Sunday, 24 August 2008

The Top 10 Simple Golf Tips to Improve your Golf Game

The Golf Predictor Guru has spent thousands of Euro on lessons, books, videos, gadgets, clubs and trips to Lourdes in the quest to be able to play golf to a decent level. Unfortunately it hasn't worked, but that's down to my incompetence rather than the material!

Along the way I have picked up a few simple tips which should be useful to the beginner or seasoned hacker! In roughly descending order of usefulness, these tips may save you some cash and/or frustration:
  1. Get the basics right first. Learn how to hold the club correctly, how to set yourself up and where to position the ball from the get-go. Otherwise, you'll struggle to ever hit the ball well. There's nothing more difficult in golf than getting used to a new grip, so avoid that by doing it right from the start.
  2. Swing slowly. I believe this is Bob Torrance's number one tip and since he's one of the best golf coaches (Padraig Harrington is his most famous pupil) in the world, that's good enough for me. Swinging like a maniac, especially on the takeaway, will only end up in an disaster and/or injury!
  3. Do not move up and down during the swing. That means no extra bending of the knees or upward movement of the torso or the club will simply not be able to return to the same spot i.e. behind the ball. You will either dig turf or top the ball, depending on whether you go up or down during your swing.
  4. Don't grip the club too tightly. This will introduce tension to your swing and blisters/rubber to your hand from the grip. The old chestnut about holding a bird on your hands so as to keep it there and not choke the crap out of it is a good one! If you're wearing the grips off your clubs and/or have sore hands after a few swings, it's a sign that you should lighten up on the grip pressure.
  5. You should try to relax before swinging as tension is very bad for your game. If there is tension in your arms, you won't be able to hit a good golf shot. Try a few Sergio waggles beforehand or a big outward breath at address. It's impossible to be tense when breathing out (although I think I managed it a few times!).
  6. Think positively (in life as well as golf!). They say the most important distance in golf is the 6 inches between your ears and they are right. If you convince yourself before your shot that you're going to scutter (duff) the ball, chances are that you will. Instead, visualise a great shot! Similarly, don't wilt if you have an audience. Instead, tell yourself that you're going to show them how it's done.
  7. Your golf shot doesn't stop at the ball. Similar to pool/snooker, you must follow through to the finish position for consistently straight shots.
  8. Similar to above for putting. Don't jab at the ball, but employ a pendulum swing instead, with the ball in the middle. Half back and half through will result in much truer putting than a huge backswing and no follow through.
  9. Warm up before playing. You should at least stretch and, if possible, hit some balls to shake the cobwebs off. Did you ever see a pro golfer consciously head straight out on to the course? Enough said.
  10. You must practice to get better or even stay at your current level. Playing once a month and expecting your A game to magically reappear or improve is just plain foolish. If even Tiger Woods has to practice hard, what makes you think you don't have to?
Although, I could not implement most of these tips myself, I hope that you, dear reader, meet with more success! My particular specialities were to violate tips 2 & 3, usually at the same time!

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Anonymous said...

When you've surpassed these golf tips what do you do next?

I heard custom fitted golf clubs make a huge difference in one's golf game? Do you know? Have you tried them?

Golf Predictor Guru! said...

Thanks for the comment. I love golf too, but unfortunately for me, it's unrequited love!

If you have all these simple tips down pat and you're still having problems, you have 2 basic options: you can wait for my next tips post "10 slightly more complicated tips to improve your golf game" or find a pro to figure out your particular problem.

I recommend the latter, although it is important to find a pro who suits you. If you're an analytical person, it's no good going to a guy who tells you to go with the feel of the club and vice versa.

Custom clubs can make a big difference especially if you are not average sized. This relates to tip no. 1 about posture. After all, how can the same length club work for a 5'2" guy and a 6'6" guy? Also, the club lie angle varies with golfer height, so if you're serious about golf, you should have bespoke clubs. Note that the longer the club, the harder it is to control, which is why it's rare for very tall guys to be good golfers.

Being 6'2" myself, I did consider getting custom clubs, but as a pro said to me, that wasn't the cause of my problems!! I was waiting until I got to a certain level with the off the rack set, which of course I never reached!