Hi, I’m Jane Hill, I played on the the European Tour for 15 years and recorded 20 top 10 finishes in my career and tied for the British Open in 1990. I am Client Relationship Manager here at 360 Golf Holidays and this is first in a series of golf guides that will help you lower your scores with tips from the tour.
Golf science and psychology books can help with many aspects of the game but, ask a touring professional and they will give you a couple of sure ways that you can improve your game without getting muddled with the psycho cybernetics, angles, and degrees.
Most amateurs don’t have time for a professional 1 hour warm up so if you’re restricted with time, get yourself into the golf net and follow these simple steps to ensure you enjoy your round of golf.
- Always make sure you’ve properly stretched, especially your back muscles
- Start your first 10 swings with a ridiculously slow backswing and follow through as normal (always with a ball).
- Now take another 10 normal swings and follow through without moving your head
- You’re ready to go…
2. PUTTING IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE GAME – GET YOUR PACE FROM THE OUTSET
Grab 6 balls from your bag and position yourself at the edge of the green. This exercise will help you with your pace and feel from the outset
- Find the longest putt and a short-ish putt (about 20 feet away) and alternate your practice putts
- Try not to look up at final positioning of ball and guestimate where you think it’s finished (this programs your brain to feel distances)
- Repeat this several times or as long as you’re ready to walk to the 1st tee
3. IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE WITH THOSE BLASTED 4 FOOT PUTTS, THIS TIP WILL HELP…
One of the most frustrating parts of the game is finding your best game from the tee to green and then missing a 4 foot putt!
- I was privileged once to get a putting lesson from one of the greatest putters on the tour Mark McNulty and he told me to narrow down my target to 1 inch (or less!) and suddenly the hole will look like a bucket.
- This will take a bit of practice so you will need to spend a bit of time either on your carpet at home or at your local range putting green
- Find a flat 4 foot putt. Place a golf tee in the group – that’s your target now and see how many times you can hit the tee.
- Challenge yourself… hit the tee 5 times in a row and you’re on the mend!
- I once heard that Colin Montgomerie used to challenge himself to hit a tee peg 50 times in a row – I tried it once and was on the putting green until 10pm!
4. HAVE ONLY ONE SWING-THOUGHT THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Your filling your brain with too much information is a hazard in itself “… water on the right … am I aiming straight… take the club away slowly… wind coming in from the left…short backswing”
- Find what swing-thought works best for your game. This is best done with either your golf teacher or down at your local golf range
- I spoke to Nick Faldo’s coach and he said that the great man usually had one swing thought for each tournament but in some cases changed it from day to day
- One of the most popular golf swing thoughts that will instantly work for you is to keep the right knee still on the backswing (this will stop you overswinging AND help keep your height AND help to keep the club on the same swing plane).
- Remember, your swing and your set-up are two different things (you cannot be thinking “am I aiming straight” while taking the club back). Get your set up sorted out and then concentrate on your swing thought
5. WHY TURNING YOUR SHOULDERS 90 DEGREES MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE…
I once heard a famous professional say “The answer to a perfect swing is a HALF BACKSWING WITH A FULL TURN”
- What he meant by that is that once your shoulders have made a 90 degree turn – that’s it… your backswing is DONE.
- Watch the hugely talented Charley Hull play an iron shot and pause her swing at the top of his backswing – she proves you don’t have to take it miles back to hit it miles forward!
- To prove my point, watch a javelin thrower… he/she doesn’t take it back far but makes a good turn and BOOM!!!
6. THE SECRET TO RECOVERY SHOTS – BE SMART
The go-big-or-go-home attitude can work if you want a bit of fun but for the players heading for a good round (especially in medal play) should not take unnecessary risks
- What are you doing taking a 3 wood out of the rough (unless a leprechaun has teed it up nicely!)? A rescue club is about the highest you should go out of rough
- Water hazard between you and your intended position? Play short – you’re guaranteed a bogey but saving on dropping two or even three shots
- Remember… take your medicine and get back into play
7. SHORT CHIPPING MADE EASY
This is a part of the game that amateurs continually complicate
- First rule is to keep 85% of your weight on your front foot (applies to bunkers too)
- Secondly, don’t take the club miles back – it’s the accellation through that ensures the ball lifts off the ground
- I see amateurs ALL THE TIME cocking their wrists in the backswing and follow through – your wrists must be pretty immobile
- There should be no body movement at all (including your head!) it’s a pendulum action – you’re not cracking a whip!
8. AIM FOR YOUR FIRST BOUNCE – NOT THE TARGET AND THE BALL WILL BE NEARER THE PIN
Unless you’re skilled or strong enough to hit the ball into the clouds, your ball is going to bounce-and-run at impact. Most professionals will aim for the safest hit area depending on their skills – amateurs generally will always think of the pin
- Calculate how low you think the ball will go and guestimate how many bounces (depending on the moisture, etc) and run of the ball
- Calculating the bounce-and-run on links courses is always tough – play percentage.
- Practice tip: door mat and a bucket – simple as that!
9. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE IMPROVES YOUR GOLF
If practicing bores you or your just not that bothered, then you’ll understand that you get out of the game what you put in. For those who have high ambitions, even if it means you want to be cut from 24 to 23, practice is the only way
- Ben Hogan famously said “it’s better to hit 10 useful practice shots than 100 that don’t mean anything”
- I was taught by a famous Ryder Cup player called Eddie Ward who was a firm believer in ‘drill swings’ when you’re on the range. Exagerate a movement with a drill swing to teach your muscles to get back into check i.e. if you continually thin the ball it probably means your head is coming up at impact so practice keeping your head still throughout the shot
- Obvserve an amateur event and players will spend most of their time on the range hitting long shots, observe a professional tournament and you’ll see the opposite. Spend more time chipping, bunkers, getting out of the rough, moving the ball around trees, etc
- Don’t ignore practicing your putting – this is one area of your game that you can practice in your home – all you need is a carpet and a cup
10. IF YOU LIKE A GOOD READ TO HELP YOUR GAME – READ ON…
- I suggest ‘GOLF IS NOT A GAME OF PERFECT’ by Dr Bob Rotella and ‘INNER GAME OF GOLF’ by Timothy Gallwey
11. IF YOU THINK YOU CAN, YOU CAN – POSITIVE ATTITUDE HELPS
If you’ve heard a tour professional say “the mental side is just as important as the physical side” they are NOT lying! Ask yourself how many times you’ve said on the 3rd hole “I’m having a bad day!” What you’re telling yourself if that you’re going to play badly for the rest of the game – and you probably will!
- Look at Lee Trevino’s swing – he breaks so many rules yet, he’s won a shed load of majors. What is his secret? His mental game was ferocious… he came from an underpriviledged background, didn’t own a shiney set of clubs until he’d won a couple of events, he didn’t have a classic swing… and the list goes on
- At any stage in the round, don’t look backwards or forwards. What I mean by that is don’t let your round be determined by what mistakes you’ve done or how many holes you’ve got left to do damage limitation. You’ve heard the expression ‘one shot at a time’ – implement it
12. BEAT THE GOLF COURSE, BEAT THE PLAYER
What makes this game so great is that tour players genuinely root for each other. That’s because the player is not your enemy, the golf course is.
- Young inexperienced players can often be found stood at the leaderboard wishing other players ill-will. Careful, Karma is a fine thing…
- Golf is one of the finest sports in the world because your opponent changes shape, rains of you, blows in your face, puts trees and bunkers in the worst possible places, and then asks you to change implement depending on the position of your ball – it’s tough but don’t take out your frustration on your playing partner – nobody likes a cry-baby.
Next Steps… please feel free to share with your golfing buddies, also I will be posting a series of these guides in our newsletters which you can sign up to below. In addition, please check out Golficity.com where you will find excellent golf instruction material.