Question:I have played since a very young age, and at one point was a fairly reasonable golfer, but since then I have not had the time to play very often.
What would you say is the best way to improve your game and feel like you are making progress? I cannot really afford to join a club, nor do I have friends proficient enough to go a full 18 with. Is it possible to make it into tournament play and improve your game from being a member of a small, 9-hole club?
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There a lot of good answers, but here's my take.
Lessons (from a honest, good teacher) + decent and fitted equipment (less than 5 year old equipment) + most importantly: actual on-course experience
The driving range and repetitive practice is overrated and discouraging. Three years ago I was a 100s player with crappy Knights golf clubs. Honestly, I only started getting better after taking lessons and sneaking onto the front nine of municpal courses and practicing 10 balls per hole. If you can get to know the ranger at your local or private golf course, ask if you can give him $5 to just play one or two holes and practice.
There is NO substitute for tight lies, sloped lies, hitting under trees, pitching over a bunker, chipping from 20-40 feet, hitting over water...
There is also no substitute for doing this in a different order. No one ever hits a driver 10 times on a course and then consecutively hits a 3W 10 times, then a 5 iron 10 times, then a 9 iron 10 times then chip and then putt.
Range time and equipment is overrated. Don't listen to teachers or golf store reps selling you fancy gadgets or the "latest" hybrid.
Regarding getting to a 18 handicap: breaking 100 consistently simply means bogeying or doublebogeying every hole. Thinking this way completely changed my mindset and goals. Forget about pars and birdies or the occasional Tiger Woods shot. Play extremely conservatively and you'll be surprised how easy it is to break 100.
The average par four from the whites or yellows, is 340 yards. Divide that in half and you get two 120 yard shots!
Remember, lessons, on course time and super conservative course management will get you breaking 100 within six months.
Practice and more practice. Mostly at short game.
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Do you have a local driving range? THats always a good way. It costs something like £2.50 for 50 balls. Very cost effective.
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Defo all about the practice. Try a local pay and play with some of your mates, have a drink in the club house and make some friends there to play with.
I don't know if all pay and play courses are like the one I worked in but the club house is open for anyone's use after a game of golf but you need to become a member to use it often but it's much cheaper than private ones.
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Hitting balls down a range for hours on end can develop bad habits to be honest because you can lose focus... If you want to avoid this then quite a fun and useful drill is to get an 18 hole scorecard from a club, and take it to the range with you... Then imagine your on the 1st tee and hit the shot you would need to. Estimate how far you would have left to the hole, and play your 'approach' to a target on the range. and so on for 18 holes...
Beyond that it's shortgame shortgame and more shortgame... it will save so many shots if you get it right...
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You don't mention what part of your game needs improving. So I can only say practise on that part as much as you can! If you are slicing the ball off the tee then insure that you are showing the first two knuckles of your left hand as you follow through the swing, transferring your weight to your front foot smoothly, and close the club face very slightly. On your short game, always address the ball reducing the width of your stance according to the iron you are using, the shorter the iron, the narrower your stance! Keep your hands ahead of the ball and follow- through the swing smoothly. That's it! Have a good day.
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Here's what you have to do. Like all sports you REALLY need to start out learning the fundamentals. If you try to teach yourself you may do something wrong. And once you learn something the wrong way, it is extremely difficult to correct it. So, I would either rent a video, buy a book or take a lesson or two somewhere or better yet if you have a friend who is really good... After you've learned the basics, I'd go to the range a few times a week and hit some balls with the common clubs. Maybe your driver, your 6-9 iron, your pitching wedge and practice putting. Than you're ready for the range.
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It is definitely possible to improve through just playing a 9 hole course. I am in the same situation, used to shoot in the low 70's from the back tees, I had a kid now, I don't have time much to play. I finally got a chance to play a few times per week and my scores dropped from high 70s low 80s back down to low to mid 70s. Any time you can swing your clubs I feel makes you better.
If all you can do is play, try playing a couple of balls if you have time and aren't holding anyone up. Especially around the greens. 5-10 strokes can be shaved right there.
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The one thing that improved my game the most was joining a club. We had weekly tournaments. I established a handicap and because of that, lost any feelings of intimidation playing around better golfers, in fact, watching them play helped me.
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the single best thing you can do to improve your game is to take lessons. you mentioned that money was an issue, so look for group lessons. several public golf courses offer group lessons for cheap (< $50 per lesson - which is cheaper than a round of golf at most courses). do your research and find a class that is focused towards experienced golfers and taught by a good pro. he / she will help you address the specific aspects of your game that need it. you'll be able to practice much more efficiently.
you may also want to check into used drivers and woods. there's been a lot of improvements in driver technology over the years so some of your equipment may benefit from an upgrade. if you buy used or demo items you will save a lot of cash.
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