Golf Tips: Amateur to Pro
The best golf tip anyone can give is to focus more on your short game. Indulge me here – choose any day of the week and go the range. Watch amateurs like yourself begin their bucket of balls and I’ll bet you $1,000 that the first club they hit is the driver. Everyone wants to practice bombing the ball, but you need to remember that the 3-foot putt means just as much as the 300-yard drive.
With more than 60% of your strokes originating from within 100 yards, it is crucial that you invest a proportionate measure of energy in your short game. You ought to dedicate a large part of your practice time to putting and chipping. These two areas are game changers.
If you’re going to start on the range instead of the putting green, grab a wedge. Swing smoothly to get your timing down. Just like a clock – tick, tock – swing back, swing through. The better the timing of your swing, the better the result you’ll get. Now, lay down two clubs aimed straight down the center of the range – one that your feet will be lined against and another that your eyes can latch onto to see that your body is aiming the right direction.
As you hit shots, check your alignment to ensure that you’re aimed where you think you are. If your feet are not parallel to the target line, the ball is going to either draw or fade, and my assumption here is that you want to hit it straight. When the ball hooks left, you might not have shifted your weight. When the ball fades hard to the right, it was too far forward in your stance or you tried to kill it. The funny thing about distance hit is that pro’s say they’re playing their best when they swing at 80%. Sure, once in a while they try to kill it, but what usually happens? They’ll mess up too. The ball goes in the lake, the rough, a bush, all over the place.
After hitting a few clean shots with each iron, step up to the 5 wood and 3 wood. Your swing will be on a flatter plane as you sweep the ball off the ground. Never try to “get the ball up.” Trust that the club will do the work if you produce the swing that you should be making. The different angles of club faces will change the distance the ball flies. There’s no need for you to swing like a maniac. Save the driver for last. Again, don’t try to crush it. Get your timing down. The long distance will come.
After the bucket of balls is done, head over to the putting green. Grab your wedge and make some chip shots. Line up 30 feet away from a hole, choose a 1-foot circle on the green you’re going to aim at, and try to hit the ball into that spot. Hit down on the ball and let the club do the work. Don’t try to scoop the ball into the air. Just because some other amateur has seemingly mastered a crappy swing doesn’t mean you need to copy it. The margin of error for scooping a ball is much higher than a clean downward strike that utilizes the angle of the club to get the job done.
Putting is your last item, but never ever neglect it. You can have the worst day of your life, hitting from the tee to the rough, through the trees, and eventually onto the green, but if you make the putt, you’re still OK. Don’t underestimate its importance. The putter saves you more strokes than any other club. Grab 3 balls and practice getting the distance control down. How close can you get your putt to the imaginary line that runs perpendicular to the hole. Afterwards, try to read the break of the green. If you aim for lots of break, realize that you can hit the ball easier, whereas if you aim for less, you’ll need to hit the ball harder to keep it on line.
The last point here is that practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. If you practice bad form, you ingrain bad form in your muscle memory. Not good! Get help from a professional if you need it. It’s worth every penny. When you roll in birdie putts, it feels really damn good.