How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time

By Brian Hill

Playing your best golf implies reaching your full potential as a golfer, and "all the time" means playing well with consistency – having your scores vary over a relatively narrow range. Whether you are able to accomplish this depends on your natural athletic ability, your dedication to the game and having a fundamentally sound golf swing.

Take time to warm up on the driving range before a round. Start with a stretching routine to loosen your muscles. This will help you make a long, fluid swing with maximum arc and maximum clubhead speed. Next, hit a series of practice shots starting with the pitching wedge and moving up to a short iron, long iron, fairway wood and driver. Make sure you hit each shot the same way you would on the course – with careful setup, alignment and focus on a target.

Focus your mind on golf before you tee off. A golfer's scores often go up and down from week to week because in some rounds his mind isn't fully on the game – it might be on business responsibilities, upcoming deadlines or personal matters. Try to shut non-golf thoughts out of your mind when you walk onto the driving range, then stay focused on each shot throughout your round.

Work on developing a repeatable swing. Consistently good scores are the result of consistently good shotmaking, which is the result of having a golf swing you can rely on. Start with sound fundamentals – your grip, stance, posture and alignment. Through diligent practice, develop muscle memory so your swing becomes grooved on both long and short shots.

Put extra effort into practicing your short game. A golfer who can save strokes around the greens can post good scores even if one aspect of his game is off that day – such as his tee shots. Think about how many times top PGA Tour golfers have used brilliant short games to turn what could have been a score of 76 or higher into a 70 or less.

Work on being a strategic golfer. Check over your scorecards and see how often a poor score resulted from just one or two holes on which you had a double bogey or worse. These bad holes can often be traced back to strategic errors trying to make a long carry over water that you know you are not likely to execute, or hitting a 5-iron from deep rough when the smart play was to get out of trouble with a wedge. Become a smarter golfer by knowing your limitations in distance and accuracy and steering clear of trouble.

Keep a record of why you played well in a particular round. The instruction book "Private Lessons" recommends taking a lesson from a PGA professional after you have played really well. The pro can videotape your swing and record what you were doing particularly well for use in getting you back on track should you go into a scoring slump. The pro can also spot what exactly you were doing so well that led to your good score. Consider writing down the swing thoughts you had during your excellent round to refer to before the next round.

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