To honor teachers in the U.S., the National Education Association has designated May 6th as this year’s National Teacher Day, an annual tradition. We too, are pausing today to celebrate instruction – golf instruction, that is – by offering the following tips from World Golf Hall of Famers, PGA and LPGA professionals, and highly respected instructors.
So go ahead. Read on. It just may help you increase your confidence on the golf course, improve your iron shots and short games, or even shoot your personal best score. No apple in return needed.
Adrenaline is Your Friend
For 30 years, renowned sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella has coached some of the world’s most successful professional golfers and written best-selling books like Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect. Known for his positive approach to the game, “Doc” advises golfers to welcome anxiety, rather than avoiding it.
“Learn to love the butterflies, or at least to handle them,” says Dr. Rotella. “Taking deep, slow breaths can be helpful, (as can) visualizing what you want. The calmer and clearer you can keep your mind, the more you can keep it focused on what you want.”
He adds, “Recognize that the physical sensations you feel are caused by adrenaline, which is a natural product of your body, a friend that will help you play better if you keep your mind clear. Be into (your) target and execute your routine.”
Hit Crisp Fairway Shots, Time After Time
World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sörenstam may very well be the most successful female golfer of all time. With over 90 victories around the world, including 72 LPGA Tour wins and 10 major championships, “Ms. 59” was always respected for her poise on the golf course, as well as her work ethic away from it. She may have also be one of the best ball strikers in LPGA history.
“Shots from the fairway should not be thought of as power shots,” Sörenstam advises. “Don’t swing your hands back to 12 o’clock, as you might with a driver. Stop at 10 o’clock, and fight the tendency to hang back on your right side and scoop the ball off the ground. Hit down on it, by making a good shift to your left side.”
Stay in the Present
Since founding the Golf State of Mind system, golf coach David MacKenzie has been dedicated to improving golfers’ mentalities, offering customers eBooks, podcasts, and training programs, amongst other products. To play to your fullest potential, he recommends that you always maintain your focus on the present, rather than reflecting on past mistakes.
“One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present,” says MacKenzie. “After all, the present is where we need to be to give every shot our best intention.”
He continues, “If you hit a bad shot, look up to the sky or focus on the beauty of your surroundings. Quickly realizing the relative insignificance of what happened will put it in perspective and allow you to move on immediately.”
Master Your Chip Shots
PGA professional Andrew T. Barbin, the General Manager and Director of Golf of Maryland’s Chesapeake Golf Club, believes golfers can finally overcome their weaknesses in chipping – by implementing the following tips as they practice and play.
“The shorter chip is a great shot to master. To do so, play the shot like a putt with a narrow stance,” Barbin states. “Position your body in front of or even with the ball with your weight on your left side and your knees comfortably flexed and almost touching.”
He adds, “The longer the shot, the further you stand from the ball which will allow your arms to travel further. Allow your arms to swing freely with minimal wrist action which causes the club to descend down onto the ball.”
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
After joining the LPGA Tour in 1975, Amy Alcott quickly rose within the professional ranks, garnering 29 Tour victories and five major championships. She advises golfers to remember why they are playing to begin with – to escape the pressures of work, relax, and enjoy themselves.
“Keep your sense of humor,” says Alcott. “There’s enough stress in the rest of your life to let bad shots ruin a game you’re supposed to enjoy.”
Other Tips to Consider
Trust Your Instincts. “Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision,” says two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer.
Loosen the Grip of Your Putter. “Grip (the putter) like a tube of toothpaste with the lid off – you don’t want to squeeze the toothpaste out,” says Martin Laird, a winner of three PGA TOUR tournaments.
Don’t Take the Club Straight Back. “The feeling of wanting to take the club straight back, rather than on an arc, is intuitively human, but it’s the core of many faults,” says John Jacobs, a World Golf Hall of Fame instructor. “We think the longer we can make a straight line, the straighter the ball will go. But golf is a side-on game with the ball on the ground, so it’s the opposite.”
For more great golf tips, visit Golf Channel.com.