5 Tips To Make 2010 Your Best Golf Year Ever
This has been the crummiest winter I ever remember in South Texas, and all over the country for that matter. We’ve had more cold weather, more rain, more nasty days than ever before. Whereas normally, by the end of February, the dormant Bermuda grass is greening up well, and the trees are budding out, we still have very thin brown turf everywhere. Sheesh . . . where is that alleged “global warming” when you need it?
But, it won’t be long before we all will be seeing green and sunshine and once again getting out on the course to see what we can do “this year”. So, I thought I would share what I think are five solid tips for making 2010 your best year of golf scores ever. Here goes:
1. Putt short putts better. If you will just work on your putting, your scores will come down dramatically. The first area to focus on is getting deadly on putts under five feet. That you can practice in your living room or basement right now. All you need is one of these cool putting mats, or nothing more complex than a six foot piece of smooth commercial carpet. Learn how to groove your stroke so that your short putts become automatic. Left side leads, soft grip on the putter and weight favoring your left side (all for righty’s of course). And tempo, tempo, tempo. Slow back, slow through.
2. Improve your lag putting. The other side of this is becoming a better lag putter, and that you have to practice on the putting green. Go out to the green with two balls and putt a circuit of holes in the 30-50 foot range. Putt the first ball where you think it needs to be, then correct for the second. Go finish them out (short putt practice) and go to another hole. Do it, and you’ll minimize three putts and increase your up-and-down percentage. It teaches you touch and reading longer putts.
3. Strengthen your left side. If you are a right handed person, your left side is likely not strong enough to maintain a leadership role in the swing, because you don’t use it as much. On the simple side, keep a 5- or 10-lb dumbbell near your desk or sofa and do curls and other exercises several times a day. Even better is to swing a weighted club with only your left hand 15-25 times a day. A strong left side will do more for your golf swing than just about anything else you can do.
4. Sharpen your short game. Sorry, but that means practice, guys. Again, you can learn and groove a good chipping/pitching stroke in your garage off a piece of carpet. Refer back to my articles on technique; read books by Utley and Watson – learn, learn, learn . . . .then practice, practice, practice. Get better at getting up and down and strokes will fly off your scores.
5. Eliminate your “nemesis” tee shot. Whether your bugaboo is the snap hook, big slice, high right, cold top . . . . whatever it is that crops up a few times a round and leads to a big number, figure it out and get rid of it. I strongly suggest a teaching pro and a couple of lessons here. Spend a hundred or two early in the season, and you’ll probably save that much on lost golf balls alone.
Bonus Tip. Have fun!!! We don’t do this for a living, so don’t let bad shots, or bad rounds mess up a day in the sun with friends.
And remember the old adage: One bad round -- forget it. Two bad rounds -- practice. Three bad rounds – get a lesson.
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All excellent tips. I never thought about the left side weak, right side dominant effect before. It definitely makes sense though, since the left (forward) arm is the one making the swing powerful and the right (rear) is more just along for the ride and a little guidance control.
I would like to add that before every round I spend at least 20 minutes on the putting green. This gives me a good indication to the speed of the greens I am going to be playing. Here we go from heavily treed courses with softer slower greens to wide open courses with hard fast greens. Also always count your putts (many people don't). It will make you focuss more and help you bring them down.
Any high handicapper who sees first hand that putting is 1/3 of their game, will instantly work on it.
Thanks, Terry. I LOVE the suggestion about making short putts on the practice green. It's something I always do and I see so many golfers pick those up rather than sink em.
I also see a lot of people spend too much time warming up the full swing. You really don't need many swings to get loose. I divide my warm-up time by three. I spend equal amounts of time practicing putting, short game, and full swing. And I do putting first to make sure I don't lose track of time and have to shorten it. Getting the touch shots right is so much more difficult (and important) than the big swings.
One thing I see alot of is people trying the "miracle shot", instead of just pitching out back to the fairway.
Also, remember that it's just a game.
Thanks again for another thoughtful, quality post. If you are new to oob, Terry certainly "does no harm" with his wizened counsel.
You can't repeat #1 enough! #1, #1, #1. This is one of the most important areas of the game for developing overall confidence. Even when you have a rough day of lipping and burning, it will be an abberation only. Except for match play/ scramble, never pick up. Accept that short putts are tough and anxious occasions. Good putter miss the 3-footer every so often. You need to have a putter where you can see a line right into the cup from 2-10 ft. away. If you can't, find any putter - new, used, cheap, expensive, so you can. Mallets have the advantage of longer alingment shapes/ lines in line with your shot.
@#5. I remember Terry talking about gripping down with the driver for less adventurous ball flight - I think it works.
I have always thought the game starts with putting and
moves back to the tee. eliminating 3 putts is huge, and
not always going for it all the time from the fairways.
great lay up shots give you better chances to make birdies too.
guys laugh at par 3's but scoring well on them is key to a
solid game on the bigger tracks.
@ Terry and Cheymike - Respectfully disagree regarding the left side for right handers. First off, one should never over exercise one side over the other. The strengthing should be balanced and even on both the right and left. As someone who trains with a personal trainer (my son) 3x a week, you must balance your routine with both sides. Generally, you will find that a right hander needs more stretching on the right side from the "overuse". Balance your weight routine on both sides and focus on stretching the right so that the flexibilty becomes greater. The right side is not along for the ride - that where your power comes from - that's why Hogan said he wished he had three right hands!!
If you are working with a trainer, then you probably don't need to worry about your left side strength, because its there already from your workouts.
If you are trying to get better, and perhaps spend more time at the range/course than the gym due to time constraints, it can be easy for the left arm strength to be underdeveloped vs where it needs to be in the golf swing.
It is extremely difficult to build a solid golf swing around a weak left arm/wrist. And if you are underdeveloped there, its an easy fix that can lead to great strides.
I have been through much PT re: knee surgeries and injuries. It's always amazing how after a period in PT working exclusively on parts of the quad/hammy/groin (because of time/ relevance/ recent injury), you can have wonderful balance and stability, even after walking 18-27 holes. Now if there was a machine to work the brain muscle.... Still need to make better decisions!
What would be a decent 3 x 1/2 hr workout/ week (not including cardio/ bike/ etc.)? Any ideas? (if you could commit 3 half-hr sessions per week to exclusively golf related workouts in a typical gym)
@ $1 - My son works me on a number of different exercises specifically beacuse of golf. Generally consists of 4 exercises through 4 cycles; with weights 12-15 reps per exercise:
Group#1 - Shoulders, triceps, crunches, wood chop (both directions).
Group#2 - Reverse fly, biceps, leg lifts, calf raises. After Group#1, he has me do a 2 minute cardio (bike, treadmill) at a fast pace - all done without a rest in between. Take a minute rest after the 2-minute cardio before starting Group#2.
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