Grip it like a ruler
The grip is where any good swing starts. An incredible amount of golfers don’t know how to hold a club. Richard says there are pre-formed grip guides your pro can fit to a practice club for you, but otherwise try this: simply hold a 12-inch ruler with whichever golf grip you prefer. Align the ruler over your middle knuckles. Your left thumb should rest on the top right side of the ruler, with your right thumb on the top left side of the ruler. Your hands shouldn’t hurt as you grip it – ease off if so. This correction seems so simple that most people think it’s not worth bothering with, but nothing shaves off strokes faster.
Play golf, lots and lots and lots
Author Malcolm Gladwell thinks it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at anything. Well, he actually said it takes people with lots of talent, like the Beatles, 10,000 hours to get good at anything. You will never be that good, but you can get better, if you practise. So, head to the range and don’t just smash every ball. Analyse distances of different swings and clubs using the clock face method. How far will the ball travel when you swing back to 8 o’clock? How about 10 o’clock? Or play the range like you would your course: driver, iron, pitch shot. Find out which shots you need to work on, and work on them. Easy.
Get stuck in a routine
Richard says it’s easy to tell whether a golfer will knock it close or duff it 20 yards just by watching them approach the ball. Good golfers have a good pre-shot routine. Bad golfers have a bad one. So, before addressing the ball consider all relevant factors, such as lie, wind, hazards and the safest landing zone. When you’ve decided on the shot, practise that shot, not a vague imitation of it. Finally, ensure you’ve picked a specific target, and that body and club are on the correct line to send the ball on its way. It takes longer, but you spend less time hunting for your ball on the fringes of other people’s fairways.
Even if you’ve got no idea, get the gear
Golf is a game of gear, it’s as simple as that. For some this can be a turn off, and many baulk at the expenditure, but getting the right equipment doesn’t necessarily mean spending the most money. Simply by researching equipment you can save money as well as shots. A thin blade might offer the purest strike, but an 18-handicapper is unlikely to enjoy these benefits and should seek a more forgiving iron. Likewise, the golfer with a slower swing speed may be sacrificing distance by using a driver with insufficient flexibility in the shaft. Find out what suits you, and buy it. Just don’t tell your wife.
Learn your lessons
Equally, just buying a new club won’t fix bad technique. Many have fallen into the trap of thinking their new £300 driver will turn a 150-yard slice into an arrow-straight thump à la McIlroy. It won’t. Richard says the honeymoon period of confidence you gain from taking out a new club is a short one, and you’re much better off improving performance. If you are struggling, book a block of lessons (only around £100), and you’re likely to see dramatic improvement at a third of the cost of the new club. Technology might reduce margins, but the fundamentals separate scratch golfers from 18-handicappers. Well, scratch might be a bit ambitious, but it’ll certainly reduce your first tee shame.
If you want to get good at golf, Richard Robson-Crosby is the Assistant Professional at Ponteland Golf Club.
www.thepontelandgolfclub.co.uk 01661 822689