Winter Golf

For those of use who live in the North, the onset of foul weather means that a round of golf will be an occasional event from now until March or so. There is a clear divide between golfing seasons. To get ready for the next season, I would suggest that you practice, and practice the money shots. They are:

1. Your driver. Get a lesson instead of just banging away at the range, repeating the same mistakes over and over. This is a hard club to hit well. Only with expert guidance can you hope to master it.
2. Your 7-iron. This is a middling club which if you can hit well, you should be able to hit all your other irons well, too. The goal is to hit it straight. No one besides you cares how far you hit it. Straight, straight, straight.
3. The pitch/chip from 5-25 yards away from the pin. I’ll bet you hit from here at least six or seven times per round. If you can get three-quarters of those shots up and down, that will knock a lot of strokes off your score.
4. The 30-foot putt. This is the distance from which three-putt greens are born. Learn to get these putts kick-in close.

Do some mental work, too.

1. Before every ball you hit at the range, give yourself a target on the ground that you want to hit the ball to. A direction alone isn’t good enough. There needs to be a spot in the ground you are trying to hit, just like when you play.
2. See the shot you want to hit and feel it coming back to you and the feeling of hitting that shoot infusing itself in your mind and body. Then go through your pre-shot routine: grip, stance, posture, alignment. Hit the shot and watch the ball all the way, good or bad. Be unconcerned about the result, good or bad, especially bad. Learn to let your bad shots go without comment or judgement. That will help you keep a level head when you play, and you learn how to do that when you practice.
3. If you get a chance to play, I would suggest playing a practice round. Drop balls where you get a chance to hit the shots you have been practicing, but here’s the catch: you only get to hit the ball once. No dropping ball after ball until you get it right. That’s for the practice ground. You might have practiced this shot for hours, but what happens when you have this shot on the course and you have only one chance to get it right? That’s your mind, and learning to get that part of the game right could make a bigger difference in letting your true talents emerge than just hitting more balls.

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