Golf is a fascinating game. It is an endless quest for improvement, it doesn’t matter if you are the best player in the world or if you are taking the game up as a beginner. Improvement, however, requires patience and practice, and unfortunately, the majority of amateur players struggle with both. Amateurs want instant results, unfortunately, golf doesn’t work like that and one tip won’t solve your swing problems.
But don’t be deterred, a good tip accompanied with some practice and a little patience has the potential to change your golf game. Let’s take a closer look at some basic, easy to understand tips that are sure to get your golf game to trend in the right direction.
- Driver Tips
- Iron Tips
- Short Game Tips
- Putting Tips
- Mental Game Tips
- Final Thoughts
1. Accuracy is key
99.9% of golfers want to hit their driver on every par 4 and par 5, and they see every drive as an opportunity to improve their long drive record. This approach however isn’t always the correct way to go about it. Amateur golfers don’t have the skills that professional players have, the pro’s make it look easy when they escape out of the rough or from underneath a tree, but in reality, it isn’t that easy at all.
Opting for a fairway wood or hybrid might seem like the conservative route, but hitting an 8 iron from the fairway is a lot easier than trying to hit a wedge from a fairway bunker or from behind a tree.
2. Rhythmic driver swings
Rhythm is very important to ensure accurate shots off the tee with a driver in hand. The majority of golfers however tend to swing too hard when hitting a driver. A very easy drill to improve rhythm with your driver is the upside downswing drill.
While you are waiting around to hit your next drive simply flip your driver around and grip it just below the clubhead on the shaft. Make a couple of swings while holding the club upside down, ensure to make full swings that emulate your normal driver swing. The absence of weight will force your body to work in sync to swing the shaft. This drill might not sound like much but you will be amazed at how effective it is.
3. Distance Control
Technique is very important when hitting iron shots, but good distance control is equally important. While you are playing keep track of how far your good iron shots fly through the air with each club. Over the course of a few rounds that data should paint a clear picture as to how far you hit each iron in your bag.
This can be done on the driving range as well but driving range golf balls are designed to fly shorter distances and it can be tricky to measure exact distance without a rangefinder or a launch monitor.
Once you have a clear understanding of how far each iron travels use this knowledge to your advantage. For instance, if your 7 iron flies roughly 160 yards through the air and you have 158 yards to the flag but the flag is on the front of the green and a penalty area or a bunker is guarding the front of the green you will be better off hitting a 6 iron past the flag. A 30-foot putt is a lot easier than a bunker shot.
Alignment is a basic fundamental when hitting any golf shot, but bad alignment is amplified when hitting your irons. Greens are small targets to hit therefore your alignment must be accurate.
Bad alignment can cause you to hook or slice the ball away from your target, off-line shots are normally blamed on technique but more often than not a simple alignment fix is all that it takes. To learn more about how alignment can cause you to hit a slice read our ‘what is a slice and how to fix it’ article.
Short Game Tips
5. A bad putt is always better than a bad chip
Golf is tricky enough as is and as an amateur player you should always aim to keep it as simple as possible. I’ve seen it time and time again when playing with friends or in pro-ams.
Just because your golf ball is on the fringe or in the fairway next to the green doesn’t mean that you should chip the ball. If there are no obstacles between your golf ball and the green, put that wedge away and get your golf ball rolling on the ground as quickly as possible. A bad putt from next to the green might leave you a 10 footer, but a bad chip that is sculled across the green will leave you with another chip which is exactly what you don’t want.
6. Take your medicine
Golfers are stubborn. The majority of players go for the hero shot instead of choosing the sensible option. Just because Phil Mickelson can pull off a crazy lob shot doesn’t mean that you can do it as well. Phil is one of the best short game players to ever step foot on this planet, and more importantly, he practices those shots daily.
To see some of Mickelson’s best chip shots click here.
If you can learn to take your medicine by choosing the sensible option your round might be boring, but your score at the end of the day won’t be. If you are faced with a tough flop shot or a tricky bunker shot always look for the easiest route to the green that involves the least amount of risk. Putting from 30 feet away is a lot easier than having to hit the same chip or bunker shot again because you didn’t take your medicine and the golf ball rolled back to where it was initially.
7. Grip Pressure
Drive for show and putt for dough. Long drives are great, and it’s why you have that expensive long distance driver, but at the end of the day, the end goal is to get the golf ball into the hole as quickly as possible. Putting requires a combination of good feel, technique, and the ability to read the greens accurately.
Beginners and amateur players tend to get nervous on the greens, a tense putting stroke is a recipe for disaster. When players get tense their putter grip pressure increases, this leads to overactive wrists and hands and from there it only goes from bad to worse. If your putting stroke feels tense check your grip pressure. Imagine holding a tube of toothpaste, good grip pressure equates to you not dropping the tube or squirting the toothpaste all over the floor because you are holding on to it too tight.
Good grip pressure will ensure that your arms and hands are relaxed and it will promote a good shoulder turn which is vital to ensure consistent putting.
8. Aim small miss small
Amateur golfers tend to aim in the general direction of the hole instead of at a specific target when they putt. By aiming small, thus at a very specific target such as a slight discoloration in the grass or the side of an old ball mark you will be able to focus on that specific target.
Precision is vital to holing putts and simply aiming in the general direction of the hole won’t lead to many putts made. The aim small miss small notion doesn’t just apply to putting, it can be applied throughout your golf game. Focus on those small targets, the results might just surprise you.
Mental Game Tips
At some point in your life, someone has probably told you to take a deep breath. More often than not this advice falls on death ears, but taking deep breaths out on the golf course really does help. Deep controlled breaths help to get rid of any tension that you might have in your body which ensures that your body is relaxed when swinging.
Incorporate a deep breath into your pre-shot routine, this will ensure that you are relaxed over the golf ball and a deep breath is also a great cue to clear your mind before starting your swing. Deep breaths aren’t just reserved for your pre-shot routine. Golf tends to be frustrating, control your emotions by taking a deep breath if you are running a little hot under the collar at any point in time during the round.
To learn more about the importance of breathing in golf watch this video.
10. Play 6 rounds of 3 holes
An average round of 18 holes takes roughly 4 hours. This is a long time to concentrate and to maintain focus. An easy trick to keep the round fun and engaging is to break the round up into 6 rounds of 3 holes. Set a goal for yourself for every 3 hole round, if you can achieve this goal for all 6 mini rounds your end score will add up to a great score.
In addition to keeping your round fun and engaging this trick also helps a lot when you have a couple of bad holes. A bad hole can ruin your entire round, but with a good mindset and goals in place for each mini round of 3 holes a bad hole doesn’t have to ruin your entire round.
Golf is one of the most difficult sports to master, but don’t be deterred by that, it is the small victories that bring you back for more. The above tips will help you to achieve these small victories, don’t try them all at once, implement them one at a time, and over the course of a few weeks or sometimes even months the results will follow.