Christina Kim advises amateurs to have a keen sense of their own abilities.
KNOW HOW FAR YOU HIT YOUR CLUBS. This goes along with tak- ing enough club, but if you watch the pros, they have excellent distance control and are honest with how far they can hit each club. Amateurs just need to have an (accurate) idea of their range within 5–10 yards. •••
DEVELOP A PRE-SHOT ROUTINE. Every pro goes through the same motions and mannerisms before every shot or putt he or she hits—it’s kind of like a script. The pre-shot routine is integral to a golfer’s performance and increases the chances for success. It can help with everything from basics, such as align- ment, to fostering comfort and confidence, especially in pressure-packed situations. It can be how you walk into your setup to the ball, what you’re going to think about, a swing feel in the takeaway or visualizing an image of the target. •••
FOCUS ON YOUR SWING TEMPO. Watch the ladies on the LPGA, who have swings that look
effortless and don’t have the grip it and rip it mentality. Amateurs tend to think they have to swing hard to hit it far. Wrong. Even the PGA Tour players rarely put it way up in their stance and tee it high and try to kill the ball. ••• “Most Tour pros are only doing that if we’re about to blow the cut and we’re trying to hit it an extra 20 yards,” says Robert Gar- rigus, who won the 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic. “If they (amateurs) put it a little farther back in their stance and swing inside their shoulders, they have a better chance of hitting it straight instead of their tendency to move across the ball and over the top— which causes a big slice.” •••
TEE IT FORWARD. There’s no need to play from the tips unless you can actually handle it. It’s more fun and you’ll score better. There’s already a slow play epidemic and it’s partly caused by players who take a gazillion shots when they don’t play from the proper tees.
LEAVE THE DRIVER IN THE BAG. HIT A 3-WOOD, HYBRID OR EVEN A LONG-IRON ON SHORTER HOLES TO LEAVE YOU WITH A YARDAGE YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH HITTING FOR YOUR APPROACH. ••• “I think amateurs should pay attention to why we’re taking 3-wood off the tee instead of driver on some holes,” says PGA Tour pro Kevin Na. “I see a lot of amateurs taking driver on a 320-yard par 4, when they usually don’t need to.” •••
On a similar note, LAY UP TO A NUMBER YOU LIKE. If you’re in the heavy rough on a difficult par 4, watch the pros, who often chip out to leave a yardage where they have the best chance to get up-and-down. ••• “Being comfortable hitting a yardage is much more important than hitting it up somewhere near the green in the rough, where you might have a bad lie,” says Kim. “If you’re comfortable with your yardage, you will give yourself a better chance to get up and down, or at worst, make a bogey. There is no need to go bigger than you’re capable of doing.”
AGGRESSIVE AND BE AFRAID TO LAY UP. Amateurs often waste shots due to our lack of recogni- tion of our abilities and the tendency to attempt shots beyond our talents. You
Hitting a 3-wood instead of the driver can really help many amateurs.
don’t have to go for a par 5 in two just because you have a chance and you think it’s what the pros would do. ••• “Amateurs put themselves in situations where they can only pull off the shot one out of 10 times based on their ability, rather than playing more conservative where they’re likely to do it successfully nine out of 10 times,” says PGA Tour veteran Greg Chalmers. ••• Adds two-time PGA Tour winner Scott Stallings: “The value of par for amateurs is pretty substan- tial and I don’t think they realize that. We always tell our guys in pro-ams that if we could caddie for them and they did everything we told them, we’d give them the opportunity to take ten shots off a round without changing a single golf swing.”