Warmer temperatures have arrived, and the golf season has officially started. Regardless if you are a PGA Tour professional or just a casual player, all golfers want to improve. What are your goals for the 2021 season? Lower your handicap by 5 strokes? Break 100 for the first time or maybe break par? Do well in your Club Championship?
Whatever your goal, you can make it happen, but you need to approach it the right way. Golfers will try anything to improve, but far too often they waste time or money and don’t experience the improvement they seek. We think we can help. I mean, we can’t get you an invitation to The Masters, but we get you shooting lower scores.
We have identified 7 different techniques players try and have decided if they are fact or fiction. Will they help you get better or simply cause more frustration? Have you tried any of these items? Did they work for you?
Fact: Lessons from a Certified Golf Instructor
As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”. Many amateur golfers try everything, but never get a lesson. Crazy, right? If you have $250 to spend on your golf game, you would be better off buying a package of lessons from your local golf pro than buying a new putter.
The key is to find a golf instructor that you enjoy spending time with and matches your communication style. To learn, you need to speak their language. Do you want a technical style teacher or more of a feel approach? Once you find the right one, plan to go see them 3-4 times during the year. Schedule your lessons at least one month apart. This gives you time to incorporate the recommended changes and get comfortable with them before you start talking about something different.
Be patient at first. Change is always hard, especially when you are working on your golf swing. Initially, your score might go up, but if you stick with it, you will be better at the end of the process. It is a fact – golf lessons can improve your game!
Fiction: Custom Fit Golf Clubs
Calling custom fit golf clubs fiction might be a little harsh, but we don’t think it is the correct first solution for most golfers. Exceptions would include very tall or short players and elite golfers. If you have a unique body type or are trying to play golf for a living, “custom fit” is the way to go!
For most amateur golfers, the clubs are not the primary problem and purchasing custom fit golf clubs can cost you more than $3,000. If you have an unlimited budget, go crazy, but this shouldn’t be your first choice. Invest in other ways.
Fact: Take Care of Your Body
A strange fact – most people don’t think of golf as a physical activity, but the rotation of the golf swing puts tremendous pressure on your back, hips, and feet. Is your body in good enough shape for a round of golf? Can you walk 18 holes? Do you find that you are tired on the last few holes and struggle to complete a round with good scores? Here are a couple ways you can invest in your body.
First, design a workout program specifically for your golf swing. The best way to achieve this result is to find a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) certified trainer. They will give you a fitness assessment and recommend exercises that will help you strengthen your body for golf. You will not only feel better after your round, but you will also gain distance.
Second, don’t forget about your feet! They are critical to your success on the course. Even if you typically rent a cart, your feet can get tired by the end of the round. Make sure you have shoes that provide the appropriate support, and you may want to consider a custom insole. If you get home from the course and your feet are killing you, you need to try something different!
It is a fact – take care of your body and your scores will decrease.
Fiction: Golf Swing Training Aids
We are not saying that golf training aids never help but be wary of the infomercial that promises to decrease your handicap by 10 strokes! We feel there are better ways to spend your precious golf dollars. There are hundreds of these training aids on the market – many promise to fix your slice or help you hit it further, but if those are your goals, get a lesson and work on strengthening your body.
We always think of the scene in the golf movie Tin Cup. Roy McAvoy (played by Kevin Costner) is struggling with his swing and is caught standing in his RV with several of these contraptions trying to figure it out. The movie is trying to show he has hit rock-bottom and has been forced to turn to golf swing training aids. Don’t be Roy McAvoy! You can find a better way to improve.
Fact: Invest in Practice
You want to get better at the game, right? How much time do you spend practicing? The best way to improve is through repetition and muscle memory. We are all busy, but even an hour or two a week can make a big different in your scores.
First step, build a practice schedule that is feasible for your lifestyle and hold yourself accountable. Don’t skip weeks or get lazy.
Second step, make the most out of your practice time. When you go to the driving range, don’t just smack balls – hit actual shots. Use the same pre-shot routine you would use on the course and work on every club in your bag. One of the most significant differences between a weekend warrior and a PGA tour professional is how they practice.
Finally, don’t forget about your short game. We recommend the 50/50 rule. Spend half of your practice time working on your chipping the putting. The quickest way to reduce strokes is around the green.
It is a fact that investing in practice will make you a better player.
Fiction: Buy New Equipment
We all love to buy new clubs. There is nothing better than seeing that long, rectangular box on your porch. New equipment has been designed to make the game easier, but you don’t need new clubs every year. As long as your clubs were made after 2015 or so, new equipment will not be a magical fix.
For example, if you are struggling to hit your current driver straight, we doubt the new Callaway Epic will cause you to hit every fairway. Stay patient and work on your game, don’t try to buy a new game at Golf Galaxy.
Fact: Focus on Your Mental Game
Be honest. How is your mental game on the course? Can you stay positive after a few bad holes or do you let it “snowball”? Do you stand on the tee and assume your ball will end up in the fairway or are worried about hitting someone’s house?
Golf is a mental challenge. It may be the most frustrating game ever invented, but how you handle your frustration has a direct impact on your scorecard. Learn to focus on the good shots and forget the bad ones. The best players can shake off a bad hole and birdie the next one.
How can you work on your mental game? This can be tough, but we recommend doing some reading. There are plenty of books on this topic, but our favorite is “Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect” by Dr. Bob Rotella. Dr. Bob Rotella is a famous sports psychologist who has coached many PGA tour professionals. The next time your golf round gets rained out, do some light reading.
It is a fact that a strong mind can improve your golf scores. Be smart on the course – avoid making silly mistakes.