Beginner golfers can improve their games by following a few basic tips that help all levels of golfers. Golf can be frustrating because many beginners make unnecessary errors trying to hit the ball hard. Understanding that golf success relies on ball control, not power, will help you learn the game faster and have more fun.
There’s an old saying among golfers that goes, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” This means that long hits don’t win golf games, but ball control does. Hitting balls long distances doesn’t help if the ball ends up in the creek, the woods or a sand trap. Resist the temptation to hit long shots if you can keep the ball in the fairway and on the green with control. It will be easier to improve your score if you master ball control first, then try to add power, rather than trying to learn to control long shots.
In order to hit straight and far, you will want to maintain as much clubhead speed as possible. If you squeeze your grip and try to hit the ball hard, you will most likely tense your arm muscles and lose clubhead speed. Use a relaxed grip when you swing the club to decrease tension in your arms. Use your legs and core muscles to provide your power, letting your torso push the club, rather than using your arms to do all the work. The best golfers use a relaxed swing with good leg movement and core turn.
It doesn’t matter what grip you use, how you start your swing, when you open your hips or how you follow through if you are standing too close to the ball, too far away from it, or have the ball placed incorrectly in your stance. Standing too close to the ball causes you to slice. Standing too far away causes a hook. The closer to your front foot you play the ball, the more power you’ll get, but you may also start to hook. Placing the ball toward your back foot helps you control the ball, but you’ll lose power and may slice if you use that placement with the wrong swing. Practice different ball placements to learn the right set up for each shot.
If you develop a routine, or “ritual” to use before each shot, you can help create good communication between your brain and muscles, improving your consistency. Try taking two practice swings before every tee shot to remind your brain you want to hit a long ball. You can tap the clubhead on the ground three times before each approach shot to activate your stored motor memory for shorter swings. Find a routine that works for you and use it during practice and on the course.
You never get to hit 30 warm-up shots before you hit the one that counts on a golf course, so why do this during practice on the driving range? After you have warmed up and practiced a particular shot, finish every practice with simulated holes to see if your practice will transfer to the course. Start each hole with the same club you’d use to start it on the course. Depending on where that shot lands, choose the same club you would choose to make the next shot on the course. Even if you are working on your short game, start with your long clubs and play a complete hole to drill your short game in the context of a real game.