Golf is a wonderful game but we all want to improve a little bit more and for some a lot more. There can be many contributing factors as to why you find that you are not playing consistently every week or the fact that your handicap seems to be going up a notch instead of the reverse. We all need advice and starting with the basics that help even the lowest handicapper in the club.
On the tee box:
There is nothing like getting up on a tee box and letting fly with the perfect drive down the center of the fairway, well that's the way it should be. There are a number of basic errors golfers can make. Timing when hitting the ball is everything, too many golfers feel the need to smash the ball out of sight when in fact golf is all about placing yourself in position for the next shot. When teeing off with the oversized drivers remember to tee the ball a little higher than normal for a maximum strike.
Different golfers hit the ball different distances, how many times have your seen the guy only 5ft odd hitting the ball 30 yards further than someone of 6ft odd. In golf size does not matter, it's all about the timing of your shot. Golfers who try to kill the ball down the fairway will nine times out of ten make a mess out of the shot either by knocking the ball down or forcing is far left or right. Take your time and play golf like chess or pool, think about placement and the shots ahead, one big drive will not mean a par or birdie.
From the fairway to the green:
If you manage to hit a nice drive from the tee box confidence is at a high, now find the green, easier said than done. Always play to your handicap, if you feel that you cannot make the green on the second shot or quite possible find the bunker why not play a little short to leave a nice wedge to the green for your third? Under clubbing can also be a major problem especially with older golfers like myself, you need to be honest if you are at the age of 50 - 70, we are not young lads anymore so don't be embarrassed to drop down a club or two, it will only help keep the confidence high.
If looking from the fairway to the green you see that the pin position is at the front of the green but just over a bunker, why not aim for the centre of the green, sometimes the gamble will work out for you but the center of the green could get you a safe par or with a nice putt an excellent birdie. When chipping to the green with a little pitching wedge or sand wedge always try and leave yourself with an uphill putt, downhill is always tricky especially in the summer when the greens are lightening fast.
Putting has a similar concept to that of driving from the tee box, timing is important. Never rush a putt no matter how short the distance is from the hole. Avoid at all times the one handed tap ins that could end up costing you dearly, how many times have you yourself tried to finish a putt one handed only to fluff the putt? Unfortunately we are not professionals with a caddy to help us with our shots, you need to take a step back and try to read the lie of the green.
In match play most games are won and lost on the putting surface. Always follow through with your putt, never quit after the backswing, quitting will make you either leave the putt a mile short of add unwanted side spin to the ball.
From the Bunkers:
Sand should only be found on a beach! That's what we would all like to think when we end up in a bunker. The sand shot is something that takes lots of practice. You need to hit hard beneath the ball and to do so a large backswing is important. Remember the ball tends not to travel too far once it hits the green so allow for your shot to be flown as close to the flag as possible.
If you end up at the very front of the bunker and are looking at an next to impossible forward shot play out sideways or backwards, better dropping only one shot than losing the head and hacking two or three in the sand.
Golf is a game of patience, rushing shots never works, a good temperament on the course is like having that extra club in the bag. Always have good protective clothing and waterproof golf shoes, choose your golf balls carefully to gain the extra distance or spin control. The golf glove will give you that extra bit of grip required in wet conditions or peak summer when your hands get sweaty. It's a wonderful game that can be improved with even the basic advice.