A lot of players go to the driving range and hit balls, but not many go with a plan and not many really pay attention to what they are doing.
Parees said there are many facets to improving a golf game and just going to the range and hitting a bunch of drivers or a bunch of 5-irons isn’t going to necessarily make it a better practice session.
• Here’s what to do:
First, warm up for 10 to 15 minutes, beginning with stretching exercises, and then start hitting balls with a wedge, using a smooth, slow swing. Work your way up to longer clubs until you finally get to the driver. Do not hit every club in the bag and do not fall in love with one club.
Second, spend 10 to 15 working on a specific position or movement you need to improve. This is how you ingrain that movement in your swing. Begin with a short-iron and hit four balls doing a drill that will improve this area. Then hit four more balls with the same club taking a full swing. Repeat this eight-ball step with using a hybrid, fairway metal, then driver.
Third, spend 10 minutes simulating different shots on the golf course by changing clubs every two swings and changing your target every swing. Don’t just hit at the same spot all the time
Finally, work on your short game for 20 to 30 minutes. Pitch shots to various targets from 15 yards to just short of your maximum wedge distance; chip shots from 1 to 50 feet; hit short and long bunker shots; practice putting by using a circle drill in which you place six to eight balls in a circle around the cup, between, 3 and 5 feet away. Work your way around the circle, trying to make as many possible without any three putts.
With a more focused plan when you practice, your game is bound to improve.
Not every player gets to practice before every round with his teacher hovering behind him, watching his swing, checking for malfunctions, making sure everything is working just right. Just those on the PGA Tour.
And not every player has the luxury of going for a lesson or visiting an instructor on a periodic basis, usually because the cost can be prohibitive.
So, how do you become a better player? What is it that you need to know to improve your game and lower your scores, which is the desire of every player who has ever teed a ball, hoisted a club and tried like heck to make the ball go high, straight and, yes, especially long?
Well, short of having a certified PGA teaching professional on your payroll, or taking one to the golf course every time you play, the Post-Gazette has asked five local professionals and PGA-certified instructors to provide a list of the top 10 tips a player should know and work on to become a better player.
Consider it the PG’s version of Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book,” a compilation of teachings, lessons and musings designed to help players understand the work, preparation and execution that is required to lower scores and make golf a more enjoyable game. Or just less frustrating.
The participating professionals are John Aber, head professional at Allegheny Country Club; Eric Johnson, director of instruction at Oakmont Country Club; Kevin Shields, teaching professional at Rolling Hills CC; Sean Parees, teaching professional at Quicksilver GC and Robert Morris University Island Sports Center; and Jim Cichra, director of instruction at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center.
The tips are designed for players of all skill level, but primarily are geared toward the average player. And, with the average score in this country over 100, there are plenty of players in search of lessons to improve their game.
The tips are not listed in order of importance. Also, keep in mind there are other tips that could be more useful to a player’s specific need. Still, these lessons represent a compilation of suggestions players should heed if they want to become a better player and shoot lower scores.
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