How To Improve Your Golf Game
Golf is on the up. Latest figures show that over 8% of the US population like to tee off and spend some quality time out on the fairway. Whether it’s for a fun round with your golfing buddies or something altogether more competitive, golf is a good form of all-round exercise. It’s also known to alleviate stress and focus the mind, and by playing outdoors its sociable aspect is a great mood booster.
From absolute beginner to the golfing die-hard, there’s always room for improvement in your technique as well as scorecard. So, if the time you are spending out on the course is not quite hitting the mark, your golfing game may just need a little re-boot. We’re not talking expensive coaching sessions or intense hours on the driving range, but small changes and curve-ball tactics that can help to breathe new life into your golfing technique.
We look at 10 of the quickest ways to improve your golf and get your game back on. So put on your golf shoes and hit the court.
1. Have The Right Strategy
It may sound like boardroom babble that you’d rather leave back in the office, but it’s essential to have a game plan when it comes to golf, even for your own practice. Balancing realistic expectations with planning to play smart will give you a strategic blueprint for developing your game, while ensuring you still enjoy your time out on the green.
One sure fire way to become a better golfer is to be totally comfortable on the course and this can be achieved by creating your own game routine. Most of the pros have their own routine so watch their replays to see how they create timing and rhythm to their game. Now work out how to create a play routine of your own.
Working out how to play smarter shots is also a good strategy to follow, as well as knowing when to play aggressively and when to rein it back. And don’t neglect your mental game – see every round of golf (even the bad ones!) as an opportunity to learn more about your own game and keep focused enough to work past every dud shot so you can confidently create the game turn-around you need.
2. Know Your Strengths And Weaknesses
One of the best ways to improve your golfing game is to be honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses, especially as you work to improve your handicap. Whether you play every weekend or just every so often, you want to see an incremental improvement in your technique and on your scorecard each time you play. One way to boost your improvement is to make a note of the three best shots you play in every game. Have a notebook and jot the detail down, then go through the shots in your mind later, including your position, your swing, your alignment, until you totally feel at home in mentally replaying the action. Now try to replicate them the next time you are out on the green. Plus, there is nothing wrong with keeping a notebook with you when on the course, so you can take notes of any advice you are given, new things you have learned and stats you have been able to gather. Keeping notes can also help you to identify and understand weaknesses or room for improvement in your game, such as how many shots you are taking on the fairway and how many putts you needed when on the green.
And don’t forget feedback from others, which can be invaluable as you strive to up your golfing game. With your eyes on the ball and your focus on your shot, you are getting a limited view of your play, and cannot accurately assess what you are doing right – and wrong. Ask a coach or a more experienced golf buddy to watch and give you real-time feedback. Or consider getting a golf swing analyzer so you can video yourself and your golf swing.
3. Play A More Balanced Game
Aim for a balanced game. And by this we mean not losing your balance as you finish your swing. Taking the time to understand your physical abilities in your swing means you can work on improving not only your technique, but also your body’s ability to take the swing through to a successful contact with the ball. And that can only lead to a more accurate trajectory down the fairway.
First up – work on your core. While you didn’t expect to need a six-pack to play a sedate game of golf, a strong central core will improve your balance in the swing no end, from the take-back and the downward right through to the finish. A strong core will also help to prevent any back injuries golfers can be prone to. Try out a golf/core blitz at the gym, including glute bridges, front and side planks as well as hip crossovers.
4. Get A Grip
The best golf players have cracked the fundamentals of a solid grip. They also manage to get the right balance between grip pressure and tension in their arms so they can play a secure but sufficiently relaxed game. And this takes practice.
To get a basic good grip, here’s a step-by-step guide: Take hold of the club with your gloved hand and focus the placement of the handle in the fingers between your first knuckle and your palm. Now wrap your un-gloved hand around the remaining handle so it sits comfortably. The thumb and index fingers of both hands should now form two Vs, which point in the overall direction of the right side of your chest. You should now be gripping your club like a pro!
5. Work On Your Alignment
Getting further into the swing of things, your alignment when setting up to hit the ball could well be scuppering your chances of bagging that hole in one. If your body set up is not right before you go into your swing, you’re probably already too out of line to get an effective strike. But if you consciously work on your set up, you may well see your swing and hit come on in leaps and bounds.
Before even thinking about your tee-off, you need to get everything into alignment – from the width of your stance, distance between your body and the club and your body posture – to give yourself the very best chance of getting the ball to where you really want it to go. Make a conscious effort to think through these things before you go to swing, and you should see a difference. In simple terms, for effective alignment before your swing, make sure the line of your feet is parallel to your target line. Then work upwards to make sure your knees, hips and shoulders are parallel to your feet.
6. Flexibility And Rotation In Your Swing
While we are not expecting you to be as bendy as a yoga pro, your body’s level of flexibility can affect your golfing progress as you need a good level of smooth rotation to hit a killer driver down the fairway. For an effective swing, you need to be able to rotate your torso not just your arms, so they work in unison to power-drive the ball off its tee. A good golf swing needs power from the whole body and a rigid torso can simply block this essential energy. The result – a powered down swing that creates a lackluster drive you really don’t want to see. To get in those extra yards, you need your left shoulder to rotate around to be almost above your right foot on the backswing, and then the opposite on the downswing.
So, if your torso is more rigid than soft and supple, you need to put some work in. A key way to loosen up your torso and ultimately up your golf level is to do a good warm up before each game. Start with 10 minutes of full body stretches, paying particular attention to stretch your torso, shoulders, hands and wrists.
7. Work With The Golf Ball
Aim to hit the ball straighter, not further and you will see real improvements in how effective you play. Creating a more centered strike will give you greater ball control and ultimately see you hitting more fairways and greens, rather than powering off into the rough. Getting a coaching session can really help you crack your ball control and also work on the relationship between your club, the swing, the ball and the all-important follow through. A good follow through means your hands will end up above your left shoulder, with your right shoulder just below. Crack this and chances are, the golf ball has been sent in the direction you really wanted!
8. Build Your Fitness
Keeping on the physical theme, do you find you start to run out of steam before you get to the crucial last hole? Then it could be a simple case of your overall fitness holding your golfing game back. While golf is not an obviously physical sport, the game is deceptive and requires level of stamina that could well surprise you. The average game sees you walk around 6 ½ miles, which can add up to you burning around 1,500 calories over a prolonged game of four or so hours. So, while you are not likely to break out into too much of a sweat, you will find you can succumb to fatigue, with your end game ultimately affected. Taking time in the gym to build your overall strength and stamina will reap rewards on the golf course. Make sure you work in some muscle-building for your core, your torso, shoulders and arms to add more power and accuracy to your swing and drive.
And, for extended periods on the course, you need to keep yourself physically and mentally fueled to stay on top of your game. Keep hydrated and work on your nutrition to ensure you have the energy and stamina needed to keep your golf on par.
9. Prepare For The Worst
This is not to put a downer on our top 10 ways to improve your golf, but to make sure you are prepared for the dramatic twists and turns any course can throw at you. Nothing can dampen your spirits more than getting yourself into a bit of a sandy rut when it comes to a bunker so work at your technique and you can confidently get yourself out of any hole.
Taking some time to practice and master those tricky bunker shots can also stop it becoming too big of a problem and you’ll soon find you can take a bunker issue in your stride without putting you off your game. Here are a few tips to practice so you’re always ready to deal with the bunker mental monster:
- Don’t stand too tall, but squat into the swing, to create more lower body stability
- Dig in – twist your feet into the sand and play the ball off your front foot
- Aim straight or slightly left of your target and a couple of inches short of the ball
- Swing through with your left arm straight – and watch the sand and your ball escape the bunker!
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Yup it may be obvious advice but it’s all very true when it comes to improving your golfing game – practice makes perfect. However, to keep motivated and on track, it is important that you don’t practice aimlessly otherwise you could well hamper your progression.
Time spent at the driving range is all well and good but simply repeatedly driving the ball as far and as hard as you can will not necessarily take your strategic skill and ability forward. Mix up driving range practices by switching between clubs or chipping and putting from different lengths to mimic what you will encounter out on a real golf course. Then take this practice out on to the fairway to fine-tune and challenge your developing golfing skills.
Don’t play every game competitively but work with your buddy to practice your swing, your distance or your putting accuracy. Put yourself in situations and scenarios that will really test your golfing mettle, without the added pressure of a scorecard and analyze each other as you play. Shake up practices with another round of competitive play and you will soon see all your hard work pay off. You may not quite be on par with Tiger Woods or Justin Rose, but you will most definitely see an improvement, both in your play and overall enjoyment of the glorious golfing game.