Change your game without changing your swing – 4 tips to lower your score

As a golf coach I get people coming to me everyday wanting to improve their golf game.
Most of them want to improve their swing in order to shoot lower scores, the thing is there are far easier ways to lower your scores than just getting the golf club into a better position.

I recently was involved in a ‘tips’ night at my golf club Douglas Golf Club. Myself, Stephen Hayes, Peter O’Keefe, Karl Bornemann & Gordan Adair all gave great insights to different areas of the game.

I focused on game and course management and how you can lower your scores without changing a thing in your golf swing.

Here are the 4 main points I talked about.

1. Less Penalty Shots. Never Chip twice on the same hole. Less 3 Putts.

This is a line taken from Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney (I’m sure this is the highlight of his career getting a mention in my blog).
This is something I always drill into any of my players.

But this is easier said than done for some people so how do we put this into action.
A big problem with people playing golf is they have too much time to think and in the end only think of the wrong thing.

‘The Ball will go to the last place you think of’.

Our brain is fantastic if we use it right, how many time have you stood on the tee and worried about the little pot bunker 200yards away in the rough, only a terrible shot would finish in there but low and behold you manage it. Thats how good you are at golf, with out even aiming for the bunker you managed to swing the club in a way that made the ball go to the bunker.
Think of it this way, if I say to you don’t think of a pink elephant…….. your mind is unable deal with the word don’t, everyone thought of a pink elephant. Its the same in our golf games. If your last thought before you hit the ball is ‘don’t go into the water‘ or whatever the trouble is your mind doesn’t understand the don’t part and more often than not your ball go’s towards the trouble.
So before you hit your next tee shot think of were you WANT the ball to go not where you don’t want it to go.

Never chip/pitch twice on the same hole, this is a simple one. 99% of the people reading this blog have a handicap. Please please please use your handicap. If you have missed the green in a difficult position your number one job must be get the ball onto the green in one shot. This means sometimes playing a little bit away from the pin to the fat part of the green.

Less 3 Putts, ok maybe this one does take a little practice. When I see people practicing putting a big mistake I see is them practicing from 15-20 feet, thinking if they make a few more from that range they will be able shoot the lights out. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The next time you are practicing your putting practice holing out from 5 feet and in and practice getting the ball into a 3 foot circle from different areas around the green. Simple as that.

2. Don’t be a HERO (use your handicap)

When a Tour player hits the ball into the trees and is unable make it to the green they make bogey 80% of the time.
I heard this stat on Mark Immelmanns podcast and was shocked. I think it was Scott Fawcett who said it and I thought to myself, If I hit it in the trees, chip out, hit it onto the green and two putt I’m as good as a Tour player for that hole after the drive.
The amount of times I see golfers with handicaps take on stupid shots from the trees amazes me. Getting the ball as close to the hole as possible isn’t always the best play.

3. Know how far you hit your clubs on AVERAGE

AVERAGE is the big word there. Its great if 1 in 10 times you hit your 7 iron 170yards but do you know on average how far it go’s??
A massive % of trouble on golf courses are located in front of greens or in the first half of the green so give yourself a margin for error and use your GPS properly and look at what the distance is to the back of the green. Then try hit it to the back of the green, this allows you to hit a poor-ish shot and still carry over the trouble short of the green.
If you do hit your 1 in 10 shot and it finishes on the back of the green you are now a better lag putter because you know to practice that and you will easily 2 putt.

If you have no idea on your distances contact your local PGA Pro and ask him can he help. A bag mapping session can not only give you your average distance for each club but also sort out any trouble distances by highling areas that need fixing.

4. Manage your expectations

Stand on the first tee of any golf club at the weekend and you will see guys late for their tee times after a busy week at work, run on to the tee and expect to hit every shot perfect.

When we watch golf on T.V on a Sunday afternoon, what people forget is that these are the best players in the world playing their best golf. We don’t see the players that are in the airport after missing the cut because they played poor.

If you look at averages for players on tour you will see that what we see on a Sunday afternoon is not even the norm for these amazing golfers who practice 40+ hours a week.

From 75 – 100 yards the average player on the PGA Tour (best players in the world) hits it to 18 feet. Think of your reaction to a shot from 75 yards that finishes 20 feet away??

Putting from 10 – 15 feet on average they make 11%

Birdies Louis Oosthuizen last year earned $3.1 Million on the PGA Tour and on average had 3.2 birdies per round. Birdies aren’t easy to make.

So go out and enjoy your golf if you miss 5 10 footers in a row thats ok, if you make 1 birdie be delighted and if you hit it to 15 feet from 75 yards be happy.


I hope some of these topics help your golf.

If you have any comments please feel free to share them.

And if you have any topics you’d like me to write about just ask. Easy form of contact with me is on Facebook or Twitter

3 Simple Ways to Improve your Golf Game at Home

Spring is here meant to be here!
Instead as I write this I’m waiting for the snow to fall and am house bound.
The Masters is just over 30 days away and the golfing bug is meant to be starting to hit people.
Just because golf courses are closed this does not mean that we can’t improve our golf games.
In this post I will give you some simple examples of how we can improve without going to the range or the golf course.

If you want more information on any of these topics feel free to ask me.

1. Mirror Work

More than half the people who come to me for lessons have issues at set up. Most things that happen in a golf swing are a reaction to something else.
There are plenty of good videos showing you good golf movements online now and I recommend giving fitforgolf a look for some great videos.

Also make sure that if you have been to your local PGA Pro for a lesson make sure you ask them to give you some practice routines to do at home.
I like to give my students at least 1 drill to do at home in front of a mirror and 2 drills for them to practice at the range at the end of a lesson.

The set up can be worked on at home with a golf club and a mirror. If you can nail your set up your mistakes can be minimised. Having your alignment, posture, grip and ball position checked regularly at home will improve your consistency on the golf course.

2. Putting

This is an area that people don’t spend enough time on. A rule of thumb for practice should be 3:2:1 for every shot hit on the range you should hit 2 chips or pitches and 3 putts. This is a rough ratio but should always be kept in mind when practicing.

Putting at home can be very boring for some people, the best way to avoid this is have a plan for practice.

Step 1 Check your basics – grip, eye line, shoulder alignment & ball position
These can be checked in the mirror and don’t have to take too long. Spending 5/10 minutes on these will hugely improve your putting.

Step 2 Make up some games – this sounds simple but a mistake people make here is that they don’t think of games with good scoring systems. You want to be able keep score and be able test yourself against your personal bests.

Also make sure that your games test different areas of your putting.
Face angle, Strike point & pace are the main areas that need to be tested, I will have videos up in the future of good drills for these facets of your game.

3. Attitude/expectations

Attitude can be the worst part of peoples games. The amount of times I play with amateurs and they hit one bad shot in the first couple holes and they think there game is over is amazing. These people are meant to play golf as a hobby and to enjoy their time on the golf course yet they drive themselves mad with bad decisions and mental talk.

This used to be an area of the game that could only be improved by buying an expensive golf psychology book ( nothing wrong with this either ) but now there are so many easier ways to help us. Mark Immelman’s Off the mark and Cordie Walkers’ Golf Science Lab podcasts are a really great way of getting some excellent information from some of the leading minds in golf. I often listen to these as I’m cooking dinner or driving to tournaments.

These are just 3 simple ways of practicing without having to leave the house.
Please feel free to share with me ways you practice at home.