Golfers of all levels are always on the lookout for ways to get better. However, it’s important not to overcomplicate what is already a complicated game. That’s why Katie Dawkins has put together five quick and simple tips that won’t send you down a technical rabbit hole in pursuit of lower scores…
1. Conquer the first tee shot
Finding those first tee nerves are getting your knees a knocking? Firstly, I hate to say it, but not many people apart from you and possibly your playing partner care where your ball goes. They’re all worrying about their own golf. So chill. Putting our attention on something that isn’t the result of the shot will help.
Focus on making contact with what’s under the ball not where the ball is going. Click the tee and finish the swing and that white dimply thing will soon just be getting in the way. Practice this in the garden at home, either on dewy grass or by literally knocking tees out of the ground and holding your finish.
2. Nail your pre-shot routine
We’ve all hit those shots where we say out loud, “I wasn’t thinking about golf at all there”. There shouldn’t be any confusion as to where your focus is over every ball. It should be on the shot in hand. Not what you’re having for tea. Have a defined area you visualise and rehearse your shot and a different ‘zone’ where all you do is send that ball at your target. So a ‘prepare’ and a ‘play’ zone. Find an anchor that will trigger the start and finish of your routine, so you can switch your focus on and off during the round.
Do pick the club, visualise the shot and do a a practice swing in the ‘think’ zone. This is your chance to rehearse your swing. Without a practice swing it’s literally hit or miss as to whether you make a convincing attempt at the shot in hand. In fact, a really confident practice swing with a brush of the grass is key to you really believing you are going to hit a good shot. So, add this into your routine. Then and only then walk over the line into the ‘play’ zone and get the job done.
By defining these two areas within your pre-shot routine you won’t have any fuzzy moments over the ball, or half-hearted practice swings that lead to a shrivelled follow-through. You won’t be told off for slow play or be wasting good swings. Just reinforcing positive feelings and self belief. Practise your pre-shot routine and you’ll soon feel far more prepared and able to hit great shots consistently.
3. Practise actually playing the game
Play some of your golf without a scorecard and even on your own. You don’t have to play competitive golf every time you go out there. In fact, a break will do you good. Allow yourself to practice on the course and play from awkward and challenging lies. Throw an extra ball into play. By experimenting and pushing your comfort zone out on the actual golf course, you’ll start to see what you are really capable of.
Why do we expect to pull off that tough shot from under those low branches? Have we ever practised this? Get creative and if you can find a practice pal to play a handful of holes with, even better. Competitive practice whether on your own or with another golfer sees results fast. So get cracking and write yourself a mini-action plan. Winter is perfect to get out in the afternoons or early morning and get better faster. There’s nothing quite like learning on the job.
4. Play to your personal par
Don’t feel that just because the tee markers say it’s a par-4, you have to bust the ball as far as you can to get there in two. Especially if it’s the third-hardest hole and your handicap is 21. Your personal par is in fact six on this hole, so relax and smoothly sweep the ball down the fairway. This is why par doesn’t matter and how it could be ruining your game.
You don’t need to be on the green until you’ve taken four shots to set up a two-putt. This will massively take the pressure off having to force that 3-wood off the fairway. Instead, opt for your favourite club and send a couple of these up there. You’ll be bagging three points before you know it.
5. Mix it up
Trust me this will be a huge confidence booster. Yes some men hit the ball a mile but you have the edge in consistency and you’ll also laugh most of the way round. Playing mixed golf is so refreshing and fairly straightforward.
If your game is feeling a bit stagnant and you feel like literally mixing it up a bit, speak to the pro shop and ask if they find you a game with some men. It’s a different vibe playing with the guys and personally I play most of my golf with them. It fires up that competitiveness like nothing else. At Hamptworth where I’m based, there are no sections, so the ladies play with the men all the time and it makes for a really great feel to the place.
Just a handful of ideas to shave some shots off your scores and most importantly enhance your enjoyment of a game that can have its frustrating moments. So often having a playing lesson will highlight some quick tips that can make fast changes within your game. A new and shiny golf game may be closer than you think. Good luck!
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