PGA Professional Craig Gardner looks into five different strategies to help you get a lower score when heading out onto the course.
Five strategies for lower scores
1. Aim for the largest part of the green
Far too many golfers aim for the pin without considering its location on the green. Better golfers understand the importance of playing to their ability and, therefore, think twice before firing at a pin that's tucked near the edge of the green. This may not leave them with a better chance for birdie, but certainly lessens the chance for bogey or worse.
Develop a traffic light system when playing into greens. Red being the place that leaves you the toughest chip shot possible and green being the best place to chip from if you do miss the green.
2. Play golf, don't worry about your swing
One of the biggest and most common mistakes golfers make during the course of a round is spending too much time focusing on their mechanics. Don't let yourself fall into this trap. When you tinker with your swing during a round of golf, not only do your mechanics tend to get worse, but you also lose sight of your objective - to play golf.
The next time you warm up on the range, note how well you’re swinging that day. You may find you are hitting a draw rather than a fade. Don't try to change it, just allow for it on the course then worry about it on the range after your round.
3. Keep the same tempo and rhythm
Inconsistent performances on the course often can be related to inconsistent tempo and rhythm. Tempo is the total amount of time it takes to create your golf swing from beginning to end. Even though the swing is longer with the driver, it should take the same time to execute as a swing with a sand wedge.
In pressurised situations it's easy to speed, resulting in a loss of tempo and rhythm. Be aware of this and try to stick to the same routine for every shot you play from the beginning to the end.
4. Be positive
Are you always positive over every shot? Have you ever said after a shot I knew that was going to happen or it didn't feel right?
To develop a more positive attitude, try this pre-shot routine: Start by evaluating the lie, the distance of the shot, the wind strength and direction, and take note of any obstacles or hazards. Visualise a successful outcome of the shot and take a single practice swing to restore the feeling of the swing you would like to make. Once you're over the ball, commit to the shot, focus on your target and let it go. Practice this technique consistently and you'll soon find the quality of your shots improving.
5. Know when to leave the driver in the bag
The key to good driving isn't producing long hits. Instead, good drivers of the golf ball always put themselves into position for the next shot. To accomplish this seemingly simple task, it's important to realise you don't always have to hit a driver. When selecting the appropriate club to hit off the tee, think about if you can reach the green in two shots or will it take you three shots anyway? If so, would it be safer to play from the fairway? Although the distance for the second shot is slightly longer, a fairway wood is generally easier to control than a driver, which makes finding the fairway more likely.
Remember that the most important thing is getting the ball in play, not hitting it as far as possible. Lean toward choosing the club you hit most accurately, and your results will generally be better.
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