It is important to develop your own independence within golf and to learn to take responsibility for your own performance, on and off the course. Attached is a checklist that can help you see what you should be responsible for suitable to your age!
Dr Karl Morris, who works with players like Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke often ask players things like ‘is the practice you are doing making you a better golfer?’
We, of course, think if we are spending hours hitting balls we have to become better golfers but does the score alone measure our improvements, especially when learning the game or changing an aspect of our game?
Below are some tips that can be used to gain more effective practice sessions and ideas on how to improve your game.
Before you go to practice you need to know which part of your game needs fine-tuning. Having a stats sheet will help you determine this. The next time you play why not use the below stats sheet to record:
- Number of fairways hit
- Number of greens hit
- Number of putts per hole
- Number of chip and putts
Record if the ball is missing right or left or what way it is travelling – this is an ideal way to become clearer on the aspects of the game that might need to be improved.
Use the Statistics Sheet to help you record your stats.
Do you ever plan your practice sessions or do you just go and hit some balls?
Sometimes it may be more beneficial to see your coach, get advice and then adjust your practice accordingly. Then you can shape your practice based on their advice. Below are a couple of ways that you can let your coach know what area of the game needs practice.
If you are struggling with your chipping and putting, first check your technique and then play Par-18 Skills Challenge. If you can’t get to bring what you practice on the range to the course you should make adjustments when you practice – change targets for every shot and change clubs, do your pre-shot routine for every shot, rehearse the shot – make it more realistic to playing on the course.
Click on Sample Practice Plan above for a template that might be of use when planning your practice.
Can you imagine a football coach preparing for a game without a plan?
In golf, we call this course management and it is a real challenge because it requires both common sense and patience. Many golfers are good when not in “competitive” situations because there are no consequences but in competition, there are bunkers, water hazards and boundaries to negotiate. To become a competent player you must learn to think your way around the course by taking stock of each hole and coming up with a plan to give you the best result on the hole. Consider the factors below when plotting your route through golf holes:
- The lie of the ball
- Distance of the shot
- Weather – especially the wind
- Your tension and control of emotions.
When you have done that:
- Identify a safe landing area
- Find a route to a fairway by selecting the right club
- Choose a club that will give you the required distance even if it’s not your best shot
- Choose the side of the green that will leave you a simple chip if you miss it
- On the green try to get a feel for the correct distance to leave yourself close to the hole
We can’t always play great shots but we can always make great choices.
Tips for awkward lies
BALL ABOVE YOUR FEET
This is where both of your feet are positioned below the position of the ball.
- Ball will move right to left in flight (for a right handed golfer).
- Aim to the right to allow for curve (for a right handed golfer).
- Hold the club as normal but lower down the grip as the ball is nearer you.
- Position of the ball nearer to the centre of the stance to try and maintain balance throughout.
BALL BELOW YOUR FEET
This is where both of your feet are positioned above the position of the ball.
- Ball will move left to right in flight (for a right handed golfer).
- Aim to the left to allow for curve (for a right handed golfer).
- Hold the club as normal but at full length on the grip.
- The stance will be wider with more know flex in order to get down to the ball.
- Weight should be a little more towards the heels to help maintain the balance whilst swinging.
This is where the ground slopes up and in the direction of the target.
- The ball will tend to fly right to left (for a right handed golfer), fly higher and may fall shorter than normal
- Take a less lofted club and aim to the right. The ball should be played an inch or so further towards the higher foot and a little more weight taken on the lower foot to maintain balance and to encourage the club head to travel up the slope.
This is where the ground slopes down and in the direction of the target.
- The ball will tend to fly left to right (for a right handed golfer), fly lower and run more
- Take a more lofted club and aim to the left. Play the ball further back towards the higher foot and apply more weight to the lower foot to maintain balance and to encourage a clean contact with the club, let the club follow the slope.
Filling in a scorecard
Learning how to fill in a scorecard and all the terminology can often be tricky. This ‘Sample Scorecard’ below is for someone who is a 28 handicapper, which is a handicap often given to beginner men. You can edit it to suit the golf course you are playing on.