Clearly nothing would help us all play better and more consistently than a few hours of practice every day. However, since most of us are not professional golfers and have lives and commitments that preclude this option, what can we do to get the most out of our one or two rounds of golf a month we sneak into our otherwise busy lives?
One of the best habits a golfer can get into is to not to be in a hurry the day you play. Start by providing ample time to get to the course – maybe 45 minutes to an hour before your tee time – which will help your game on multiple fronts. First off, we all know golf is a game as mental as it physical. Getting to the course well ahead of time will enable you to relax and begin to mentally prepare to enjoy a day with your friends and let the frustrations of the real world fade away. Running late and rushing to the tee box is nearly always a prescription for poor play on at least the front nine. Arriving early also allows you enough time to properly stretch, get loose and maybe even split a small bucket of warm up balls with a playing partner to get yourself into the playing mode. With as few as 25 balls in a warmup, you can hit 3-4 half wedges, followed by 3-4 short irons, and a few longer irons or Hybrids will have you ready to smack four to five drivers and be ready to move over to the practice green near the first tee.
After a few putts, you should have a pretty good feel for how you’re hitting, which will enable you to use a little course management on the front nine to make up for the practice that you just don’t have time for on a daily basis. If you’re having a good warm up, you’ll know that you might be able to be a little more aggressive on the course. Likewise, if your ball striking is shaky, you may choose to be a little more conservative until you hit your stride on the course.
As always, remember that the best reason to play is to have a good time and enjoy yourself. Golf is a commitment – a commitment of money, time out of the day, and a few hours on the golf course with your friends. So, select the tee box that gives you the best opportunity to play well. Be realistic with your game. Too often, especially as we age, we stubbornly insist on playing from tees that have us hitting hybrids or fairway wood to greens we once could hit with mid irons. This not only makes for a long a frustrating day but slows the pace for every group on the course. Play it forward, make a couple of birdies and you’re going to enjoy the round a lot more. Remember, in the end, it’s your round so have fun!