Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
A new year is upon us, and that means it’s time to make some resolutions. These aspirations typically come in the form of self improvement, but here at GOLF.com, we’ve got a better idea for 2023 — resolutions for game improvement.
Below, we’ve outlined 10 New Year’s resolutions focused on improving your golf game. If you can follow them throughout the year to come, we’re confident 2023 will be one of your best on the course.
1. Commit to every shot
It’s a bit painful to start this list with a cliché, but for this one we’ll make an exception. If you want to play better golf, committing to every shot is a must. There’s a reason the saying is repeated ad nauseam in this game — because it’s true.
2. Take a lesson
There’s no surer way to improve than taking lessons. Trying to diagnose your swing faults without the help of a professional is like trying to diagnose your ailments without the help of a doctor. If you’re serious about improvement, call up a professional and get a consultation on the books.
3. Play it forward
Before you roll your eyes, consider the benefits of playing it forward. You get more work with your scoring clubs. You get a different look at your typical course. You make more birdies. Plus, you get used to shooting lower scores. All are keys for improvement.
4. Set goals
If you’re serious about improvement this season, make a list of concrete goals. Approach every round with those goals in mind and stay focused on the task at hand. If you meet the goals prematurely, set the bar higher!
5. Speed train
Clubhead speed is all the rage these days, and for good reason. If you can bomb it past your competition, you’re at a distinct advantage. The only way to get those extra yards is through speed training. So get out there, buy a speed-building training aid (like the one below), and start working on your ability to hit bombs.
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6. Get fitted for clubs
You’ll be shocked at how much you improve once you get a set of weapons tailor made for your swing. It’s not a cheap endeavor, but it’s well worth the investment.
7. Play a new format
Stroke play is fun, but there is so much more to competitive golf than just one format. Match play, four-ball, alternate shot — there are a bevy of options for you to explore this year, and each requires a different mindset and strategy. Try something different and see how it affects your play. It might flip a switch you didn’t know you had.
8. Stretch more
Mobility is key in golf, and the best way to get it is through stretching. Stretch your golf muscles every day — even when you’re not playing — to keep yourself fresh. When you get back to the course, you’ll be amazed how much more mobility you have.
9. Take dead aim
In the wise words of Harvey Penick, take dead aim. Have confidence in your abilities, pick your target and execute the shot. Penick tried to make the game simple, and there is no advice more succinct than taking dead aim.
10. Have fun!
Even when things aren’t going your way on the course, try to have fun. A bad day on the course is better than a good day in the office — enjoy it!