The following golf tips are some of the most effective ways you can shoot lower scores without changing your golf swing. Some you can implement straight away, others take a small amount of work, but they will all make you a better golfer for the rest of the years you play this fine game.
1. Know your dispersion
One key difference between golfers who score well and golfers who are great on the golf range is how well they utilise their dispersion to score on any given day. Golf isn’t about having a perfect golf swing, golf is about getting the ball round in the fewest number of shots.
Below is TrackMan data for myself hitting 6-iron. Looks okay, but you can see I have a left tendency. On average my shots finish 7-yards left. In practice, I will work on reducing this error and making my shot dispersion tighter. But when playing it is really important to allow for this tendency, rather than kidding myself that I will hit it straight every time.
I’ll aim 4-5 yards right and allow for most of this error. If the pin is tucked on the left of the green, I know the middle of the green, or just right is ideal and I’ll likely draw it in. For right pin positions I’ll aim between the flag and the middle of the green, and hopefully, end up in centre of the green.
To find out your current dispersion pattern I’d suggest hitting 20 balls with a mid-iron and repeat this process with your driver, as your pattern might be different with woods and irons. Then play smart and allow for your shot dispersion – if you have a 20-yard slice, aim down the left side of every fairway, take this same approach into the green.
This tip is one of the most common us coaching pros give in playing lessons, and it can save you 2 – 6 shots a round.
2. 80% shots inside 150-yards
The second secret that all elite players abide by is never hitting full-iron shots when the outcome they are looking for is accuracy. We have long known that human movement is bound by a concept called the speed-accuracy trade-off, meaning the quicker or more ballistic the movement, the more error and variability there is. In contrast, the slower and more controlled the movement, the more accurate it tends to be (think of this as how close you are performing to your maximum speed).
This means, an 80% 9-iron or wedge shot is going to produce a more controlled movement, better strike and more accurate shots than a 90% or 100% swing. Elite pros will always play their iron shots at 75 – 85% inside 150-yards, unless they are under niche conditions (examples include downwind holes where they need spin, or when the pin is near the back of the green and they don’t want to miss long).
Your key takeaway is to learn your golf club distances, then choose the club that allows you to make a smooth, 3/4 swing inside 150-yards if you want to maximise your accuracy and control.
3. Build a short and normal warm-up routine
I was chatting to a friend, and great coaching pro, last week and he revealed that the 1st hole at his home golf course is ranked the hardest. The 1st hole is a 330-yard par 4, with a big fairway, no hazards, no danger and a couple of bunkers around the green. On average it plays almost 1 shot over player’s handicaps (+0.83).
The reason he feels people play it terribly is that they just aren’t ready to play golf.
The trick isn’t to beat balls for 40 minutes, it is to build a consistent normal warm-up routine and then a short warm-up routine. For a full article on building a full warm-up routine check out this link. A short warm-up routine is almost more important for most club players who are tight for time. Here is my own short routine when I have 4-5 mins before I dash onto the tee.
- 30 seconds of dynamic movement/5 swings with a 9-iron (no golf ball).
- In net – 2 smooth swings with 9-iron, 2 swings with 6-iron, 2 swings with driver. Finish with the club I’m hitting off the 1st tee (1 shot).
- 2 to 4 very short putts (1-3 feet) to build confidence.
- 2 to 4 putts of 10-20 feet – this is the most likely distance golfers will have on the green.
- 2 chips with my favourite chipping club.
Now, this is not optimal if you really care about your score, but this works well when I’m really rushing. It is all about preparing for the key scoring shots down the 1st hole. Feel free to steal it, or adapt it and make it your own.
4. How to have a clear mind over the golf ball
There is a common misunderstanding that elite pros are golfing robots, and are impervious to negative thoughts over the golf ball. This isn’t true. However, one of their tricks is to stand over every shot with a very clear plan in their mind.
A pre-shot routine doesn’t have to be a precise time for every shot, but a great pre-shot routine will have clear sub-goals that are completed before you start your golf swing. Check out the table below, broken down into sub-goals, behaviour, thoughts and the key outcome at the end of each stage.
|Plan shot||Standing behind the ball & target||Where is the flag/fairway? Where do I want to aim in relation to this? What is the ideal club and shot to get it there? Am I 100% clear on my target?||Know the exact target and shot you plan to hit|
|Feel shot||Practice swing(s)||How hard/smooth do I need to swing? What is the best feeling/thought to hit the upcoming shot? Am I 100% clear on my target and swing thought?||Know the clear feeling or swing thought you will have when executing|
|Execute shot||Standing over the ball||Be very clear on my target, be very clear on my swing thought/feeling.||Focus on the clear feeling or swing thought|
The common amateurs’ error is to take everything written in the thoughts column and try to complete that once standing over the golf ball…and then go get a technical lesson to fix their golf swing.
Screenshot the table above and see if you can action these three steps next time you are on the range.
My personal opinion is that the best pre-shot routines are goal-orientated, not time fixed. This doesn’t mean pre-shot routines need to be long at all once it is well practiced, but you should never jump to the next stage until you have completed each sub-goal.
5. Practice everything, play the shot you feel most comfortable with
This is another classic playing lesson tip. Many golfers feel they should hit a certain shot because that is how a better player would play it. This often leads to a non-confident swing, a poor shot, and then an even harder situation to get out of.
Instead, practice all the shots you feel you need on the range, then in the planning stage of your pre-shot routine, select the target and shot you are most confident with. This nearly always leads to a better swing and better outcome.
Chipping is a great example – practice high flops, bump and runs and putting off the green. But if you have a bunker to go over on the golf course, feel free to take your putter and aim away from the flag. Elite players still do this when they feel a shot is beyond them, it is just that they are so good, we rarely see them in such situations.
Bogeys rarely harm any golfer’s scorecard, but doubles and triple bogeys will.
Golf tips – Summary
I might come back and add to this, but these are the top golf tips that will really make you better that I couldn’t find when searching elsewhere online. There is probably 1-2 weeks of work here if you choose to implement all five tips, but these will truly help you for the rest of your golfing life.
Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider
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