I hope your game is going well for you this year. Hopefully you are doing better than last year and are learning to be come a better ball-striker and a better player.
I would nonetheless like to remind you of a few things to check on that might help you move a game that is “close” to “just right.” They are things that don’t take a lot of practice, can be learned quickly, and will yield immediate benefits.
Most of this is buried in earlier posts, but rather than you having to dig it all out, here is the 2012 version of Ways to Play Better Without Practicing.
1. The prime rule of good golf is: Be at peace with the shot you’re about to hit. If you’re not completely convinced that this is the right thing to do, step away from the ball and do some more thinking about what shot you want to hit.
2. Tempo and rhythm affect every shot. Sometimes we get too quick. The way to slow yourself down is to remember at what speed you made your last swing and swing slower than that on this swing. It will come out at the same speed, most likely.
3. These three parts of the setup will improve your shotmaking more than you can imagine. They’re easy to practice, and they require no skill to master, just careful attention before the shot:
a. Grip pressure – If you hit a bad shot, full swing or short shot, there is a good chance your grip pressure was too tight. Hold the club more lightly next time.
b. Aim – If your aim is off, odds are you’re aimed right of your target.
c. Ball position – Hogan and Nicklaus can put the ball inside their left heel for every shot, but you can’t. Put it in the center of your stance for every shot off the ground or an iron on a tee, and one ball forward of that for a driver on a tee.
4. On the course, play a shot that will put the ball in the best position for the next shot. If you can’t hit that shot, play one you can that leaves you a workable next shot. Apply this rule off the tee, off the fairway, and around the green. Another way of saying this is to play the shot you can hit, not the shot you want to hit.
5. From the fairway, figure out how far your shot is playing (actual distance to the pin, adjusted for wind, lie, elevation changes, etc.) and add five yards. Now pick your club. That plan can easily let you hit three more greens per round.
6. Strive to play well, but don’t let that become more important than making the people you’re playing with glad that they played with you.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.