Five Strategies For Lower Scores
There’s little doubt that proper swing fundamentals and short-game techniques are important parts of a consistent golf game. Good golf, however, isn’t purely about perfect mechanics; it’s also largely about strategy. Fortunately, there are several key strategies anyone can easily utilize to produce lower scores. Better yet, using your smarts is a lot easier than trying to create a fundamentally perfect backswing or impact position. In this regard, the title of this story holds true—you can score better without changing your swing.
Below are five nontechnical techniques you can employ to achieve more consistent results the next time you step on the course. They encompass the areas of shot and target selection, tension-free mechanics, tempo and rhythm, mental toughness and score-saving (rather than pride-saving) decision making. If you can master these strategic musts, you’ll be well on your way to a decent round even if your swing isn’t in tip-top shape. And when it is, watch out!
1. Hit To The Fat Part Of The Green
Far too many golfers aim for the pin without considering its location on the green. Better golfers understand the importance of playing to their ability and, therefore, think twice before firing at a pin that’s tucked near the edge of the green. This may not leave them with a better chance for birdie, but certainly lessens the chance for bogey or worse.
To make better decisions concerning when and when not to go for the flag, divide your clubs into three categories: 1) “play it safe,” 2) “proceed with caution” and 3) “go for it.” The clubs in the “play it safe” category are your fairway woods and long irons. For most golfers, these are the clubs that present the greatest challenge when it comes to consistently controlling distance and direction. Therefore, when you have a shot to the green that puts a fairway wood or long iron in your hands, always “play it safe” by aiming at the middle of the green. “Proceed with caution” with the clubs that are toward the middle of the set (5-iron through 8-iron). These clubs require a judgment call on your part based on how you’re swinging on a given day. If you’re swinging well and feeling confident, you can be more aggressive if you have a mid-iron in your hands. If you’re a little off, take a more conservative approach and aim for the fat part of the green. Most golfers are the most accurate with their short irons, which are the “go for it” clubs. If you have a wedge distance to the flag, be unafraid in taking a more aggressive line to your target.
2. Play Golf, Not Golf Swing
One of the biggest and most common mistakes golfers make during the course of a round is spending too much time focusing on their mechanics. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. When you tinker with your swing during a round of golf, not only do your mechanics tend to get worse, but you also lose sight of your objective—to play the game of golf. When you get wrapped up in swing fundamentals on the course, you’re not playing golf, you’re playing “golf swing.”
The next time you warm up on the range, note how well you’re swinging that day. You may not have your A swing; in fact, you may have your B or even C swing. In any case, it’s important to take whatever swing you have that day and make the best of it. If you’ve got a little fade going on the range before the round, aim a little more left than you normally would during the round and worry about straightening it out after you play. Your task for the day is to shoot an A score with your B or C swing. When you learn to do that, you’ll really be playing golf.
3. Monitor Your Tempo And Rhythm
Inconsistent performance on the course often can be related to inconsistent tempo and rhythm. Tempo is the total amount of time it takes to create your golf swing from beginning to end. Even though the swing is longer with the driver, it should take the same time to execute as a swing with a sand wedge.
Rhythm describes how you split the total time between the backswing and forwardswing. If you treat the golf swing like a pendulum and divide it into equal beats, the backswing would take two beats and the combined downswing and forwardswing would take two beats. Like tempo, golf swing rhythm should be the same for every club and every type of swing.
The key to developing consistent tempo and rhythm is to understand that the forwardswing should be a gradual acceleration from the top. If you employ proper tempo and rhythm, maximum clubhead speed will naturally occur at the point of contact without putting in any extra effort. To internalize the feeling of optimal tempo and rhythm, hit five 7-irons with your optimum tempo and rhythm, and then hit five drivers trying to duplicate the same tempo and rhythm. Make sure that the start of your forwardswing is the same with both clubs. Trust the increase in shaft length to produce an increase in speed—and distance.
4. Be Positive
Are you always positive over every shot? Let me put that question another way: Have you ever pulled out a “water ball” on a par-3 that required a carry over a lake or river or some other type of dangerous hazard? If so, it’s easy to make the case that you weren’t totally committed to a successful outcome, nor were you necessarily brimming with confidence or optimism. While it’s true you need to identify the trouble spots on a particular hole, you also need to sharpen your focus on creating the proper distance, direction and trajectory that will put you in position to score. In order to do that most successfully, it’s crucial to focus on what you want to do before hitting your shot, not on what you don’t want to do.
Here’s a simple test. Close your eyes and try not to think about a red apple. If you’re like most people, a red apple is just what pops into your mind. You see, your mind doesn’t understand “don’t.” If you give yourself a cue not to do something, like hitting the ball in the water, out of bounds, or hitting it fat, generally one of two things will happen: 1) the power of suggestion will take over and you’ll actually do what it was that you were trying to avoid, or 2) you’ll compensate with a swing motion that sends the ball in the opposite direction of the trouble and into just as bad a situation.
To develop a more positive attitude, try this preshot routine. Start by evaluating the lie, the distance of the shot, the wind strength and direction, and take note of any obstacles or hazards. Visualize a successful outcome of the shot and take a single practice swing to restore the feeling of the swing you would like to make. Once you’re over the ball, commit to the shot, focus on your target and let it go. Practice this technique consistently and you’ll soon find the quality of your shots improving.
5. Know When To Leave The Driver In The Bag, Baby
The key to good driving isn’t producing long hits. Instead, good drivers of the golf ball always put themselves into position for the next shot. To accomplish this seemingly simple task, it’s important to realize you don’t always have to hit a driver. When selecting the appropriate club to hit off the tee, it’s best to start by deciding how long a second shot you want to leave yourself. For example, if you’re playing a short par-4, say, 350 yards, use the distance of an average-length shot (250 yards) with your driver to calculate your yardage into the green. In this example, you’ll only have approximately 100 yards left to the green, provided you hit the fairway. Realistically, you might be better off using your 3-wood and hitting the ball 230 yards, which would leave only 120 yards to the green. Although the distance for the second shot is slightly longer, a fairway wood is generally easier to control than a driver, which makes finding the fairway more likely.
Remember that the most important thing is getting the ball in play, not hitting it as far as possible. Lean toward choosing the club you hit most accurately, and your results will generally be better.
Another situation where you can leave the driver in the bag is when you’re faced with a long par-5 that you know you won’t be able to reach in two shots, even with your best drive and fairway wood into the green. You have a better chance at par, or even birdie, if you keep your tee shot in play with a fairway wood or long iron. This way, you have a chance to lay up to a comfortable distance for your third shot without having to hit any unnecessarily risky shots.
Lana Ortega is a Class-A LPGA member and director of instruction at the McGetrick Golf Academy (www.mcgetrickgolf.com) in Denver, Colo.
Source - http://www.golftipsmag.com
Play Great Golf In The Rain
Given the choice, we’d all prefer to play when the sun is shining and the breeze is gentle. But sometimes, playing golf in the rain is unavoidable – especially if you play in club competitions.
The rain needn’t ruin your round or your day. In fact, if you follow the tips in this article (and you’re the competitive type), wet weather can actually give your confidence a little boost – most of your playing partners won’t be fully prepared to face the elements and their scores will suffer as a result. Yours won’t
Here are 5 tips that will show you how to you play solid golf in the rain…
1. Trolley & Brolly
Unlike the top Pros, you don’t have the luxury of a caddy who’s sole purpose in the wet is to keep you dry. So what’s the alternative?
One of the best set ups in the rain (and one also used by ‘caddy-less’ Pros) is an electric or push trolley with an umbrella holder fitted to the main arm. Carrying an umbrella and finding somewhere to lay it down during shots can be more hassle than it’s worth – especially if there’s even a hint of a breeze.
You can see from the image to the right that an umbrella fixed directly above your bag will keep you dry during 90% of your round – and you won’t have to worry about chasing it halfway down the fairway!
With this set up, you can hang a couple of towels and your glove in the spokes of the umbrella. If you have a lightweight stand bag (usually made with canvas), everything inside – including spare towels and gloves – is likely to get wet. Using the underside of your brolly as a clothes horse will keep things dry from start to finish.
Umbrella attachments cost in the region of ($15-$30). If you’re put off by the cost of an electric trolley, decent push trolleys are very easy to manoeuvre and much more affordable.
Golf umbrellas range from ($20-$50). I recommend you buy a double canopy ‘windsheer’ umbrella as it helps to prevent the brolly from being turned inside out in strong winds.
2. Bag & Towel
Most golf bags come with a hood attachment to keep the rain off your clubs. It’s worth keeping it in your bag at all times and using it if there’s even the slightest chance of wet weather. Without a hood, rain will soon run down the exposed clubs wetting the grips.
You may also want to remove any head covers before you play. These can hold water like a sponge, soaking your hands and glove each time you have to remove them.
Pack a larger towel too – a couple if you have them. A typical sized golf towel will be next to useless after a couple of holes.
3. Grip & Glove
Probably the biggest challenge in the wet is keeping a secure grip on your clubs. While the club is unlikely to slip right out of your grasp, it only takes a small amount of twisting, especially in the downswing, to cause a poor strike on the ball. That then knocks your confidence for subsequent shots.
Firstly, take your glove off between every shot. Hang it on the spokes on the underside of your umbrella (see point 1 above) rather than placing it in your pocket. This will keep it dry for at least a few holes even in heavy rain. And don’t ever throw away old gloves – keep several of them spare in a polythene bag in the bottom of your golf bag.
There are also golf gloves available that are specially designed to grip better when wet. If you struggle with your grip in the rain or your club’s grips are past their best, it’s worth considering a set of these.
Secondly, avoid gripping the club more tightly because it’s wet. This might sound counter intuitive but if you grip tightly, any film of water between your glove and the grip can act almost like an aqua-plane making it more likely to slip and slide in your hands.
Thirdly, when you come to buy a new set of clubs (or new grips for existing clubs) consider a cord-based grip. These grips have cord weaved into the rubber material and offer greater purchase when wet. Golf Pride make a popular series of cord-based grips.
4. Club Up
Take one club more than you normally would for each shot. The ball won’t tend to travel as far in heavy rain, even when there’s no wind.
Taking an extra club will also allow you to swing easy… and that will help you maintain good balance and a firm grip when it’s wet.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly…
5. Stay Positive & Persist
When the rain is heavy, you’re going to hit bad shots. You’ll underhit putts and probably shoot a higher score than you’d like. But so will your playing partners and the rest of field. So let them get frustrated and disheartened while you make the best of bad conditions.
Wet weather will hinder your normal routine and your concentration on the course. But accept it. Smile at the inevitable bad shots and give the next your best attempt. If you can stay positive and persist, what you might ordinarily consider a disappointing score will probably turn out better than most.
Source - http://www.free-online-golf-tips.com
Photo location courtesy of Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit troongolf.com for information.
What separates the great players from the really good ones? In most cases, it's what takes place between the ears. There are fabulous players out there who can hit some extraordinary golf shots and have tremendous ballstriking skills and near-perfect swing mechanics. But that doesn't mean they know how to shoot lower scores and beat the competition. In most cases, the players who rise to the top are the ones with the strongest minds to play their best.
What are we talking about? Well, when was the last time you really trained your brain to play better golf? Yes, you read that right. The brain needs training just like your muscles do if you want to play at your best possible level. Scottsdale-based THINQ Golf (pronounced "think") is dedicated to helping you play better by developing a stronger, more apt mind for shooting lower scores. THINQ Golf's "mind games" are available on a computer, smartphone and tablet, and are designed specifically for improving your mental aptitude on the golf course. Each game works to improve a different aspect of your brain. (That's cool and all, but here's a little secret. These games are incredibly fun, as well.)
Let's take a look at a few distinct areas of the brain that THINQ Golf considers key areas to train and develop for shooting lower scores.
When it comes to moving the body a certain way, the mind thinks first and tells the body which way to go (well, at least in terms of voluntary movements). Where you are in your mind right before the swing starts is absolutely critical. If you're questioning or tentative, your swing likely will be a slightly different tempo than it would be if you were lucid, free and confident. One of the keys in staying successful is to stay in the present moment. This means not getting fixated on the shots you've already hit, or the difficult tee shot you have coming up a few holes ahead. You need to pay attention to the now and not the before or later!
Next time you play, consider how well you stay in the moment and block out both the future and the past. You can't hit more than one shot at a time, you can't do anything about the shots you've already hit, and you can't play your round out of order and skip a few holes. The game is played one shot at a time, so it's time to think that way.
GT: If we're talking about staying in the moment and playing with full attention, is there something you can do on the course when you realize your head just isn't in it?
Debbie Crews, Co-Founder of THINQ Golf: Staying focused in the moment can be a scary thing to do when we don't know what lies ahead. The mind sometimes races ahead of where you are and you forget to focus on the shot in front of you. Also, when there's added pressure on a particular shot, there are two directions the mind can go. You either focus better and get the job done or you lose your focus because you're too worried about outcome and likely will hit a bad shot. When your focus escapes you, it's wise to back off the ball and start over, if at all possible. I always tell players, you can go ahead and hit it without the focus, just add a stroke or two. Stop, take a breath, and regroup and play the game one shot at a time. Once you commit to a shot, stay committed to the finish!
Where does it all begin come time to hit a shot? The target! The goal with every shot, whether it be a tee shot or a tap-in putt, is to advance the ball toward a specific target. Whether your target is a section of fairway, the green or the actual cup, how you imagine the shot in your mind is based on your awareness of a specific target. The swing is a response to the target, actually. When you're farther away from your target, you tend to swing faster with longer clubs. If it's closer, shorter clubs come into play.
One of the problems many players have is the inability to take their driving range swing to the golf course. One reason for this is, when you're hitting balls on the practice tee one after another, it's easy to lose awareness of a specific target. This makes it easier to swing freely and your golf swing actually can get into quite a nice groove. But as soon as you hit the course and you start reacting to targets, you lose that freedom and things start getting complicated!
The best way to improve your awareness is to practice with a target in mind—always. THINQ Golf has developed a game that helps you increase your target awareness and trains your brain to not only hone in on its ability to focus on a target, but also steer clear of distractions.
GT: Is there a time and place that works best for mind training? Also, how much is too much or too little?
Tim Suzor, Co-Founder of THINQ Golf: When you're training to improve a golf skill or a mental skill, two key components are vital for improving efficiently. You want to be rested, not overly stressed, and somewhere where you're in control of your environment and the environment isn't controlling you. As far as time of day, this could be different for each individual. My recommendation for the majority of people is training in the morning. In the middle of the day or late day, the brain gets more analytical and typically experiences more stress. Our research shows 10 minutes of brain training a day will show improvements in as little as 3 weeks. The research also shows warming up the brain for 10 minutes with cognitive games before you tee it up results in improvement in performance. Warm up your brain like you would your body. We've all experienced "brain fog" on the golf course. That's why we say around here, "Tune it up before you tee it up."
Play It Backward
The next time you play, take a moment before you tee up on each hole and play it backward in your mind. Imagine everything in reverse. Maybe you two-putt from 20 feet, hit a decent approach and hit a drive that lands on the right side of the fairway. If you're satisfied with the visualization, hit "play" and do it in real time.
Have you ever seen a golf course that was perfectly flat or uniform throughout? Every inch of a football field, soccer pitch or basketball court is the same (or at least they try to make it so), but for golf, this simply isn't the case. No two holes on the golf course are the same, and it's highly unlikely you'll be faced with two of the exact same shots in the course of a given round. Sure, you may have shots of similar distances and such, but nary is one shot exactly like another. This pattern of an ever-changing environment makes developing the skill of "adaptability" that much more important. We all know that golf courses are different, but here's an aspect that you may not have considered. Just as there are many different physical situations to adapt to on the course, there are also several emotions that arise during a round. These aren't always caused by bad shots, either. Is it windy? Or raining? Are your playing partners getting on your nerves? Your ability to adapt and play well in any emotional state is just as important as any other skill in golf, maybe even more so! Adaptability is a hidden skill that's very hard to learn, but THINQ Golf says they have the tools to teach it to you so you can be a rock on the course.
GT: A big part of brain training is the repetitious nature of the games. Why is that?
DC: Neurons that fire together wire together. To lay new pathways in the brain or to solidify the pathways that serve us well, we practice them. Then, especially under pressure, the new pathways will be the dominant response and will carry us through to great performance.
What's Your Bounce-back Percentage?
The best players on the PGA Tour bounce back nearly 25 percent of the time—when they make a bogey or worse, they recover one-quarter of the time with a birdie or better. This goes to show you that they know how to adapt to an unfortunate score, hole, shot—whatever. Check your bounce-back rate and see how you fare. If you're not bouncing back well, you know what you need to work on.
Be Your Own Caddie!
If you ever come to a place on the golf course where you're unsure of what shot to hit, take yourself out of the game for a moment and look at the scenario the way a good caddie would. Don't just pay attention to the yardage book, the wind and what hazards are in play. Look at the types of shots you've been hitting thus far and make a calculated decision on your tendencies. For instance, maybe your go-to fade is a slight draw today. Remember to factor in the tangibles (the yardage, wind, elevation, etc.), then evaluate the intangibles (how you feel and what you've been doing up to this point) before you decide on what's the best shot to hit at a given moment.
With the target in mind, it comes time to define your shot intention, meaning how do you plan on advancing the ball toward the target? Do you have a specific shot type you intend to hit? Making a clear decision on every shot is necessary for successful results. And, to do that, you need to make your decision by analyzing the risks associated with the shot. In golf, sometimes the high-risk shot isn't necessarily the shot that rewards you the most. For instance, let's say you're on a short par-4. It's not reachable off the tee, and there's a small landing area short of the green and a large landing area about 100 yards short of the green. You could take the greater risk and go for the area in front of the green, but are you better off hitting a delicate pitch from 35 yards than you are a full wedge from 100 yards?
Determining the right amount of risk for a given shot also depends on how you feel at that moment. THINQ has developed a series of games designed to train your mind to deal with situations of varying amounts of risk.
GT: Where did the ideas for each game come from?
TS: I often get asked the question on where the idea came from to train golfers cognitively with games. As a PGA Teaching professional for 19 years and working with players at the highest level, I've always appreciated the players with the strongest mental games. As a swing coach who teaches golf with technology and science in mind, I thought there had to be a more efficient way to train the mental game utilizing science. The brain activity of a golfer can be quantified the same way as the golf swing. EEG technology that produces brain maps shows a difference between an elite-level golfer versus a high-handicapper. Neuroscience has proven that the brain isn't a physiologically static organ and it can change. The question became how do we do that. The answer became repetition, just like we train a motor skill for a golfer to improve his or her swing. Dr. Debbie Crews, who heads up THINQ Golf's research and development, determined the five main skills that golfers must train and those became the game names: Awareness, Intention, Attention, Synchronicity and Adaptability.
Synchronicity is a skill that most of us have as juniors, but tend to lose as we get older. Why? Synchronicity refers to our ability to jump from the analytical side of our brain, the left side, to our creative performance-motivated side of the brain, the right. Every shot requires both of these abilities. When gathering information—yardage, wind, slope—all are aspects of a shot that must be dealt with, but so is looking at the target one last time and pulling the trigger. All of these can only be put together when the mind is in sync and can pass back and forth easily between the two. You can see professional golfers trying to make the jump from left to right brain on every shot. First, they have a short conversation about yardage and all things analytical (left-brain stuff). Then, the caddie backs away and the player begins to make the transfer by taking a few practice strokes to understand the shot needed through feel (right-brain stuff). Finally, the player is beautifully balanced or slightly right-sided until the shot is complete, at which point the analytical brain is allowed to take over again to digest the shot. THINQ Golf has a game specifically developed to improve your ability to get in sync on the course.
GT: How important is mind training for daily life?
DC: Thought precedes motion! Where you are in your mind dictates what swing comes out, how the club moves through space and, finally, the flight of the ball to the target. Be aware of your intention, focus of attention, synchronicity of the outside and inside world, and adapt if things don't go your way. The cool thing about what we do at THINQ Golf is, our games help you well beyond the golf course. It's not just training for better golf scores; it's training to make you a better thinker, a more conscious risk-taker and, ultimately, a better person.
Train Your Brain
Want to learn more about THINQ Golf? Log on to thinqgolf.com and have a look at some of the amazing games. In addition to brain training, there's an online community for friendly competition, stats, webinars and much more.
Source - http://www.golftipsmag.com
Many popular swing tips and equipment theories are just plain wrong
By Lana Ortega, LPGA; Photography by William Swartz
If you practice your backswing at a gas pump while talking on your cell phone, the station will explode. It’s myths like this—though hardly as ludicrous—that can send golfers who need the right answers into a tailspin. The trouble with myths is that most sound reasonable, and usually are passed from one golfer to the next with only good intentions. Nevertheless, the common tip shared across grill room tables and on tee boxes nationwide tends to do more harm than good if only because the true reasoning behind the suggestion is misunderstood. Let’s clear the air, shall we?
Myth #1: Aim At The Target
Aim what at the target? Clubface? Body? Confusion in this area typically cause golfers to mis-aim in two ways. The first is aiming the feet, knees, hips and shoulders directly at the target, leaving the clubface aimed down a line well right of the target. It’s no surprise that golfers who misalign their body and clubface in this manner miss the target to the right, unless they make an adjustment in their swing to get the ball back on line. That usually translates into an over-the-top move and a swipe across the ball and contact out near the toe of the club.
The second misalignment error results from an adjustment to ballflight errors. For example, if a slicer aims left to make room for the left-to-right ballflight, and the mistake that’s causing the slice isn’t addressed, chances are his or her aim will continue to creep more and more to the left.
Retrain Your Eyes On The Range
When you aim correctly, the leading edge of your club sits at a right angle to the target line while your body aligns parallel-left to the target line. Only proper practice will get you into the habit of aligning correctly on the course. On the range, pick a target and lay one club a few feet in front of the ball on the target line. Place another club parallel to the first on your toe line to indicate your body alignment. After a few balls, you’ll train your body and eyes to accept this new alignment and limit compensations.
Equip Myth: Less Loft = More Distance
There once was a day when lofts in the 7- to 8-degree range were needed to help keep the ball from ballooning. But with today’s shaft, clubhead and ball technology, nothing could be further from the truth. Due to the larger size of modern clubheads, players are using more loft (combined with lower-spinning golf balls) to produce shots that bore high through the air yet still roll upon impact with the ground.
Finding the correct loft should be determined by evaluating how you ascend through the impact zone. If you have a steep swing, a lower loft may help. If you’re a player with a shallow to normal (less steep) plane, you may be better served by a higher loft to produce the optimal low-spin, high-launch ballflight. More often, higher-lofted drivers in the 9- to 11-degree range work best to attain the desired 13- to 14-degree launch angle. Also, pay attention to the shaft; it, too, can have a significant effect on trajectory.
Myth #2: As The Swing Gets Longer, The Swing Gets Faster
When I watch a golfer hit 7-iron, then driver, he or she invariably amps up the swing speed with the longer club. Surely, the clubhead of the driver does move faster because it’s longer, but it’s due to the principles of physics, not because the golfer is swinging the club with a faster tempo.
Tempo is the total amount of time it takes to create your golf swing from beginning to end. Some players have a relatively fast tempo, like Nick Price, while others have a slower tempo, like Fred Couples. Either way is fine, as long as you keep the same tempo for each club in the bag. Golfers get into trouble when they either slow down or speed up their natural tempo. Most often, the tendency is to speed up with the longer clubs—especially the driver—to gain extra yards.
When your tempo starts varying from club to club, the timing required to hit consistent golf shots is destr