Archive for Golf Practice

Play More Golf to Lower Your Handicap

Playing more rounds will improve your scoring, lowering your handicap, faster than increasing your practice time.

Time on the practice range is important to continually improve our full swing. Developing a repeatable swing with as much club head speed as possible will allow you to hit more fairways and greens, but learning how to lower scores happens on the course.

There are simply too many factors that come together to lower your handicap. While all of these factors will be encountered on the course, some of these are more difficult to practice off the course, and some golfers choose not to practice them.

Working on your full swing is important, but at least half of your practice time should be on the short game; pitching, chipping, and putting. The majority of shots on the course will involve your short game. The practice time you spend on your short game should reflect this. Improving your short game equals lowering your handicap.

When is the last time you practiced uneven lies on the practice range? Most beginner and high handicap golfers hit every shot at the range from a near perfect lie. Improved scoring comes from mastering how to hit the four main uneven lies, which can only be done on the golf course. Hitting out of the rough is also best learned on the course.

Two great ways to play more golf is by getting a membership at a club or by joining a league. Joining a club immediately made me feel more obligated to golf, since I prepaid my season. Playing competitive golf in a league has so many benefits. Golf’s handicap system levels the playing field making for an enjoyable experience for all golfers.

Start playing more rounds today and lower your handicap today!

DIY Indoor Golf Net

These are plans for a roughly 8 foot high, 8 foot wide, and 5 foot deep DIY indoor golf net. The frame is 1-1/4 inch PVC pipe and the netting is 3/4″ #18 black square nylon.

Materials

Quantity Item Cost Each Item Total Cost
1 8′ x 8′ GOLF IMPACT BLACK SQUARE NYLON BARRIER BACKSTOP NETTING 3/4″ #18 $49.95 $49.95
3 8′ x 5′ GOLF IMPACT BLACK SQUARE NYLON BARRIER BACKSTOP NETTING 3/4″ #18 $32.95 $98.85
1 1-1/4″ Furniture Grade 3-Way Corner Elbow PVC Fitting – 8 Pack $24.90 $24.90
8 1-1/4″ x 10′ PVC Pipe $3.38 $27.04
4 1-1/4″ x 5′ PVC Pipe $2.71 $10.84
1 1″ x 10′ PVC Pipe $2.21 $2.21
3 100 Count Black 8″ Cable Ties $2.46 $7.38
1 King sized sheet $0.00 $0.00
Total Cost $221.17

Assembling the PVC Frame

Cut all 8 of the 1-1/4″ by 10′ pipes down to 7’10” in length.

Cut all 4 of the 1-1/4″ by 5′ pipes down to 4’9″ in length.

Make the bottom frame by connecting two 7’10” lengths and two 4’9″ lengths using four 3-way corner elbows to form a rectangle. The remaining open end of each corner elbow should be facing up.

Insert a 7’10” PVC pipe into each of the four corner elbows.

Make the top frame by connecting a 3-way corner elbow to the top of each column and connecting two 7’10” lengths and two 4’9″ lengths to form a rectangle.

Congratulations! You’ve assembled the PVC frame.

Adding the Net

The 8′ x 8′ net is the back net. The three 8′ x 5′ nets make up the left, right, and top nets. Hang each net in place. My nets came with loops at each corner which made it easy to hang each net in place. If for some reason your net does not have the loops at each corner, you can just use a cable tie around the pipe and through a corner square of the net.

The nets are attached to the frame by using an 8″ cable tie around the PVC and every four squares of the net. So cable tie, skip three squares, and then another cable tie.

Along the top of the frame, the same cable tie will connect the top net and either side or back net.

Going down the back columns, the same cable tie will connect the side nets and the back net.

Leave an opening along the top sides about 6″ from the back. The 1″ PVC pipe will rest on top of the sides and the impact screen will hang from it.

Adding the Impact Screen

Here could go your impact screen where you could project the image from your golf simulator. To break out the costs of a full feature simulator over a few years, we are using a king size bed sheet.

Cut the 1″ x 10′ PVC pipe down to 8′. Make a loop in the top of the king size sheet around the PVC pipe. Mark where you want to sew the seam. If you have sewing skills, or know someone who does, you can sew a seam to make a loop for the 1″ PVC pipe. You could use safety pins to create the loop if you are unable to sew it.

Place the 1″ PVC pipe through the loop of the sheet and rest each end of the pipe on top of each side of the frame about 6″ from the back of the frame. Connect two cable ties together to make a longer ones and wrap one around the top side support and the 1″PVC pipe to hold it in place. Fasten the remaining area of the nets around the 1″ PVC pipe to the frame.

I’m not sure how long the king size sheet will hold up as an impact screen. The next upgrade could be to install an actual impact screen we can project on.

The Chipping Game

High handicap and beginner golfers lose a lot of strokes around the green. Yet it’s probably the area that golfers practice the least. How often do you see someone chipping by the practice green?

My 12 year old son started taking his golf game more seriously this season. Like many beginner golfers, he made quick improvements in his long game from tee to green, but still gives up too many strokes around and on the green.

We’ve identified the need to emphasize practicing chipping and putting, but chipping and putting ball after ball from the same spots is not the way. There’s been a lot written lately about the need to practice like you play in order to simulate real shots and golf round pressure.

My son and I play a game for our chipping practice. It’s simple, fun, and provides a large amount of chipping and putting practice.

Each player plays one ball. Players alternate choosing the spot off the green to chip from along with the hole on the practice green to chip to. The object is to get your ball in the hole in the less strokes than your opponent. No points are awarded to either player in a tie. The winning player receives three points if they chip it in with one stroke, two points for getting “up and down” in two strokes, and one point for getting the ball in the hole in three strokes. No points are awarded for four or more strokes even if you get in the hole in less strokes than your opponent. The winner of the match is the first player to reach ten points.

This chipping game is a great way to simulate real golf round pressure both with the match play aspect and the need to get the ball in the hole in three strokes or less.

FixYourGame.com Online Lesson Review

There’s no doubt that having a golf coach is the fast track to improving your game but very few of us have the time and money required to make that a reality. While there is a lot you can do on your own to improve your game, we’re sometimes blind to many things with our game and this is no where more noticeable than with our swing.

While analyzing your own swing will lead to improvement, it doesn’t compare with a golf teaching professional taking a look. This is especially true if you are new to the game. Have a teaching professional get you started in the right direction. Even if you’ve been playing for years, we sometimes slip back into poor fundamentals that we are blind to see. Have a teacher get your swing back on track.

For years instructors have used video to help them improve their students’ swings. Now smartphones have made it easy to record video of your own swing. The ability to easily upload these videos to the Internet has also opened the door for a relatively new form of golf instruction – online golf instruction.

The idea is simple. Shoot video of your own swing, upload it to a website, and have a golf professional review it and offer ways for you to improve. It’s been something I’ve been contemplating for some time, so when Brant from FixYourGame.com offered to review my swing, I jumped at the chance.

Getting started at FixYourGame.com is very easy. I took two videos of my swing, one from behind down the target line and facing me perpendicular to the target line, filled out the online form and uploaded the videos. Within a few days my online lesson was ready!

Your lesson consists of two parts. The first is a written review with observations and suggestions on areas of your swing to work on. Brant also included links to YouTube videos featuring himself demonstrating proper technique.

The second part of your lesson is a video analysis of your swing. Areas of improvement from the written review are further analyzed with your swing compared along side swings by pro golfers. My swing was compared frame by frame with Rory McIlroy’s and Luke Donald’s.

I felt the combination of the written review, video analysis, and YouTube videos coming together to reinforce the three areas of improvement for my swing did a great job of emphasizing what steps I need to take to improve.

Check out FixYourGame.com today for online instruction for your game!

Practice with Purpose

Many beginner and high handicap golfers will go to the driving range and hit balls on a regular basis. This is a great habit to get into as the fastest way to improve your game is through regular practice. The problem is many golfers will hit the majority of the range balls with their driver, rifling through shot after shot. Their practice does not have any real focus. Structured, purposeful practice is needed so you will be able to consistently execute shots when on the course.

Weekly time at the practice range is the time to work on swing mechanics, especially if you are still building a consistent swing. Repetition of proper swing techniques is needed to have a consistent swing on the course. On the course is not the place to work on your swing. Working on your swing while on the course will undoubtedly lead to mishits, frustration, and high scores.

Video is the easiest way to get instant feedback while implementing new swing techniques while on the range. Video gives you the extra set of eyes that are critical in finding areas of your swing to improve. It’s essential to use video if you want to get as much out of your time at the range as possible.

There are several apps which allow you to record and analyze your swing. Two of my favorite apps are UberSense Golf  and V1 Golf.

None of us have all of the time we would like to practice, so we have to make the most of the time we have on the range. That means practicing on areas of your game that need the most attention, the areas in which breakdowns are leading to high scores. Accurate stat tracking is one of the easiest ways to determine which parts of your game to work on at the range.

You can make stat tracking as basic or detailed as you’d like. For many years now, in addition to my score, I track other stats on my paper scorecard. I track fairways in regulation, greens in regulation, putts, and penalty strokes for each hole. I’ll then look at my rounds for the week before my weekly practice session and immediately know areas that I struggled in. I also input these stats into a spreadsheet so I have an idea on how I’m performing in areas on a historical basis.

Another way I have tracked stats in the past is on my smartphone. Most of the golf GPS apps also allow you to track several stats including shot distance. These apps do a great job of tracking your stats and many have web sites where you can further analyze them. I have one word of caution on using your smartphone to track a lot of stats while on the course. Do not let your phone distract you from applying your full concentration to your upcoming shot. I see a lot people, myself included at times, spending too much time on their phones.

Technology is making stat tracking easier than it has ever been. GAME GOLF is a stat tracking system that is far less intrusive on the course than manually entering stats on a smartphone. By installing a tag at the end of each of your clubs and wearing a receiver on your belt, you simply touch the tag of the club to the receiver before each shot. All that is required on the course is to remember to “tag” your receiver before each shot.

Besides working on your swing and specific areas of your game, you’ll want to practice real round scenarios. Here are a few examples. Try getting the ball from tee to green. Work on hitting your driver in the fairway and then hitting your approach shot on the green. Another examples is getting up and down from just off the green. Chip a ball on the practice green and then sink the putt. Repeat these scenarios several times. By practicing real round scenarios, you’ll find it easier to take your game from the range to the course.

The amateur golfer has limited time for practice. It is important to make the most of it. I hope you’ll follow tips in this post to practice with purpose.

How to Afford Golf Lessons

On a recent Shooting 90 poll, I asked the question “What’s the biggest thing stopping you from lessons with a PGA professional?”. As of writing this post, over 75% of the respondents answered “It’s too expensive for me”. Other choices included “I don’t have the time”, “I’m too embarrassed”, and “I don’t need lessons!”.

The expense of golf lessons being by far the most popular answer took me a bit by surprise. While I can make the argument for each answer not being a viable reason (excuse), I was expecting not having the time as the most popular response.

Golf is an expensive sport to begin with. Most likely you’ve already invested hundreds of dollars into a set of clubs. While a set of clubs can last you several years, what about your cost every time you golf a round of 18 holes? Add up green fees, replacing lost balls, and refreshments, and you talking at least $60, maybe more depending on where you live. I understand you can golf during twilight hours for $20, just drink water (which is best for you anyways), and bring your total cost to under $30, but the point I’m trying to make is that golf costs you a significant amount of money every time you play a round.

I will venture to say that most high handicap golfers play too much and practice too little, which is fine if you do not want to improve and are getting enough enjoyment from your curent game. The fact is golf is more enjoyable for a high handicap golfer after they improve their game, and you reading this post tells me you have a desire to improve.

What if instead of golfing one of your rounds per month, you take what you would have spent and invest in golf lessons? The average cost of one hour of lessons with a golf teaching professional in my area is $65. Most pros will also let you split the hour into two half hour sessions. For $65 per month, you could meet every two weeks with a golf coach. Think how more quickly your golf game could improve. A golf teaching professional could put you on the fast track to going from a high handicap to shooting 90.

While I’m a firm believer that one-on-one golf lessons from a teaching professional is the best form of instruction, there are even less expensive ways to get instruction from a pro. Many pro golf instructors advertise a lower rate for group instruction. Ask your local pro if they are willing to do lowered group rates if they do not state it. Form a group with your spouse or a couple of buddies. You still get time with a teaching professional but at a reduced rate. If you need to bring the cost down even further, you could attend one of several clinics that most teaching professionals put on during the season. I can attend golf clinics in my area for as little as $15.

Hopefully I have influenced the people who think lessons from a professional golf teacher are too expensive into taking another look. I believe the fastest route for a high handicap golf to improve their game and enjoy golf more is with the help of a golf professional.

Practice Year Round at an Indoor Golf Facility

This past weekend, my wife and I made the four hour trip from our home in northern Wisconsin to Minneapolis. Most of the weekend was spent attending a trade show for my wife’s business. Even so it was a nice getaway and we did find time to have some fun.

I found time Saturday afternoon to have a great time at Inside Edge Golf, an indoor golf facility in Eden Prairie, MN. It was my first trip to such a facility. I had previously interacted with @insideedgegolf on Twitter, and since I knew I was going to the Twin Cities, I jumped at the chance to check it out.

Inside Edge Golf has nine aboutGolf PGA Tour simulators. Seven of the simulators are Classic models, one is a Widescreen (5 feet wider screen than the Classic), and one is a three-screen SimSurround. Each simulator has incredible 3D graphics and offer the choice of over 50 world famous courses to play. Inside Edge Golf also has an 1800 square foot putting green.

I knew I would not have a lot of time but still wanted to experience both a simulator and the putting green so earlier in the week I reserved a half hour on a Classic Simulator and a half hour on the putting green. Inside Edge recommends reserving simulator time three to four days in advance, especially for weekend times.

The simulators are incredibly easy to use. The staff at Inside Edge was extremely friendly in explaining the simulator and answering any questions. I first warmed up with a few shots in practice range mode. It was my first time on a simulator so obviously I was going to play an actual course, but if I had the ability to visit Inside Edge on a regular basis, I could see myself reserving simulator time for the sole purpose of hitting balls on the range. The simulator records all of the important data such as clubhead speed, ball speed, ball spin, projected trajectory and distance. The instant feedback after every shot is instrumental in improving your results. Lessons are even available on a simulator from an on staff PGA professional.

As I mentioned earlier, there are over fifty courses to choose from. I chose TPC Scottsdale, probably because it was fresh in my mind from the recent Waste Management Open. I only had a half hour so I wasn’t able to get a whole round in but was able to finish 11 holes. Anything within 12 feet of the hole is considered a gimme. This speeds up play and makes total sense since the strength of the simulator is the analysis of full swings. On the floor of the simulator is an area with a tee, a short carpet mat which is the fairway, and a thicker mat which is the rough. Where you place the ball to hit depends on where you are on the screen. Playing a round on your favorite course is realistic enough to help you work on your full swing. Since you are charged for how long you use a simulator, I did find myself rushed to finish holes. I’m sure this being my first time had a lot to do with this and one would feel less and less rushed the more they used a simulator. Inside Edge offers league play which be a great way to break up the winter and keep your skills up until spring.

After the simulator, I spent some time on Inside Edge’s 1800 square foot putting green. It features both flat and breaking putts along with various lies off the side of the green to practice chipping. There is even a mini-flop wall to perfect your flop shots!

I recommend anyone within an hour’s drive of an indoor golf facility such as Inside Edge Golf to take full advantage. You have the ability to work on your game throughout the winter, on rainy days, and at night. Unfortunately I do not live close enough to an indoor golf facility so I will be doing the next best thing and building a simulator in my house before next fall.

When and Where to Find Help for your Golf Game

Many of us have been fortunate to have had some type of formal golf instruction at some point in our lives. For me it was two years on my high school golf team. I had golfed before that but it wasn’t until high school when I was able to create a solid foundation for my swing and my enjoyment of the game increased. I have no doubt my enjoyment of the game increased at this time because I was able to build that solid foundation with the help of my coaches.

Some amount of formal golf instruction is highly beneficial to getting maximum enjoyment from playing golf. Many of us can maintain and improve our swings. However, I feel this is only after we have a solid foundation. Creating a solid swing from which to build on is much easier with the help of formal instruction. But how much instruction does one need? Of course that depends on the individual. Some golfers can come out of a thirty minute lesson with a fundamentally correct swing. Others take more time.

So when should we seek formal instruction? You can already guess one of the times is if you are a beginner and not had instruction before. I believe at least some type of formal instruction is important to succeed in golf if for nothing more than creating a good foundation to built upon.

There are other times when formal instruction is the best thing for your game.

You compensate for a regular slice (or hook). I’m surprised at how many golfers I see compensate for their consistent slice off the tee. This cuts down on the number of holes you can use your driver on. Some holes will simply not have enough room for you to start your ball that far off the fairway. Even on the holes that do provide enough room, your chance of hitting the fairway is reduced by hitting a slice. Find help to straighten out your drives.

You have compensated for a recent injury and cannot get your pre-injury swing back. A solid golf swing involves almost every muscle group in your body. So it’s no surprise that there are many injuries that could affect your swing. Get help if you’re having trouble with your swing after recovering from an injury.

You have over-analyzed, over-tinkered with, and basically lost your swing. This has happened to me at times. Fortunately we can get our swing back ourselves most if not all of the time. But what if you can’t get your swing back? Find some help if you’ve made a mess of your swing and can’t get it back.

You want to quickly take your game to the next level. Once you have a fundamentally sound swing, you can make progress on your own. Taking advantage of instruction will accelerate this process. Why do you think the pros have coaches? Hire a golf coach if you want to accelerate the improvement in your game.

There are several places to find golf instruction.

Private lessons from your local golf course professional

Almost every course has a resident golf professional. The average rate for private lessons from local pros in my area is $60 per hour. You can also go in with your spouse or friend. Many pros offer group lessons at lower rates.

A clinic at your local golf course

Many courses offer golf clinics throughout the season. These are cheaper alternatives to private lessons. Many courses also offer junior clinics which are a great way to introduce children to the game of golf.

A golf school

There are several golf schools around the country that offer 2 to 5 day sessions. These are quite expensive, starting at around $1000, but offer a level of golf instruction not available anywhere else.

Improving Your Golf Game During Winter

As winter quickly approaches across the northern hemisphere, courses begin to close for the season, and our thoughts turn away from golf. But winter can be a great time to improve your golf game. By working on your game over the winter, you can be ahead of where you left off in the fall and avoid a slow start in the spring.

There are several things you can do in the winter to improve your golf game.

Begin a Stretching and Strengthening Program

Increased strength and flexibility benefits your swing in multiple areas. You will have increased hip and shoulder rotation and faster clubhead speed resulting in a more consistent swing and added distance.

While you can begin a golf specific exercise program, a general strength and stretching program may be best for high handicap golfers who do not currently exercise regularly. A general exercise program that includes stretching and strength training will be easier to implement and stick with while still providing many benefits.

By starting an exercise program in the fall, you will immediately see the benefits your first time on the course in the spring.

Create a Consistent Swing

A consistent swing is created by repetition and muscle learning. Only by repeating a proper swing can you train your muscles and obtain the muscle memory needed for a swing that you can repeat without thinking about it. One of the big challenges for high handicap golfers is creating a consistent swing that can be executed without a lot of thoughts going through your head.

There are several options for working on your swing during the winter.

    • Practice regularly at an indoor or heated driving range. This may be the best option if you are fortunate enough to have one close to you.
    • Use an indoor practice mat and net at home. An indoor net allows you to practice your full swing with real golf balls.

 

The Net Return Pro Series Net

The only golf net in the world that automatically returns the golf ball to the golfer. Our Pro Series net can also be used for additional sports with no modifications, this includes Soccer, Baseball, Softball and Lacrosse.

  • No matter where you are practicing your swing, you need to be analyzing it in order to make necessary adjustments. The most prevalent way for amateurs to do this is to videotape their swing. This is still a viable method but requires a tripod or camera mount and multiple angles. Recently, swing analyzers that traditionally were too expensive for a single golfer, have dropped below the $150 price point. These devices attach to your club and transmit swing data to your smartphone or tablet.

    Swingbyte Golf Swing Analyzer

    The Swingbyte Golf Training Device pairs a smartphone or tablet compatible application with a lightweight swing sensor that attaches directly to your golf club–allowing you to capture and analyze your swing for improved results on the course. The Swingbyte device secures easily to any golf club just below the grip–and out of your way.

    SwingTIP Wireless Golf Swing Analyzer Package

    SwingTIP lets you capture, analyze and visually examine your golf swing anytime, anywhere – at home, on the range or on the course. Let SwingTIP be your mobile golf swing coach. So small it fits into your pocket. So lightweight, that it won’t affect your swing. Use it anytime, and every time, you swing. Clip the SwingTIP sensor onto your favorite club, just below the grip. Take a swing. Within seconds, it wirelessly transmits your golf swing analysis data to your mobile device for viewing (iOS 5.1 orAndroid 2.3+).

Perfect Your Putting

Your putting stroke is easier than other areas of your game to work on indoors. Synthetic putting surfaces have continued to improve. Working on your putting stroke and distance over the winter will help you sink more putts and cut down on three putts when spring arrives.

SYNLawn Portable Golf Green (3 x 8)

SYNLawn Portable Golf Green – 3 x 8 The SYNLawn Portable Golf Green is a versatile practice putting green designed to accurately replicate the surface and performance of a true professional putting green.

SYNLawn Portable Golf Green (3 x 8)
StarPro Greens Three Hole Practice Putting Green (3 x 9)

StarPro Greens 3 x 9 Practice Putting Green (3-Hole): Putting realism is all about the turf. StarPros 90 oz. nylon turf is engineered for one thing and one thing only, putting realism. Their 3/4 in. nylon filaments are twisted and heat set to 1/2 in. to play and feel like real bent grass, and sheared for true roll and perfect country club speed.

StarPro Greens Three Hole Practice Putting Green (3 x 9)

Take this winter as an opportunity to advance your golf game. Instead of taking the winter off, put in some work and you’ll see an improved golf game in the spring.

Making the Most of the Practice Range

Hitting balls at the practice range is essential for a high handicap golfer to reach playing bogey golf. You are being unrealistic if you think working on your swing only during rounds is enough to quickly progress your game. While we all live busy lives and not many of us have the time that pros do to hit thousands of balls a week, an hour a week at the practice range could be the difference between shooting 90 or not.

Committing an hour a week at the practice range is the first and most important step but you also have to use that hour as productively as you can. Many amateurs hit too many balls with their driver or go through every club in their bag each time at the range. The best plan is to work primarily on the areas of your game that are costing you the most strokes. Keeping statistics during each round is the easiest way to know what you need to address at the practice range. Take the guesswork out of it and let your game tell you what you need to work on. Don’t work on improving an area of your game that is already relatively strong when there are other areas that truly need the work. Your golf game is only as strong as its weakest link.

Once you have determined what clubs to work on at the range, don’t just robotically hit one ball after another. Do some role playing. What I mean by this is to pick a definite target and go through your pre-shot routine. Simulate shots you will encounter during actual play. By doing this you will find it easier to translate what you gain on the range over to the course.

Along with a driving range, golf courses have a practice green to go along with it. Most of these practice greens also have a sand trap along side. The short game is the most important part of anyone’s golf game. It’s vital that you spend time on and around the practice green along with the time you spend on the practice range. More of your strokes come from putting than any other area of your game. Work on producing a consistent putting stroke so you can correctly judge the speed of your putts. Remember to work on the short putts so you can consistently drain the three foot putts on the course.

Putting is not the only part of your short game. We do not hit every green in regulation so we need to build proficiency around the green. Make practicing your chipping part of your regular routine at the practice range. Many amateurs use a wedge around the green for all their shots and attempt to fly the ball almost all the way to the hole. A better way is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible by using a less lofted club such as a seven or eight iron. Practice chipping the ball just on the green and correctly reading its roll to the hole. It’s easier to judge the slope of the green than it is to correctly fly it the right distance to the hole.

Most amateurs are terrified of hitting out of a green side sand trap. The truth is while it takes a different setup and swing to successfully get out of the sand, it is a shot that can become consistent for you with a little practice. Spend time in the practice bunker until you feel confident you can successfully land your ball on the green from a green side bunker while out on the course.

There may be some talented athletics who can take up golf and shoot 90 by just playing rounds, but most of us need to spend regular time on the practice range to elevate our game. Just spending time on the practice range isn’t enough. Target specific areas of your game that need the most work and include time for your short time in each practice session. Making time for quality practice each week will put you on the fast track to shooting 90.