hit my approach shot in to the wind to the fringe about 20 feet short of the flag. Had I practiced it lately, a putt-chip with my 7-iron would have been a good shot to use so I decided to try it because I really wanted to make birdie to finish in the 60s. However, because I hadn't used the shot in a long time, I ended up running my shot 6 feet past the hole and missed the come backer to make bogey.
In hindsight, either just putting the ball or using the normal chipping style that I was accustomed to would likely have been a better choice.
Remember to be mindful of the course conditions.
I can usually hit driver on this one long par-4 because the drives do not go any farther than the fat part of the fairway. One day the hole was downwind and I thought it would be great to get closer to the green and have a mid to short iron in to the green for a shot at birdie. I went ahead and hit driver in a direction that normally would have been in the fairway. However, with the tail wind, I went through the fat part of the fairway and rolled in to a water hazard in an area where the fairway narrowed significantly. Instead of a birdie chance or easy par with a 3-wood off the tee, I made bogey with driver.
Try not to fight a head wind, instead, feel as though it is effortlessly passing through you. You might be surprised at how much easier it can feel with this thought or sensation.
If you are playing a shot in to the wind, one of the worst things you can do is to try and swing harder. Swinging harder (or with more tension in your swing) can actually slow the club down and disrupt your accuracy. If anything, try to swing more relaxed.
Try as best as you can to not control or steer your shots. Just swing, let the ball get in the way of the swing, and trust that the swing will produce the shot you desire. As the saying goes, to get control, you must give up control.
To become a good bunker player, it's very important to understand how to use the bounce (the bulge on the bottom of the club) of the club.
A square clubface is typically better in thin or hard sand because the leading edge of the club will dig in to the sand. However, with thicker and heavier sand, the more you open the club face the more the bounce will be exposed and effectively prevent the club from digging in to deeply and stalling your swing.
If while you are getting ready to swing you find yourself distracted by something, cultivate the discipline to back off the shot and start over.
You can apologize to your playing partners if you feel necessary but know that the time it took you to start over will likely be less than the time that it would have taken to chase down a bad shot because you weren't focused.
From a club-fitting standpoint, one of the most important things you can do is to have the lie angles (the angle between the shaft and the club) on your irons fit to you.
A clubface that arrives back at impact squarely but too upright (with the heel down and toe up) will actually point to the left for a right-hander. Conversely, a clubface that is square but that is too flat (with the heel up and toe down) will point to the right.
Getting your clubs fitted for you is like getting the right shoe size.
As such, you may not fit the 'standard' lie angle progression for your irons. So take the time and go to a reputable club fitter and have every single iron checked dynamically to make sure it fits you.
If you play forged irons, it's probably a good idea to have your loft and lie angles checked every now and then (depending on how much you play - but at least once per season) because over time they can drift.
One time Rory Sabbatini began to struggle with several of his clubs and he contemplated swing changes with his coach. Fortunately, it was found out a few of his lie angles had drifted. Once they were bent back, the problem was solved. Now he has them checked periodically to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Justin Leonard has his checked every five weeks.
Be wary of over-practicing if you have a special outing, tournament, etc coming up.
There was one tournament where I wanted to do really well and stepped up my practice during the week of the tournament. It paid off in the first two rounds and I made the cut with a 71-68. However, by the third round I was exhausted and my brain felt like mush. That mental fatigue resulted in a third round 81 and dropped me down 20 places in the field...and unfortunately out of contention.
Try to do all the same things before and during an important round that you would do for a casual round with friends. I've seen guys do extra practice, dress up more, and even switch drivers when it came time for a big event.
When you are under the gun, it's important to go in to battle with a sense of familiarity. Making changes tells your brain and body that something is different and you'll likely not feel as comfortable when it's time to perform.
It's hard to perfect something that you are constantly changing. If you are looking for consistency, stop making changes to your equipment, swing technique, thoughts, etc.
If you are interested in scoring, dance with the girl you brought to the dance as your date. If you are hitting a slice, play it. If you are missing shots left, aim right and play it. Making swing changes or having technical thoughts is hardly ever the best idea immediately before or during a round. It's better scoring-wise to experiment later.
It's common speak in golf to talk about pre-shot routines, but what isn't talked about so much is a post-shot routine.
If you're looking to develop more consistency, add a post-shot routine to your game to establish a Point B or finish line for yourself. For me, once the shot has left the club, I always try to hold my finish until the ball has landed, all the while taking in the shot. During practice, I'll also check to make sure I finished in balance, under control, and without tension.
Your personal checkpoints might be different, but the point is to establish a finish line for yourself and cross it on every shot, finishing each race.
Always get a good sight line on where your full shots went. Not only will this speed up play because you can find your ball faster, but you'd be surprised at how many times your ball might go missing even though you thought you hit in to an easy-to-find area.
After each round or practice, try to take a few minutes to go to the bathroom before you leave the course and wash your hands and wipe off your face and other exposed areas of skin. Over the years, your skin and face will thank you.
The two tips that improved my ball-striking the most were probably to swing as tension-free as possible and to keep my head relatively still during the swing. Tension takes you out of balance and can make it more difficult for your body to calculate the distance back to the ball during the swing. The same thing applies to your head movement.
You don't have to keep it perfectly still, but the point is to minimize any unnecessary lateral and vertical movement in the swing.
I've never seen a person with a good short game that was jerky and rigid. Be smooth around the green.
Don't be afraid to seek help elsewhere if you find that your country's primary instruction body advocates something that doesn't work or make sense to you. There are a lot of taboo and yet good ideas on the fringe of the golf world that have helped me, and they could help you too.
I think two of the most dangerous words in golf are 'proper' and 'correct'.
There are so many different and often contradictory teachings that can produce the results you want. In many cases, they are used in a context that makes whatever statement being made simply not true. The person may be ignorant to what they are saying, the teacher or instruction style is trying to delegitimise other methods and instruction, etc. Best to be aware and use caution if you ever come across those words.
Obviously we all physically age and certain skills diminish over the years, but age to a certain extent is only a state of mind. You can do things to prolong the aging process and it's really amazing the things that one can accomplish with a certain mindset.
I know a 59 year-old guy who started out in the winter with a driver swing speed around 95-100 mph. After some dedicated and well-planned swing speed training, he reported back to me in the spring with a snapshot of his radar device at 139 mph. He went on that summer to win several qualifiers in the Super Senior division of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.
If you happen to be paired with a slow group for the day, do the things you can do to speed up the pace of the group.
Play 'ready golf', set your bag down on the side of the green where the next tee is located, read your putts while others are putting, etc. However, do not rush your own shots or shot routine. The extra little bit of time to take care of yourself on the shot will be less than the time for you to go find and hit a whole extra shot because you were hurried on the first one.
Take the time to go through your normal putting routine even if the group behind you is pressing you. Rushing and skipping your regular process is a fast track to a 3-putt. Of course, if the group is really bothering you that much in the first place, then consider letting them play through or alert the marshal.
Good players typically read the green on their chips as well as their putts. Quickly reading your chips can help you get the ball closer to the hole and give you a better chance of making your putt.
When I first started playing golf, I mostly played courses that were fairly open. To check the wind before a shot I would toss a few blades of grass into the air to see which way they blew. I might also check to see which direction the distant trees were leaning or simply observe the direction the flag was blowing.
However, one time I was following Olin Browne at Spyglass Hills in Pebble Beach during a practice round of the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational. It was a different type of course than what I normally played. The trees were thick enough that you couldn't see or feel the wind blowing anything, but the trees were short enough that a shot hit high in the air would be affected. Olin then asked his caddy what the clouds were doing and they made a shot adjustment based on their observation.
It was such a simple thing, but it occurred to me as being clever and hence always stuck with me as another useful way of gauging the wind.
Up to a certain point, heavier clubs will perform better under pressure than lightweight clubs. When one gets nervous and starts losing their sense of feel, a heavier club can be easier to sense in those moments. It's one reason why most Tour players play heavier steel shafts in their irons instead of graphite.
If you have trouble with blisters and calluses from playing golf, consider switching to a larger grip because a greater surface area of your hand can be in contact with the club and thus the skin won't pinch together as much. Not only that, but large grips also absorb more shock from the shot and won't hurt your joints as much in the long run.
If you top shots with the driver, check to make sure you aren't raising or tensing up during the shot. You might also try swinging the same but tee the ball up slightly higher.
Hungry for more tips? See part two