As 2012 and the golfing season comes to a close, now is the time to look back on the year of golf and evaluate how you progressed toward your goals. Each reader will differ; your goal may have been to break 100 for the 1st time, beat the next door neighbour or co-worker in your grudge match, win the club championship or earn your tour card. All of these are fine!
Today, I want to give you three ways to improve your game. They do not require swing, equipment or body changes and I am POSITIVE they will lead to lower scores in 2013:
How many times have you seen this guy on the range — the one who seems to be practicing hard every single time you are there. His ball striking and consistency is incredible and he NEVER seems to miss a shot, yet when you look at the leaderboard after the monthly medal he has again shot 5 strokes over his handicap?
On-course lessons are an underutilized part of transforming golf games. Things like the punch shots out of the trees or half-wedges are rarely covered in lessons or practice sessions, but it is exactly those kind shots that can kill a round.
That’s why working on only full swings on the range is not quite enough. Have your coach watch you on the course and see your game in the arena when it really counts.
If you are anything like the players I work with, you often score better the first time you go and play a new golf course. The reason I believe this happens is because the first time you play, you have little or no idea of strategy or how you “should” play the course, and there are no damaging expectations of what you should do. This often lowers scores as players are “in the present” and focusing on the task at hand instead of letting the mind wander. During the off season, I challenge you to go out and play some rounds of golf with different objectives or strategies. Here are some ideas for starters:
- Hit driver for most tee shots, even on tight, short holes. Be ultra aggressive, cut doglegs where possible and try to leave as short approach shots as possible.
- Play for position from every tee shot, find the widest part of the fairways and use clubs you are confident in to leave yourself in the best position after each and every tee shot.
Some more things to try on EVERY hole of a round:
- Approach shots: Play to the safe portion of the greens OR fire at all of the flags.
- Chipping: Fly it all the way OR play some low, running shots.
- Shots out of trouble: Play aggressively through the tiny gap OR play out to the fairway.
Of course, to get your lowest score each round of golf will require a mix of these strategies, but I want you to check your scores after adopting one of these strategies for at least 9 holes and stick to it. Often, when golfers play a course multiple times, they get into habits that are hard to break. You may surprise yourself with lower scores when you play a round playing for position off each tee, or perhaps playing more aggressive with your tee shots on short par 4’s. I challenge you to have a play with these, try them out and see what these little experiments do to your scores.
Back when you started playing golf and your golfing mind was free of confusion and conflicting thoughts, how well did you putt? Those of you with kids, how well do they seem to putt when you give them a little club and ball and let them loose? When I started playing golf at age 10, I had no putting swing thoughts and I seemed to make every putt I looked at! As I got older and my technique improved, my rate of putting improvement did not keep up though.
When I learned AimPoint with Jamie Donaldson (Europe’s Most Senior AimPoint Instructor) and how to read greens, the rate sure picked up again! I could go back to just picking a point, feeling confident in that and trusting my stroke to start it there and watch it track back into the hole much more often. In one sentence, AimPoint has transformed green reading from a guessing game to a skill that can be developed using a simple process of calculating distance, slope and angle of a putt to be able to predict the amount of break using a straightforward, legal in play chart! With these principles in place, I have seen huge improvements seen in all levels of golfers I coach.
Stacey Keating (winner of consecutive Ladies European Tour events during the 2012 season) compiled her stats and realised that since she and her caddy learned AimPoint green reading her score has improved 1.5 to 2 shots PER ROUND! That’s a 6 to 8 shots per tournament. It’s easy to see why this year saw her win her maiden tour title. If it can make this much difference to a tour player with lots of experience reading greens and a skilled caddy helping, how much can it do to your game?
So, as you set your goals for 2013, be sure to look into these three areas that may be completely new to you and see how great 2013 can be for you and your golf!