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When rating your shots, it is how YOU feel about your shotmaking, not the opinion of others!
When rating your shots, it is how YOU feel about your shotmaking, not the opinion of others! (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

Know your golf game and where to improve

Beverly Fergusson, LPGABy Beverly Fergusson, LPGA,

Do you have a current handicap index? Do you really know your game? How far do you hit each club? What are your tendencies? What distracts you on the course? To improve your golf game, you must know yourself and your game to a greater degree. What do you do well, what could you do better, and what are your strengths?

When I give a lesson for the first time to a new student, I ask them to rate their game. How do they feel about the different shots? We can then make a game improvement plan from those answers.

Take a few moments and assess your own game: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being excellent, 1 being poor), rate how you feel about your:

Putting _____
Chipping _____
Pitching _____
Greenside bunkers _____
Fairway bunkers _____
Short irons _____
Longer irons/hybrids _____
Fairway woods _____
Driver _____
Uneven lies _____
Shot shaping* _____

Take a look at the lowest numbers. Improving in these areas will be the best place to start with lessons/practice/improvement. Maintenance of the higher rated numbers will be important as well for overall improvement.

Remember: When rating your shots, it is how you feel about your shotmaking, not the opinion of others about your game!

Buy a small notebook that you can keep in your golf bag. This will be your personal golf journal with knowledge written down about you and your game. One of the most common comments I hear from students is "I forgot." If you write it down and look at it, it will help in storing it in the memory bank of your brain.

How far do you hit each club?

If you are a relatively new golfer, just start noticing the approximate distances your clubs go. If you are a lower handicap player, you'll want to be more precise with this knowledge. You want to know how far you hit the ball with each club, both in the air and on the ground. Learn these distances with just three clubs.

Measure your 9 iron, 6 iron, and a fairway wood or hybrid when the wind is calm. You'll be able to measure the other clubs off the knowledge of these three. How far your approach clubs land (vs. where they roll out) is really important in determining what club to select. For example, if the pin is at 100 yards and is placed 10 yards from the front of the green, your 85 yard on-the-fly club will not land on the green but rather 5 yards in front of the green. Is the front of the green wet? Is it hard in front of the green? Would the ball roll more or less when it lands in front of the green?

To learn more about your distances, hit 10 balls with the same club to the same target and see if 8 out of 10 balls went + 5-10 yards of each other in distance. This knowledge will help tremendously in your club selection when playing. Write it down. Know your game, know your abilities. "This is what I can do," should always be in the
forefront of your mind.

(* For the lower handicap players.)

Beverly Fergusson is a nationally recognized golf instructor who gives golf lessons to men, women, and juniors in North County San Diego, Calif. Published author, guest speaker, corporate golf instructor and co-owner of GolfLessons4U.com and Insight Golf Schools, she is also the proud mother of Los Angeles actress Robin Galloway. Beverly writes a golf blog at TravelGolf.com. Click here to contact her.

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