It happens once in a while. You play really well, and leave the course feeling thrilled. But I’ve played nearly my entire life and I can promise you you’ll have more disappointing rounds than satisfying ones. Maybe that’s what makes the great rounds more special and fun.
In any case, let’s take a closer look at the certain skills you’ll need to have more good days on the course.
1. Have great fundamentals
You may have heard me say this before in my other articles, because it’s always worth repeating: If your grip is good, you’ll be more likely to deliver a square clubface into the ball and hit straighter shots. It makes golf so much easier.
When it comes to your posture: You want to bend at the hips and let your hands hang below your shoulders, with a slight knee flex. Good posture will help improve your overall contact, and the two things together are the foundation of every swing.
2. Make consistent contact
While this may seem too obvious, hitting the club properly in the sweet spot is a huge key to distance, accuracy, and overall consistency. It allows you to utilize the technology in the club to your advantage.
One way I train for this is to mark the clubface with face tape or powder, so I can see where on the clubface I’m hitting it.
Another of my favorite drills is to use two tees to form a gate. Place one tee outside the toe, another outside the heel, and swing the clubhead through it without hitting either of the tees.
Start with smaller, slower swings until you groove that center contact. Once you do, gradually build-up speed.
3. Have a Plan B swing
Sometimes, golf rounds can feel more like a roller coaster. They can be fun, but also scary and out-of-control.
When you feel the slide of a bad round coming, make sure you have a go-to Plan B swing you can count on. Mine’s a knockdown shot:
- Take one extra club
- Play the ball back in stance
- Keep weight on front foot
- Take a three-quarter swing
- Finish in balance
4. Keep drives in play
Your best rounds always include hitting your driver well. Good drives make the entire hole easier.
How do you maximize your chances of hitting the driver well? An important key is proper shoulder tilt at address, where your lead shoulder is higher than your trail shoulder at setup. This helps you hit up on the ball and launch the ball higher.
5. Calibrate your wedge distance control
The best golf of your life will require a respectable short game to cover for your errors.
To get there, solid contact should be a given with your chips and pitches — which means budgeting more time than you think for chipping and pitching every time you’re on the range.
And when you’re doing that, take the opportunity to calibrate your pitches in increments of 10 yards (10, 20, 30 yards, etc.) based on the size and speed of your swing. Write the information down, and use it the next time you’re on the course.
6. Eliminate three-putts
You’ll never be able to eliminate three-putting entirely, but your best golf almost always coincides with good putting and distance control.
The ability to read greens well and control distance takes good technique and practice — but it also takes preparation. I’m an ambassador for GolfLogix (an affiliate of 8AM Golf), and I encourage my students to use a green book for their local course. Really study it; I am endlessly amazed by how the green book always gives me the right read even when my eyes don’t see it.
7. Know where NOT to hit it
Good scores come from keeping the ball in play. We all know the spot where we want to hit our ball, but sometimes it’s just as important to know where you absolutely can’t miss. Obviously that means water hazards and out of bounds, but sometimes it can mean a fairway bunker, or a short-sided chip.
Sometimes that also means taking less club to avoid these areas, or aiming farther away so a bad shot — like a slice — is still in play.
Don’t only plan for your best shots, but consider what you often do when you miss the ball and build this into your game plan.
8. Chip vs. pitch whenever possible
Your lowest scores come not only from hitting solid shots, but having playable misses. When deciding which short game shot to hit, you should almost always default to chipping when possible, versus pitching.
Pitching means a bigger swing that sends the ball higher; a chip requires a smaller stroke, with your weight pre-set on your forward foot, which helps guarantee contact with the ground after the ball. With a smaller motion, you’ll simply have more room for error.
9. Manage your misses
This is advice that my father gave me long ago and I believe this is a part of any golfer’s best golf. If your misses are in play and your short game can save you, you limit the stress of being in trouble. Missing the ball straight is a result of a good set up, aiming well and being in balance at your finish. They don’t need to be perfectly straight, and they may not be the prettiest shots (like a slight chunk, or a thinned iron). But as long as they’re in play, you can score.
10. Have a pre-shot routine
Playing your best golf often comes from getting into a good groove with your swing and your routine. Once you define this routine, you should repeat it and keep repeating it.
This focus and willingness to repeat your same routine will help you have continued success and remain calm.
When you watch the best players playing their best, you will see they do the exact same thing each time before each shot. This helps them to maintain focus and also this active routine helps to keep you moving, which leads to being athletic and calm.
The best golf of your life doesn’t mean you play perfectly and hit each shot exactly as planned. Almost all rounds of golf have high and low moments. It is a matter of keeping the low moments to a minimum and knowing how to get through these with the least amount of damage. A competent short game is a must as well as a good attitude. Never give up learning, trying to improve, and doing your best on every shot.
Most importantly, enjoy the good ones!