How to improve your golf game? I’ve broken this down into different categories, and I don’t expect you to digest it all at once!
How to Practice More Effectively
1) Try to do something golf related every dayIn this article we talked about a player who took a 30-day challenge with a great training aid called the Orange Whip. Sometimes it’s better to do something for 5-10 minutes each day, rather than one long session per week. It will keep your game fresh, and prevent more rust from building up.
2) Play games
It’s been proven that the brain can’t learn unless you are challenging it with random tasks. Showing up to the range and hitting your driver for 20 minutes won’t do much to improve your golf game. This is exactly why practice games are so effective. They simulate real pressure that you will feel on the course and encourage you to practice like you play. We have a library of more than 20 drills available for our members.
3) Establish your feel first
Jack Nicklaus was a huge proponent of making sure he dialed in his feel on shorter shots before he moved into his full swings, and this is one of the greatest golf tips that has been making its way around for years. Establishing your feel on shots from 15-45 yards is a great way to warm up and get your swing in sync before you move on to your longer clubs. Try this in your next practice session, or before a round.
4) Figure out your impact location
One of our coaches, Adam Young, specializes in helping golfers figure out how to maximize their impact. When your club makes contact with the ball this is “the moment of truth,” and the ball gets its marching orders. Almost every golfer has no understanding of where they are making impact on their irons and woods, and it’s extremely important information. The next time you are on the range use a dry erase marker to figure out where you are making contact with your irons, or get a can of Dr. Scholls Odor X to see where your tendencies are with your driver and fairway woods.
5) Work on your tempo
The timing of your swing is massively important, and it’s why I wrote this feature article last year. Great golf is all about repetition, and the tempo of your golf swing is at the heart of it. Working with beats can be an extremely effective way for all golfers to find a rhythm that works for them, and allow them to repeat it from swing to swing. I consider this to be one of the most ignored golf tips in the whole industry.
6) Practice your putting…the right way
Strokes are waiting to come off your scores if you can spend more time on the practice green and become a more effective putter. Most golfers ignore this part of the game to their own detriment. The stats show that most golfers can improve by making more putts inside 10 feet, and eliminating three putts (read this article to find out why). There are two ways you can do this. The first is by working on your speed control, and the second is learning to square the putter face at impact.
7) Experiment with your swing
A round of golf will throw so many different scenarios at you. Your ball might be stuck behind a tree, on a steep sidehill lie, or catch an awkward lie in the rough. This is exactly why you need to make experimentation a part of every practice session. Try hitting low hooks with your 6-iron. Throw some balls in the deepest part of the rough around the practice green. Figuring out how to alter your technique in this process will prove invaluable during your rounds! Most golf tips don’t discuss what happens when things go wrong on the course, and all great golfers know how to deal with all kinds of adversity.
Improve Your Mental Game
8) Managing expectations
Part of becoming a happier and more successful golfer is all about managing your expectations. I recorded a conversation with Martin Hall about this (go here to find out more), and one of the main things he stressed is that golfers need to learn not to be so hard on themselves, be realistic with their abilities, and above all try to have fun on the course and laugh at their mistakes. Golf is just a game, and it should be fun before anything else! As far as golf tips go, this is one that is not discussed nearly enough.
Part of being a better golfer is becoming more comfortable on the golf course. If you watch most great players they have a very repeatable routine during their rounds. They walk at the same pace, do the same thing before every shot, and there’s a timing and rhythm to it all. No two players have to have the same routine, but try and find one that works for you.
10) Never give up!
Every round of golf is an opportunity to learn about your game. If things aren’t going your way, and you pack it in for the day by the 8th hole, a very bad habit might start to form (this article explains why). One of the best golf tips you can ever receive is to make a commitment that no matter what, you will try to remain positive during your round, and not let your previous shots affect your current one. This is one of the hardest thing to master, but it’s a stone-cold guarantee that you will improve as a golfer if you improve at this part of the mental game.
11) Have a process before your round
Our mental coach for Practical Golf Insider wrote this article for us about what you can do to properly get yourself ready before your round. If you have some time before your round, try to establish a process that gets your mind and body ready for your round. This gives you the best chance of success, and will reduce some of the nerves that affect every golfer early in their rounds.
12) Control your breathing
You might not know it, but golf can create so much stress that it triggers the “fight or flight” response in your body. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure increases, and your mind begins to race. These are all things that make it harder to focus and stay in the moment. Here is a simple breathing exercise you can do on the course to calm yourself down and relax yourself. Plenty of professional golfers do controlled breathing during their rounds because it actually works. Most golf tips don’t explore this part of the game, but it’s an essential tool to have on the course.
13) Stop making excuses
Every golfer has a story about why they shot the score they did. Often it includes placing the blame elsewhere. It could be the course, your clubs, the noise your partner made before you swung…the list goes on. Successful golfers generally don’t blame too many external factors for their play, they take responsibility for what occurred, and try to find out ways to fix it. The buck stops with you!
14) Work on your short game
It might seem weird that this appears in the section about the mental game, but improving your short game can significantly lower the stress a golfer feels during a round. If you don’t feel comfortable with your ability to hit wedge shots and putt effectively, it will put a lot more burden on your tee shots and approach shots. Having a great short game can be a shield that protects a golfer from all of the errant shots that occur in your long game. When you know you have the ability to recover, you will not get as angry at yourself for missing the green with your 6-iron. We have a ton of great videos on how to improve your short game from Brandon Stooksbury, and here is a sneak preview of one.
15) Set goals
The best way to focus your mind on your complete golf game is to establish specific, measurable goals. This is a great way to motivate yourself, track your progress, and stay focused on your path to becoming a better golfer. This was one of the best golf tips ever given to me by my high school coach.
Bring the right strategy on the course
Course management is an extremely important topic that is not discussed enough in the golf world. It’s exactly why I wrote my 30 page eBook (you can download it here for free). Here are some basics that all golfers should be thinking about
16) Stop aiming at the pin
That thing sticking out of the ground with the flag on it should not always be your target on your approach shots. In fact, I can’t think of a good reason for any golfer to be aiming at the pin unless you are playing at an extremely high level. The payoff is simply not there; read this article to find out why.
17) Playing smarter tee shots
Understanding when to be aggressive with the driver, or to choose a more conservative club choice based on the hole, is one of the best golf tips I can think of. This takes discipline, planning, and an honesty with your ability as a golfer. Keeping the ball in play off the tee is extremely important, and that can be accomplished through picking smart targets and clubs.
18) Just get on the green!
Reducing double bogeys is probably the best golf tip I could give to any golfer. One of the biggest mistakes that most recreational golfers make is getting too aggressive with shots around the green, and going for a low-percentage play like a flop shot. Sometimes bogeys are our friends, and the best strategy is just to get the ball onto the putting surface and make sure you are two-putting at worst. Be honest with the kinds of wedge shots you can pull off, and pick the shot that you know you can get on the green 9 times out of 10.
19) Be honest with yourself
One of the hardest things to do as a golfer is to be honest with your abilities. This leads to many mistakes on the course that lead to double and triple bogeys, or in other words, round killers. For example, if you have 155 yards to your target, and you know you will have to hit your 7-iron absolutely perfectly to reach that number, maybe it’s a better idea to take more club. The likelihood is that you won’t strike it purely, and it will come up short. And if you’re stuck in the trees, don’t try and thread it through that small opening either.
Of all the golf tips out there, this can easily eliminate serious strokes from your score.
20) Analyze Your Stats
One great feature of the advanced stat-tracking devices out there like GAME GOLF is that they can start to reveal tendencies in your game, and you can change your strategy on the course accordingly. Are you much more accurate with a 3-wood off the tee with your driver? Do you have a tendency to miss your approach shots to the left? Are you not taking enough club into greens? All of these questions can be answered quite easily if you start to track statistics. When the information is clearly presented to you, then you can go about making smarter decisions on the course.
Use the right training products
The golf world is jam-packed with tons of training aids and technology that make big promises. Unfortunately, most of them don’t deliver. I’ve tested a ton of products, and I believe the following ones can help all golfers. We have arranged special coupon codes from each of these vendors for members of Practical Golf Insider.
You can also check out our recommended products page for some other ideas as well.
21) Orange Whip
You may have seen this product in the bags of PGA Tour Players and various teaching pros. It seems to be everywhere because it works. The Orange Whip is one of the most versatile swing trainers out there because it can help you warm up, work on your tempo, and improve the balance of your swing. Swinging the whip just 5 minutes a day can do wonders for your swing. A lot of golf tips and training aids focus on the mechanics of the golf swing, and the beauty of this product is that it helps you feel a smooth, rhythmic golf swing.
22) DST Compressor
Impact has been described as “the moment of truth” by many great instructors. It’s because no matter what your swing looks like beforehand, if you can control what the club is doing when you make contact with the ball you can have a successful outcome. The DST Compressor is a unique swing trainer that helps golfers get into an optimal position, and has caught fire on the professional tours simply because it works.
23) The Pill
Almost every golfer has the ability to practice their putting at home, in the office, or at a practice facility near them. The Pill is a unique training aid that gives golfers immediate feedback on their stroke. It also can be used as a tool to improve your chipping. It can help a golfer of any level give more meaning to their practice sessions in a variety of environments.
24) GAME GOLF
If you want to really improve as a golfer, you need to understand where your weaknesses are. That’s extremely hard to do if you are not keeping track of your stats. GAME GOLF is a comprehensive shot-tracking system that uses GPS technology to show golfers where they stack up, and what they can do to reach their goals. It can be a very powerful tool in your quest to achieve your goals as a golfer.
25) TIBA Putt
The two-tee putting drill is a favorite amongst touring pros, particularly Tiger Woods. It helps a golfer figure out if they are squaring the putter face at impact, which is crucial to having more success on the greens. TIBA Putt was invented to help golfers easily perform this drill, and to track if the putter is staying square before and after impact as well. This is a great tool to use at home or on the practice green if you are looking to make more putts inside of 10 feet, and three putt less.
Stop listening to the myths
If you go to any driving range right now you’ll hear all kinds of golf tips being discussed about the technical elements of the swing. Most of them are simply not true.
26) Keep your head down
This is the most common golf tip given out, and the mistake that everyone refers to when they hit an errant shot. Whether or not you keep your head down during your golf swing is not the reason you succeeded or failed. David Duval had a pretty good career, and look where his head is at impact.
27) You need to take a divot
Most of us watch the professional game and see golfers like Sergio Garcia digging small canyons out of the ground with their irons. People think divots are responsible for more spin, crisper iron shots, and many other results that simply aren’t true. I explored why in this article, but you can play successful golf without taking massive divots. In fact for some golfers trying to dig into the turf more can actually harm their game. The most important thing is to strike the ball first, and then make contact with the ground afterwards. Whether or not that results in a divot is not absolutely crucial to hit a successful golf shot.
28) One swing system works
There are many instructors out there that only teach one version of the golf swing, and will claim it is the only true way to play golf properly. While this “swing” might work for some golfers, it is simply not true that it will work for everyone. Golfers come in all shapes, sizes, and physical abilities. Find a version of the swing that works for you and your natural capabilities. Trying to fit yourself into someone else’s version of the golf swing will do more harm than good. This is one of those golf tips that you can take to the bank!
29) The swing is the main vehicle to lower scores
The golf world is obsessed with the swing, and for good reason. The quality of your golf swing is an extremely important factor in improving as a golfer. Just don’t think it’s the only thing! Practical Golf was founded for this reason. Playing great golf, and improving, is a complete package. The swing is part of that package, and this article hopefully shows you that there is much more.
Understand golf equipment
There are so many myths amongst golfers on what equipment can and can’t do for their games. Becoming a more educated consumer will help you spend your money wisely and can improve your game.
30) Get Fitted
There is no question that you are making golf harder for yourself by playing equipment that is not correct for your game. There are no standards in the golf industry. Shafts are different, lie angles are different, and there are many other critical elements of clubs that can effect your performance on the course. Working with a knowledgeable club fitter can absolutely improve your scores by making your bad shots not as bad, and your good shots just a little bit better. If you just go to the store and pick a club based on marketing claims of manufacturers then you are not giving yourself the best chance to succeed.
31) Understand wedge bounce, and how to use it
Wedges have come a long way, and there are many options available to golfers. In this article we explain what exactly bounce is, and how you can use it properly in different situations. The short game is extremely important to improving your scores, and knowing a few basics about how wedges actually work can make all the difference.
32) Longer isn’t always better
One of the the trends in the golf industry has been to introduce longer shafts on drivers because golfers are demanding more distance. Stock driver shafts can be as long as 46″ now, and for most golfers that does increase their swing speed, but something else happens…it’s much harder for them to make proper contact on the face, which is crucial to hitting longer and more accurate drives. This article discusses some results we had with shorter shafts, and how some club fitters in the industry believe that going with a shorter shaft will not only help your accuracy, but might actually help you hit the ball farther.
33) Lie angle
If you have no idea what the lie angle is on your irons, and if they were not properly adjusted, then you need to give this a read. If you have clubs that are too upright, or too flat for you then your ability to hit accurate iron shots will be greatly diminished. This is possibly the most important golf tips for your equipment!
34) Driver shafts and lofts…they are ALL DIFFERENT
Most golfers assume that based on their swing speed they should get X loft driver with X shaft. This is wrong for many reasons. First off, there are no standards in the golf industry for shafts. One manufacturer’s stiff flex could be the equivalent of another “regular” flex. Additionally, most golfers assume that in order to hit the ball farther you need a lower loft on your driver. Completely untrue! Many players actually need more loft in order to hit the ball farther (it could be as high as 11 or 12 degrees).