Improving Your Golf Play Part 4 – Prepare for your Round

For now we have covered 3 main topics on improving your game: having golf lessons, choosing the right equipment and practicing. Now let us focus on what you should do to make sure that you arrive at the course ready to play, and how you can maintain your focus during the round.

Ideally you should come to the course well rested without a care in the world. OK, we can forget about that. But you can do much to lessen the pressure at the first tee and to be prepared to have fun, play well and to maintain your composure throughout the round.

The worst thing we can do is to rush to the 1st tee, but of course we all do this. From now on, make an effort to be ready at the course about 30 minutes before tee-off. Do some simple stretching before you start swinging. If the facility allows, hit a few balls on the range just to loosen up. If there is no convenient practice ground at hand, hit a few pitches away from the tee. There will always be a putting green nearby the 1st tee. Make sure that you practice a few putts. Start with 5-6 longer ones to get a feel for the speed of the greens, then most importantly, concentrate on sinking several 4 footers to gain confidence for the round. Listen to that wonderful sound of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup. Psychologically  you are now ready to start the round and you will play much better.

Don’t start a round with your stomach grumbling (although it might help to distract your opponents!) Eat lightly but sufficiently before the round and carry a few energy bars or pieces of fruit in your bag. Have plenty of water. Avoid alcohol on the course at all costs. Think instead about that beer at the end of the round.

During the round take some time for course management. Too many golfers step up to the tee, find a relatively flat spot and swing away. If they give any thought to hazards, or out of bounds, it is to worry, or else blindly hope that they won’t hit the ball there. As the GG Guru pointed out in the Smart Golf blog, a good golfer will set up on the tee to hit away from danger, playing his usual ball flight to avoid trouble. This is an important part of course management. Think ahead too for where you want to play your next shot. On a par five, would you rather have a full wedge to the green, rather than facing an in-between 60 yard pitch? Then maybe you should hit a 4 or 5 iron for your second shot instead of yanking out the 3 wood which anyway will not be enough to reach the green. How about considering the placement of the pin? If it is tucked behind a bunker on the right edge of a green, you have to avoid going right at all costs, and so forth. Take a little time to consider where you want to be after each shot – as well as where you cannot afford to be – and your score will soon improve.

Finally, try to maintain an even disposition. Let’s face it, despite all your lessons, your fine equipment, your effective practice regime, your preparations and your course management skills, you are bound to hit some truly awful shots today. That’s golf. So ease up and focus on the next shot and not on the last one. The GG Guru once played with a promising 16 year old. On the first hole, the kid hit twice out of bounds and took a quadruple bogey 9. On the way the next tee instead of fuming and fussing, he said to me, well now I need to shot 2 over the rest of the way and I can still play my handicap. And he did! Try to develop this kind of attitude. After all you should be playing because it is fun.

Now get out there and play. And let me know about all those pars and birdies!

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