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Ever wonder how quickly you could take your golf game to the next level? How about 30 seconds. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use to improve your results, just by doing certain things that take less than a minute.
Starting with your approach shots to the green be sure to size up the actual and effective yardage properly. This only takes a half-minute. Use your GPS device or your laser rangefinder or both. In the absence of technology check nearby sprinkler heads for numbers and look at the yardage plates or poles in the middle of the fairway. Most golf courses have trees or bushes that indicate the 150-yard point. Use your senses to note the wind, elevation and hole location to feel the effective distance you have to hit the ball to land it in the proper spot. Don’t be in such a hurry to get up and hit your shot before knowing exactly what you need to do. I’m not suggesting you slow-play your opponents; I am advising you to be smart when figuring out the distance you really need to cover to the green or to a lay-up spot. It only takes a few seconds, but it will pay off in much more accurate approach shots.
Another thirty-second strategy you should work into your game is a deliberate and efficient pre-shot routine. Think of your pre-shot routine as a very brief bit of combined ritual and rehearsal for the swing or putt to follow. It’s your choice whether to take an actual full practice swing or not. Once you have sized up your shot and selected your club, stand behind you ball and instantly visualize your swing and shot. The swing only takes a second or two, so visualizing should only take a second or two. Now approach your ball, brush the grass with the sole of your club in a relaxing motion, like the pros do, step up to the shot, aim at the target, take a deliberate breath, and swing. Thirty seconds to a great shot!
For your short game thirty seconds of thoughtfulness could make all the difference in your score. When they get close to the green many high-handicap golfers will simply get to their ball and just aim more-or-less in the direction of the hole, without taking the trouble to survey the preferred distance and landing area. For chips and short pitches, of say 40 yards or less, take a few seconds and walk to the green and pinpoint the exact spot where you think your ball should land in order for it to roll out for and easy, or at least makeable putt. Picking an exact spot is crucial to a good shot, and as you get more skilled at your short game, you’ll be able to acquire the feel and savvy for where the ball should land, as well as the touch it takes to execute the proper shot. It takes a lot more than thirty seconds or practice, of course.
When you’re on the putting green take thirty seconds to read the green in a fully engaged and meaningful manner. Most high handicappers just give a cursory look at a putt before they go up and hit it; and then they wonder why it came up six feet short or six to the right. It doesn’t take any more time to walk around the line of your putt before or while others are walking to the green or putting. Survey your putt by looking at the slope (or can’t) of the green, watching other balls roll toward the hole, and checking the grain of the grass. Be aware that grass always has a “grain,” which really is the predominant direction or slant that the blades of grass are growing. Naturally if you are hitting your ball into the grain – blades slightly slanted towards you – the ball will roll slower. And down-grain it will roll faster. Granted, this gets into the area of what’s called “rapid cognition,” where you need to process a lot of visual, sensory and interpretive information very quickly, but 30 seconds of intense focus will make you a better putter.
Lastly, take a half-minute, or even more, to thank your pro, as well as the staff and employees for the pleasure of being able to play golf on a beautiful day on a nice golf course.