By Kurt Linde
MOST amateur golfers struggle to keep their handicap low but there are 7 simple ways to improve it.
- Never Too Cool For A Warm-up
Never dive into a round of golf without a thorough warm-up. Before any physical activity, it’s important to prepare the body by gently increasing the heart rate and circulation.
A good golf warm-up loosens the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. You should gradually increase from half swings to full swings. Before you hit the range, your muscles should be primed and your rhythm should be smooth and steady.
Don’t go near that first tee until you are warmed up and ready to make solid contact with the ball.
- Stay Fit
Golf is certainly a mental game but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on physical fitness and still expect to do well.
Tiger Woods has been a real game-changer for golf. Throughout his career, his tremendous physical strength has set him apart from many of his contemporaries and raised the bar on fitness standards in the game.
Stretching exercises should be a central part of your training. But don’t stop there. If you really want to lift your game, you need to develop a fitness regime that will build your core strength. Pilates techniques are great for rotational sports like golf where you need to improve your mobility and control.
- Find The Best Gear For You
There is a correlation between your handicap and the clubs that you use. Don’t go for a club just because your favourite golfer endorsed it. And if your handed-down equipment is worse for wear and showing its age, it might be time to upgrade.
To get the best results out of your golf equipment, get fitted for clubs. No matter how skilled you are, it’s important to use gear that fits your physique and suits your swing.
Whether you’re a high handicapper or a mid handicapper, consider investing in super game improvement irons. If you want to bring your handicap down, they really are an engineering gift from the Gods of Golf.
- Try Different Courses and Conditions
Every golf course has its own unique character. You’ll have your own home golf course where you hone your game, but it’s important to expand your horizons and tackle other courses.
Playing the same course over and over makes you complacent and your game repetitive. In the short-term, this will make it easier for you to shoot lower scores. But your handicap will be skewed and as soon as you are outside of your comfort zone on an unfamiliar course you will be out of your depth.
Challenge yourself by playing different tracks with more hazards or faster greens. Your rounds will feel much fresher and you will broaden your skillset.
Don’t be afraid to practice in unpleasant weather conditions. If you practice in the sweltering heat or the icy cold, you will be able to protect your handicap when you have to face those conditions in a real game.
- Monitor Your Stats
If you want to lift your game and lower your handicap, you need to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t just keep track of your score – you need to understand how and why that score happened.
By monitoring your putting average, fairway hits, greens in regulation, and sand saves, you can build a clear picture of your competencies. If you don’t have a head for statistics, there are hi-tech apps that will give you detailed feedback on every shot and every round. Keep tabs on your stats so that you know what you need to work on most.
- Play Alone
Watching and learning from other golfers is vital, but you should set aside some time to get out there on the green by yourself.
As much as you might enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with your weekly game, it can be more productive to spend time on the course, with no distractions, and focus entirely on your training goals.
Play multiple balls on the same hole. This gives you a good sense of your strengths and limitations, so you can figure out exactly how far you can hit with each club.
Try using a range finder to measure accurate yardages so you can stop wasting shots on the green by coming up short on well-struck iron shots.
- Compete With Better Players
After extolling the virtues of practicing alone, it must also be noted that pitting yourself against better players is a surefire way to lower your handicap.
We already confirmed that playing the same old game on the same old course will stunt your development. Similarly, playing golf with the same old average golfers will inhibit your improvement.
Challenge yourself by competing with golfers who perform at a higher standard than you. The pressure to practice and play to a higher standard will lift your game.
If you don’t know any talented golfers, enter some tournaments to see how you respond to tournament pressure.
Kurt Linde is General Manager at Pacific Dunes Golf Club, Port Stephens. Kurt is a PGA professional and former touring professional, having golfed on the Australasian, South Pacific and Canadian tours alongside some of the most talented golfers in the world.