Just when we were getting used to it being 2013, 2014 is already upon us. And since golf is a never-ending quest for unattainable perfection, we all will renew our efforts to shave those next couple strokes off our handicaps next year. Here are a few golf-specific New Year’s Resolutions that should help:
Practice, Practice, Practice
No one is saying you need to get on the all-day-every-day regimen followed by touring pros, but if you can sprinkle just a bit more practice time into any free time you may find yourself with, you are going to improve as a golfer if you can carve out a couple daylight hours per week to work on your swing.
Also, keep in mind that while practicing more, it is also to your great benefit to practice smarter. Here are but a few tips about smarter practice:
- Try and practice proportionally to the shots you are going to face on the course. Too many golfers march up to the practice tee and wail away with their driver for a few minutes. That’s not practice—that’s just a waste of your time and energy. Hit a few drives, certainly, but also hit plenty of short irons and wedges, because those clubs are going to get a lot more play than the longer ones.
- Going along with the previous tip, it is imperative that you set aside at least half of each practice session for putting and chipping practice. At a certain level, you can pretty much “fake it” from tee to green, but if you stink on and around the greens, you cannot hide. There is a tremendous amount of pride to be taken in the ability to say you have the best short game of anyone in your friend group. You have to go and earn it.
- When you do hit full shots, try not to get into too much of a groove with one club or shot type. There are no consequences for poor shots on the range, so try to hit low shots, high shots, draws, hooks, punch shots, flop shots, etc. Mix it up. Not only will it help you develop feel, it’ll cause you to hit balls a little slower, which is very good if you tend to rush.
Become A Better Course Manager
If your handicap is in double-digits, chances are you could knock two to three shots off of it immediately, without spending a single extra second practicing. The key is to be as pragmatic as possible on the golf course, especially after hitting a poor shot. For the majority of golfers, a poor shot means, at best, a bogey on the hole. Yet, many middle- and high-handicap players will try overly risky recovery shots that usually land them in deeper trouble than they were in to begin with. Stop doing this! If you hit your tee shot into the rough, your primary concern should be to get back into play. Get yourself a wedge shot and give yourself a putt for par. You’re going to make a lot of bogeys this way, but you will avoid those ghastly doubles and triples that hold you back from lower scores.
Do you do the exact same pre-shot motions and practice swings before each shot? Probably not. But you should – if you approach every shot with the same attitude and temperament, then the tough shots become easier to pull off and the easier shots become harder to take for granted. This means that you will hit more good shots and, once again, it’s something you don’t need to spend hours on the driving range to develop.
If you do have a pre-shot routine and it includes more than one practice swing (we will make an exception for putts and chip shots), it’s time to curtail it. Miss ‘em quick. While we’re young.