Golfing tips from Colorado pro golfers on how to improve your game
While not based on any verifiable, quantitative scientific research, there’s a good chance golf is the most humbling, expletive-inducing sport in the history of the world. With that in mind we’ve gathered these tips to fine-tune your golf game, from shaking off that early season rust to working on the short game and salvaging a shot in the rough.
Start off slow & easy
When starting any golf season, first and foremost: start the season slow. Don’t take the driver out of the bag right away. Consider sticking to irons for the first time back at the range, specifically, a mid-range club like a 6 or 7-iron.
Also, resist the urge to be John Daily or Tiger Woods and go for big drives. Instead, work on short game first and build gradually. Aim at a closer pin on the range. This helps golfers loosen up swing motion and find the rhythm of their swing, so the swing will be better when reaching for the big boys in the golf bag. Finally, don’t overthink it — focus on one aspect of the swing at a time.
Score better with putting
Everyone wants to hit a drive 300 yards like Tiger Woods. That’s probably why the driving range at any golf course is guaranteed to be more crowded than the practice green. But neglecting the short game can create a fatal flaw for any golfer.
First and foremost — practice. Repetition will lead to comfort and confidence. Form is also a big consideration in a player’s putting game. Remember to keep your wrists straight through the entire swing. Putting is not a wrist motion.
Refining the short game
The pros all say golfers don’t focus enough on accuracy and the short game. Beyond repetition, it’s about good form and balancing practice between chipping and pitching shots.
For form, remember that a chip shot has more in common with a putting swing than a full golf swing. It is a shorter-range shot that causes the ball to roll more after landing than a pitch. The swing is a much shorter motion that emphasizes keeping the wrists stiff. The lower the club angle, the more the ball will roll when it hits the green. So a chip shot with a 7 iron will create more roll than a chip shot with a 9 iron.
Pitch shots create more loft and cause the ball to roll less when it lands. The pitch swing has the same motion as a drive, but incorporates varied swing length. Pitch shots are essential from beyond 20 yards out. A good pitch shot will create much less roll when the ball lands.
For those of us not blessed with pinpoint accuracy, playing from the fairway rough is another inevitability. While cursing might be the initial impulse, take a minute to analyze your situation.
The biggest problem in the rough tends to be with a golfer’s swing. Don’t try to lift the ball; let the club do the work. Have the ball a little further back in your stance, so that the club hits on a descending angle.
For the average golfer, a shot hit from the rough will tend to roll more than a shot from the fairway, because of a lack of backspin.
Hitting through the rough has a tendency to close a golfer’s clubface, especially with irons, leading to less accurate shots. Hybrid clubs offer a larger club head that will swing through rough more effectively, keeping the clubface straight. Their large sweet spot also creates more of a margin for error.
Ready for the pros?
Now that we’ve run through some common mistakes, go out there and enjoy the High Country. There are few places like it in the world!
This story originally published August 2016 in the Summit Daily News. It appeared in the Explore Summit 2018 summer magazine.
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