Getting ready to play golf again.

Masters week is upon us, and for those of you who play golf, this is a very special time of the year.  It’s also springtime, which means the golf season is just getting underway in many parts of the country.  It’s been a long winter for a lot of people, and I thought I might share a few tips that I use to get my game ready to go.

I played my college golf in Chicago, and professionally for 6 years thereafter.  And we currently live in the Denver area, so I know a thing or two about shaking off the winter rust.  Here are some pointers…

First, I like to focus the majority of my early-season practice on short game (wedge shots, chips, bunker shots, etc) and putting (particularly on those nerve-wracking short putts).  I have always felt that the best way to get your game back on solid footing is to spend the majority of your time getting the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible.  That isn’t likely to happen on the driving range, but rather the short shots and the putts.  That’s what will really lower your scores this year.

Work and young children take up most of my life, but when I do have the ability to practice I like to spend 75% of my time on and around the green.  I like to really focus on getting the ball into the hole, which means I typically putt and chip with only a few golf balls at a time, rather than hitting 50 straight chip shots at the same target.  Try that, especially early in the year, and it will really help to get your game back on track.

When I do my driving range work, I like to focus on target and tempo.  I always make sure I’m hitting to a specific target (you’d be surprised how many golfers simply aim at the middle of the range and swing away) and I always make sure I lay a club or alignment stick down at my feet for proper aim.  And I work on hitting shots at 3/4 speed, so that my swing is in-sync and balanced.  That is especially important after a long winter away from the game.

Lastly, I try and commit myself to being patient, and trusting that my game will come around with some effort and practice.  That first month back at the course is pretty damaging to anyone’s ego and confidence, so you’ll want to commit to accepting your bad shots, and resolve to work on your deficiencies as the season progresses.  This is the most difficult aspect of improvement, as we all tend to be our toughest critics.  But you will never reach your potential in this game if you aren’t being your best friend.  Golf is a tough sport, and you need to continually pump yourself up, not tear yourself down.

Try these tips and see if they help your golf game.  They have certainly helped mine, especially now that I sit behind a desk for a living.