Top 10 Golf Tips

Golf may be the hardest sport to learn to play well. Here are 10 tips to help you learn this challenging game.

Paul Bryant
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2012 1:18 pm
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  • Support Your Local Golf Teaching Professional
    Tips from a website are one thing. Live, in-person instruction from an authorized teaching pro is another. You will be surprised at how quickly your game can improve if you support your local teaching pro by signing up for a few lessons. These men and women spend a lifetime on the sport whereas us amateurs only wish we could be on the PGA or LPGA tour. Tip Number 10: Visit your local teaching pro for some expert advice regarding your golf swing.
  • Be a Perfect Gentleman
    This is sometimes very hard to do particularly if you are playing a match in the club championship. The opponent is after all your arch rival for the next four hours or so. How can I make conversation let alone look the contestant in the eye. After all, this will be my arch rival for the next four hours or so. Some of you may think that you need to be aloof and unengaged and exhibit every bit of gamesmanship you possibly can in order to succeed and win the contest. But often times that leads one to feel very hollow victory. You need to feel good about your engagement with your opponent before, during and after your round come what may. Golf was always intended to be a game of good sport but it was also intended to be a game that promotes socializing and good sportsmanship. Golf is a game that can sour you just as easily as it is a game that can help you grow in all areas of your being. So take the high road in golf, be pleasant and engaging in a positive manner. Win or lose, you will feel better about yourself the next day if you exhibit all the right behaviors on the golf course. Tip Number 9: Whether you are playing a friendly round of golf, a two-dollar Nassau or the final match in the club championship, always exhibit gentlemanly behavior.
  • Rhythm, Tempo & Cadence
    If you have ever taken piano lessons you have likely been exposed to the metronome. It's a clock-like device that tick-tocks back and forth to help aspiring pianists to gain a good sense of the timing for the notes to be played. In many respects, the game of golf is all about being in good rhythm, tempo and harmony. You need to warm up on the range before hitting the first tee. You need to stroke a few putts before making your way to the first tee. You need to fuel your body with energy before making it to the first tee and yes, you need to be well rested before you start your round of golf. The golf club needs to feel like an extension of your arms and it needs to draw back and come forward to the point of contact in a totally free-flowing motion. To get a good sense of what I am talking about, watch the women on the LPGA tour hit their golf shots. Their golf swings are extremely rhythmic and free-flowing - as they say, "like poetry in motion." Tip Number 8: Be sure to get to the driving range and the practice green before you tee off and spend time hitting solid golf shots, delicate little chips and the 3 footers for par.
  • Keep Your Emotions In-Check
    There is something very dehumanizing to watch a toddler throw a temper tantrum at the grocery line check-out when mom tells them to put the candy back on the shelf. In many respects it is much more dehumanizing when an adult throws a tantrum of their own. If you want to witness a display of temper and the unbridled use of profanity, stop by your local municipal golf course and observe a few groups of golfer pass through a series of holes. I can almost guarantee you that you will see a hissy-fit or two. So why is it that a set of golf clubs and a ball placed into the hands of an individual that loves the game of golf elicits such a strong and uncontrolled reaction from a seemingly meek and mild-mannered person? Frankly, I have no idea. But if you want to play better golf and also have folks that want to play with you, you need to learn to control your emotions. Remember, for the vast majority of us golf is just a game. So rather than spend your energy dwelling on the fact that the missed putt means you need to play the last 3 holes two under in order to shoot your best round, focus on the fact that your ultimate score will be a function of how well you prepared for today's round and that includes your mental, physical and yes, your emotional preparation. Let me ask you, if the tour player could not keep his emotions in check, do you think it would be possible to hole out from the sand trap? Tip Number 7: Always keep in mind that golf is meant to be fun, that you are an amateur, that not every shot will be perfect and that there will be a next shot to make that will require your full mental, physical and emotional attention.
  • Play "Up to the Hole"
    Most golf holes have been designed and created with a so-called path of least resistance. From time to time you will happen upon a hole that gives you an option that can sometimes be referred to as the 'risk-reward' hole like the driveable Par 4 that has water to the left of the green and deep faced bunkers to the right with a narrow landing zone. If you are feeling lucky and have certainty that now is the time you will hit the one in a hundred shot of your life, you might be tempted to go for it. If on the other hand you know and accept that the strength of your game lies in hitting high percentage shots and choose to lay up with your tee shot to a much more forgiving landing area, then that's what you choose to do. Too often golfers try to make the low percentage shot that ends up placing them in an even more difficult position for their next shot. And so the story goes. Quite often this type of decision making can turn a career round into an average or below average round of golf. Tip Number 6: When faced with a decision that challenges your skill set and shot-making ability, always play the higher percentage shot that will position you for the best chance of ensuring that your next shot will also be a higher percentage shot for you.
  • Quickly Recover From A Poor Shot
    If you have ever watched the professional tour players they have one very important element of their game that we as amateurs lack and that is their ability to recover from a poor shot and salvage a good score. Many times we see the touring pro hit a shot into the woods or into the water or into the sand but somehow they manage to still come away from the hole with nothing more than a bogey and often times with a par or perhaps even a birdie. Their ability to do so on a regular and somewhat predictable basis is what truly characterizes them as a pro. Ever wonder how this is possible? Certainly practice makes perfect and most of us have a day job that limits the amount of practice time we can put into our game, but here's a little tip that will help you recover from a poorly hit golf shot. You simply need to forget about the last shot. You simply need to get over it. You simply need to get focused on the shot you are about to play. Let's face it, you can't take the last shot over without additional penalty strokes so just forget about it. Similarly, you can't play your next shot until you play this shot so stay in the moment. Tip Number 5: Forget about how good or bad your last shot was and place all your mental focus on the shot at hand.
  • Visualize The Swing Plane and The Flight
    Before an artist can paint a picture they must first fixate on what it is that they want to paint. Let's say they are going to paint a vase of flowers. They must observe the color, texture, lighting and lines of the vase of flowers. They must secure the proper paint brush and color of paint and then they must transfer what their eye sees to the canvas with a well placed stroke of paint. In essence, the painter must visualize the object they are going to paint and then execute everything that is in their control to transform a clean white canvass into a beautiful painting of a vase of flowers. If you have ever tried to paint, you know just how difficult this task can be. When it comes to golf, you need to visualize every shot before you address the ball. Your practice swings should be made with your idea of the perfect motion needed to transfer the ball from its current location to its intended location. Failure to visualize where the ball is going and how it will get there leaves the outcome of your golf swing to chance. But by visualizing the swing plane, visualizing the point of contact and visualizing the resultant ball flight that occurs once contact is made, you significantly improve your chances of hitting a solid golf shot. Tip Number 4: When you take your practice swings, do so with a visualization of the intended swing plane and ball flight.
  • Stay In The Moment
    You stick a tee in the ground and place your brand new golf ball on it. The moment of truth awaits. You assume the golf position, demonstrate excellent posture (only because you are mentally prepared and stretched out), address the ball and coil into your back swing. At this point, the only thing you should be thinking about is making good. solid contact. Your mind must be absolutely void of any other thoughts as the only thing that matters is staying in the moment in order to make good solid contact. Forget about the water on the left hand side of the fairway. Forget about the OB to the right hand side of the fairway and forget about the bunkers in the middle of the fairway. You must block all other thoughts and simply make good solid contact. The human mind is capable of processing thousands of thoughts per second but you need to focus on just one singular thought which is to make good contact. Tip Number Three: Stay focused on the challenge at hand which is to limit your thoughts to staying in the moment and making good solid contact withy the golf ball.
  • Stretch It Out
    Golf is a game that requires both mental preparation and physical preparation. The object of every swing is to make perfect contact with the ball. When you have the driver in your hand you are working to coil your back swing for maximum torque and then unwind with perfect timing such that the point of impact of the flat faced metal driver contacts the round surface of your golf ball of choice at exactly the right moment such that all the energy is released through the end of the club. The objective of course is to propel the ball on a flight path such that it will carry at an exact trajectory and a precise distance so that it will land in close proximity to the intended target. You will have to prepare your muscal skeletal structure in order to have any chance of hitting the perfect shot. You cannot run from the parking lot to the pro shop to the driving range to the first tee and expect to hit the first shot of the day 275 yards down the middle of the fairway. Golf simply does not reward those who take a hasty approach to preparing for the first tee. Tip Number Two: Take at least 5 minutes to do some stretching exercises that will prepare your body for 4-5 hours of walking, twisting and turning.
  • Mental Preparation
    It has been well documented that the game of golf takes place in a 6 inch space between one's ears. So tell me, what do you do to mentally prepare for a round of golf? Mental preparation is an absolute necessity if you hope to continuously improve your game. Whether you are a scratch golfer or a weekend warrior, you need to mentally prepare for your round of golf. First of all you need to accept the fact that you will not hit a perfect shot every time you address the ball. Ben Hogan used to say that he only hit 1 or 2 perfect shots per round. As amateurs, how can we possibly expect to hit every shot perfectly? The answer is we cannot and we should not expect to do so. Tip Number One: Arrive at the first tee with the proper state of mind. When you miss hit your first shot, you must remember that the game of golf is very challenging and the only thing that matters is the next shot.
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