Hi there fellow golfer !
I’m excited to have you read this, in fact all of us at MoreBirdies are overjoyed by the fact of sharing some of our knowledge and experience with you. We may be professional golfers today but we sure didn’t start out that way. Like you, we’ve had bad games and good games. We know how frustrating golfing can be when you’re just not reaching your goals. Which is why we make it a priority to help you in every way possible both on and off the course.
In this article, I’ll explain how you can set up systems to keep track of your progress and build confidence with every shot. I’ll also teach you a few of our favorite exercises to make more birdies.
As promised, here are 5 strategies to help improve your game, make more birdies and ultimately : have more fun on the course.
1 - Determine and write down SMART goals
The best way to set goals is to use the SMART method. If you don’t know this method, read on and you’ll see that it’s perfect for measuring the progress of your game. There’s only one condition to your success with this method: take the time to pre-establish your goals.
Here’s how to do it:
S – Specific :
Your objective must be focused on one specific aspect of your game. Think of the different parts of the game. How is your putting? How’s your chipping? There’s always something to improve, even if you consider yourself as a pro golfer!
M – Measurable :
This specific aspect of your game must be measurable or quantifiable if you prefer. Take putting as an example; You could calculate the number of times you putt per green in regulation or even the number of successful putts within an 8 ft. range.
A – Attainable :
Your objective must be difficult enough to create a significant challenge however it must remain within reach. Think about the investment of time and effort required to attain that goal. Let's go back to our putting example for a minute.. If your goal is to reduce your putting average by five per game but your current average is of 30 putts per game, you may be getting ahead of yourself.
R – Relevant :
Your objective must take into account your current skill level. If you’ve just begun playing golf, it wouldn’t make sense to compare yourself with a friend who’s been playing for 20 years or obvious golf professionals like Tiger Woods. Compare yourself to yourself. The best way to evaluate your progress is to compare your current performance with your past performance, hence keeping track of a goal that is quantifiable. For more precise tracking of your progress, don’t hesitate to get a professional evaluation done by an expert.
T – Time bound :
Your goal must also include a specific timeframe for completion. This will allow you to determine the effort required to attain your goal and set up an action plan to do so. What I recommend is a goal set on 9 months which includes the winter season without putting pressure on yourself to achieve your goals right from the start of the season.
Finally, I encourage you to evaluate your current skill level before establishing new goals. This way, you’ll be able to see clearly which aspects of your game deserve more time and dedication.
2 - Keep a Distance Chart
To lower your score, it’s essential that you have control over the distance and direction of your shots on the course.
To do so, I recommend that you dedicate your first outdoor outings to making a distance chart of your average distance with every club. See example below.
To measure the distance travelled with each shot you can use a rangefinder at the driving range or measure them directly on the course and write them down on your chart. From the picture of my chart you’ll notice that I can pull two sets of data: the first gives me the average (and realistic) distance which I can achieve with each club. The second allows me the see the smallest achievable distance with each club to make sure that I don’t fall too short from my target if my shot isn’t a perfect ten.
By knowing these values for each club, you’ll be able to take better decisions as to your positioning on the course and the appropriate club for reaching your target and avoid obstacles. To improve your performance, it’s essential to identify your strengths at the very beginning of each season and use them to your advantage.
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3 - Practice your chipping landing point
Chipping is probably the most underrated aspect of every golfer’s game. Truth is, if you become really good at placing the ball exactly where you want, your putts will inevitably be shorter on average. This will result in some easier putts and stroke down a few shots on your overall score.
Here’s an exercise to control your landing point so you can increasingly be closer to the cup.
- Choose a practice hole and go through a few approach shots. Notice the point where your ball lands and where it stops its course. It’s important to use the same club for this exercise as results will vary with the angle of the wedge used.
- Place a hoop at the spot where your balls which ended up closest to the hole landed.
- Continue practicing and focus on making balls land within the hoop with a normal chipping shot without any manipulations. You’ll notice more consistency in your shots and on average you’ll land closer to the cup.
- Change holes and repeat the exercise while observing the relationship between the landing point and the distance travelled by the ball after landing.
Learning to control your landing point will make you more efficient on the course and increase your instinct on your short game. Lastly, maintain a positive attitude during training to guarantee better results on the course.
4 - Identify your putting failing point
What’s important to know is the distance at which you can't make 50% of your putts. To do so, I suggest that you try putting 10 balls at a distance of 3 feet from the exact same point. Next, continue the exercise by gradually increasing the distance by 1 foot between each series of 10 balls until you can’t achieve the 50%. This will give you the exact critical distance at which you succeed one time out of two.
During your next training session, start your putting practice with your 50% distance as mentioned above and with time, you’ll notice that it will become much easier for you to complete these putts.
For measurement purposes, I suggest you take a look at Mark Broadie's statistical analysis grid which compares PGA tour golfers putting average to an 18 and 0 handicap player.
You’ll notice that professional PGA players are incredibly consistent in their shots in regards to the average amateur player. While this is true, know that it is always possible for you to get better.
I suggest filling out your own column and see where you stand and where you can improve.
If your distance is lower than the one shown in the above chart at 18 Handicap, don’t worry! Practice makes perfect.
5 - Attitude & confidence is key
Much like everyday life, success is much easily attained with self confidence and a positive attitude. Confidence in your skills is built by tracking the progress in your game over time (hence the SMART method at the beginning of this article) and utilizing memories of successful shots from your past games.
Adopting the right strategy on every course is critical to your success but your attitude makes a huge difference between an enjoyable game and a trunk slamming round. In preparation for your next game or training session, visualize the goal you want to achieve and remember that last times you achieved similar results. A putt from 15 feet, a birdie on the 18th hole, a chip-in to even up the scores or simply the emotion that you felt during your best game ever.
Once on the course or the training area, use this confidence and take things one play at a time. Keep your focus on this process rather than bringing yourself down with less than perfect shots. Train your mind to remain positive and take things one shot at a time. Remain in the moment and don’t let the results of your previous shot influence your concentration when you try to attempt your next birdie.
Put all odds in favor by assuring that you have solid a pre-shot routine and use it every time. Your chances of scoring a birdie will increase and you'll also make #morebirdies!
While this article can be useful to your game, these five tricks aren’t miraculous. Golf is like learning to ride a bike. It takes time and dedication to go from training wheels to rolling full speed downhill. Be patient, set up the right systems and trust your skills to do the work. Finally, track your improvement and let your confidence grow with every good shot and every great birdie.
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