2014 has arrived. Here we go with another fresh start to the golf season! For some of us in the sun belt of the United States or warm weather climates like Australia & New Zealand, the season starts now. For others it will begin in a few months. Either way, it’s time to reflect on last year and make some resolution for this year! Here are a few ideas…
1. Practice more – We all want to practice more, but rarely do. This year, make an effort! Spend one hour a week at the range, putt in your living room, or set up a net in your basement. Every little bit helps. Last year I resolved to work on my putting stroke. I started putting in my living room and estimate that I hit 200-300 putts per week. Every little bit counts! My handicap improved by 1.5 strokes. This year my goal is to hit 500 putts per week to my new practice aid – The Dead Zero Putting Disk
2. Buy new wedges – If you are like most golfers out there, you probably use your wedges more than any other club in the bag except the putter. Think about it, if you hit one out of three greens, that means you’ll have at least twelve pitches, chips or bunker shots to hit, not to mention other full wedge shots on par fives or short par fours. Count it up one day. I bet you hit over 20 wedge shots per round. New wedges with fresh grooves can save you strokes. Why not replace your wedges every few seasons? There are some awesome custom options out there now like “new kid on the block” Hopkins Golf. Check them out! Use promo code ITG20 to add a custom grind to your wedge for free!
3. Save some money for a trip – Getting tired of playing the same old boring golf courses? Why not save some cash for a golf trip with your buddies? There are lots of ways to save enough for a memorable trip to a great golf resort, like some of my favorites – Sea Pines Resort, Kiawah Island, Bandon Dunes or even Scotland & Ireland! Common, forget about that new car. Your 4 year old workhorse can still get you there. You’ll be so much happier you waited and saved when you come walking down the 18th at St .Andrews and take a picture with your best pals on the Swilcan Bridge.
4. Don’t waste money on a new driver – See #2 above. Sure, a shiny new driver that promises yet another 10 yards and more fairways hit sounds like the best purchase to make, but do you really think that new driver will hit it further than your one year old model? Probably not. Besides, on a regulation course you won’t hit more than 14 drivers in one round. Seems like a huge waste to spend $400 on a club that only accounts for 20% or less of your score. For that kind of money, you can get a new lob wedge AND putter, or you can get your Ireland golf trip savings off to a great start. Wait until next year to buy that over-hyped macho stick.
5. Play more conservative – It happens all the time. You have a chance to play safe, but try the hero shot through a 6 inch gap instead and end up making a snowman. This year, play it safe! Sports psychologists preach that you to make an aggressive swing to a conservative target to play your best golf. So this season, try a new strategy: Lay up on the par fives unless you can get there with an iron shot. Hit it sideways out of the woods instead of trying to go through the trees. Hit it short of the water and wedge it on instead of trying to hit a 200+ yard long iron or hybrid that you know you probably can’t make. Aim away from those sucker pins and play to the middle of the greens. If you have a conservative strategy with a cocky swing, you will see your scores comes down. What have you got to lose?
6. Walk more – It has become harder and harder in the U.S. to find courses that allow walking at all times. For many courses, golf cart rental revenue is often the difference between turning a profit or being in the red. There are however, plenty of places that still allow and encourage walking, and in 2014 I resolve to play those courses more and walk as much as I can. I think golf should be played on foot. Not only is walking better for your health, but it is much better for the course. I also feel that the game flows better wen you have time to analyze, accept and forget your previous shot and prepare for the next as you walk. Walking also allows you to see the green’s contours as you walk up, helping you read the green. Not only that, but the new hybrid style golf shoes are much more comfortable to walk in that old-school spiked shoes. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason not to want to walk when playing golf unless you have a physical disability, so get out there and enjoy it on foot!
7. Fix more ball marks, fill more divots – Take it from an ex-greenskeeper. When you take a divot, replace it or fill it with sand, and fix another divot nearby. When you get to the green, always fix ball marks, and why not fix a few more while you’re at it? I always do. People that don’t fix divots and ball marks have no right to complain about the condition of the golf course. In 2014, do your part to try and leave every course you visit in better shape than you found it!
8. Stop throwing your clubs – I can be almost 100% certain that all those shanks, tops, worm-burners, banana slices, duck-hooks and fat shots you hit in 2013 were not the club’s fault. So why are you still throwing your clubs around like a spoiled brat? If you paid as much money for that custom set of irons or fancy Bettinardi Putter as I did, you don’t want to be tossing it around. Control that temper big guy, and remember how bad you’ll feel if you break that $400 driver over your knee. As a friend once said: “You aren’t good enough to throw clubs!”
Happy New Year everybody! Keep it in the short grass and bury those four footers!