One of the most difficult tasks in golf is trying to get to the next level or breaking a barrier, i.e. breaking 90, 80, or 70. There’s no such thing as a perfect round, and when you reflect on your play at the end of the day there’s always something you could have done better. Eliminating that 3-putt on twelve, or that out-of-bounds drive on five, or that dumb decision to hit 3-wood out of the rough on nine that went 14 yards. It’s rarely a major overhaul and something small such as these examples that keep you from accomplishing your goal. Here are 5 simple tips that will no doubt help you think better, feel better, and play better. 

Stretch. We are all guilty of going from the car, to the pro shop, to the first tee. Unless I am playing in a tournament, I hardly ever hit balls before a round. Lack of time seems to be the number 1 factor for all of us. But give yourself 5 minutes to stretch prior to teeing off. Just 5 minutes on the tee or at your car. Grab the frame of the cart and stretch your arms and shoulders. Bend down and touch your toes. Place a club around your back along your waistline and twist back and forth. You need to be loose and limber to swing the club properly and get it in the correct positions. There’s a reason you don’t settle into your round until the 4th or 5th hole; your body is finally loose and you now have speed and power.

Make better decisions. You have 270 yards into a par 5 but your ball isn’t sitting great in the rough. You pull a 3-wood and hit it 40 yards. Now you have 230 yards for your 3rd shot and you might still be in the rough. You haven’t hit a 3-wood 270 yards since Bush 1 was in office, so why did you try to do it out of a bad lie? Even if you caught it decent and hit it 210, now you have that odd 60 yard pitch that you never practice. How about taking a 7 or 8 iron and hitting it down the fairway 150 yards, leaving you a nice full wedge or 9 iron in for your 3rd? That higher lofted iron is going to cut through that gnarly grass easier than that large fairway wood. 

Club up.  When in doubt, club up. Your number is 162. You hit your 7 iron about 155 and your 6 iron about 170. Hit the smooth 6. Ask yourself how often you come up short versus how often you hit it over a green. I’m guessing short wins that one. And I’m not counting the thin shots you skull and travel 200 yards about chest-high. You are going to make a much better, fluid and sound swing with the extra club than you are trying to muscle 7 extra yards out of the shorter one. Plus, where is the trouble? Is there a bunker short left? Analyze all of these factors as you drive up to your ball. Make it part of your pre-shot routine and you won’t slow anyone up.

Count.  Are you in a funk with your putter? 3-putting a few times per round or have no confidence with those pesky five footers? Probably struggling with your line, right? Well you must hit it at the right speed to hold your intended line. You may be moving your head and peaking at the hole to early in your stroke. That can alter the path of your through-stroke, because as your head moves your chest moves. And as your chest moves your shoulders move. And you putt by rocking your shoulders. With any length putt, keep your head still and remain looking at the spot where the ball was after you stroke it. Count to yourself 1-2-3, and then look. On the short ones you may hear it go in before you look up.

Play the correct tees. Tee colors have nothing to do with gender and have everything to do with ability. The thought that the red tees are for ladies and the gold tees are for seniors is stupid. Besides, many courses have different color tees or have them in different orders anyways. One course the tips may be the blacks and another course they are blue. And their senior tees are green. Whatever. This is why a lot of newer modern tracks just do numbered tees. Play the tees that suit your handicap, but better yet suit your distances. If the senior tees were made for guys that are 60 years and older, I personally know a few players that age that are single-digit handicaps, and can hit their drives 250 – 260. So should they play the “senior” tees with players that are 75 and hit their best tee ball 200 yards? They can and should enjoy it. But they are capable of playing back as well. There’s no reason beginners should shy away from playing one of the forward sets of tees. If your average drive isn’t 270 yards, or your handicap is more than 9, why play the tips at 7300 yards? Play one up at 6600 and have a great time. This will also no doubt improve pace of play issues as well. 

Enjoy the game and each other,

Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Published by Craig Walton