Most professional golfers agree that attitude is a major part of being good at and enjoying golf. But telling someone to have a good attitude is easy – doing it is hard.
A big part of attitude comes down to the enjoyment of the game which comes from a lack of distractions and frustrations above and beyond the challenge of hitting the ball well. Spending time rooting around a golf bag looking for a ball marker, applying sunscreen and cleaning off clubs from last week’s game are distractions that impair concentration. Focus instead on establishing good golfing habits that let you concentrate solely on the game and the rewards of fresh air and exercise.
Below are five areas of the game (on and off the course) where adopting a consistent routine can do wonders to improve attitude, focus and golf scores.
How to Organize a Golf Bag
At home, tend to your golf bag before and after games. Before a round of golf, ensure you have enough balls and tees, a ball marker, a repair kit and glove. Keep water, money for refreshments and snacks and weather-related gear handy to that day’s game. Avoid letting any pockets become a junk drawer for odds and ends. Keep supplies in the same pocket of the golf bag every time. Take what you need and know where it is – the sense of calm will only improve your golf game and your enjoyment of it.
Establish A Pre-Golf Routine
Arrive early at the course for stretching, practice putts and time driving at the range. Since your bag should already be organized, buy what extra supplies you need and let the starter know when your party has arrived. Punctuality eliminates rushing and panic.
Consistent Golfing Habits
Approaching the tee blocks, accessing the bag of clubs, a number of practice swings: these pre-swing rituals, an important part of focusing, should be consistent and deliberate. Don’t bother looking for excuses to explain bad shots. Birds, noises, airplanes and talking can all be distracting but will be less so when the focus is applied. On the fairway, approach the ball from a similar angle and keep your bag back and to the right or left of play. Whether you putt with a glove on or off, be consistent and prepared. All changes to routine create distractions and haste – both of which invite mistakes.
There’s an endless supply of books, magazines and videos about golf but in small doses they all can help process information and problems until the next tee time. Finding a magazine or book that speaks to a personal level or goal may well bring surprising results at the driving range and on the course. Golf basics don’t change, so consider refreshing skills and knowledge with something like Golf for Dummies
Specifically for women, Vivien’s Saunders’ Women’s Golf Handbook is fabulous for addressing a woman’s approach to playing the game.
More than most sports, golf has a vocabulary of its own – new players often don’t even know a compliment when they hear one. It’s a good idea for novices to learn the language of golf; trying to understand golfing vernacular on the course can be overwhelming during play.
Take Comfort in Good Golf Habits
Golf is so challenging because a good golf game comes from a combination of physics, mechanics and psychology. The game is as mental as it is physical and every course presents new challenges. How the ball is lying, where the wind is blowing, how much water is present…the things to think about when taking a shot are endless. Having a consistent routine allows every golfer to rely on solid foundations that have served well in previous games – a big advantage amidst all those unknowns.
So, if nothing else, a golf routine brings reassurance and confidence. Establishing and sticking to a pre- and post-game routine will make for more enjoyable playing and may even improve golf scores.
Ten Tips for Better Golf
A short summer is a great reason to play golf and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. With a bit of self-discipline and practice, we might even be able to enjoy the game itself.
1. Learn the Rules – Knowing the rules and etiquette will make for more enjoyable golf games and, often, better scores.
2. Arrive Early – Mid-week practice at the driving range is ideal but even fifteen minutes at the course before you hit the fairways will dramatically improve your game. If time or space doesn’t allow even this, doing some golf-specific stretches will help remind your spine what it needs to do for the next few hours.
3. Change Bad Habits – Check in regularly with a golf pro to tighten sloppy habits instance, swing and putting. Learning new habits takes time and your game may suffer in the short term, but be patient. Improving your golf game requires re-programming for both mind and body.
4. Watch Others and Forgive Yourself – If watching too much Tiger Woods is depressing, be reminded that many people out there struggle with their games. Watching others take their drives off the first tee proves this point; it’s also a good way to take the focus off your own game before you start and often makes for a more relaxing round.
5. Learn from Your Mistakes – If a chip shot to the green goes awry, stay in position and take a practice swing again to try to understand what went wrong. When you’re on the next hole in a similar position, correct what you did wrong earlier.
6. Play with Pleasant Partners – A frustrated, angry or over-competitive partner can ruin a good round of golf. Equally, a lollygagger who doesn’t keep a scorecard may dishearten serious players. To find compatible partners, join a weekly golf league or post a notice at a local course with a description of the kind of golf partner desired.
7. Accessorize – golf can be a ridiculous game of gadgets but the essential elements of golf should not be overlooked. A towel for wiping off clubs, an umbrella for sudden showers and a divot repair kit will make for more respectable and enjoyable play.
8. Dress for Success – Running shoes and baggy shorts and shirts may pass the dress code at many courses but they won’t improve your game.
Investing in a fitted golf shirt and a pair of cleated shoes will reap rewards. Dressing like a proper golfer goes a long way in making a player feel and golf better.
9. Don’t Rush – Think positively about the pending shot and follow the same routine every time. One of the worst habits in golf is feeling panicked about an encroaching foursome on your heels. Etiquette demands you keep up with the foursome ahead, so let that be the only concern. If a round of 18 holes will feel rushed, play only nine.
10. Enjoy the Game – The yips is a condition thought to be a result of both physical and mental anxiety. There are many opinions of definition, causes, and cures for yips, but the point is how over-analysis can ruin an enjoyable pastime. Keep in mind, golf is a game played for fun. At it’s worst, it’s a nice excuse for a walk in the sunshine.
These tips for better golf offer a broad overview of simple ways to enjoy the game. For more detailed instructions on any of these points, invest in a good book or golf magazines and try to keep the game stress-free and enjoyable.
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