|The range - not the golf course - is the place to work on swing mechanics and other fundamentals of the game, Les Miller writes. (Mike Bailey/WorldGolf.com)|
The goal in golf is to shoot the lowest score possible while enjoying your day on the links. There are many ways to improve your scores: Golf instruction, new equipment and exercise top the list. One certainty, though, is you should not be working on swing mechanics during a round.
Golfers should hone their swing mechanics, chipping, sand play and putting at the practice area. On the course, golfers should focus on course management, the strategy behind each shot, regardless of skill level. Work on improving how you think your way around the course and you will see lower scores.
Off the tee, decide the appropriate line of play off the tee. If there is trouble on the left side of the fairway - water, sand trap, trees or out of bounds - tee off on that side; always, always tee off on the side where the trouble is. This will have you lining up and playing away from the hazards.
Try a driver with more loft. Most average golfers think a lower loft driver will increase their distance. Increased loft will help reduce hooking and slicing and lead to longer, straighter drives. (Try a 10.5 lofted driver.) On narrow driving holes consider teeing off with a fairway wood, hybrid or long iron. Use the club you have the most confidence in and you will find more fairways and have fewer penalty shots.
On iron shots, break the green into four quadrants: front-left, front-right, back-left and back-right. Play your iron shots into the quadrant that is the safest area on the green to hit. Seeing the flagstick on the green doesn't mean you have to aim at it.
Many pros like to practice by having their caddies remove the flags from the greens so they concentrate on hitting shots toward the safe part, or middle of the green. I've even tried this with my students during playing lessons. It always helps them hit more greens in regulation.
Rule No. 1 in chipping and pitching is to imagine a circle around the hole; then try to put your ball into that circle. Depending on your skill level, give yourself a target circle you can hit consistently. Make the target smaller as your short game improves.
The five-foot putting drill will improve your scores faster than any other area of your game. See how many putts you sink from five feet by hitting balls from four sides of the cup. Now move the balls out to six feet. Continue this drill until you reach 10 feet. When you miss a putt return to the five-foot range and start over.
March 30, 2009
Les Miller is longtime Golf Writers of America member who has written golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gives him a unique background that helps golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.