If you're new to golf, it's probably occurred to you that the sport is more challenging than it looks from the outside. More often than not, you have to fight through demanding courses and conditions. You also need to anticipate and be able to execute almost every shot imaginable on the course. To add to the complexity, there's also learning to master the game's mental side so that your mind hardly ever holds you back.
Most amateurs usually find themselves in a fairly common pitfall of making the same mistake over and over again. Fortunately, most of these can be fixed with the right pointers. In fact, many golfers thrive on sharing tips on and off the course. This guide comprises the 20 best golf tips to become a better golfer, shoot lower scores and have more fun while at it! Let's get to it.
a). Start Right
One of the best golf tips you'll ever learn in your time in the sport is to do it right from the onset. This equips you with a proper solid foundation to set you off in the right direction and avoid plenty of mistakes along the way. It starts with playing the right equipment.
Blades and unforgiving clubs make golf even harder. You'll probably find yourself shooting average scores in the '90s. The tip here is quite straightforward: Play the right clubs based on your current ability. It doesn't matter what you'll bring to the golf course, as long as your scores and overall gameplay keeping improving.
The golf ball is often overlooked, yet it also plays a significant role, especially if you're just starting. For a beginner, it's best if you get a distance-oriented ball rather than spin. As your game develops, you can certainly change the golf ball to match your evolution in golf.
Tip 1: Focus on the Basics
Most beginners are usually preoccupied with hitting distances and shooting lowers scores that they often overlook the game's fundamental. It should go without saying that basics are prominently important in the golf player you are or will become.
Working on your setup before you hit the ball is one of the most beneficial golf tips you'll ever receive. Plenty of what goes into a golf swing relies heavily on how well set you were before hitting the ball.
A solid stance is where it all begins. Ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart with your knees bent in an athletic position. Additionally, you'll need to widen your stance to make up for longer golf clubs, such as your driver or fairway woods.
Once you have nailed a proper stance, you subsequently have to develop a good posture. Ideally, you should flatten your back, tilt your knees, bend your knees and then keep your head slightly back at address.
Equally important, your grip must always match your swing. Beginners are better off starting with a neutral grip. As your golf swing develops and improves, you'll be able to judge your grip's feedback better to adjust grip pressure accordingly.
Tip 2: Get Lessons Early
This particularly applies to players who are new to golf. At such an early point, you have the luxury of not having formed bad habits yet. It's always advisable to hire a swing coach, even for just a few lessons, to help you work on the basics. While you can certainly also learn on your own, a professional coach expedites the learning process, takes you in the right direction and points out your mistakes in real-time.
A good swing coach instils a strong foundation for their learners. They help you to get the right stance and posture to the target. They also assist you in working on your takeaway, transition and even downswing. Furthermore, you can also learn a couple of chipping and pitching skills from them. By and large, a good swing coach moulds the right habits to become an accomplished golfer right from the start.
Tip 3: Master Your Tempo
Don't professional players make golf look easy and pleasing to the eye, thanks to elegant finishes? Most great golf players are fairly unique in how they approach and play the game. But if there's one thing that's common across the board, it's a great tempo.
Most of them, if not all, have a 3:1 tempo. This simply means that the backswing is thrice as long as the downswing. Whether you have a slow or fast golf swing speed, you must learn how to pull off the 3:1 speed for full shots. If there's one thing that you should borrow from the golfers you have seen on television, make it the tempo.
b). Maximize Learning from Others
It's fairly common knowledge that Tiger Woods improved his putts after getting a putting tip from Steve Stricker. A small tip can drastically boost how you play for the rest of your tip in the game. The problem is, there's usually no one around to share golf tips and pointers. Furthermore, some players may receive the nuggets of wisdom and promptly shake it off rather than attempting even just once.
If you ever get a pointer or tip from someone, the least you can do is try it once. If it doesn't work out for you, there's little to lose, and it only takes away a negligible fraction of your time. Conversely, it could be the one thing that takes your game to the next level.
The biggest problem with tips and pointers is typically distinguishing good ones from the bad. Bad advice develops bad habits, which will spiral into bad performance. The golf and swing tips dissected in this article are tried and tested. They'll more than likely help you to become a better golfer one way or the other.
Not all tips will work for you, how you play and your current golfing abilities. With that being said, the only way to find out is to try them at least once. There's nothing to lose after all.
c). Long Game Strategies
Executing a well-struck drive is arguably one of the most rewarding experiences for any golfer. The modern game has certainly evolved to focus on more distance and power. Harnessing enough power for the desired distances requires a great deal of finesse and technique.
Tip 4: Your Knees are The Key to Your Iron Game
Generally, most emphasis is put on arms, back and shoulder for the long game. While this is not a misguided approach, it somewhat fails to account for the difference between a teed-up ball for driver shots and when the ball is on the ground for irons.
Rory McIlroy, an unequivocal star of his generation, suggests moving your weight down and forward as you make the golf swing. It allows the bottom of your swing to angle in front of the ball. To move your weight, you'll need to drive your left knee towards the ball then straighten it as you make the full swing. Butch Harmon adds to this by suggesting that you push your right knee to your left knee as you swing to shift your weight forward properly.
An easy way to align your iron shot entails putting your chest directly above the top of the ball at impact. A combination of these tips will certainly amp your iron game a notch.
Tip 5: The Wind is on Your Side
If you're playing the long game, the wind is undeniably your friend. It's quite self-explanatory that you shouldn't try to fight the wind to hit the desired distance. Yet, some players still find themselves repeating the common mistake of hitting too hard. On the contrary, you should make an easier swing to get the most of swinging downwind rather than harder.
Butch Harmon puts it quite well: "Emphasize on hitting the ball solidly instead of embracing the urge to swing harder." Swinging too hard in the wind generates more backspin, sending the ball higher, compromising distance. The key takeaway delaying your impact and giving more room, the same way you'd play a fade or draw. Here's how to do it:
- Set the ball an inch further from your normal stance.
- Tee the ball approximately an inch higher.
- Be patient and swing undemandingly, mostly focusing on well-struck hits rather than a hard swing.
It's also advisable to bring more clubs when it's windy. This gives you plenty of options to stay more on top of the ball during impact.
Tip 6: Picture Hitting a Second Ball
You'll often hear in golfing circles the importance of focusing on what you do before impact for a powerful swing. However, that's not the end of it. You also need to think of what happens after impact to avoid unconsciously pulling the golf club too quickly.
For starters, you need to evaluate your swing habits. Do you oftentimes break down your wrist and pull the club during impact? If you do, here's how you fix the problem: Imagine hitting a second ball, approximately 20-inches in front of the ball, then place it on a straight line between the actual golf ball and the target.
You can even use an actual ball to practice. Since you'll hit the second ball right after the first, your muscle memory builds the right extension after impact, which drastically improves your distance. To get the most out of your practice, you must ensure that you hit both balls with solid contact while maintaining your rhythm and form for both. This also boosts your finesse and accuracy, equally helping you to gain more distance.
Tip 7: The Secret Rhythm
An exquisite motion rhythm is essential for a solid long game. Dustin Johnson has a remarkably simple trick to achieve this: As he's preparing for a swing, he tends to bend his wrists towards the ball a little. This is commonly known as triggering your swing. It builds muscle memory such that you can maintain a rhythm throughout your swings.
A key thing to remember is to keep the clubface closed at all times, regardless of the trigger you adopt. An open clubface tends to slice the ball, certainly not what you want in your long game.
d). Short Game Strategies
While the long game is power and distance oriented, the short game focuses on finesse, technique and accuracy. This is precisely what gives golf its diversity in play styles. Here are some of the best golf tips to build finesse and precision in your short game.
Tip 8: Get an Eye Exam
Many golfers tend to overestimate their eyesight ability. The truth is, a good number of players cannot perceive depth accurately, which then hinders their judgement of the distance to the hole, with as high as a 25% error rate. Furthermore, players often focus more on breaks and directions rather than distance when putting.
The obvious tip would be getting professional advice from an optometrist after they've examined your eyes. However, you can also establish whether you're depth-deficient or not on your own:
- Pick a random object- an actual hole even- at least 20 feet from you.
- Focus on that hole, primarily drumming it into your mind's eye.
- Close your eyes, then point both index fingers to where you think the target sits.
- Open your eyes and examine if you pointed correctly.
You should keep practising with various objects until you can consistently get it right.
Tip 9: Perfecting Short off a Tight Lie
Many golfers struggle with a tight lie or short grass, particularly short chip shots and pitch shots. The secret is to play it farther back. The tighter the lie, or the shorter the grass, the farther back your stance should be.
You start by trying to place the clubhead behind the ball using only your right hand. Afterwards, step in with your right foot when you're setting the ball, lining it up with your instep. Then, set your left foot into a narrow stance as your complete the grip.
For the best results, you should favour your front foot, while your club shaft should lean forward. The key is to swing such that you hit the ball first instead of the ground. This normally comes with regular practice. Always ensure that you keep a narrow stance while simultaneously not letting your hands go too far ahead of the clubhead.
Tip 10: The Sand Wedge Putt
This technique was popularized by Lee Trevion back in the '70s, and it's continued to be used by pro golfers thereafter. It can be quite intimidating for beginners, mostly due to the perceived complexity. The reality is, it's not that challenging to pull off, and it's always a nifty addition to any player's arsenal.
The sand wedge putt is highly effective when the ball is just off the edge of the greens or in a light rough. More so, it's equally adaptable when the ball sits on the fringe's outer edge, and it backs up against a rough lie.
In such situations, the ideal scenario revolves around getting the ball rolling at whatever cost. Unfortunately, a putter's flat blade might not glide through grass taller than the fringe smoothly. The sand wedge's sharp and heavy clubface is much more suited to the task. It cuts the grass easier and sharper to deliver the desired roll.
At this point, it's important to distinguish the difference in power between a sand wedge and a putter. A sand wedge adds more power to the impact, which means you have a bit of practising to do to understand the differences in distances, as well as getting used to the feel. Fortunately, both pieces of equipment have fairly similar swing weight, so you don't need to change this too much. While at it, your putting grip should remain as usual.
Tip 11: Get the Right Clubs for Your Play Style
The rules of the game allow you to bring 14 different clubs for good measure. This allows you to handle various situations on the course. Nevertheless, some golfers get confused about which specific circumstances require a certain club.
While it might be somewhat straightforward differentiating when to use a putt and a driver, the same cannot be said for different irons and edges. Here are some golf tips on how to approach such situations:
- The secret to using different clubs is familiarizing yourself with every club to have a clear picture of how far you can hit with each of them.
- For irons and wedges, the key is to use the lowest loft angle for the situation at hand. For context, chips less than 20-feet from the flag are best hit with 9-iron or wedges.
- Middle irons are suited for longer shots. The longest chips require a 5- or 4-iron. The key is always to maintain a consistent technique with all your irons.
- Damp or cold days are best handled with slightly longer irons.
- If you're playing down the wind, use shorter irons and play short of the flag. This minimizes backspin.
- It's relatively easy to get caught up in an adrenaline rush when playing golf. Understand your own psyche so that you don't end up hitting with more swing.
Tip 12: Putt Like Tiger Woods
As we've mentioned before, Tiger Woods learnt his putting technique from Steve Stricker. Apparently, the trick is a square stance, plus a left-hand brush through the golf ball.
This means narrowing your stance and smoothing your tempo with the left hand. Building this rhythm in your game will definitely take some time, but you'll get there if you keep practising. One thing to keep in mind about Tiger Wood's putt is how he brushes the ball of the grass smoothly, rather than hitting it rapidly.
A great putt is defined by a smooth rhythm from start to finish, not the amount of strength you exert.
e). Perfect Your Stance
Several golf players believe that the secret to a great swing is a proper stance. This is certainly among the best golf tips you'll learn from this guide.
Stances and setup habits vary from golfer to the other. Nevertheless, a few basic tips can help you build the correct stance, which will be a major factor for success on the golf course.
Tip 13: Keep Your Hands Low
Lowering your hand position lowers the point of impact, which, consequently, limits the height of the follow-through. This is specifically critical for drives and faraway shots, which at best should have less flight trajectory to generate more distance. This technique is also applicable to any shot for better overall distance.
The common mistake for beginners and amateurs is using a stronger club to accomplish the same effect. Some also opt to move the ball back in their stance to adjust the impact angle. Both techniques can be challenging to execute and less reliable at that.
The key is to adjust your hands until you can feel the club heel almost digging into the turf right before impact, especially with iron shots. This isn't literally digging into the turf but more of visualizing it. You should pull your left arm across your chest from the top through impact. This helps you to maintain the low-hand position as you go for the inside approach.
A low-hand position gives you more room to sling the head through the ball, further boosting your distance. Therefore, you must practice this technique, including in the finish, to get a better trajectory and distance.
Tip 14: Use Your Body for Power during a Golf Swing
Some golfers falsely believe that the key to swing power and distance rests on your whole body swing rather than your arms. We must emphasize this is often a misguided golf tip.
The concept of hitting the ball can be quite confusing. The secret is to keep your arms, hands and wrist inactive as you swing, instead directing the energy to your hips, legs and torso. Your arms should only come in when you want to control the swing.
Here's how to go about it:
- Find the correct ball placement that doesn't require you to reach or adjust your arms.
- Use your wrist to move the clubhead backwards. Feel how the move minimizes tension in your forearms. This should be your starting stance.
- Use your shoulders to move the club backwards while still keeping your arms passive throughout. This might feel unfamiliar at first, but you'll get used to it over time.
- Go for the swing. Remember to keep your arms and wrist intact, even after impact. Your arms should separate from your body naturally. The resultant momentum helps to take your arms away from your body.
- Rather than using your arms muscles to stop the swing, allow natural momentum to do this for you.
Just as important, you should allow your hips to lead you throughout the whole movement. Your hips should drive your shoulders forward, which in turn drives your arms toward the ball. This results in a more natural movement. It gives both a more powerful and effective swing while also preventing injuries.
Essentially, you must be extra keen on your swing so that it doesn't turn your wrist right before impact. A wrist snap, as it is usually referred to as, turns the forearms resulting in a hook. Let your wrist turn as naturally as possible.
Tip 15: Aim Above & Below
Right from the onset, every golfer is taught how to always aim at the flag and adjust their body alignment with it. This is certainly not wrong advice, but there's a better way to approach it: Pay attention to what's above and below the flag.
The goal is to find a focal point on the horizon above the flag. This can be anything, a treetop, a hill peak, an audience member or whatever gives you a decent reference point. This becomes especially useful in situations when you aren't playing the ball directly at the flag. The focal point helps you to hold your concentration and makes it easier to align your body.
After you have picked a proper focal point, check what's below the horizon. This could also be anything, an unravelled patch of grass, a leaf on the ground, etcetera. As long as it's aligned to the spot above, it should more than adequately help you get a better body alignment, hence a more accurate shot.
Tip 16: Walk Smart, Play Smart
Truth be told, maintaining concentration for over four hours on the golf course can be a tremendously hard task. So what keeps you grounded? The walk. Normally, walking between your shots should allow your mind to take a brief break from golf. Other golfers use this period to think about the next move; others do both.
Our advice would be to let your mind wander to all sorts of pleasant things happening in your life besides golf. As you approach 40 yards or so from the ball, you can begin to analyse the situation. This is ideal for examining wind speeds by looking at trees and anticipating how the ball will roll by looking at the greens.
Ultimately, the objective is to use the time wisely and not to allow stress to build up. By the time you get to the ball, you should be sufficiently rested and well-informed to fully focus on the imminent shot.
Tip 17: Work on Your Address Position
If you are struggling with how your putts roll, say they easily roll off the desired line or are too weak to get to the target, your address position might be the problem behind your challenges. This issue also stems from how the angle of the putter approaches the ball.
An ideal putter angle is either level to the ground or slightly raised away at the point of impact. An impact slightly down at the ball most times results in weak dribbles and poor strikes. So, how do you work on your address position?
You start with the fundamentals: Set the ball a little bit more forward. This delays impact slightly, making it level to the ground rather than hitting downwards. You can hit ten or more putts towards one hole for practice and observing your short putts' consistency. The balls should already be in position to help you make out your shot pattern, which gives you more insight on the side you tend to miss more.
The following tips should help you to develop your address position for consistent putts:
- Maintain a balanced address position. Your body must be parallel to the intended target.
- When you're at the address, hold the top of the putter next to your left eye, using the putter head to aim for the ball. If you've nailed it, you should be able to see the putter head directly on top of the ball.
- Keep your stance optimally comfortable. Next, you should hit the putt by tilting your hips and flexing your knees. Ideally, the club should address the impact without your body impeding the move.
Tip 18: Move Your Weight for Slopes and Breaks
It's a well-known fact that maintaining consistent accuracy in golf is one of the hardest things in the game. This goes back to our biological wiring to see level things better, essentially a preference for flatness. In turn, we often judge distance, angle and position based on this internal gyroscope, which can be erroneous sometimes.
In fact, when playing a left-to-right slope, most players will naturally miss to the left. The opposite is equally true. The secret is to make out your centre of gravity on the slope you're standing on, then force your body to lean towards the opposite direction. At first, this might feel foreign as you'll be distorting the natural inner gyroscope. But with practice, it'll soon enough become second nature.
Most pro golfers, right-handed ones, in this case, tend to shift their weight into their heels for left-to-right putts. For the opposite side, they shift the weight into their toes.
f). Your Health Matters. A Lot!
Last but certainly not least, maintaining good health is incredibly important to high-performance playing for all sports, golf included.
Tip 19: Do The Most Important Stretches before A Round
Workout exercises are incredibly helpful to develop strength and flexibility, which consequently boosts your performance. As you would expect, you'll never have enough time to perform full-body workouts and stretches between rounds. Nevertheless, there are a few important ones that you can execute quickly and effectively.
The best bit about stretches is that you can do several in one station, mostly using your towel and golf cart. The first stretch should involve your shoulders and lower back, achieving both in one movement. Shoulder flexibility is essential for consistently powerful swings. This is why shoulder injuries are quite prevalent, mainly due to the abrupt, explosive swing movement.
To stretch your shoulders and lower back:
- Twist a towel on one of the golf cart's poles, then hold it with both arms.
- With your feet a shoulder-width apart, stretch your arms as straight and far as you can as you bend your body down.
- Once your shoulders feel fully stretched, hold the position for 30 seconds.
- You can also lean a little to the side to stretch the side muscles. Repeat this for the opposite side.
To flex your hips:
- Hold the towel in one hand, then kneel on the ground.
- Pull your feet towards the hips using the free hand, and maintain the position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Such simple yet effective stretches help your vital muscles to stay fit as you get back to playing.
Tip 20: Take It Easy 🙂
The reality is, no matter how much diligent practice, focus and commitment you'll put into your game, there are always bad days on the course. When this happens, remind yourself that golf shouldn't be stressful; after all, it's a sport you enjoy playing. Strive to always play with a smile on your face. Having fun on the golf course helps to maintain your passion for the game.
On these occasions when things aren't going your way, it's always important to step aside from the game briefly and take a deep breath. Admit to yourself that some things will always be out of your control. The sooner you recollect your concentration, composure and determination, the sooner you can get back to your best game. Breathe out and get going.
At the end of the day, it's indeed only a game. You'll get another game another day.
We certainly hope that some bits of this guide, if not all, inspire you to get on the golf course and work on your magic. If you can, give each of these best golf tips a try, at least once, and find out which ones work for you.
The beauty of golf lies in how even the slightest changes in your swing can translate into tremendous improvements in your game. It's a never-ending learning curve. Every golf shot is an opportunity to learn, develop and ultimately become a better golfer.
Just as important, remember to have fun. Enjoy yourself!