A Club Pro’s Suggestions For Realistic New Year’s Golf Resolutions: Playing

Check out the previous posts in this series here

A Club Pro’s Suggestions For Realistic New Year’s Golf Resolutions: The First Tee

A Club Pro’s Suggestions For Realistic New Year’s Golf Resolutions: Range Time

Finally, we made it. The weather broke, or, it didn’t, and you decided to brave the cold like a jackass, but either way, you’re playing. It’s the first round of the new year and there’s nowhere to go but up. Expectations are naught, you want success but you also know the first round has more rust than the Titanic, so you’re cautiously hoping for something that keeps you coming back out while maybe, just maybe, taking a tiny step toward better rounds. To help that along here are some easy resolutions to keep while you’re out playing.

Walk When You Can: Walking more golf is the golfer’s version of losing 10 pounds. We all say we’re going to do it, some of us go out and buy a carry bag that weighs less than most newborn puppies, and even a select few really take the plunge and invest in an airplane aluminum half grand pushcart.

Unfortunately, too many of us abandon this resolution the first chance we get. It’s a shame we do, because beyond the health benefits of hoofing 18, there are game benefits as well. Walking helps keep us focused on the task at hand, better eliminating distractions such as the cart or our playing partner or even our phones. It also establishes consistent tempo better. Last, walking allows you to see areas of the golf course you might normally miss, giving you a much better picture of your playing surface and allowing you to make much more informed decisions on shot creation and club usage.

If You Are Riding, Park Behind The Ball: Far too often I see golfers park parallel to their ball. This may seem like a benign habit, however it’s actually telling your brain that the primary task is not golf, but driving the cart. By never properly removing yourself from the cart and all the distractions within it so you can hit your shot you never really devote yourself to your shotmaking, thus denying yourself critical potential for success. Park far enough away that the golf cart and the golf ball become two separate universes. Leave your golf cart existence in the cart when it’s time to hit, and shed your player persona and relax once you arrive back at the cart. This will help you recognize the importance of not only turning on your shotmaking when it’s time, but also turning it off and leaving the previous shot in the past where it belongs.

  • Chart Your Rounds: If you’ve promised yourself more range time in the coming year then it’s critical to chart your rounds to give your practice sessions an actual purpose. Your score tells you really nothing about what occurred on the course except for how many times you struck the ball. It doesn’t tell you how you arrived at your score, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or what your practice sessions should be devoted to. A properly charged round should show
    1. Score
      Fairways
      Greens In Regulation
      Putts
      Up & Down
      Penalty strokes
  • These categories break down your round into all the variables that contribute to your score. After all, if you shoot an 85 with hitting 3 fairways then that shows you your scrambling and scoring are satisfactory but you should devote your range time to bettering your driving accuracy.
  • Use The Same Golf Ball: Almost every time when I’m out with a client on a playing lesson and I reach into their bag to pull out a provisional ball I find a potpourri of brands. Instead of keeping your ball pocket like a bag of jelly beans, fit your game to one type of golf ball and use it exclusively. This will pay off for two reasons. First, it’ll give you a realer sense of the consequences of losing a golf ball. When you play any golf ball under the sun then any golf ball discovered amongst the weeds is a potential ally. Restricting yourself to just the one sort of ball in your bag restricts your resources to only what is on your person and encourages more attention paid to keeping the ball in play.
  • Second, playing only one brand provides consistent results, better responses to the club, and shows you much more truly what you are able to make the golf ball do while out on the course. You’ll see right away how you make the ball spin around the greens or what your flight really is with your irons if you’re using the same ball each time and not going from a two piece junker off the tee to a ProV1 as soon as you reach the green.
  • Play It Down As Often As You Can, If You Can: I added the caveat of “if you can,” because I believe if you are at a certain level of experience then you should give yourself a good lie every time, and, if you can, go so far as to tee the ball on every shot. There’s nothing wrong with new amateurs doing this until the reach consistent enough contact to adjust to various lies. Playing the ball down has its advantages. It engages the mind and body more than a fluffed lie, and teaches and exposes the golfer to a variety of conditions and shots necessary to accommodate and succeed in those conditions.
  • There are plenty of other resolutions to implement during your round such as being diligent about removing your glove after every shot or filling your own and then one extra divot when you’re in the fairway, but for now try these and see if they don’t take off at least a couple finger’s worth of strokes from your game. See you on the tee.
  • Now that you’ve reached the end of the article I hope you’ve also reached the end of the implementation of these tips and are ready to reach the beginning of your charitable giving by tapping the link below. Tip Jar

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