What do you mean properly? Learning golf is just learning golf isn’t it?? …nope it may sound like stating the obvious, but actually we are referring to the fact that in order to learn to play golf properly, there is a right way and a wrong way to learn, a right method and a wrong method that I will explain in each of the 12 guidelines to learning golf properly. But before you continue to read, I must must be clear that this is not an article on golf techniques, or quick tips on how to to improve your golf game, rather this are just guidelines to consider before you even start or continue to learn if you’re a golf beginner. And before you even spend your money buying the “best brand golf clubs” out there because you think that’s a solution for improving your game.
The “WRONG WAY” is based upon self taught mechanics, instinctive impulses, imitation, guessing, trial and error, and a mix of things heard by different people, read on different books and magazines or seen on different video sources.
The “RIGHT WAY” will provide the understanding of the fundamentals and mechanics involved in the golf swing, your body, ball striking and ball flight, as those are the four pillars of a solid foundation for learning golf. Care to learn about how those four things work and you’ll be on the right path to learn golf faster and more effectively. Of course, there are way more than four things or fundamentals about golf itself, but these four pillars refer to the things you need to focus on learning and practicing before you even start playing at the golf course.
“…the golf swing, your body, ball striking and ball flight, as those are the four pillars of a solid foundation for learning golf...”
In other words, before you start to focus on things that every golfer craves like hitting the ball longer and straighter, shaving strokes from your score card, mastering the greens, and being a short game wizard, you won’t be able to do so before you have a basic understanding of the four pillars, and those are:
- Golf Swing. How does the motion, the speed, and the plane of a golf swing affect the ball and what mechanics are involved in order to produce the shot you want. And how important are the four stages of the golf swing (backswing, downswing, impact and follow-thru) around these mechanics.
- Your Body. How does your golf address position (whole body position considering spine angle, arms, hands, legs and distance from the ball), grip, and feet alignment affect your swing and ball impact.
- Ball Striking. How does the club head angle and ball position affect the shot at the moment of impact.
- Ball Flight. What causes all the different ways the ball can travel in the air, and why the ball reacts in different manners when it lands.
While the two approaches mentioned before (the right and wrong ways) may give you good results at certain point, one of them is considered wrong because it does not give any guarantee that you will learn properly, or you will learn fast, or that you will not injure your self and even if you do manage to learn in the wrong way it’ll be most likely that you’ll take the longer road to learn and understand golf enough to enjoy the game…trust me, I took the wrong method first and wasted about 4 years trying to figure out “the holy grail of the golf swing” on my own. Not to mention the money I spent but we’ll get to that a bit later.
Anyways, don’t worry if this all seems like too complicated or too much theory because you’ll learn one step at a time once you start following the guidelines of the right way to learn golf, and I assure you everything will start to make sense and you won’t even notice it.
And now here are the 12 Guidelines to Learning Golf Properly.
- 1) Learn from a pro instructor, not your buddies and YouTube.
- 2) The problem is not in your golf equipment, it’s in your golf technique.
- 3) Practice at the range, not at the course.
- Wrong way: Who needs the range when I can take on the real thing. Besides, I’m just learning I can just practice as a play and other players will understand…right?? …wrong.
- Right way: Practice at least 5 times (on different days) after your first lesson, or until you can accomplish 1) Lift the ball in the air when striking it and 2) Make the ball go forward(ish) at least a 100 yards with any club in your golf bag on each shot.
- 4) Stay away from golf information overload!
- 5) Focus on no more than 2 things at once when practicing.
- Wrong Way: “I can do this in one day baby! I’ll turn on my super duper brain processor, pack 64 MB of RAM in my head and practice in Multitasking mode.”
- Right Way: Practice one drill at a time, concentrating on one or two things. Once you can execute the drill without consciously thinking about the 2 things you were focusing on…it’s time to move on to the next drill.
- 6) Smacking balls is not practicing. Practice with a purpose.
- 7) Let the ball speak to you. The flight and trajectory of the ball is caused mostly by you.
- 8) Hone your swing technique from a neutral position.
- Wrong way: “Hey I found a great tip on the internet about the strong position to hit it longer, I’m so practicing that one!”
- Right way: Learn the “Neutral position”, practice it and hone your swing until you are able to play from the fairway most of the time. Then move on to learning to control and shape your shots.
- 9) Quick fixes, twists and twirls can turn into a bad habit hard to get rid of.
- 10) Home practice nets or golf projectors should complement, not substitute the range.
- 11) Mental game: Control your thoughts, and you’ll be half way there.
- 12) Have fun! or don’t play at all…
1) Learn from a pro instructor, not your buddies and YouTube.
Wrong Way: “I’m just doing what my friend tells me to do, plus I’m reading a bunch of articles on golf and watching videos on YouTube.”
Unless your buddies are golf pros or scratch golfers, please don’t try to learn from them. If they have double digit handicaps it’s most likely they don’t play golf good enough to teach. And friends frequently give advice about what they think they do right or point out what they think it’s wrong with you when they don’t even have a clue themselves.
“…golf videos and written material on golf are a good way to improve on golf, but not to learn it from scratch…”
Before your say “okay okay, so I’ll just pay attention to the golf videos that I got”, you must know that there is no book, nor audio nor video that can give you instant feedback about your swing. Watching golf videos and written material on golf are a good way to improve on golf, but not to learn it from scratch.
Right way: Get at least 3 lessons from a certified instructor before trying anything else.
Sure you can learn theory from many sources but none of them will provide at-the-spot feedback on what you are doing right and wrong when swinging at the ball. You may have learned a bit from here and there but when your swing motion starts you will not be aware of many things that can happen in your with your body posture. Maybe the only technology that can give you feedback is a camcorder and a special computer software (that I will mention in another post), but even then, there’s no use in getting feedback from video if you don’t know exactly what to look for in order to correct it.
I mean I get it, sometimes us guys have too much testosterone (some ladies too ) in our blood and too much ego in our heads. We like to take the bull by the horns and say “hey! I just want to play for fun, I don’t need no golf lessons and I’m not spending a dime on an instructor I can get the hang of this on my own”… but that’s just the first mistake. I’m not suggesting to spend thousands of dollars, just maybe a couple of hundreds or less just to at least learn the very basics from somebody who knows, truth is those $40 to $70 dls. per hour will save you more money in the long term trust me.
So please, please ask your local golf course or a near by driving range for recommended instructors, as there are also a few bad ones trying to hustle and make a living out of mediocre training and some of these are not even certified. So make sure you get a respected and well known instructor in your area.
2) The problem is not in your golf equipment, it’s in your golf technique.
Wrong way: I’m always slicing or hooking the ball with this damn driver. It’s time to buy me the new golf driver Tiger Woods is using!
50% of the time when you’re a golf newbie and you’re not making any good progress on your game you will blame your golf clubs and start looking to buy the best brand golf clubs (which by the way before you spend your hard earned cash on a popular golf brand you might consider saving good money on brand quality custom golf clubs clones) that you think will help improve your game. Another 40% you will blame it on the course, your friends distracting you, the pressure, the weather, the noise, the birds and all sorts of external circumstances. And last but not least you’ll slightly give a 10% chance that maybe…just maybe the problem is in your technique. But I’m almost sure that 90% of the problem is in your technique and not in your clubs.
Right way: Save your money. Buy a golf set for beginners or stick with your current ones and care to focus on the four pillars mentioned earlier.
It is true that golf equipment technology has made quantum leaps in the last 20 years, but it is obvious that there is no new golf club that comes with an integrated swing. If you want to spend money on your golf game I again advice you to first spend it in training and improving your technique enough to be able to hit 3 out of 5 shots in the direction that you intend to.
Golf newbies can’t tell the difference nor make use of the features on the expensive golf equipment.
If you already have a golf set, I’m sure you can stick with it for a few weeks or months until you know the basics. Unless of course that used golf set somebody gave you is a left handed set and you are right handed, or if its a youth set and you’re taller than 5 feet.
I mean if money is not an object nor you’re afraid of your wife complaining for your $2,000 dollar investment be my guest. But the point I’m trying to make is that if you’re just starting at golf you may want to consider:
- The old ones are fine for starters. If you have a complete golf set already even if it’s old, there’s no need to rush and buy a new one. First learn the basic swing and proper golf impact, that way when you’re ready for a new set, your investment will be worth it.
- Golf newbies can’t tell the difference between a cheap golf club from top notch clubs. Besides maybe recognizing the popular brand logo, a beginner will not be able to squeeze the juice from the features on an expensive golf set. In fact some of the expensive sets are designed to be for top players and they’re harder to control for a beginner. So if you rush to buy the newest model you saw advertised, you may be a victim of a sales rep on the prowl for good commissions.
- Consider used clubs or clones. There are very good options for getting great top of the line golf equipment if you go for used sets or clone golf clubs, and that can save you hundreds of dollars. (More on choosing golf clubs for beginners here)
3) Practice at the range, not at the course.
Wrong way: Who needs the range when I can take on the real thing. Besides, I’m just learning I can just practice as a play and other players will understand…right?? …wrong.
If you went just a couple of times to smack some balls at the range or maybe you never did, or somehow you think that hitting a little ball laying in the grass is easy and now you feel ready to take a shot at the real thing. Uhm…I don’t think so :/ and sorry if I seem harsh but even if you think you may be the reincarnation of Bobby Jones or just because you’ve mastered the Tiger Woods video game, I would advice to do your self and other fellow golfers at the course a favor, and prevent early frustration or embarrassment because that will happen if you don’t practice first.
…prevent early frustration or embarrassment because that will happen if you don’t practice first.
Besides, if you aren’t already aware of something called golf etiquette even in the cheapest golf courses it’s considered to be rude to other players for you to just barge in without any consideration of how a poor golfer can affect the schedule and rhythm of play for everybody else. Not to mention the menace your mishit shots may represent to other players nearby.
Right way: Practice at least 5 times (on different days) after your first lesson, or until you can accomplish 1) Lift the ball in the air when striking it and 2) Make the ball go forward(ish) at least a 100 yards with any club in your golf bag on each shot.
You will want to make sure you feel comfortable and secure enough to make 3 decent shots out of every 5. The shots don’t have to be perfect, arrow straight and long, remember that by “decent” I mean with the 2 characteristics mentioned above moving the ball more or less in the direction you intend to.
Oh and another thing…aligning your shots way left in order to compensate for a slice, is not the right way to play…trust me, I did that for a while until suddenly one of my shots went straight landing in the roof of a house.
I know there is no guarantee you will play decently on your first or second time at a golf course even if you had taken lessons and had practiced a few times at the driving range, but you should at least make sure you can keep up the pace with the rest of the players, otherwise you will not enjoy the game, frustration may start to dig in in your head and the in the head of other players waiting for you to finish your shots. Looking for your golf ball in the rough 90% of the time will slow everybody down and the golf course’s marshal may call your attention. So please practice at the range, until you can accomplish objectives 1 and 2.
4) Stay away from golf information overload!
Wrong way: “I watched the 3 best rated golf learning video series, I’ve read 50 golf articles, I watch The Golf Channel plus and I’ve bookmarked 20 golf tutorials on YouTube.”
Man I can’t stress this enough. If you’re any thing like me, you can end up spending a lot time browsing the internet for articles and videos on golf, looking for a quick shortcut to improve your golf game golf or the miracle system that will give you the virgin pearls of hitting it longer and straighter. Get this through your head… there is no such thing as the holy grail of golf and no one true system that works for everybody.
Don’t you think every golfer would be like Tiger Woods by now if such a thing existed? I spent a lot of money buying golf books, golf training videos and golf learning systems and even a golf hypnosis audio programs before I even considered to take a lesson from a pro… please don’t do the same, and if you’re are already doing that right now…STOP RIGHT NOW!! (well, of course you can first finish this post )
“and that’s why we instructors are happy with the internet and all the information overload that technology has brought with it, ’cause it brings us more confused and frustrated golfers as new customers…”
You know what my first instructor said after I was arguing with him on something along the lines of “…I’m having a hard trouble understanding why you want me to do this? when X golfer says this in a video, Y golfer says that in a book, and Z golfer said this in an article” so after his smile went from ear to ear for a few seconds he replied sort of like in slow motion “and that’s why we instructors are happy with the internet and all the information overload that technology has brought with it, as it brings us more frustrated golfers for new customers…” the conversation continued as he explained to me how that is a very common mistakes with many golf beginners and even seasoned golfers, they prefer to pay attention to advertisements on shortcuts to learn the game, and since that is not the right way to do it, most golf beginners end up with a lot of mixed information, mixed tips from here and there, and instead of improving their game they go the other way and end up frustrated finally calling me anyways.
You see, learning the proper way after you played a lot of golf or hit a lot of golf balls after a few months or years implies getting rid of misinformation, eliminating bad habits on your swing, grip and stance, and even cleaning house on your mental side of your skills.
Right way: Listen to only one source of instruction, be consistent and stick with one method for 3 to 6 months.
Like any other thing you’ve learned when you were kid like riding a bike or tying your shoes, you did it over and over until you got the hang of it and now you do it by instinct without even thinking about it because it is engrained in your head from all those years you did it. In fact in sports they call it “training your muscle memory” (more on that in another post).
Well in golf is no different, but you can’t ingrain new good habits to improve your game until you eliminate the old bad ones and for that will take extra effort and more of your time to if your head is already piled up with information overload.
“…you can’t ingrain new good habits to improve your game until you eliminate the old bad ones…”
Having way too much information in your head is just gonna mess up your golf skills with bad habits. If you’ve already got your first 3 lessons from a pro, stick with him for a while don’t just take one lesson with one instructor, another lesson with a different one. Or if you’ve learned the basics but want to improve on your own with the “new golf learning system” that you got, that’s fine but stick with it for at least 3 to 6 months obviously this time frame may vary depending on how often you practice or play golf. Sticking with one golf method for 6 months won’t do you any good if you play once a month and barely practice at the range.
Be patient and try to make the best of what you learn from one source. Practice makes perfect, so don’t expect to be a golf master after a couple of lessons and a couple of sessions at the range. If it doesn’t work give it enough time and practice before bailing out on a system.
Almost every golf learning system works if you are consistent, so patience and consistency are keys to learn to play golf properly.
5) Focus on no more than 2 things at once when practicing.
Wrong Way: “I can do this in one day baby! I’ll turn on my super duper brain processor, pack 64 MB of RAM in my head and practice in Multitasking mode.”
It’s not humanly possible to pay attention on more than 2 or 3 things at once…consciously. Our brain either focuses on one or two things, or shifts the attention to several things a bit at a time, in a carousel manner. If you try the “carousel” approach you can get all cramped, your muscles will get tired faster and your progress will be actually slower.
Right Way: Practice one drill at a time, concentrating on one or two things. Once you can execute the drill without consciously thinking about the 2 things you were focusing on…it’s time to move on to the next drill.
If you do follow my suggestions on taking golf lessons first, this guideline may already be given to you by your golf pro. If not, when you’re learning the golf swing I’m sure you will hear things like:
- Keep your chin up;
- bend from your hips;
- flex your knees;
- feel your weight on the balls of your feet;
- drop your arms;
- don’t stand too far from the ball;
- don’t stand too close to the ball;
- don’t grip too tight;
- transfer the weight;
- cock your wrists;
- don’t look up, maintain spine angle;
- hit down on the ball;
- etc. etc. etc.
And the list goes on and on, and of course our brain is not designed for multitasking and it finds impossible to focus and process consciously on all those things at once. If you try and focus on more than 2 or 3 things you’ll end up tense and stressed out and won’t accomplish much for your practice session.
This may sound incorrect if you think about how many complex tasks the human body can perform at the same time, like for example a juggler, a martial artist, a polo player, or any athlete for that matter but there is a fact that states that when the body is able to perform many tasks at once is thanks to the subconscious mind (remember the muscle memory I mentioned?) doing it in automatic without consciously thinking about it.
The golf swing mechanics is comprised of many physical actions that happen in 2 to 4 seconds, and in order to build your golf swing piece by piece there are drills designed to build each one of them.
6) Smacking balls is not practicing. Practice with a purpose.
Wrong way. “I think I’ll hit a large bucket… Ball 1: Damn it! I sliced it”…Ball 2: “Damn it! I sliced it again”… Ball 80: “Oh man, my driver doesn’t like me today, it’s just not working.”
The golf driver or any other club in the bag for that matter have no moods or good and bad days. It is us, the golfers that do things right or wrong more on some days than others, and smacking balls one after another without having knowledge of the golf fundamentals nor a purpose for the practice is just wasting time, energy and maybe money.
There is a difference between slightly playable mishit shots, and totally errant shots like slices, hooks and shanks among others. The last ones are frequently not playable or cost you one or two more strokes to put the ball in play again. So it’s important you learn how to fix these errant shots asap before continuing to just smack balls expecting your bad shots to magically correct them selves.
“Repetition will surely be engrained in your muscle memory, so if you practice bad shots over and over and do nothing to correct them, then you are just practicing to be a bad golfer.”
I remember one day my golf instructor telling me something key… he explained that one important difference between a good player and a bad one is the ability to know the reason of a bad shot in order to correct it, and most newbies don’t care to learn those fundamentals they choose to remain clueless and try to learn from instinct or imitation. They just want to smack balls at the range believing that hitting 2 bucket of balls every day will make them better. Repetition will surely be engrained in your muscle memory, so if you practice bad shots over and over and do nothing to correct them, then you are just practicing to be a bad golfer.
Right way: Learn what causes bad shots, learn to correct mistakes, do the drills and practice with purpose.
When you go to the driving range have one or two clear purposes like: “I’ll polish my mid irons”; or “I’ll work on fixing my hook”; or “I’ll practice bunker shots” or “I’ll target the 100 yd. flag to improve my accuracy” etc.; and then try to just practice with 2 to 4 clubs only instead of rotating through your whole bag of clubs. This is more important if you have limited time, let’s say 60 to 90 minutes for your practice then try to be concise and make the best of the time invested in your practice. Even if you have the whole day free, if you want to improve you should have a practice plan that has just a couple of goals for that day.
Also, practicing with a small bucket of balls with a purpose in mind is way better than hitting 2 large ones just for the fun of smacking balls. I suggest to either focus on polishing what you do well, or fixing your bad shots. Learning what causes bad shots is a bit of theory, but it’s very well worth it. The most common errant shots are the slice, hook, shank, fat shot, thin shot and the chunk.
try to just practice with 2 to 4 clubs only instead of rotating through your whole bag of clubs.
One bad shot may happen eventually, but when you hit bad shots more than 3 times in a row, or 4 out of 5 shots that’s a red flag letting you know you have to stop. If that happens, don’t just get mad and keep trying the same because that won’t help. When this happens I suggest you do the following:
- Stop hitting balls and take a short break for 2 or 3 minutes. Sit down, or stretch. Then try your shots 2 or 3 more times, sometimes that short break helps get you back on track.
- If you continue to hit the same bad shot, then change to another club you feel the most comfortable with. Hit a few balls with that other club so you get your confidence up again. Then go back to the trouble club and try it again.
- If A or B didn’t work, then just forget about that problem club for the day and be sure to go back to the drills.
7) Let the ball speak to you. The flight and trajectory of the ball is caused mostly by you.
Wrong way: Ball 1: “darn it!, I hooked it”… Ball 2: “darn it!, another hook”… Ball 30: “WTF!! why am I hooking it today if yesterday I was fine”.
Unless the golf ball is very damaged (you can easily tell that if it has cracks, deep dents or the outer layer is pealing off) or your hitting in a windy or rainy day, the ball can give you the answer as to why it went in a certain way because the flight, the trajectory and the distance of the ball can vary on different shots even if you hit it with the same club. If one day you’re hitting the ball fairly well and another day suddenly you’re not… you can be sure it’s not a curse or a golf jinx demon that suddenly got possessed over your clubs… it is you and your swing are causing your shots and these are just obeying the laws of physics.
Right way: Learn about Ball Flight and Trajectory and you’ll get your answers to what’s causing your shots.
If you can’t figure out why your shots are going somewhere you don’t intent to or flying in a manner you don’t like by the 2nd or 3rd ball, then you need to understand what I mentioned in guideline No 6 regarding Learning What Causes Bad Shots and the Laws of Ball Flight and Trajectory and you’ll find out the answer to your hook or any other undesired shot. In fact some of these undesired shots will become handy and “desirable” on certain situations when you reach certain level in your golf game, for example a slice or hook may help you hit the ball from behind a tree and back into the fairway.
Now, before you say “hey! I thought you said to avoid information overload” my reply to that is: yes I did and by that I meant avoid mixed information about golf tricks and techniques from many sources when you’re a beginner. Remember I suggest to take golf lessons from a pro, or at least to learn following just one source of information and stick with it for 3 to 6 months, be consistent before you try anything new.
BUT… that doesn’t mean you can meanwhile learn about things that don’t imply you trying to change your swing technique. You are free to research on all golf knowledge that does not involve changing your swing technique for example the How golf club are made; Rules of golf; Golf etiquette; History of golf; Golf’s Greatest Legends; Golf technology; etc. and that of course also includes learning about What Causes Bad Shots and the Laws of Ball Flight and Trajectory which are not only very interesting topics, but they will help your understanding of golf ball reactions without messing up your technique.
Use only one source for practice technique, use all the sources you want for knowledge.
Understand that you are trying to accomplish 2 things when learning golf properly, and that is No. 1. to be consistent with one idea avoiding over-saturating your brain with different techniques; and No. 2. To learn as much theory as you want regarding the great game of golf.
8) Hone your swing technique from a neutral position.
Wrong way: “Hey I found a great tip on the internet about the strong position to hit it longer, I’m so practicing that one!”
If you already honed your swing good enough to play in the fairways at least 80% of the time, try what you must if you think it can help you improve. But then again, if you are reading this post I guess you still haven’t honed it right?… so pay attention!! Once again I remind you, if you’re just a golf learning beginner please follow the guideline “No. 4 Stay away from golf information overload”, and that includes paying attention to all those hints and tricks to hit it longer, straighter, etc. that you find on the internet.
Those tricks and tips usually involve one or a mix of the following:
- standing in a certain way,
- moving the position of your ball,
- manipulating your arms or hands, in a certain manner
- flexing your legs or rotating your hips and shoulders in a certain manner
You’ll also start to hear about a “power position”, and the strong grip and weak grip. Please ignore them for now and listen to your golf instructor or your one-source golf training system you are following for 3 to 6 months.
Right way: Learn the “Neutral position”, practice it and hone your swing until you are able to play from the fairway most of the time. Then move on to learning to control and shape your shots.
The neutral position is the most natural position regarding your stance (about shoulder width); your spine angle (not too tall and not too bent); your arms (not too outside, not too inside but straight down); your hands (not forward of the ball and not on the back, but just about the middle of your stance leaning a bit on the forward leg) and your legs (not too straight nor too flexed).
Not trying to give you golf instruction here and contribute to the “overload” but just to try to give you the idea of a balanced, natural position without exaggerating your posture in any way.
I am not an instructor but as your Golf Buddy I can say from experience that a neutral position is both: the easiest way to get your swing technique working for you, and the quickest way to learn to control and shape your shots when you’re ready to take your golf skills to the next level.
This position when mastered, will allow you later to curve the ball more easily when you want to practice fades and draws, low punch shots and stingers, flops and high shots, plus you’ll learn to get out of the bunker much easier. NOT TO MISINTERPRET this guideline as your one-position-solution for every shot, because there are different postures for the short game, the middle game, the long game, bunker shots and around the green shots.
But what I stress about this position is that once mastered, you’ll be able to use other postures for special shots and notice the effects those other positions cause in your shots, otherwise if for example you learn to always stand from a power position and your arms extended, it will be harder to control a shot that requires more finesse and accuracy and that will prevent you from building your shot arsenal hence… less opportunities for you to win a game.
9) Quick fixes, twists and twirls can turn into a bad habit hard to get rid of.
If not already, you’ll hear a lot of this kind of quick fixes like “overlap your hand, flip your wrists, move your hands forward, twist your front foot…etc” while tips like these sometimes work for some players, they should not be the solution for your swing technique mistakes.
“twists and twirls will contribute to forging bad swing habits and increase the risk of injury.”
You try it once, it works for sometime until you start to do the opposite (i.e. a fixed slice with overlapping of the hands sooner or later will turn into a hook) or you turn it into a bad habit that will prevent you from getting better.
Compensating a bad swing technique with twists and twirls will contribute to forging bad swing habits and increase the risk of injury.
Right way: Rely on the golf swing fundamentals and the laws of ball flight and trajectory to identify the problem
When you have the necessary knowledge of these 2 topics, you’ll know that a slice is caused by the club’s open face and maybe swinging from the outside-in. the opposite holds true for the hook, as it is caused by a closed face and a probable swing from the inside-out.
Once you know the cause, you practice the drills that your instructor gave you or, that one golf video training system you swear by … you have only one by now right?…right?? remember to avoid information overload!
10) Home practice nets or golf projectors should complement, not substitute the range.
Sporting nets, practicing devices, golf projectors and golf simulators should be a complement to your practice at the range, not a substitute. Unless you have a driving range in your backyard (maybe live in the country side?) or are an avid golfer that knows that is practicing only good shots and not fixing errant shots. I would advice to practice at the driving range.
The range is the only place besides the actual course that can give you enough space to evaluate the effectiveness of your golf shots. the very limited 2 or 3 yards you have to practice with a golf net will not tell you if your slicing or hooking the ball unless of course you hit it so bad that you miss the net.
Right way: It’s good to have a net or a practicing device. Use it but don’t forget to visit the range.
If you’re not a total novice at golf (…and no, taken only one lesson and 3 times at the range does not take away your novice title, sorry) and you know what it feels like to hit a crisp shot right in the sweat spot of the club face, and can tell the difference from feeling a mishit shot. Then by all means have a practice net if you have the space, or even a golf simulator they’re very fun and useful though not cheap and not 100% reliable.
Just remember to pay a visit to the driving range every once and a while to see if what you think your doing right on a 2 yard distance holds true on the greater distance.
In fact at certain point I was so short on time to practice, that I had a practice net installed in my home office (imagine the battle with the wife…but I managed to conquer my territory!!) and that was my only resource for practicing like 15 to 30 min. a day. Only thing was, I truly felt that I was hitting the ball straight because the balls were landing in the middle of the net. After a month not going to the range and practicing almost every day, I managed to visit my local course’s practice range. Man was I disappointed… yes my shots were going straight, for the first 120-150 yards and then a minor slice in the air with enough spin to land on the right side of my target and then roll way off.
So complement, don’t substitute the range!
11) Mental game: Control your thoughts, and you’ll be half way there.
“Golf is 80% mental, 10% ablility, 10% luck.”- Jack Nickalaus
One of the popular phrases form one of the greatest golfers on the face of this planet. But there are other golf phrases alluding the percentage of the mental game where they say is 90%, others 70%, 95%, etc. And to tell you the truth, until now there is no scientific proof or measuring this with numbers or precise metrics as to the right percentage other than the statistics of each golf player.
But if it’s 50% or 90% I do believe… correction, I do know that the mental aspect of golf, and any sport for that matter is a huge factor. Mind power is real and can take any golfer in both ways, either to enhance his game or totally destroy it. If you don’t control your thoughts, you don’t control your emotions and these will affect your level of play.
Ever been the king of the range, slave of the course? that is you hit like a pro at the range, but once you step a foot in an actual golf course everything goes down the drain. Well guess what causes that mysterious jinx? …yup, your freakin’ mind!
Mentally prepare your self, give your self pep talks, visualize your shots before hitting them, feel the motion of the swing on your pre-swing routine, and imagine hitting the shot you want. I’ll put this last hint in other words…FOCUS on the shot you want or the target you need to hit, and avoid thinking in the bunker you don’t want to land in, the tree you don’t want to hi, or the water hazard in the middle of your trajectory because the mind can be very powerful but it does not understand NOTs and DON’Ts.
Let me put an example… close your eyes and then say “DON’T think in a yellow school bus”. I can bet the first thing that came to mind was in fact a bright yellow school bus…right? well in golf is the same thing, if you think “don’t hit it into the water – don’t hit it into the water…” your mind will focus on the water hazard and then…splash! …so in this case it would be better to focus on the spot where you want to land, and imagine the ball trajectory in the air until it lands.
There are a lot of hints and tips on this topic, even golf mental training systems and golf hypnosis audios…in fact I encourage you to be open and explore on this subject at any given time in your golf level, because mental training does not interfere with your swing training.
Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are known for their visualizing practices, you know.
12) Have fun! or don’t play at all…
Golf is about having fun. Even if you are heading for tournament level play, the fun factor should always be present.
And now I am very aware of that, but it took a very embarrassing phase for me to get over with. I was known to be of somewhat an impulsive nature, and there was a time that I could start a round smiling and having a good time until I started to play bad. I could turn into a bad-tempered grouch complaining at everything but my self.
I’m now embarrassed to say that I acted more than a couple of times with ridiculous temper tantrums like throwing my cap in the ground, pounding the club at the grass, cursing and yelling up…I know I know, you don’t want me to be your Golf Buddy no more right? Well I wouldn’t want my self either… but that was like 5 or 6 years ago and I’m not that golfer anymore thank God.
“do you remember why you started to play this game? we are here to relax and have a great time keep that in mind always.”
I was already feeling the awkwardness moments that my madness was causing to some of my friends until one day the last straw, or the “last club” I played I must say…because after a shanked the ball twice in a row on hole 10, then a fat shot on hole 11 and after that I exploded and threw my driver like 50 yards down the fairway. And everybody said “woah heeeey heeey wtf man? take it easy will ya’”… I was more angry than embarrassed to apologize so I just said “please go ahead, I won’t play this hole” (what a baby right??)
And after a few moments, a buddy of mine went to my golf cart offering me a cold beer and said
– jesus christ dude, do you remember why you started to play this game? we are here to relax and have a great time keep that in mind always.
– well I’m sorry if I get frustrated ’cause I suck.
– really? is that how it is? well I must insist that if you play you should have fun, or not play at all.
At that point it struck me, my anger suddenly vanished and the embarrassment started to flourish. I did take the 15 min break for that hole 11, to ponder on what just happened, and at the tee box in hole No. 12 before the driving shots, I offered a sincere apology to my 3 friends and made a promise to always have fun, never get mad again and if I have nothing good to say about a shot I would not say anything.
Plus I asked them to add an extra stroke to my score for every time I go mad, so they said: “no no no, let’s make it more interesting…why don’t you rather buy us a beer every time you get mad…no wait, scratch that I think we would end up wasted” of course we all laughed.
Until now I hold that promise, and I’ve enjoyed the game even more ever since.
So please remember always to have fun while learning and playing this awesome game / sport. I hope these guidelines help your learning experience and enhance your enjoyment for golf.