Instruction shot by shot:
Whether you’re playing in a company golf day or 18 holes at a top golf resort, you need to have a check list, and to be prepared beforehand.
Clean your clubs, make sure all the dirt is cleaned out of the grooves on the face of your clubs, they are there for controlling the spin. Clean the grips with warm soap and water to remove any grease, and select the clubs you need – remember, you are only permitted 14 in your bag when playing. Place them all in the bag in the correct order.
Check the balls: We play with Titleist Pro-V1s; you will have your preference. I like the number 3 on the ball. Make sure you personalize your ball with a clearly identifiable mark so that you never have a problem in identifying it.
Make sure you have tee pegs in a selection of sizes, and then you will also need a pitch repairer, ball marker, pencil to mark your score card, towel to clean your clubs and the ball. If you use an electric-powered golf trolley ensure the batteries are charged.
Most clubs follow a strict dress code, so make sure you know what the requirements are, check that your clothes are ready, shoes are clean (most clubs no longer permit steel spikes, so make sure you have rubber grips in good condition), and that you have comfortable soft woollen socks. Make you have the correct size glove, and if there is a chance of rain then take a wet weather glove and umbrella too. A golf cap and sun cream may be required if the sun is shining.
Take along an energy drink or bottled water, and fruit like bananas.
Check the car has fuel and you have directions to the course, and know what your tee time is. Plan to arrive at the course in plenty of time. Double check your tee time and who your playing partners are.
Purchase a course planner; note in your mind any special hazards; be aware of wind strength and direction. Pay your green fees; check your recorded handicap is correct, be sure you know the competition rules and understand which format you are playing, stable-ford, match play, best ball, stroke play.
Study the course score card so you know the degree of difficultly as per the index for each hole. Plan your strategies. Check if there are any local rules related to markers, out of bounds, ground under repair, or any special requirements.
They may agree that to speed play up they are going to use buggies, in which case you need to know where you are allow to drive that buggy – certainly not close to the greens. (You may be required to stick to the cart path)
If the course is very wet then the rule of pick and clean on the fairways may apply. When the ball lands on soft wet ground and plugs or has mud on it, this rules permits you to mark your ball’s position (usually with a tee), then pick it up, clean it and replace it back on the fairway. If this rule is in force, take the opportunity to place the ball sitting up and with the logo point directly to your target area.
Now, being prepared for your round, have a cup of coffee and a bacon roll, sit back in the club house and relax for 20 minutes.
If you still have plenty of time, go to the range and play three balls with each club. Do not swing hard – the objective is to make sure your timing and balance are comfortable. Start with your wedge through to driver, then spend some time putting. Have a few long putts to feel the speed of the greens, then place ten balls all round the hole to ensure a variety of slopes, downhill and uphill, and finish with a few easy putts to see the ball dropping in the hole, which will give you confidence.
Now you are ready to win. The most important thing to remember is if you are playing with a single handicap player, Do not try to play to his level, play your own game. You have the advantage of the handicap and if you play to your handicap you will have a very good chance of winning.
OK, now you need the right mind set, which is quietly confident, fully focused, and with no negative thoughts.
Golfers with a strong mental game realize that the present is all that they can control. (Forget your bad shot as soon as it is over and focus on making the next shot a good one.)
Learn to play in the present without dwelling on the bad shots. Realize the power of just being in the moment with the full intention and expectation to play a good shot. Once a good player has gone through his pre-shot routine, he addresses the ball and concentrates for just 10 seconds, once he starts the back-swing he switches to his natural swing, the one he uses every time for that shot. Good golfers play on instinct and trust their subconscious or muscle memories to make it happen for them.
Learning to play in the present on instinct requires time and effort. That is why experience is such a priceless commodity. Because when all else fails, the truth emerges from one’s experiences if you are honest with yourself. By training your mind to play in the present, you can shorten the time required to experience the power of being free to play on instinct and in the zone. Unfortunately, many golfers never learn to stop dwelling on their past and future outcomes.
The trick to being in the present is to allow yourself to learn from the feedback each shot provides without your ego being involved in the outcome. By being honest about your present mechanical, strategic, physical and mental limitations, you will increase your awareness of what you can do to improve your present abilities. Then it becomes a question of how strong your desire is to make the necessary changes or adjustments to improve.
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It time to go to the tee. (Now again in some competitions that may not always be the first tee (No 1) when there a lot of players, it is not unusual to start some groups on tee (No1) and other groups on tee (No10). In some cases it may even be a shotgun start, in which case you are allocated a particular tee, and you need to be on that tee, for example tee No14, well before the shotgun, or siren, signals the start of the competition.
OK I know that most golfers know all these rules, but we do have a high percentage of members who are just learning the game.
Well this is it. You are on the tee. The starter may even announce you.
“Mr David Jones playing for the Celtic Manor team.”
Stay cool and breathe deeply. You should have studied the course map; try to memorize all the hazards, there will be common features on most course. Off the tee the hazards will be set at average driving distance of 230-240 yards; it could be water or fairway bunkers. Make a note you may decide to take a three wood off the tee and lay up short of the hazard, or you may be confident your drive can carry the hazard. Play safe, if you can play tee to fairway, fairway to green and you will shoot a lower score.
Study each hole in turn; know the distance of each par three. All par three holes have guarding hazards, know where they are. On par five holes off the tee you need a long drive, but your first consideration is to select the target area within your range that will afford you the best second shot to the green.
Your pre-shot routine
It should be practised until it is second nature.
Determine your optimum target area, and the correct distance from the tee. Taking into account all these factors
Hazards: Water, bunkers, trees, heavy rough, out of bounds.
Wind direction from behind, wind against, swirling.
Is the fairway narrow or wide?
Now select the correct club, you should know the distance with your three wood, on average 200 yards, driver 220-230 yards depending on the wind and ball selection.
Now select precisely where to place your tee, it needs to be positioned to give you a direct line to your target.
Your tee must be the correct height, so the ball is level with the sweet spot on your club. Step back behind the ball line it up with the target, the logo on the ball can be adjusted like a rifle sight to point to the target, check the target line. Maybe select an old divot a short distance ahead which is in line with your target, aim to hit the ball over this marker. Take a relaxed practice swing.
Step up to the ball. Arms and club stretched out in front of you, slowly bend forward from the hips until the club touches the ground behind the ball. Make your stance the width of your shoulders. Feet aligned slightly left of the target, check your grip, do not grip the club too tight (the pressure should be the same as squeezing a tube of toothpaste). You are now ready to take the shot. Take one last look at the target, a deep breath, relax, no tension in the arms, just think rhythm and timing, keep your eyes fixed on the ball. Do not freeze over the ball, waggle the club, push back low and smooth with the left arm, your upper body starting to turn. Do not sway back, only the upper body turning (Set it loose, Mother Goose!)
That is your tempo. Pull down with the left arm in control, keep your head down, eyes fixed on the ball. Hit right through the ball, the club staying low and in line with the target.
Your mind and body synchronize, maintaining balance, timing, rhythm, tempo, and a smooth transfer of weight from right to left, hit through the ball, with a perfect follow though; you kept your head down your eyes fixed on the ball until you have seen the impact.
The result: a perfect drive, 250 yards down centre of the fairway.
Now course management comes into play, you need to consider your second shot.
When you are 230 yards from the hole, your mind tells you to pick out the 5 iron or less without any thought of conditions or hazards. The good golfer plays the sensible shot to sit short of the hazard and leave an easy approach to the green (if necessary). The good golfer knows which club to use and statistically wastes less shots, produces lower scores and enjoys the golf much more.
When a good player selects a 6 iron, they say to themselves “I love hitting 6 iron shots”. (Positive mind-set.)
As you make you way to your ball there is time to relax, listen to the birds, stroll along happily. Only when you reach the ball is time to re-focus. (Remember course etiquette, you check who should play first, the player who has the most distance to the green players first, do not stand in front or in their line of sight. Do not move about or talk as they prepare to take their shot)
You now decide that 230 yards with bunkers guarding the green is a risky shot. So you are going to land the ball in the centre of the fairway 80 yards from the flag, which is 150 yards, you know from practice and previous games that you always hit 150 yards with your six iron.
Step back behind your ball, visualize the shot, both direction and trajectory. (You really can see the flight path of that ball in your mind’s eye.)
Go though your pre-shot routine, take a practice swing, step back and check your line to the target, take your stance, now really make sure of your alignment, first your feet, then the alignment of your club face. (This is a very common fault) It is difficult because of the different angles on the club. So make sure the club face is directly in line with your target, the ball is just inch back of centre in your stance.
Do not forget to allow for cross winds; also make adjustments for the lie of the ball, e.g.. slopes, rough grass,
Now make your normal full swing. No matter what the distance is, your swing tempo remains the same every time, the club selection will control the loft and distance.
To stay consistent, as we have said many times, you need a natural swing that you can repeat every time. Do not get tense, do not let the strong right arm take control – you need a smooth swing pull down with the left arm, do not un-cock your wrists until they are below your belt, and hit through the ball.
An important indication of how well you are swinging is your divot, first it should not start before you reach the ball. (If you are hitting the ground before the ball the you will first lose distance second never be consistent.)
Your divot should be (on soft ground) the size of a bank note and start just under the ball, extent in line with your target.
Do not swing hard, use only 80% of your power. The main elements of your swing must be timing, balance, tempo, and rhythm.
The number one problem with all high handicap players is that they look up on the downswing, being keen to see where the ball is going. But if you look up it is guaranteed that the ball will not go to your selected target. Because if you look up before the ball has gone your right shoulder will dip and that changes the plane of your swing. BANG! You hit the ground before the ball.
Now you know the things you are not going to do.
What you are going to do:
One last look at your target area, then play:
You are going play straight to your target, with your club-head approaching the ball on a level to slightly upward path. Trust the loft of the club to help launch the ball on the on the correct flight path and with the optimum amount of backspin.
Your club needs to return to point of impact in line with your target and level with the ground. That’s the angle of approach you must attain with your driver off the tee. If you swing down with too steeply, making contact with a descending blow, you will send the ball sky high and get no distance, and if you hit the ball too much on the upswing, chances are you will top the shot. Stay level through the swing.
We assume you did all that and your ball has gone 150 yards and landed on the short grass of the fairway.
What has this done for your game? You are happy – no searching for your ball in the rough, it is sitting there waiting for you to play the next shot. Yes it would have been nice to be on the green, but not so much fun if you had ended up in the bunkers or in the trees. You are playing safe percentage golf.
80 yards to the green: Pitching wedge,
Club face square – shoulders square
Feet & Hips open (Aiming left just a little to create a more rounded swing)
THE SHORTER THE SHOT:
The narrower the stance
The more ‘open’ the feet & hips aim
The more the weight favours your front foot
The more the shaft leans forward
The more the ball moves back in your stance
The lower down the grip you hold the club
For a slightly longer shot:
The wider the stance
The less ‘open’ the feet & hips aim
The more the weight ratio becomes even
The less the shaft leans forward
The more centrally the ball is positioned
The higher up the grip you hold the club.
Pre-shot routine: This time you need to consider the contours of the green, your target may not be the flag, it could be to land behind the flag and allow for it to spin back, or for it to roll back down a slope.
However always remember that an uphill putt is much easier than downhill putt, so given the choice, select a target area that will give you the best opportunity to 1-putt and save your par.
Then taking all of the aforementioned into account: Play your shot.
Consistent golf: Requires you to train your muscle memory to remember the good shots.
On a full swing you can trust your club and distance. With your short game you need to develop feel and touch around the greens. With a pitch shot one way to do this is adjusting your swing in accordance to the face.
With this 80 yard shot we suggest you take your club back to 10 o’clock and swing through to 2 o’clock
This way you will soon develop the touch needed to land the ball next to the flag and on the odd occasion chip it in.
If your shot has gone long, it will have gone off the back of the green.
*Few ways you could play this shot, the percentage shot is bump and run:
If you have plenty of green to work with – for example 18 paces from the flag to the edge of the green, and 12 paces of rough – then use your eight iron
Use more loft to clear the extra rough grass
Again visualization in your mind’ s eye – you can clearly see the line to the target, your read tells you the green is sloping from right to left, so you need to play 6” right of the cup. At just the right weight and speed, too much speed will take the break out, the ball will not turn; will go straight past the cup.
Take the club back in line with the target, eyes fixed on the ball, do not look up, hit if any thing hit down a little on the ball in line with the target, which for this shot is 12 paces on to the green, the ball will land and roll up gently into the hole.
OK, maybe it is just short, leaving you a tap-in putt. Do not rush that tap-in putt or it may easily miss or lip out. Take your time, mark your ball, pick it up and clean it. (When it is your turn to putt then place the ball back on the green, logo in line with the hole. Then stand back a little, take a gentle practice swing, tick tock. Take your correct stance and putt with confidence. Even with a short putt you need that ball to roll into the hole. Do not try a push shot.)
OK so it was 1-over on your first hole. That’s fine because if you have a handicap over 18 you are on the card playing par golf or better.
Not now but later when you analyse your game, you will know that it was the 80 yard approach shot that you need to practice.
This is a lot to read and take in, however our philosophy is to create the sensation and visualization that we are on the course and we are giving you instruction shot by shot.
We are now in direct contact with many of our members, we reply to all their questions, and create a one on one coaching course designed to correct every element of their game that is costing them shots.
Please do not hesitate to contact us your coach will do their level best to improve your game. We have many members. Who have spent thousands – even tens of thousands –of dollars on the newest and sexiest golf theories, to find their games get WORSE.
When we include a tip that is not text book- not proven in competition we always say you can try on the range? it may work for you but DO NOT introduce it into your game until you a confident it really does work for you.
We teach conventional methods that that will improve your game, providing: You follow the instructions and develop the correct mind set. Spend hours practising.
You need to read the lessons analyse your game, focus on the elements that are costing you shots.
You can prove some thing we continual say: Putting and short game are the key to low scores.
Go out on a practice round; you are going to do four things. First 9 you are going to play with course management and safe play in mind, you are going to mark your card, with the number of stokes you take from tee to green, and the number of putts. For example First hole a par 4 on the green in 2 and then you 3 putt mark the card 2/3 =5
On the second 9 play attacking golf: Go for every shot, and mark your card the same way from tee to green, and number of putts on each green.
Then you can really analyse you game – it will tell you which style of play fits your game, will tell you the elements of your game you need to focus on / practice.
Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.
Good golf is when, what you think is what you do, and you do it in harmony with your body. Harmony=Tempo-Timing- Rhythm-Balance
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