Resolve to make 2013 a better golf year with these 10 instruction tips

January is a time to set a course of action for the year. Whether you fill out your list in pen or pencil is up to you, but sticking with a resolution or commitment can bring satisfying results. But you’ll never know unless you try, so here are some tips and things to consider if resolving to enjoy golf more or shoot lower scores is one of your goals for 2013.

KEEP IT REAL: Golf is a frustrating game because it involves perfectionists playing an imperfect game. Ben Hogan, arguably the best ball striker of all time, admitted to hitting only a handful of perfectly executed shots per round. So why should we expect to hit more? We need to know that the end result of most shots won’t be what we hoped for. We simply need to better manage our off-center shots and have realistic expectations of their outcome. Let the game come to you and focus on the preparation and execution and not the result. – Eric Lohman, PGA General Manager, Monarch Beach Golf Links

CHANGE YOUR FOCUS: Spend more time on your short game than your long game. I know it’s not as much fun, or exciting, but it’s the only way to significantly lower your scores without increasing your total input into practice time. The vast majority of shots in golf are played from within 120 yards, so prioritize your practice time according to how often you’ll actually play those types of shots during a round. I’m a firm believer in smarter practice, not necessarily longer practice. Give it a try. – Scott Heyn, PGA General Manager, Black Gold Golf Club

GET FIT: As you prepare to improve and enhance your enjoyment of the game in 2013, the most important New Year’s resolution for all skill levels is to only play clubs that are custom fit to them. Every player has a different body and swing type and custom clubs are built to fit those needs. While often overlooked when purchasing clubs, lie angle, loft, weight and flex point are all essential for consistent and solid shots. Any investment in golf equipment should be fit by a local certified club fitter. – David Siordia, Instructor/Certified Titleist Club Fitter, Sandpiper Golf Club

DO MORE: My New Year’s golf improvement resolution is to simply play golf and practice more frequently. I recommend that you make appointments for yourself to spend equal amounts of time at the local driving range improving your putting and short game, as well as your irons, driver, fairway woods and hybrids. Make plans to take a golf vacation with family or friends, attend a PGA or LPGA tour event, or play more often in competitive tournaments that will inspire you to play and practice more often. – Rick Adams, PGA General Manager, Los Serranos Country Club

MAKE A COMMITMENT: The most important resolution every golfer needs to make is to commit to change. The old adage about if you continue to do what you’ve always done you’ll continue to get what you’ve always gotten is never more true than in golf. Find a qualified instructor who can help you identify the changes that will have the most impact on your game, develop a plan to implement the changes and stick to it. Make sure the effort you put forth is diligent and I guarantee you’ll find yourself being a better golfer at the end of 2013. – Jeff Fisher, Director of Instruction, OB Sports Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Academ

SHORTEN UP: I guarantee a three- to five-shot improvement per round if you spend 50 percent of your practice time on shots of 50 yards or less. A golf course typically has four par 3s. At most you’ll use a driver for only 14 strokes. Only the best low handicappers will hit 10-14 greens in regulation, while the average player maybe hits 5-8. The missed greens require a shot within 50 yards plus putting. Do yourself a favor in 2013 and work harder than ever on your short game. The benefits will show in your score. – Willie Maples, PGA Director of Golf, Eagle Falls Golf Course

PRACTICE PROPERLY: Only practice for as long as you’re able to stay engaged. Lay off rifling through three large buckets and instead hit three small buckets on three separate occasions. During practice you must receive accurate feedback, which is why supervised sessions with an instructor are critical for improvement. Another key to proper practice is to simulate a round. Hitting 20 chips from the same lie to the same target is not proper practice. Hitting balls from five different lies to various targets is correct practice. – Michelle Dubé, LPGA Master Teaching Professional, Tijeras Creek Golf Club

SET REACHABLE GOALS: People who achieve success are excellent at setting proper goals. The ultimate question to ask yourself is, “Why do you play golf?” If you can genuinely answer this question you’ll have better balance mentally and physically to reach your potential. The mind and body are powerful sources of motivation for anyone looking to achieve the impossible or simply the possible. An idea or goal starts in the left part of the brain and manifests itself into motion; the body and the right part of the brain then take over to get the job done. – Kris Brown, Director of Instruction, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles

TAKE THE RIGHT PATH: Club path and face aim at impact dictate whether you hit piercing shots or weak floaters. Strong strikers play with a clubface that matches or is slightly closed to the path. To do that, aim right of your target line with your feet, knees, hips and shoulders and swing in that direction. The trick is to have the clubface aiming slightly left of your body aim. The ball will start right of your target line and have enough draw spin to curve the shots back to your line with a penetrating ball flight. – Martin Chuck, Tour Striker Golf Academy, Raven Golf Club – Phoenix

KEEP IT TOGETHER: A golfer’s best New Year’s resolution should be staying positive throughout the course of a round. Emotion plays a big part in how we perform on the golf course and most amateurs tend to get too excited or down based on the outcome of each shot, whether off the tee or on the green. Staying on an even keel throughout the round will help you maintain a steady pace for your game and allow your mind to process information more efficiently. Commit to that and your rounds will be more enjoyable, for sure. – Henry Liaw, Head Golf Professional, Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon


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