So, you have, like many others before you, been bitten by the golf bug. This bite seems at first to be no big thing, a minor scratch or sting, but before you know it you are buying clubs, buggy, balls, golfing outfits and lots more. You are down at the local municipal course or a working person’s club and swinging away with gay abandon at any small sphere that comes your way. Suddenly, mastering this game becomes strangely important in your life. If you can only get that ball in the air. If you can just get that drive out there down the fairway, If you can make that putt things will be heading in the right direction. This is the golf conundrum that all golfers face for evermore. How to get better at golf soon becomes a pressing question.
Things You Can Do To Better Your Golf
One of the single most important things you can do to better your golf is to see a PGA teaching professional. Get the fundamentals delivered to you by someone who knows their business. If you try and work it out yourself without any intelligent guidance you will head down dead end paths to your own frustration. You will be doing it yourself with the help of someone who understands the golf swing. You will still have to do the drills and practice them to get better at golf. It is still your personal golf journey but some instruction from an intelligent source makes things so much easier. Personally, I spent hundreds of hours grooving wrong moves and getting myself into bad positions for many years because I didn’t invest time and a little money in getting the good oil. Find a good teacher and spend at least 6 or 7 sessions with them to establish the ground rules of your golf swing. Who knows you might find, like me, that you enjoy getting regular coaching to improve your game.
Better Golf Steps You Can Take
Mentally, get into the right frame of mind around golf. By this I mean deal with the basic realities of the game. You have 14 tools in your golf bag. Look at each one of them closely, especially the face and head of each club. Feel the grooves, feel the sloped surfaces on your wedges and short irons. Begin to comprehend what each face of each club does when it comes into contact with that ball sitting benignly on the grassy ground. Start with putting and chipping. Watch what happens when you strike the golf ball on the green toward the hole. Experiment with how you strike your putts, with what force and where you hit the ball on the face of the putter. Learn things about your new tools by trying them on the practice green and range. Golf is a feel game, where golfers who have good feel make things happen and score well.
Chipping and pitching are two of the most satisfying aspects of the game I find. Getting that ball close to the hole from 100 metres in is a large part of what I think golf is all about. Yes, smashing a big drive off the tee looks majestic and is a great part of the game, but it all comes down to your short game in the end. Chipping and pitching can be very creative, as you can make that golf ball do lots of different things. It takes feel and imagination to play many of the shots required around the green.
Again, experiment with your wedges and short irons around the green. Play the ball forward and back in your stance and observe the different strikes and what the ball does on the green. Perhaps, find the clubs you are most comfortable chipping with and designate them as your go to clubs. However, build a repertoire with as many different clubs as you can. It is like learning a language or expanding your vocabulary. The more you have practiced with the more options you will have when you need them. Building up confidence with your wedges is essential to playing better golf and scoring well.
Golf is what you do with your hands, which are gripping a club designed to manipulate a small ball in particular directions at various altitudes. You have to get out of your head to some extent and move your awareness into your hands, arms, legs, and body. You cannot play good golf if there is a disconnect between your body and your mind. We use our minds to evaluate the type of shot necessary in any given situation out on the course. We, then, have to execute that shot free from extraneous thoughts interfering with these biomechanical moves. Understanding the tools we are given to work with in our golf bag is the first step. Manipulating these tools effectively through training under the guidance of a PGA instructor follows on from this growing awareness. We are all tradespeople learning a blue collar skill if you like. We work with our hands and our tools out on the golf course.
Understanding your 14 clubs is a lifetime’s journey not something mastered in 15 minutes. You will receive new insights about what your clubs can do every time you play golf if you are open to learning. Unfortunately many people are not switched on in this regard and get locked into repeating the same mistakes and mishits throughout their golfing lives. How you approach the game will, ultimately, define how good you get at golf. Every time you end up in a tricky situation out on the course is an opportunity to learn about the possibilities of your tools to extricate you. Golf clubs are designed with every engineering aid known to man and woman. These simplistic tools have evolved, technologically speaking, over a hundred plus years. If we learn to use them properly they can do great things out on the course. A good tradie knows his or her tools.
AFL footballers are told, when youngsters, to sleep with their footy. This is to build up a strong knowing relationship with the most important thing in the game. Golfers can benefit from developing a similarly strong relationship with their clubs.
Bob Hope, the comic star of the mid twentieth century, always carried a 2 wood around with him wherever he went. Having a golf club in your hands builds up a feel based knowledge within you. For many new golfers playing golf is like visiting a foreign country. Everything looks and feels strangely unfamiliar. Is it any wonder that they usually struggle to post a decent score for their rounds. It is up to you how long the orientation process takes in your golfing life. It might take years or, perhaps, you can fast track it a bit with these helpful hints.
The intellectual pathway to playing better golf can be a long and winding road. Reading lots of golf magazines, books, and instructional articles can never replace experiential learning on the course and on the practice range. Watching instructional videos on YouTube can be helpful, as long as you go out and practice the moves yourself under the guidance of someone who knows about the golf swing. The danger with the proliferation of instructional golf videos is that new golfers can attempt to digest too many swing tips. Often, these can offer seemingly contradictory approaches to the golf swing. Confusion can reign and the new golfer can find herself or himself in a daze about what to do going forward. It is best to learn from your own experience under the guidance of a teaching professional.
You will learn more from your sessions on the range than anywhere else if you keep your eyes and mind open. Do not take fixed attitudes into your practice time because you will miss all the gold to be had from your hits and misses.
How to get better at golf is the question we are all asking ourselves no matter how long we have been playing this great game. Inside the green cathedral we shape shots which can be awe inspiring every now and then. We strike prodigious drives vast distances down the fairway and ask ourselves why we can’t do that more often. We sink putts in a must make situation and walk off the green in a rare disposition of deep satisfaction with life. Golf keeps us interested by not providing the easy results we all so keenly desire. Golf is a fundamentally challenging game played over a huge field with a very small ball. It is wise to remember that the old saying about how you played the game being more important than winning is particularly apt for golf. Managing your levels of disappointment and frustration is another essential element in how to play better golf.
Do not take the emotional reaction from the previous shot or hole into your next one. I know from my own golfing journey that it is very easy to get down on yourself during a bad round of golf. It is something that all good golfers learn to do. You must let go of strong feelings around outcomes out on the golf course. Even elation can be dangerous when you have to tee it up on the next hole. I call it Post Birdie Syndrome (PBS) when you flounce onto the following tee box and completely fluff your next shot. There is a reason why they often refer to playing golf as grinding out a round. Competitive golf can demand a lot of the golfer and keeping your head together is vital out on the course. Don’t get distracted by short term results to the detriment of your overall round.
The Green Cathedral Ten Steps to Better Golf
- Begin your golfing journey under the guidance of a PGA instructor. Have an introductory 6 lessons to establish the basics uppermost in your awareness. Practice what your teacher recommends to get better at golf.
- Get to know your 14 clubs intimately by feel and experimentation. These are your tools of the trade. Spend time with them and build up an experiential knowledge of their capabilities.
- Start with putter on the practice green and experiment with your stroke. Learn about the business of putting. They call it a game within a game. Feel and experience this most important conclusion to every hole. Putting is a journey of a lifetime and there will be both good and bad times ahead.
- Chipping & Pitching are creative aspects of the game of golf. Like the putter these wedges are often called your scoring clubs. 100 metres and in to the green and the hole is where scores are made in golf. Practice these parts of your game three times as much as your long game.
- Remember that golf is played more in your hands, arms, legs, and body than in your head. Develop a feel for your golf shots and discipline your mind to be quiet whilst playing shots out on the course. Golf is not a gabfest either, nobody appreciates have-a-chat golfers who never shut up out on the course.
- The journey to playing better golf never stops. We are always learning new things about the game, our swing, our clubs, the ball, the course, and life if we are open to what is happening in each moment. Processing this data demands discipline, as you don’t want to lose yourself in what’s novel either. Balance is a friend.
- Learning golf is fundamentally experiential. You may have a coach or instructor but you will have to do the leg work to get better at golf. Similarly, reading and watching instructional material can be helpful but you must apply the theoretical via experiential learning to really ingrain it within your game.
- Observing what your golf ball does when you strike it with a particular swing will teach you about your swing. Keep your eyes and mind open when you practice on the range or course.
- Manage your emotional reaction to outcomes on the golf course. Don’t take stuff from the previous strike or hole into the next one. Let go of strong feelings generated via golf and remain a cypher throughout your round for best results. Tabula rasa my friend.
- Don’t believe the hype and get caught up with four ball group dynamics during your competitive round of golf. Golf is ultimately a solo game. So keep the banter at bay if you want to play better golf more consistently.
I hope that you find something of practical use among these words of advice. They are all tried and tested by myself over many decades of golf. Golf is a great game and a balancing act for us human beings attempting to play better golf. If you like what you have read I have written The Golf Book: Green Cathedral Dreams for more like this. May your golfing journey be a rich and rewarding one. Robert Sudha Hamilton