Yes, great golfers tend to have technically sound swings and good physical characteristics – but there must be other things they do well to be so successful, right? What makes them so consistently excellent at the game? Are there things they do that the rest of us don’t?
Quite probably there are plenty of things that great golfers are doing that you aren’t – yet. But you can always incorporate some of their tricks into your own arsenal. Here are 12 things that great golfers do differently.
Use the same type of golf ball
You often don’t see good players changing their golf ball too much, or switching between brands. It’s far better to pick a brand of ball that works for you and that suits your game, and stick with it for the long haul. Getting advice from a professional can help you find the right type of ball for you, as balls vary quite widely. This will give you more consistent distance, spin rate and touch and feel around the green.
Make sure your club is prepared for the shot
It’s a good habit to get into to automatically clean your club after every shot. The ball will react differently when it comes off dirty grooves, as opposed to when it comes off clean grooves – this will change the spin on the ball. To help with consistency, make sure your club is clean and dry before you hit.
It’s also a good idea to prepare your ball as well as possible, when you get the opportunity to mark the ball on the green. Get a more consistent roll by cleaning and drying it before you putt.
Present yourself confidently
You’ve heard the saying, ‘Fake it till you make it’, and while you may not always feel confident on the golf course, it’s a good idea to act like you do. The best players have full control of their body language and the way they present themselves on the course, which contributes to a better mindset – and a better game.
Make the best out of a bad shot – or a bad day
Everyone has bad days, but it’s your ability to play through a slump that separates the good from the mediocre. It can be all too easy to follow up one mistake with another one – and another one as you start to lose your cool. Good players can usually find a way to save their round from complete obscurity – often by simply playing one shot at a time and forgetting about the previous shot. It doesn’t matter how bad that shank or top was, there’s no point dwelling on it. Just put it out of your mind and focus on the chance to play your best swing next time – the good news is you have plenty of opportunities to get it right during a round.
Click here to read more about how to get out of a golf slump.
Embrace purposeful practice and always seek to improve
You might think that great golfers have it all mastered and don’t need to focus on improvement as much as the rest of us – but you’d be wrong. Good golfers practice much more than other players, and they never rest on their laurels. If they have a good swing, they work towards an excellent swing, and then towards a truly proficient swing, and they are never happy with ‘good enough’.
Plus, they make their practice sessions count, and have learnt how to get the most from their practice time. They always practice with specific goals in mind, and structure each session with purpose. They also make the most of analytical tools to help them focus their practice sessions intently.
Click here to read more about developing good practice habits.
Don’t think of the “don’ts” that you need to avoid, instead, think of the “do’s” that you need to undertake. Be positive, and think about what you need to do and visualise the shot. Thinking of the don’ts will give negative reinforcement and actually make you more likely to do those things that you’re trying to avoid.
Watch your playing partners
You can learn a lot from watching your playing partners, particularly when it comes to putting. If your partner is putting first, don’t spend your time looking around the course, checking your phone or fiddling with your equipment. Instead, watch what they do, and pay attention to whether the green is fast or slow, or if it breaks left, right, uphill or downhill – all of this is helpful information that should give you a better chance of holing your own putt.
Of course, always stand in a correct position while doing so (not behind the player or behind the flag). Just watch from a short distance and take note of any useful information you glean.
Focus on one thing
Try and keep it as simple as possible. It’s a good idea to select one objective for your entire round, and focus on that for every shot. For instance, you may want to focus on not lifting your head during your swing. If that’s your objective, don’t also think about changes you want to make to your swing, the score you want to achieve for the next few holes or second-guess yourself about your club choice.
Rather, stay in the moment and don’t let your mind become crowded with too many thoughts. Good players tend to have one objective that they keep in mind throughout their round – something they have identified in practice or previous games that they need to work on. It’s all too easy to try and do too much, or to get distracted from your objective by well-meaning advice from your playing partners – but fight the temptation and stay focused.
Work the routine
Great players have a routine they use before and after each shot that helps them focus and stay in their moment. Develop a pre-shot routine of mental and physical practices that you perform before each shot to help you feel more in control of the situation – and less likely to be affected by pressure situations. This type of methodical process will help you perform optimally. For instance, you might assess the lie of the hole, decide on your shot, pick your club, pick your target, take a practice swing, repeat your focus thought and then step up and hit the ball. Whatever you do, stick to the routine – and train it in your practice sessions so that it becomes completely familiar.
Pay attention to the details
Don’t just get out there and hit the shot that you usually hit – instead, pay attention to the details. You might be playing the same course as you played last week, but today is a different day, and the course conditions are likely to be different from when you last played. To hit your best shots, you’ll need to account for:
- The weather
- The wind
- The temperature
You need to know the distance to the flag too and calculate your shot decisions based on how that distance will be affected by the course conditions on the day. Good players will adapt to the conditions of the course, and they don’t assume that they’re always the same – because they’re not. Paying attention to the details can make the difference between a great round and a mediocre one.
Relish the pressure
Golf is full of big moments that are often loaded with pressure, and the great players know how to handle the pressure to their advantage. Great players tend to thrive when the chips are down and don’t become overawed by the big moments. Rather, they focus on what they can control, trust their training and execute their shot to the best of their ability.
Do some strength work
While it might have been different in the past, modern golfers use the gym – and to good effect. It’s hard to find a great player who doesn’t try to improve their physical abilities in some way, and this contributes to their ability to execute their swings well. Follow their example, and work on improving your golf by improving your strength, flexibility, agility and endurance. You’re sure to see some great results in your game, as well as your ability to stay as free as possible from injury.
So, there you have it – 12 secrets the great players do differently. Work on incorporating these characteristics into your regular golf routine, and watch the results show up in your score.