For any keen golfer, hitting that perfect drive, iron approach or pitch is one of the sweetest things the great game of golf can bring. With our 10 step guide to improving all elements of your golf game, you’ll be driving like Duvall and putting like Poulter in no time!
To really enjoy your round, the centre of the fairway or green is where you want to be. Unfortunately, just as common – if not more so – is the immense frustration that a hooked, topped or scuffed shot can bring. No-one likes to spend their time trudging through the rough or bunkers looking for their ball, much less on a world-class resort. To help you progress, we have gathered 10 expert tips to help you get back on track.
1. POSTURE BEFORE STRIKING THE BALL
Before you even think about hitting the ball from the tee, there are a whole host of things to get right to give you the best chance of getting the ball where you want it. Width of stance, distance between club and body, bend in your knees and overall body posture all play a role. Too much or too little of any of them and you’ll spend more time in the rough stuff than you want.
2. POSITION OF THE BALL IN YOUR STANCE
At what stage in your swing the ball is hit is as important as the swing itself. A perfect swing with the ball too far forward will result in less of the club making meaningful contact, too far back and you won’t get the required loft. As a rule, the ball should be nearer your front foot when using a driver, and more central when using your irons.
3. KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN
The temptation follow your ball down the fairway almost before you’ve hit it is strong, but keeping your eyes down on the ball until your follow-through is complete is vital. Move your head too early, and all the hard work on your posture and swing up to that point will most likely be wasted.
4. ROTATE YOUR TORSO, NOT JUST YOUR ARMS
It would seem self-explanatory that a good golf swing generates power from the whole body, not from a rigid torso with the arms doing all the work, but insufficient body rotation is a major cause of an inefficient golf swing. To get the extra yards that’ll give you the chance to birdie that par 5, you’ll need your left shoulder to rotate round to be almost above your right foot on the backswing, and vice-versa on the downswing. Do this, and you’ll be on the putting surface in no time.
5. MASTER THE ART OF PITCHING
Getting to within striking distance of the green is only worth so much if you then spend the next 4 shots either criss-crossing the green with too much power, or flopping short with too little. The art and swing of chipping is very different to that of driving from the tee or with an iron from the fairway. 2 big differences are that your club should never go above parallel with the ground on the backswing, and your hands should always stay ahead of the ball and club.
6. DEVELOP A ROUTINE FOR PUTTING
“Drive for show, putting for dough” is one of the oft-repeated maxims of golf, and its true! Getting close to the hole, nerves and a whole raft of other factors can reduce even the greatest players to jelly. One way to minimise this is to create a putting routine that works for you. Be it breathing pattern, practice swing or visualising the shot, find a routine that works and use it every time. Remember, when it comes to putting, there’s no substitute for practice, practice and more practice!
7. PREPARE FOR THE WORST: MASTER BUNKER SHOTS
Ideally it won’t come to this, but realistically, especially on the more rugged links courses of Scotland, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in a sandy predicament at least once or twice. A couple of simple tips will increase accuracy out of the sand. Firstly, do not, ever hit the ball first. Aim a couple of inches short of the ball to avoid overshooting the target and probably ending up with another bunker shot! Secondly, keep your weight on your front foot throughout the swing and your left arm straight. Then watch the sand – and your ball – gracefully float out of that bunker!
8. KEEP A TRACK OF YOUR WEAKNESSES
Whether you play every day, every weekend or just every so often, if you want to see an improvement over time you’ll need to keep a track of your round-by-round performance to work out what needs the most work. How many fairways did you hit from the tee, how many greens-in-regulation did you get, or how many times did you take 2, 3 or more putts once you got onto the green? All important statistics, and worth noting down – as well as your overall score – to get better over time.
9. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE FOLLOW-THROUGH
A great golf swing, whatever the shot, doesn’t stop once you’ve hit the ball. A good follow through, with your hands ending up above your left shoulder, and your right shoulder below the left means you’ve hit the ball well, in the direction you wanted. Low hands and a right shoulder that’s not lower than the left usually indicates an element of your swing isn’t working, meaning a less than perfect connection between club and ball.
10. IMAGINE A SET OF TRAIN TRACKS...
This analogy works for the pros, so why can’t it work for you. The best clubs and the smoothest swing will all count for nothing if your body orientation in relation to the ball is wrong. For almost every shot, remember this one golden rule. Imagine your feet are on one train track, and the ball on the other. Angle your body, and therefore these “train tracks” towards where you want to hit the ball, and keep your feet parallel to the line of the ball. Not facing towards or away, or expect to get out the gardening equipment to dig your ball out from the rough!