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A lot of you may be struggling with your golf game. Maybe you’ve had several bad rounds, not scoring the way that you’re accustomed to, thinking “what’s wrong with me?” Golf has its ups and downs with inevitable slumps. Here are my 10 rules to get you out of that slump.
Rule One is identifying your “growth opportunities.” Simply look at your whole game critically and find your weak spots. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Find yours. Go to work specifically on what is really causing your trouble. Driving? Short game? Nerves? You won’t lose your strengths. But turn those problem areas into new strengths.
Rule Two is practice your putting from the 5- to 9-foot range. If you can make nearly all of those putts in that zone your score will be fine, and other troubles will seem to evaporate.
Next, for Rule Three, consider updating your equipment. Are you handicapping yourself by not playing with the latest and best golf clubs? If you are using clubs over five years old then you’re behind the curve, because things have changed. I see the pace of change yearly at the PGA Golf Show.
My Rule Four is practicing on the golf course. It will allow you to focus and build your confidence more than a bucket of range balls. A good idea to get out of a scoring funk is to make a change in your pre-swing routine (without making it longer) in a practice round.
Along with that advice (Rule Five) is playing an individual two- or three-ball scramble. In other words, hit two or three shots from the same place and note which one is the best. If it’s pretty good, then you have the shot. If none of the three are any good, you don’t have the shot, and you need a different one. Maybe take a different club and practice from that distance more.
Rule Six came from a baseball playing friend who reminded me that when ball clubs return to spring training they always go “back to basics.” Our basics include grip, stance, posture, ball position, tempo, alignment and balance. Basics also include ball flight, trajectory, contact and acceleration. Check that you’re repeating a good swing and then look at the basics of chipping and pitching, bunker shots and lag putting. Pay close attention to the fundamentals.
Returning to technology, my Rule Seven for getting your game back to where you want it is taking advantage of the latest measurement devices. Gone are the days where you need to find a sprinkler head to locate the middle of the green. GPS devices and laser rangefinders are quite affordable these days, so use them.
It’s been my observation over many years that when folks struggle with their game they frequently are making bad decisions on the golf course. Each shot or putt involves a decision, even if it’s just where to aim. Good course management (Rule Eight) is about both eliminating errors and making brilliant plays. If you are hitting shots that continually put you in places you don’t want to be, check your course planning and visualizing. Chances you’re not playing for position, and it’s costing you strokes. Picking the correct club for the shot – a decision – is critical.
Rule Nine concerns getting longer off the tee, especially for golfers over 60. If you want to play better you very often have to hit it farther than you’re hitting it right now. Twenty yards more off the tee is golf’s Holy Grail for middle-aged and older players. If you think you are swinging hard but lacking distance, check for the dozen possible “power leaks” in your swing.
My Rule Ten – and you knew this was coming – is taking a few lessons. Have a teaching pro look at your swing, and your chipping and putting, to give you some feedback. You’ll get two or three keys you can work on and tighten up your swing and improve your scoring. Teaching legend Butch Harmon says “feel and real are never the same thing,” meaning, what you think you’re doing with your swing and what you’re actually doing are a lot different.