Common Mistakes and the High Handicapper
1. Not Warming up Before a Round
On golf day your round should not start at the number one tee, get to the golf course as least a half hour before your tee time, 45 minutes if you like to chat. This will give you plenty of time to warm up and also give you time to calm down. Because we all still get excited about playing golf the adrenaline kicks in and the gut churns making it hard to keep things smooth. A proper warm up will make a big difference on that first drive if you are not in a rush to get things started.
Always start with a small bag of range balls before your start time to help stretch out the body and smooth out the mind.
At the Practice Green
First send some time at the practice green with your putter, this will give you an idea of the speed of the greens on the golf course. If your playing partners skip the putting warm you will have the advantage for the first few holes at the least. Before heading to the driving range, make some green side chip shots to help loosen up and get a feel for you shot game.
At the Driving Range
Remember to keep a smooth pace as you make your way to the driving range. Don’t start with the driver, get your pitching wedge instead. Hit eight or ten balls starting with a 3/4 swing and working your way up to a full swing. After you have hit a couple of clean full shots with the PW, move to a mid-iron, say 7 iron. Hit a number of full clean shots with a high finish. Keep in mind to not get in to a rush, keep in mind to keep it smooth.
Next up the hybrid, please have hybrids. Hybrids are used for different types of shots including from the fairway and from the tee. Hit from the turf on a few shots and if you use a hybrid on any par 3 holes tee up a couple. Now take a few shots with a fairway wood always having a target to shoot at. Tee up a 3 or 4 range rocks with the 3 wood and two with the driver. Finish off by hitting your last few balls with the one club that you always hit the best. This will help give you confidence before making your way to the #1 tee box.
Have Fun Playing Golf
Spending this short time warming up will help get your body ready for golf and more importantly, it will get your mind ready for golf. Now when you step up on the first tee your buddies will be dealing with butterflies and you will be smooth and put your drive right down the middle of the short grass.
-The Golf Ball Guy
2. Swinging the Club to Hard
The last thing we want to hear is do not swing so hard, but it may be killing you game. Once I read an article where Chi Chi Rodriguez said something to likes of “Golf is a game of long and straight, with straight being the most important.” That statement has stayed with me over the years and to this day keeps me from trying to out drive the others in my group.
Bad Things Can Happen
We all want more distance and it can be almost imposable to stand on the tee box with the big stick in hand and not give our all. Bad things can happen when step up and swing as hard as you can, your ball will end up in the piney woods more often than not. Worse than that your buddy tees up, takes a smooth swing sending his ball down the middle.
Don’t Crank It Out There
When you try to crank it out there, you will tend to tighten up on the grip not allowing the clubface to square up at impact, sending the ball way off of the target line. As the grip tightens up so does the lower body keeping the hips and legs from shifting as the club is swung causing a huge loss of the distance.
Test yourself, the next time you are at the driving range hit four balls with the driver using a smooth slower stroke and take note of the ball flight. Afterwards hit four more with your hardest swing ever and compare the results.
Keep this in mind three strokes to get out the wilderness will do far more damage to your score than two strokes to the green.
3. Spending too Much Time over the Ball
Don’t you just it hate when you duff the first drive of the round? Just as bad is when you hit your approach shot fat after make the drive of your life.
Don’t Just Stand There
So many times high handicappers will stand over the ball far too long, allowing numerous swing thoughts enter their mind making it impossible for them to make clean golf stroke. The more time swing cues spend going through a golfer’s mind will tend to increase tension. Tension, particularly in the arms and shoulders, when at address can ruin the golf swing before it gets started.
Take Control of the Tension
Often times when a golfers rest the clubhead on the ground for a length of time, they freeze over the ball, which allows muscle tension to creep in. One simple way to keep loose while over the ball is to keep a little movement going with the clubhead just off the ground. Many professional golfers use the waggle to keep the tension at bay, give it a try the next time you feel things getting tight.
Learn from Better Players
Take a moment to watch better players and note that most of them will spend more time standing behind the ball visualizing the shot the than they do at address. If you take a moment, stand behind the ball finding a target line, and picture the ball in flight to that target this will help keep you clam before addressing the ball.
At the Driving Range
The next time you are at the driving range tee up a ball and stand behind it. Find yourself a target to aim at then address the ball and hit it with little hesitation. Make sure swing with a smooth tempo and them repeat this with four or five golf balls. Make some notes on each shot and compare the results to the first drive of your last round of golf. Many high handicappers will quickly see a notable difference in the contact they make with the ball.
Golf is mental so don’t psych yourself out by standing over the golf ball for too long. Like John Daly says, “Grip it and Rip it.”
Not Taking Enough Club
We all hate that feeling when we make our approach shot and flies nicely toward the green only to end up 10 yards shot.
One of the best ways to make a significant improvement in your game is to know how far you hit each club in your bag. Unfortunately using the rocks at your local driving range to find distance is a fruitless endeavor unless you are a tour pro using the same ball on the range as you do on the course.
The most accurate way, that I have found, to get distance for each club is on the golf course, using the same golf ball with every shot. Golf ball models have varying characteristics so using a different model of golf ball from round to round or hole to hole will make getting the numbers right somewhat difficult.
Dial in on your real yardage by simply hit your approach shot from the fairway and mark the results in a note pad. Use a GPS smartphone app, a GPS golf watch, or the yardage markers on the golf course to find the distance to the center of the green. Take the club you feel is right for the shot, make your swing, and note the findings in your notepad. Carry the note pad with you on every round keeping it up to date as play and your club selection will be more reliable, making golf more fun.
#5 Chipping from the Green Side Fringe
There are many different greenside shot types that depending on the lie, the distances to the hole, the height of the fringe, etcetera. Finding the proper club is the key to avoiding costly mistakes like blading the ball past the hole or landing short with no roll.
Think, “Keep it low”
When choosing a club to use from the greenside fringes do not make the mistake of trying a high lofted wedge. Rather, think about keeping the ball as low as possible. Start with the least lofted club in the bag the putter. Any time you can keep the ball on the ground, you have better control and much less chance of hitting a bad shot off of the back of the green. Jack Nicklaus has always used his putter from greenside when possible and Martin Kaymer used his putter from off of the green in his 2014 U.S. Open win at Pinehurst.
When the Fringe is High
Many golf courses keep the fringe high around the greens requiring the shot to go over rather than through the grass. The bump and run shot will get you over the obstacle and roll toward the hole with a minimum of air time. Club selection is critical so keep the loft low, try a 7 or 8 iron for the safest shot.
Like it’s a Putter
When hitting the bump and run grip the club, address the ball as if you are putting and keep the stroke compact. The ball will “bump” over the fringe and “run” to the hole. Learn this easy shot and you will never blade the ball past the hole again.
Before Each Round
At the practice green before your round of golf , hit a few of these different shots and you save strokes each and every time.
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