We are all on a journey to improve our golf games. Some of us are trying to break 100 for the first time, while others of us are trying to break par consistently. No matter where we are on our journey to improving our golf games, there are always golf tips that can help.
Sometimes it’s a golf tip we heard many years ago and recalling that tip or implementing the swing thought could help us find that magic piece for a round or two. The game of golf can be great to us one day and get the best of us the next day. What helps you be more consistent. Tip #11 might the the missing ingredient!
As an amateur golfer, I have been at different stages of the journey over the past 30 years, I am here to provide my best golf tips (top 11) that I have ever received. These tips are my go to when I struggle or when someone is seeking help from me. Having coached high school golf for many years, I have experienced the highs and lows not only in my own game, but in those I am trying to help.
At the end of the day, the game of golf is a blast and what we might enjoy most is the difficulty that exist in trying to master the game and the ongoing pursuit of chasing that perfect round we dream about. Take some time and review the top 11 best golf tips below and see if one can help your game today!
I encourage all golfers to keep a journal of their golf journey with their game and their golf swing. Focus on the feelings of your swing and where your mindset was for that round. Log some simple stats such as greens hit in regulation, total number of putts, percentage times you save par by getting up and down, fairways hit, scoring average on par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. Also, take some notes on your course management that day – did you make good decisions or did several poor decisions lead to big scores?
We finish with two BONUS golf swing tips on how to cure your slice and how to hit a draw. Probably the most sought after battles in all of golf, especially for the beginner golfer who is hitting the ugly, distance zapping slice that is only going 180 yards and leaving you in the trees to the right.
Best Golf Tips #1 – Swing to the Target, Not to the Ball
Too many golfers make the target the ball, creating sloppy swings that result in poor contact and poor distance. We can all get stuck in the rut of playing golf swing vs. playing the game of golf. What I mean by that is we spend time trying to produce the perfect swing to produce the perfect shot.
Many play golf for all 18 holes and only hitting the “perfect shot” maybe once or twice a round if we are fortunate. Instead, focus on what shape of the shot you want to hit and envision the target and the shot you need. Swing the club more naturally and allow your body to take over. Of course this takes getting your golf swing to a certain spot in the ability to strike the ball clean and hit certain shots, but in reality this isn’t that far away.
Shawn Clement, one of the best online golf instructors in my opinion, teaches a target based approach that frees a golfer up and allows you to play the game of golf instead of playing golf swing. It is truly liberating and makes the game more enjoyable.
Too often we can get stuck in trying to reproduce positions that we are adaptable human beings not built to do the same thing over and over again, but rather to adapt to the setting and the situation. Of course, no two shots in golf are ever truly alike, which sets up well for this approach.
Stop trying to manipulate the club and focus on the target. You might be amazed at what your mind and body can produce when focused on a target.
Some popular, go to lines for Shawn Clement:
“Your setup should match the picture”
“Did I stay with my picture?”
“If you stay with your shot you will have a much higher chance of pulling it off”
Best Golf Tips #2 – Golf is Not a Game of Perfect
Golfers must learn to love ‘the challenge when they hit a ball into the rough, trees, or sand. The alternatives—anger, fear, whining, and cheating—do no good.Bob Rotella
Bob Rotella wrote an entire book on the topic, “Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect.” Many of us strive to play the perfect shot and the perfect round and once again get distracted from enjoying the challenge that each shot brings.
The most recent analytics from the PGA tour can help keep your expectations for that 150 yard shot in check. The current leader on tour (April 2019) in proximity to the pin from 150-175 yards averages 22’5”. The 100th player on that list from the same distance averages 28’4”.
What this tells me and should highlight for us is that even the best players in the hole from 150-175 yards are only getting their shots between 22’ and 28’ close to the hole. Too many amateurs expect to stick every shot and have 10 foot birdie putts all day. Instead, embrace the opportunity to hit quality shots within a certain range and take pride in managing not only your good shots, but your poor shots as well. This will go a long way in not only improving your score, but increasing your overall enjoyment of the game.
I often remind myself and one playing partner in particular that “Golf is not a game of perfect,” enjoy the journey and challenge that each shot brings.
Interview with Bob Rotella
Best Golf Tips #3 – Play To Your Strengths
Everyday is a different day on the golf course. You typically know your strengths. For example, some of you might be great at hitting a controlled fade and some of you may be power players that have the go to draw shot. While others might be amazing from 80 yards and in, but struggle with shots over 200 yards.
The great thing about the game of golf is that there are many ways to make pars. I have witnessed young high school golfers who can’t hit the ball over 200 yards shoot in the 70s by getting up and down more than 50% of the time. The golfer was able to manage the course and each shot and set himself up for success. When you are facing the 220 yard shot over water for a 2nd shot on a par 5 and you are very good with your wedges, go ahead and lay up to a comfortable yardage.
Another way to play to your strengths is to play the shot you are hitting that day. If you are hitting a nice draw all day, stick with it if that’s where your comfort zone is, even if it means taking a 3 wood for a hole where the idea shot is a fade.
It is difficult to fix your swing on the course, but you can fix it at the range after the round or even the next day or two. Don’t get stuck in the trap of trying to fix your golf swing during a round. Play the round of golf that day with what you have and go with it.
Best Golf Tips #4 – Take The Extra Club
Many amateurs struggle with distance control and getting the ball to the hole. The one time you hit your 8 iron 150 yards, does not mean that every time you are at 150 you should pull the 8 iron. Unless you can hit your 8 iron at least 150 yards 8 times out of 10, you should consider pulling the 7 iron.
It is better to go with the bigger club and take a smooth swing. You will be surprised on the crispness of the ball strike and how you can manage your distance control that much better. There is nothing worse than hitting a well struck shot, only to have it come up 10 yards short in a bunker or leaving yourself with a chip shot.
Best Golf Tips #5 – Swing Your Swing
I am guilty of always seeking the latest new swing to help my game. While I have been able to take elements from different instructors, they key is to get to know your swing and what causes different shots that are your trouble shots. If you look at the greatest of all time – Ben Hogan had a golf swing that went more around his body, while Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods had more upright swings.
Some of the best golfers of all time had a weak grips, while some hall of fame golfers had a strong grip. Some love to fade the ball, while others hit the draw. Lee Trevino and Freddie Couples always set up open to the target, while Arnold Palmer was always slightly closed. The point being – there are many ways to swing.
The three key fundamentals include being able to hit the ball clean the majority of the time, having enough distance to play a course, and being able to control the curvature of your shots. These three can be accomplished from different grips, setups, and shapes of the swing. Learn your swing and play the game your way. However, do not hesitate to seek help and guidance along the way. Even the best golfers in the world rely on a teacher for another set of eyes and help at different points.
Best Golf Tips #6 – Keep the Grip Loose
I am sure you have heard the saying, “Grip the club like you are holding a bird” or “Grip the club like it is a tube of toothpaste.” The main point being is that your body should be relaxed and able to hit the shot. Having a tight grip will increase tension throughout your swing and actually reduce your ability to create your maximum speed.
Best Golf Tips #7 – Spend Time on the Short Game
The short game is the ultimate equalizer or eraser. It can help you hang with golfers who strike the ball better or hit it further. It will also help you on the days where you just don’t “have it” that day.
If you are trying to break 80, they key is to be able to get up and down in shots from any spot around the green. If you can do this 50% of the time, you are in a great positions to start shooting the best rounds of your life. Too many people spend time pounding the driver at the driving range and looking for the secret golf swing, instead head to your local public golf course, take 3 to 5 golf balls and spend 30-45 minutes several times a week working on chipping and putting.
Ideally, we would all hit 18 Greens in Regulation each round, but in reality we know we are going to miss anywhere from 4-9 greens per round even when you are playing at a high level. For those struggling to break 100, the short game is even that much more important. Become the golfer that everyone talks about having a great short game and you will be happy with your scores.
Next time your game is struggling, go spend a good hour practicing your chipping. It could help your ball contact and full swing as well. Working on that simple motion can have a benefit to your full swing. It will also help you stay positive during a round when you are able to get up and down to save a par or bogey and keep you positive from a mindset perspective.
Best Golf Tips #8 – Understand the Ball Flight Laws
One of the great mysteries during my youth days of playing golf that now make so much sense as I dreamed about hitting a push draw was how to hit the draw or a fade on demand. Here are the basics. The ball is going to start in the direction that your club face is facing. For example, if your club is right of the target line, your ball will start to the right. From there, if the club face is facing right of the target, but is closed to the path, you will hit a push draw.
For example, if your club face is 2 degree open or to the right and your path is 4 degree to the right, the ball will start right and draw. If your club face is 5 degrees open and your path is 3 degrees to the right you will hit a push fade.
Understanding these ball flight laws will help you understand why certain shots are flying certain directions. Growing up, I always was taught we must get the club face closed to hit a draw when the reality is that club face just has to be closed to the path. This is the reason many of us struggled to hit the desirable and easy to control push draw. We were trying to close our club face, which actually started the ball to the left. The things I wish I knew 20 years ago!
Best Golf Tips #9 – Control Your Speed in Putting
When a putt is hit with perfect speed not only does it increase the chance of the ball going in the hole, but it will help on those putts where you missed read the putt. If you over read the break by 2 feet to the right, but hit it the right speed, let’s say from 20 feet, you will only have 2 feet left for your tap in. The key to stress free rounds are being able to create enough tap ins on your longer birdie putts. If you can chip or putt the ball close from far away and have 3-5 tap ins for par throughout the round you will be setup for success.
Best golf Tips #10 – Golf is Supposed to Be Fun
Most rounds of golf start with the right intention, but can quickly go south with a bad tee shot on the first hole or a missed short putt. Many of us dream about playing golf and then when we get the opportunity we quickly turn to negative self talk and beat ourselves up throughout the round and most of it starts with unrealistic expectations.
Set your expectations at a realistic level and try to have the mindset that you are looking forward to the challenge that each shot with a round of golf brings. Has anyone ever played the perfect round of golf? Probably not! But even the best rounds have challenges that one must overcome. Embrace that challenge and enjoy it! You will play better golf as a result and your game will improve at a faster rate.
A great challenge to measure your game and do something different is to play a shorter set of tees. If you normally play from the 6,000-6,500 yard range, consider playing from 5,000-5,500 and see if you can shoot par. This will provide great feedback on the quality of your game from 120 yards and in and give you the feeling the most powerful hitters have. You might be surprised on the feedback you get back from your short game.
Best Golf Tips # 11 – Check Your Tempo
I think this is the most important tip of all. The tempo is the greatest key to keeping everything together throughout your round. Your practice swings should have a focus on tempo, not on positions of the swing. Focusing on positions during a round can be a major distraction and cause some very errant shots.
Instead focus on the target and the tempo you want to produce during your golf swing. My eyes were opened by tour tempo and the data that he collected regardarding the typical tempo by pros which consist of a 3:1 ratio. The backswing takes three times as long as the downswing. Regardless of the overall timing, what he found is that the golf swing had a 3:1 ratio. Where amateurs are all over the map and have a hard time replicating a tempo consistently.
BONUS TIPS – Two Best Tips to cure your slice and how to hit a draw!
Often times when someone starts playing the game of golf, the first major obstacle is to cure the slice. It can be a major distance killer and causes bad ball contact. Many people have played some baseball in their life and that same baseball movement can cause the slice as people often quickly fire out with their upper body, causing an across the line shot that starts left of the target. From there the golfer continues to aim further left and the slice only gets larger.
Below I provide what I believe are the best free youtube videos to help you cure your slice. Keep in mind that the arms must fire before the upper body and you want your path to be to the right. When the upper body fires too early, you cut across the ball causing a left swing path.
As far as hitting a draw, the newer, better understood ball flight laws will play a major role. Too many golfers think that to hit a draw that the must get their hands through the ball. A draw can be hit with an open club face as long as the clubface is closed to the path. For example, if the club face is 2 degrees open and the path is 5 degrees to the right, you will hit a push draw.
The ultimate in golf is being able to hit both draws and fades depending on the makeup of the hole. Once you reach this level of your game, you can best manage and play the course instead of playing golf swing. I believe the best teacher for working the ball both ways is Shawn Clement. He spends a great amount of time on working with the setup and having a vision for the shot. Then having a focus on the target and allowing gravity to control the path and the release. It is a more stress free way of playing golf and allows you to enjoy the challenge of the game of golf.
Best Golf Tip on How to Cure Your Slice
Best Golf Tip on How to Hit A Draw
We all want to enjoy the game of golf and what better way to enjoy the game then by shooting great scores. The people around us and in our foursomes will help make the game enjoyable or not, but you want to play your best golf.
One major home improvement and investment I made recently was to build a golf simulator in my garage. I am now able to practice the game of golf 365 days a year and no longer can the snow, rain or cold weather stop me from practicing, playing and enjoying the game that I love. I have linked my comprehensive guide on how to build a golf simulator. You might be surprised by the affordability of a home golf simulator as technology has improved and the cost has decreased.
Whatever brings you joy in the game of golf, make sure you enjoy the journey and keep in mind that each shot is its own adventure. Enjoy that adventure and embrace the challenge. I think you will find with this mindset, you will shoot better scores and ultimately have more fun.