Golfers! 15 'out of lockdown' tips, now you're returning to the fairways
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At the end of this month playing golf will be back on the agenda for golf fans!
But it's been a while since many played.
So, here Ufford Park director of golf, Stuart Robertson, gives us some 'out-of-lockdown' golf tips to help us get back in the swing.
1. Prepare the night before.
Dust down those clubs and clean those shoes. Make sure you have checked and cleaned clubs, bag and equipment; fully charged your trolley battery; ensured you have sufficient balls, tees, glove, hat, mitts, umbrella.
2. Warm up before you play.
Make the time to hit a few shots on the range or in the net before you go out to play, especially as we haven't been playing much of late. Ideally hitting a few shots with clubs throughout the bag, not just the long ones!
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3. Stretch those muscles.
You haven't played for ages, so give your body a chance of performing at its best by loosening and then stretching the muscles and joints before you put all of your energy into that opening tee shot. We don't want a strained muscle on the first shot!
4. Go on the practice green.
Learn to hole out better - practice holing out from 2/3/4 feet until you feel you are unlikely to miss. Use three balls. You can't expect to sink your opening 20 foot putt when you are out there.
5. Read the greens.
Now you are out there, learn to read the greens better - walk the putt and feel any slopes with your feet, is it uphill or downhill, higher ground on right or left. Find your way of assessing how much break to allow your putt. Don't just look at your opponents and say 'never saw that, did you?', when you putt goes the other way!
6.Putt from the fringe
Invariably use your putter from the fringe - if your ball lies on the first cut from the green, use the percentage shot by playing it with a putter. Nearly always, a bad putt will be a lot closer than a bad chip! How many times have you heard that?
If you are going to chip, play simple chips shots with a putting style - for a simple pitch shot of say- up to 20 yards, try to keep the wrist firm and play with a pendulum putting stroke, electing to keep the wrists out of the action. This will keep the club more shallow through the ball and reduce the amount of mis-hits.
See each pitch shot as a yardage - rather than being worried about lifting it over a bunker or bush, see the approach shot as a prescribed yardage and play to that, keep the mentality positive!
9. Centre of the green.
As amateurs, always play to the centre of the green with your approach, unless you are more than 80% confident of pulling off the shot you need, play to the middle of the green and accept your two putts from there - the overall score will become lower!
Get out first time, every time - develop a swing length and speed to master a 10-15 yard bunker shot, this will get you out and onto most greens. Commit to the shot and remove some sand, a good tip is to imagine the power you may need to hit the ball 50 yards and then by taking some sand with the ball, the distance the ball goes will become shorter.
11. Missing the green
Always work out the best side to miss the green - there is always a better side of the green to miss, giving the easier up and down opportunity. Example:- By aiming at a back right flag with a deep bunker to the right of the green and then over hitting to the right, may bring a double bogey into play, whereas playing to the left side of the green will leave a long putt but give you a chance of a par!
12. Game management.
Play to your preferred approach distance on long par 4s and par 5s - rather than just taking a fairway wood to get as close to the green as possible, it may be better to play a shorter fairway shot to leave your favourite length, full shot approach, from where you may be able to even create backspin! And therefore control of the shot in to the green!
13.Think off the tee.
How are you teeing off? Always choose the club you are most confident with from the tee - if your fairway wood or hybrid are bringing you a more consistent result, hit theses on most tee shots. Only when there is a wide fairway or the chance to reach the green in regulation should you risk the Driver!
14. Use a map!
Especially if you haven't played a course before. Accurate knowledge of your yardages will help you to plan which holes you may have a chance to scoring well on. A 440 yard par 4, Stroke Index 3, with ponds in range from the tee and deep bunkers around the green may not be an especially great birdie opportunity!
15. Play with better players!
Try to play with golfers that are better than your current level as you will see from how they play, where you may need to improve. This could be specific aspects of the game or it could be the overall tempo of their swing or how they react to disappointments. There will be a few reasons as to why they are able to score better than you, experience does count!