It doesn't take much to catch 'the bug' - often a couple of decent shots is enough to get people hooked. From there, the challenge becomes how to get better. Yes, you need to spend a good few hours on the range, but what are some of the most effective ways to get your handicap down - and in rapid time? Here are our five fastest ways to get better at golf...
1. Know your yardages
This is a simple way to lower your scores quickly. It's one of the things tour players do that you don't and it's costing you shots. The pros will talk until they are blue in the face about the importance of knowing your distances, especially with the wedges from 130 yards and in.
So, take some time hitting wedge shots to a target on the range and get a feel for the distance you hit each one. Then, if you're willing to invest a bit of money, consider one of the best golf GPS devices - something that will also help your general course management, too.
Even the most basic device provides those essential front, middle and back yardages. Suddenly, you'll find yourself facing more birdie putts, as opposed to dealing with the stress of those long ones from a different postcode.
2. Play with better golfers
We're not suggesting that you sack off your regular fourball, but playing the odd game with a low handicapper, especially if you're a beginner golfer, will take you out of your comfort zone.
In just one round, you could pick up plenty of little nuggets, from technical knowledge and swing tips, to rules and course management. It might feel like an intimidating experience if you're new to the game, but it does great things for the confidence levels.
3. Short game practice
Most amateurs spend the majority of their time hitting full shots on the range. Of course, the long game should not be ignored entirely, but most club golfers would benefit enormously if they switched the main focus of their practice sessions to the short game.
There are plenty of drills and games that will sharpen you up around the greens, so build this into your short game practice routine. Before you know it, you'll have learnt how to spin the golf ball and will be getting up and down regularly.
4. A custom fitting
Why would you spend a large chunk of money on a set of golf clubs without considering a custom fitting? There's nothing to stop you walking into a shop and buying a set from the shelf. However, you're taking a huge risk by assuming those specs will suit your swing.
Manufacturers have made clubs easier to hit in recent years, by making clubs longer and more forgiving. That technology is something you're only likely to unlock if you're matched with the right equipment. So, visit your local professional to get the ball rolling.
If you're serious about getting better, golf lessons are a must, even if there are one or two 'cheats' that may help you improve more quickly. The golf swing is a complex move, yet many of us choose to try and work it out on our own. There's no substitute for the help of a PGA professional, which is why we'd regard a block of lessons as the best way to improve the standard of your game.
Of course, there are many excellent self-taught golfers out there, Bubba Watson being one. However, for every Watson, there are many amateurs going round in circles with conflicting information who would benefit from some clear and consistent direction.
Whether it's help with the basics - such as grip or alignment - or a short-game session, time with an expert is worth every penny. Are there quicker ways to improve? Yes, but let's not forget the teaching pro. Who knows... one quick session might be all it takes to transform your game.
Location: Paul Foston Golf Academy
Paul has worked with a number of Tour professionals over the years, and is proud to have successfully coached over 40,000 students. In 2005, he set out to design his own academy with a ‘world class’ coaching infrastructure of technical advancement and a tailor made short game layout to practice every real life challenge experienced on course.
Greatest success story:
Fulfilling the dreams of five international players - Paul Way, Mark Roe, Craig Parry, Jamie Spence and Peter Mitchell, taking them to European Tour victories and one to Ryder Cup success.
Golf is one of the most challenging sports to accomplish. To play well consistently requires you to invest time in lessons, practice and play in equal measure; this will give a solid foundation and enable you to develop skills across the whole spectrum of the game. Identifying an individual’s learning style is key to coaching and effective communication. My imaginative mind and use of analogy is a creative, easily understandable method to convey instruction and simplify technique.
Significant teaching influences:
I have amassed a great body of knowledge by researching the world’s best players and their unique ability to play golf at the highest level. I have also kept pace with technology and golf equipment advancements. These findings have given me a deep understanding of swing dynamics and techniques which have been incorporated into my classic coaching style.
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