See how you can improve your game with these helpful tips.

What is the easiest way to take strokes of my game?

Holing out every shot that you could reach the green with? Yes but highly unlikely. One putting every green? Unlikely but more possible. For discussion sake, let’s say you hole out in one putt on every green – what would allow you to take more strokes off your game? Hitting your drives longer or hitting the green with every approach shot? Unless you hit the drives farther and in doing so they reach the putting surface the better solution is to hit more approaches on the green.  For example if you hit the green in three shots and make the putt you make a 4, now if you hit it in 2 you make 3, so you save one shot every time you hit the green. Now in reality, nobody one putts every green, so hitting your approach shots on the green doesn’t amount to one less shot every hole because you could hit the green and take 3 or more putts, but the more often you hit the green with your approach shots the better your odds of making a birdie or par and the less your odds are of taking a bogey or higher. Now if you aren’t hitting it far enough to hit the greens in regulation make sure you are playing from the correct tees for your skill level, the next thing is to try and get more distance, see the article about getting more distance for the short hitter. This isn’t to take away the importance of short game in fact the average person might find it easier to improve short game. But unless you are holing out shots or getting near par 5’s in two your short game won’t give you birdies, plus by hitting your approach shots better you’ll have more birdie putts and shorter birdie putts and when you miss the green you’ll be closer to the hole and have a better chance to get up down for par. This concept also applies to the player that is taking more shots to reach the green, they will still benefit by hitting more approaches on the green or closer.

Drive it longer or hit to the green?

This is a pretty unfair question as it should be "drive it longer or hit the approach better". If you read the tip (above) on taking strokes off your game, you’ll know that hitting the approach shots on the greens are directly linked to better scoring. You might hit it 20 yards further in the fairway and still miss the green although hitting it longer leaves shorter shots and shorter clubs into the greens which might increase your odds of hitting your approach shots closer. But you are bringing in more variables by trying to hit it further, first you need to learn how to hit it further and second you need learn to hit these longer shots in play otherwise they are worthless. But with your present distance if you learn to hit your approaches better you can save strokes right away. See the tip on hitting better approaches (below).

Do I change the whole swing or fix the ball flight?

Normally I recommend fixing the ball flight which includes some swing changes; however, most people perform better by staying close to the swing they’ve developed and not doing a total swing overhaul. Most people don’t have the time or patience to do a complete overhaul even if it is possible. I do think reevaluating some swing concepts that are questionable would be worthwhile, in other words, do not hang on to swing tips you read in a magazine or moves your favorite player makes if these concepts don’t fit into your swing or body movement. Getting rid of incorrect swing thoughts is not always easy but many times makes golf more natural and fun to play.

Where is the bottom of my swing?

Hit some irons and identify where is impacts the ground.  I recommend the bottom of your swing being under the ball or slightly left of your ball.

image by golf digest.

image by golf digest.

How do I hit better approaches?

Two important areas for better approaches are better contact and better direction. Hitting the ball on the center of the club face gives good contact and hitting the ball with the club face square to the path you want the ball to start on gives better direction.  I recommend learning contact first, a square club face while hitting the ground 4 inches before the ball or cold topping the ball don’t do anyone any good. Therefore this tip will deal with better contact in regards to your swing bottom. Hit the ball as the club is traveling slightly downward and just before the club reaches the ground. The divot will appear right under the ball or slightly left and continue to the left.  It’s okay if you just scrape the grass without a divot, but hitting the ground before the ball is the least desirable impact, it will slow your club down and can twist your clubface right or left. Your aim should be to contact the ball first and the grass second. Trying to catch the ball on the upswing means your low point is behind the ball and this could easily turn into a top or hitting the ground behind the ball.

I am a short hitter.  How do I get more distance?

Before you try and change your swing completely or buy an expensive driver, swing the club back in a nice full arc keeping your head fairly steady without locking your neck and shoulders muscles, turn you back to the target and your left shoulder under your chin, get your hands up a little higher and your club back a little further then without rushing swing down with more speed than you have been using and have some fun and smack the ball out there further than ever before. How fast should you swing?  For now, if you finish on balance, majority of weight on left foot, belly button facing target, right heel off the ground, club over left shoulder, you are doing it right.

I hit a big slice.  What should I do?

Most people find after a while that the big slice losses too much distance and it’s hard to play for, so they learn to correct it. This doesn’t mean you have to change your whole golf swing but you need to make the changes that will allow the ball to fly straighter.  In doing this, you are usually creating a better swing as a result which often gives us straighter and longer shots. The golfer needs to be open minded to new or different concepts and new feels that might at initially not feel correct only because they are different and not confuse different from wrong.  Don’t let contact mislead you, you might miss hit more than usual while making a change but a mishit doesn’t mean much during that phase. In fact a solid hit  with a poor swing is misleading as well. Now if you are hitting them solidly and straight with good distance with an unorthodox swing, my advice is to leave the range and work on short game or even better – go play.