What can I do to improve my golf game?

I’m not as interested in which videos should I buy, which gadget - although if you have a raving personal testimonial I’d love to hear it.

I know practice, practice, practice (I try to play 9 at least one/week - and hit the driving range when I can).

I may some day take lessons, or perhaps not: a buddy of mine, a scratch golfer, has never taken a lesson - and lessons are damned expensive.

What I’m after is: What kind of drills help me learn what I need to practice? What kinds of exercises help develop the right muscles, or the needed flexibility?

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any advice at all would be appreciated.

Assuming you are a right hander: (and assuming your grip and alignment are taken care of)

  1. be mindful of your swing plane (when you get off plane it causes resistance to the swing)

  2. take the club back around a firm feeling right leg, swing against a firm left leg

  3. don’t hit the ball, swing through the space occupied the ball as if you were taking a practice swing. ( I’ve seen guys take beautiful practice swings, then step up to the ball and try to hit it with a god-awful hack)

  4. try to see the spot uncovered by the ball for a split second, this will keep your head in position through the impact

  5. eventually get used to feeling your right wrist roll over, like you are hitting a baseball

these five things helped my game immensely.

Number 4 also works for putting. A drill is to set your ball on a dime and try to see the dime after your stroke. I was doing this drill one day and sank three consecutive forty-foot putts.

Great advice - In addition:

  1. See your ball at the location you want to put it. Visualize the hit perfectly going to the place you want it to go.

  2. Size up and give two practice swings. (I practice swing quickly, then immediately line up the ball and hit it - in a very fluid drive)

Don’t forget repetition it the mother of study. :slight_smile:

One of the problems with playing golf well is that you can’t really see your own swing.

Look around for a deal on an introductory lesson that includes them taking a video of you. It will help enormously in letting you know what you need to work on.

Failing that, ask your scratch golfer friend to watch you. He may not have taken a lesson, but someone helped him.

This one tip has improved my golf game dramatically. Of course that just meant going from a hack to being able to golf 18 without losing a ball.
Just the one tip of “watch the ball get hit by the club” did it for me.

If your already beyond “hack” status the only other tip I can provide is to start lifting weights. You’d be amazed at how much more control you have over your swing when you have a few muscles to do it with. And steering that little white ball by controlling your club is what it’s all about.

I have played golf for about twelve years now. For the last ten of those years, I shot consistently in the mid-90s.

This year, I bit the bullet and took some lessons at the local publinks. I paid about $150 for five 30-minute lessons. (I realize that lessons at lots of clubs will run a lot more, but if you look around, I’m sure you can find more reasonable places. Most golfers don’t need David Leadbetter to be their coach in order to improve.)

The last four rounds I have scored in the mid-80s. Ten years of frustration with the same scores, and after just a few weekends of professional advice, I dropped ten strokes in no time. My only regret is that I didn’t take more lessons years earlier.

My advice? Forego a couple of your weekly nines and get the lessons. The golf pro fixed things with my swing that I was 100% sure that I was doing right.

Since you’re looking for advice rather than facts, I’ll move this thread to the IMHO forum.

bibliophage
moderator GQ

The best advice that I got from Golf for Dummies was to line up your shot with an object (blade of grass, leaf, weed etc) a few feet from the ball and try to hit the ball over it instead of where you really want the ball to go. IIRC, that’s the strategy that Jack uses.

All of these are great! Thank you very much…

Hampshire: If your already beyond “hack” status the only other tip I can provide is to start lifting weights. You’d be amazed at how much more control you have over your swing when you have a few muscles to do it with.

I wouldn’t say I’m past “hack” - I consistently score in 50s on nine (long ways to go) But to the point: which muscle group(s) are most important for strength? I suspect (for example) triceps are more important that biceps.

Ravenman: My advice? Forego a couple of your weekly nines and get the lessons. The golf pro fixed things with my swing that I was 100% sure that I was doing right.

You sold me. Sounds like it’ll be money well spent.

BTW: I’ve been asking around and here’re a couple of drills offered to me:

(*) Grip a dish towel as you would a club except one hand at each end of the towel (imagine a very long handlegrip) Do a regular backswing. On the downswing concentrate on pulling with the lift (I’m right-handed) as the right goes along for the ride. At the “point of impact” let go with the left and “push” with the right, trying to get the dish towel to go as far a possible.

(*) At the driving range, start the bucket of balls with the pitching wedge. Hit a few then use the 9, then the 8, and so on to the least lofted iron, then to the woods from 5 to 3, then to driver. The idea is the shorter, higher lofted clubs are easier to hit (hands closer to the ball, swing plane more vertical). As you progress to each bigger club, you adjust gradually, and thus reinforce better muscle memory when you finally get all the way up to the driver.


I missed this week’s usual 9 with the guys (my brother from Ottawa showed up unexpectedly) and work’s been too busy to hit the range.

I’ll try these tips and report back…

www.thegolfchannel.com may be helpful.

Two other tips I should have mentioned: Many folks point out that if you bogey every hole on the course, you can break 90. The big difference between a bogey and a double or triple bogey is usually getting into trouble: golf is a lot easier from the fairway.

So, try managing the course more conservatively. Until you hit at least 60 percent of fairways with your driver, leave it at home and play a 3 or 5 wood off the tee. You’ll hit them straighter. Play a par 4 like it is a par 5: try a 5 wood, an 8 iron for position in the fairway, a short wedge to the green, and two putts. There’s a much greater chance that a typical golfer can pull off that sequence of shots than trying to get to the green in 2. Your friends may call you a wimp, but you’ll be laughing when you pull out your scorecard after the round.

Also, for two weeks, hit half the balls you usually do at the range, and spend the rest of the time chipping and putting. Compared to the full swing, these shots are a lot less about technique and a lot more about feel and practice. Chipping really isn’t too hard to learn if you apply yourself, and it’s a great feeling to get most of your chips within five feet of the hole.

I am a hacker, so grain of salt and all…but everything that Ravenman said…

  1. Get the lessons. By practicing without a pro pointing out what you are doing right and wrong you are reinforcing any bad movements you have.

  2. Practice without a tee. Keep in mind the types of shots that are required for par on the course, 18 shots off the tee (and at least 2 of those are irons), 36 putts on the green, and 18 fairway shots (only a couple will be fairway woods). As a bogey golfer, you would add an extra shot per hole, and that would probably be near the green. Put that together and your are looking at nearly half the shots are irons. Make sure you are using the grass tee areas at the range so you can work on hitting your irons from the grass rather than on a tee. Also find a range that has an area for short game…bunker, green, short rough, etc. I really noticed a difference when I started to use these, and my shots were sprayed all over the green from 15’ away. A guy next to me had a short line of balls clustered on the green 4 feet from the hole. It just proved how inaccurate I am, and that I really need to practice that skill.

  3. Slow down the swing. It is easier to play 20 yards shorter in the fairway than 20 yards further in the woods. I think Tiger said he typically uses 80% power for his swings because he can’t control the ball over that. I figure that once I get the ball under control with an easy swing, then I can start working my way up.

  4. Practice. I think I saw a quote from Lee Trevino along the lines of “Every day that you don’t practice is another day that you don’t get better.”

  5. Relax. When your are setting up for the shot, relax and don’t over analyze and go through the checklist. The lessons are about the checklist, but your body has to have a natural fluid motion or you’ll end up overcompensating parts of the swing and underdoing others.

All that said, I suck. But I also haven’t gone to the range in 2 years, played once 2 years ago, and twice the year before that…damn domestic life…

I always thought it strange that I somehow learned to hit a moving baseball at age seven, without ever ONCE worrying about where my left elbow was, or how I shifted my weight or any such nonsense. We just stood there and tried to hit it. After a while, you get the hang of it. You just let your body figure it out, which it does miraculously and mysteriously well.

My golf game was crap until I started to approach it just that way. I tossed all the books and lessons and tips and positions and drills.

I just started practicing hitting a ball at a target. (Which, ultimately is the ONLY physical skill you need to master. Everything else is extraneous.) In your backyard, take a wedge and try to bounce a ball off a fence post, or plop a ball on a leaf laying in the grass. Don’t worry about where your thumb is or how your wrist breaks. Ignore all that. Just try hitting the ball to the target. If you miss, try again. You’ll miss a lot. But after a while (provided you don’t start thinking of something else, like your backswing) you’ll hit the target more often.

On the range, just try to hit a ball so it clacks off a sign. . . or better yet, hits the “0” in the 150 sign. Just practice doing that. Never mind how it happens. Never mind what kind of grip you use. Your body will figure all that out, if you stay out of the way.

When you think about it, that’s pretty much how you learned every sport you every played. Who ever took ping-pong lessons? Who every took videos of their frisbee toss to see whether their right elbow folded or not?

Practice hitting a ball to a target. And never mind how you do it.

Wow, this is revolutionary! Makes me wonder how much the golf video industry is a self-propelled machine? It’s also consistent with the fact that my buddy, the scratch golfer, has never taken a lesson (although he does speak in the conventional language of the mechanics of the swing).

Although, we were undefeated in grade school basketball. I attribute much of our success to our sadistic coach who made us do hours upon hours of seemingly pointless arduous sweat-drenched muscle collapsing drills. When we got to the court we were a well-oiled machine.

Maurice Ashley has created a computer chess trainer for kids, and in this he’s developed a number of drills that look almost nothing like a chess game. My son, using this (and of course my own sagacious tutelage…shyeah) went on to win for his school in a local tournament.

Both my coach and GM Maurice Ashley (IM at the time) knew which muscles to exercise and which movements to reinforce with their respective drills.

Having said this, I’m convinced that much of the “perfect swing” doctrine is specious - and there is much truth in “your body will figure it out.”