We all know that golf is the toughest game around. We’re expected to hit a 1.68” ball into a 4.25” hole in 4 strokes from 450 yards. Add in the fact that any given hole is riddled with obstacles along the way and it should be clear that this wasn’t designed to be easy.
Despite the fact that golf is difficult, it’s also a lot of fun. And it tends to be more fun the better we play. The problem most golfers have is that they do things that make it even more difficult. They probably don’t realize they make these mistakes and just chalk it up to “part of the game”. Let’s look at 3 simple things you may be doing incorrectly and how to improve them:
Tip #1: Make Sure to Warm Up
This has happened to everyone at one point or another. In fact at the 2012 Ryder Cup Rory McIlroy lost track of time and showed up 5 minutes before his singles match (he did go on to win as he was the #1 player in the world at the time). However for the average golfer this seems to be the norm instead of the exception.
The problem with not warming up is that it usually takes 15 full swings to get your muscles loose. That can be 5 holes worth! You could be playing over 25% of your round not warmed up. The other problem the average golfer faces is that their swing doesn’t work the same way every day. One day you may hit a draw and the next you may hit a push cut. Having some range time lets you see what kind ball flight you can expect during the round.
Do yourself a favor and leave the house a few minutes early. Getting there at least 20 minutes early will make a big difference. Hit 15-20 balls on the range and then take 5 minutes to putt. Playing better on those early holes will build momentum and keep you engaged throughout the round.
Tip #2: Pay More Attention to the Hole Location
If you watch golf on TV you often hear the commentators discussing the hole location, where the player is aiming, and whether they will actually hit to the hole. The reason for this is that professionals know where to miss and where not to miss their shots. The average golfer usually does not pay attention to this. The hole could be cut it the middle of a lake and they would hit directly at it. It’s not because of being “super aggressive”, it’s because their perspective is a little off. They think the quickest way from point A to B is a straight line.
It doesn’t always work like that it golf. Think about how many times you make birdie in a round and how many times you make bogey. You’re not going to make that many more birdies, but if you could cut back on the bogeys you would see better scores. Then think about what’s an easier place to make par from: a 30 foot birdie putt, or a bunker shot or short sided chip. The next time you are approaching a green, notice the flag. If it’s hard against the right, aim 20 feet left. If there is a bunker on the front left of the green and the flag is behind it, favor the middle right of the green. You’ll start to see the number of bogeys gradually go down.
Tip #3: Don’t be too Aggressive from Trouble
Unless you play at “Utopian National Golf Club” which is wide open, perfectly flat, and has no hazards, you will eventually have to hit shots from trouble. Even when I shoot a round under par, I’ll have 2-3 shots from the trees or a fairway bunker. And that’s a good round! Most golfer’s minds are programmed to think “the closer I can get to the green, the better I will be”. This often leads to a shot that hits the tree in front of you, goes into the trees on the other side, or results on a total mishit. When you’re trying to escape from trouble, your mindset should be “bogey is not bad; anything worse is”. Chipping the ball out to 100 yards is never a bad play.
The upside isn’t great because the chances of saving par are low. However, if you get over aggressive and play a poor shot you could be looking at 7 or 8 very easily. Remember; “bogey isn’t bad; anything worse is”. The next time you play golf think about these 3 things. Get to the course at least 20 minutes early, pay attention to the hole locations, and get out of trouble and back into play.