While some golfers are content to play occasionally, many become instantly hooked on the game and try to slice strokes off their scores as quickly as possible. While patience is a virtue, there are proven ways to maximize your golf potential in a relatively short time, if you're willing to work.
If you have money to spend on golf, invest in lessons before purchasing that new set of clubs. Golf writer Harry Hurt recommends a three-step plan when seeking instruction: Make a commitment to improve your game, find a professional teacher, then follow through on your commitment. If you’re a new golfer, a teaching pro can start you off with the correct fundamentals. If you’ve been playing for awhile, your instructor can smooth out your rough spots. If you don’t know any golf pros, the safest bet is to find a PGA pro at a local course.
Practice and Play
Armed with correct knowledge -- whether from a pro, a golf book or a video -- practice and play golf as much as possible. Hurt says the amount of time you practice and play is "arguably the most important variable in the equation of your golf improvement formula." Obtain some drills -- either from your pro or another source -- that focus on your weak spots, then head to the driving range and practice green to put in your work.
Improve Your Short Game
If your spare time is limited, the fastest way to shave strokes off your score is to improve your short game, particularly your putting. One-time child golf prodigy Tiger Woods said, “It wasn’t by accident that I learned to play golf from the green back to the tee.” Again, have your pro give you some drills to take to the practice green. Alternatively, golf instructor Dave Pelz suggests placing 10 balls in a circle, 3 feet from the hole. Move around the circle sinking all the putts, but start over if you miss one. Continue until you sink 10 in a row.
I Play 18 and I Like It
In his book “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster,” rock and roll legend Alice Cooper describes how he took up golf as a way to fill his time after leaving a rehabilitation center for alcoholics. Cooper worked with two golf pros, played 36 holes per day, then practiced afterwards, using drills from the two pros. Within a year he was an 8-handicap player. While you may not have as much spare time as Cooper did, adapting his formula for success as closely as possible should help you lower your score quickly.