Improving your golf handicap can happen with just some practice and by following some key course management practices.
What do you think you can do to improve your game? Some players think they need to get longer off the tee, but the most important way to improve your game is by improving your short game.
The following list provides you with multiple strategies to get better from tee to green and everywhere in between. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is filled with some simple techniques to get better quicker. They are in no particular order of importance.
The Mental Game
No matter how much skill you have, it will take some time to develop a strong mental game. You can achieve a lower golf handicap by being a thoughtful player. You need to be honest with yourself and your abilities.
Before hitting any shot, take a few seconds to visualize what you want to happen. If you can see it, you have a better chance of doing it. Step up to the ball with confidence, and you will shave a few strokes off your game rather quickly.
Another aspect of the mental game is playing within your limitations. If you’re driving the ball off the tee and want to hit the fairway make that your primary focus. Use the club that will give you the best opportunity for the next shot.
Hitting a driver isn’t always the most prudent play, but laying up a little shorter with a 3-wood or long iron could put you in a better position to attack the green.
Another part of the mental game has to do with putting. The old adage states that you, “Drive for show, and putt for dough.” There is a lot of truth to this statement. Putting requires great patience and thoughtfulness. Rather than trying to sink every putt outside of five feet, try to two-putt every green.
Make this a goal of yours. Just get it close enough to make a solid second putt. In the end, you will likely make a few and reduce your score.
Get the Right Clubs
You should make certain that you are hitting the clubs that are right for your game. Hitting clubs with a shaft that is too stiff or flexible could greatly decrease your success from the tee and fairway. Take a little time to be properly fitted because you need the right equipment for your personal game.
Keep It Low
When chipping or putting, try to use clubs that will get the ball on the ground as quickly as possible. Practice using a variety of different clubs around the green. It is usually more difficult to loft a shot near the bunker and have it land softly than it is to use a less lofted club and get it running faster. The bump-and-run is one of the most effective ways of chipping around the greens.
The Golf Ball
You do have the luxury of writing on your golf ball, so take some time to draw straight lines on it to aim at the hole with when putting. Some golf ball manufacturers already print the guide arrows on the balls to help keep you as aligned as possible.
Golf balls also come in different compressions and with different features based upon the number and shape of the dimples on the ball. A golf ball with a compression of 100 is used by players with higher swing speeds and 80-compression balls should be used if you have a slower swing speed.
Love Your Glove
You can improve your golf handicap by using a glove on your non-dominant hand while hitting shots. These products can help you to make a better golf grip and can reduce the chance of slipping during rainy or hot rounds.
Get a Grip
You have to grip the club before you hit the ball, so finding a proper grip is essential to your improvement. There are a variety of options available, so you need to do a little research to find the right one for your swing. Some players interlock two fingers and others put the pinky finger over the pointer finger when swinging.
A popular grip is to make a letter “V” on the grip with your thumb and pointer finger on your non-dominant hand. Make another “V” with your dominant hand and put that “V” just down the shaft from the first one. You should be able to imagine a straight line from both of the “V” vertices.
Know the Rules
When getting or trying to improve your golf handicap, it is essential to know the rules. There are many times when knowing the rules can be quite advantageous. Did you know that you don’t have to stand on sprinkler heads to hit shots? You can also get relief from standing water just about anywhere on the course.
Find a Target
You should always try to align yourself with a target. This target can be a tree or a couple of inches away from you when you putt. If you put your body in the right direction before you swing, you can probably shave a stroke or two off your round.
Whenever you’re going to take a stroke, you should make sure that you are on balance. You may want to put a little additional weight on your back foot to give you some more power. You may want to place about 60 percent of your weight on the back foot and 40 percent on the front.
Keep your legs flexed and your back as straight as possible. Once you have made contact with the ball, be certain to continue with the follow-through. A proper finish will leave you standing pretty upright with your belt buckle pointing at the target line.
Where Does the Ball Go?
Some players like to put the ball in the middle of the stance no matter which club they are hitting.
Other players like to play the ball farther or closer to the middle based upon the club they are using. Aligning your front foot with the ball is a popular location for some players to swing. As the clubs decrease in size, you can move the ball back in your stance.
It’s clear to see that many of the items on this list don’t have to be done at the course. You can read up on the rules, practice your grip, and find the right clubs without ever going to the course. It just takes some time and perseverance.
Watch some videos online or get some instructional DVDs if you don’t have access to a PGA professional to help you earn a lower golf handicap. Most importantly, have fun while you play. Keep your head in the game and remember to stay focused even when things aren’t going your way.
Shake off the bad shots before you approach your next shot to keep your positive attitude going throughout the round.
Sources and References:
- Handicap (golf) – wikipedia.org