Golf Instruction

I want to start playing golf, what equipment do I need?

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As we approach spring many people want to start playing golf but don’t know where to start. A common question we are asked at Golf Talk is I want to start playing golf, what equipment do I need?Worried female golfer looking for golf ball

In this post we will give you our recommendations of what equipment you need and why.

Let us start with the obvious. You will need a set of clubs. This will usually comprise of a set of irons, three iron to nine iron with a pitching wedge and a sand wedge, a putter, and a set of woods. Driver, three wood and five wood. However if you are just starting out you will probably use only half of these clubs in a round of golf so do not race to get a full set immediately.

Many golf club retailers will sell you a half set of clubs. A three wood, five, seven and nine irons, sand wedge and a putter. This would be a good starter set for the very beginner keeping the cost of taking up the game low and not getting to technical with what each club can do. In fact many new golfers cannot see a vast difference in distances between many of their irons anyway. We recommend using a branded set of clubs and trialling a few different manufacturers clubs on the range before you commit to a purchase. One of the benefits of buying clubs from your local golf professional is that they will usually fit the clubs for you. Which means they can alter the lie and loft of the club to fit your swing. Also if you have purchased a branded set of clubs when you grow out of them, which you will soon enough. They will have some residual value for a trade in or a private sale.

You will also need a golf bag. We recommend a carry bag to start with to keep the cost down. If you have opted for a half set of clubs then they should not be to heavy for you to carry around the course. The TaylorMade Supreme Lite golf bag is an excellent choice we have used here at Golf Talk.

Many golfers play with a golf glove on their left hand. This is to help grip the club with a light grip and helps the club not to slip in your hands. We would suggest you try playing with and then without a glove and see what works best for you. Personally I play with a glove on my left hand for the driver only. I prefer to play without a glove for all other shots.

Some other accessories you will also need is a bag of tees. We recommend wooden tees with depth markers on them to help you consistently tee the ball at the same height. Also wooden tees will not damage your clubface if you miss hit the shot. You will also need a pitch-mark repairer and flat ball marker to repair any pitch-marks on the green. The flat ball marker is to mark your ball when on the green so you can clean your ball and line up your putt. For advice on how to repair a pitch mark on the green please look in the back catalogue for the post  – (keeping the green in good shape how to repair a pitch-mark and more).

There is a wide selection of golf balls to choose from with a wide range of prices. Our advice is to play with as many types of balls as you can at the beginning of your golfing journey. You will soon find a golf ball that feels right for you and is at the right price point. Golf ball selection is a balance between the harder distance balls and the softer, better feel balls. We use Titleist NXT Tour  and cannot recommend them highly enough. A scorecard and a pencil and you are now good to go …

There are of course many other golf gadgets that you may want to invest in like a GPS watch or a golf trolly, swing trainers and much much more. Our advice is to start with the minimum and build up your kit slowly to avoid any wasted purchases.

Just a final point, golf attire is very important. Many golf course will not let you play without the correct clothing. This differs from course to course but usually the club do not allow jeans, and golf shoes need to be worn. Our advice is to check with the course beforehand as ask what their local rules are. You do not want to arrive at the course all ready to go to be told that you either need to buy some golf trousers or you will not be allowed on the course.

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The Golf Talk team

 

 

The long Iron, friend or foe? How to strike long irons consistently well

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We have seen many advancements in golf club technology over the last few years, especially trying to help the golfer hit smooth, consistent long irons. For many golfers they have decided that the answer to the questions in the title of this article, friend or foe? for them is definitely foe. And they have moved onto other options like rescue clubs ( see article – How a rescue club can save your score)

However, for many golfers the ability to hit long irons consistently well is vitally important for them to play golf well. For example if your course has some particularly long par 3’s that will take a longer iron to reach them. Or you have some short par 4’s and would like another safer alternative off the tee. Then a longer iron could be a good option. In this post we will discuss how to hit consistent, good long iron shots and give you some drills to take to the practice ground.

Firstly let’s start with ball position. Your longer irons should be positioned just inside your left heel. This means that the ball is slightly further forward than your middle irons. We use this froward ball position to create a sweeping motion during the swing. It is very difficult to compress a longer iron and should be left to the pro’s. Try laying down a club on the ground when you are on the practice tee, lay it along the line of your left heel with the butt of the club where you would position the ball. This will help you get a consistent ball position for your longer irons.

Next we want you to think of tempo. Many golfers think that the longer irons need to be helped along with a faster swing. In fact, the swing should be the same for all shots. A good exercise is to count your swing one and two. One being the backswing, and is the transition, and two is your down swing. This drill will help you maintain good tempo throughout your swing and avoid you swinging too fast.

Be committed. Your longer irons more than any other club need a positive strike to get them airborne. This means that a gentle three quarter swing will usually end in a poor shot. When you select your three or four iron out of your bag. Think ‘positive strike on the ball’, select your target, go through your pre-shot routine and then commit to your swing. Try this on the practice tee, getting your three iron out of your bag, playing your shot, putting the club back and then repeating. This is a great drill to keep you focused on your swing thoughts and shot in hand.

Be aware of the flight of your longer irons and play to their strengths. What we mean by this is if you are looking for a high flying, softer landing shot then a three iron is not the club to choose. However, if you are wanting a more penetrating  ball flight that will roll on landing and chase up to the green, then a three or four iron may be the club to choose. You need to visualise the shot you want to play and select the appropriate club to do the job.

A final thought. If you want to hit your longer irons with a lower flight, maybe into a strong headwind then choke down on the club a little. This will result in a lower ball flight and usually a straighter shot ..

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The Golf Talk team

 

Bored of the driving range? Try these drills to spice up your practice sessions

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If you feel that your practice sessions are becoming boring and you are looking for a way to spice up your routine then these fun practice drills may be the answer …

GolfballTo improve you pitching then why not try ‘Different club same distance’ this is a fun game that can be used as a warm up drill before your monthly medal or with a friend on the practice ground. Pick a marker around 150 yards away and hit 10 balls with your 150 yard club. Next work your way through your bag up to your longest iron or even a 5 wood. You can work your way back through your irons to your 150 yards club again. This is a great drill for sharpening your iron play and hitting greens in regulation.

Another good drill to help you chip the ball near the hole is ‘9 ball pick up’. Here you select a hole on the chipping green and take 9 balls. Chip 3 with a lob wedge, 3 with a pitching wedge, and 3 with an 8 iron. The objective is to get all 9 balls up and down with each club. When you can get all the balls up and down then select another three clubs in your bag. Considering that most mid-handicappers hit an average 3 greens in regulation a good chipping technique is essential for lower scores. This drill can have a dramatic effect on your overall score and maybe your handicap.

When you can’t get to the practice tee then why not utilise your umbrella as a chipping / pitching net. Open up your umbrella and lay it on the ground approximately 20 – 30 feet away and see how many balls you can chip into your umbrella. This is a good drill for in the back yard or on the beach. Try to beat your score on each go. When you count your scores you will take your practice more seriously and your game will improve

Finally use the putting green to keep a score of your putts as if you were playing 18 greens. Work through all the holes on the putting green from 1 to 18. Two putts are a par, one putt a birdie, etc. The objective of the game is to finish all eighteen holes under par. This game works particularly well with your buddies and can get very competitive.

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The Golf Talk team

How to reduce first tee nerves

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First tee nerves affects many amateur golfers. They feel that the entire world is watching them on the tee. The heart starts pumping harder and this usually means they play a bad shot. Having a strategy to overcome this feeling can help you get your round off to a good start and set the stage for an enjoyable round of golf.

One thing we notice more often than not is the speed of the swing. Many golfers who are nervous on the tee just want it to be over with as soon as possible. This leads to a quick swing and inevitably a poor strike on the ball. One way you can over come this is to count in your head ‘ one and two’. One being your backswing, two being the transition and three your down swing. This drill coupled with some deep breaths will ensure that you do not rush your swing and have every chance of playing a good shot.Group Of Male Golfers Teeing Off On Golf Course

Also consider your pre-shot routine ( mentioned in an earlier article). This will also prepare you to hit a good shot and help combat any nerves you may have on the tee.

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What is a pre-shot routine?

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All good golfers have a pre-shot routine. A series of movements that help them settle over the ball and get into the correct position before playing their shot. If you watch any of the professionals on TV you will see this sequence in action and how meticulously they set up to the ball on each and every shot.

So if you are going to play your best golf and lower your scores then developing  pre-shot routine is essential. In this article we will give you the principals to help you build a solid pre-shot routine and play better golf.golfer on course

The first principal is to visualise the shot. Stand behind the ball and imagine the exact shot that you want to play, right through to it landing on the fairway or green. This will help you focus on the shot in hand and take away any negative thoughts that could creep into your head.

Next we want you to step to the ball and align the clubface square to the target line. This can be done using an intermediate target like a leaf or divot. You may find it easier to line up this way instead of a target hundreds of yards away.

Align your shoulders, hips, and feet square to the target line remembering that the ball will travel along the line of your swing path and finish where the clubface was aiming at impact. Flex your knees and maintain good posture.

When you are comfortable waggle the club head a few times to ease any tension in your upper body. You are now ready to swing the clubhead back nice and smoothly and hit a great shot!

Practice your pre-shot routine at the driving range and don’t be surprised if it feels odd the first few times, you will soon get the hang of it.

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Three essential tips to playing golf in the rain

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IGolfer on a Rainy Day Swigning in the Fairwayf you are going to play golf then you need to accept that on some occasions you will need to play in the rain. Many golfers see this as an impossible challenge and their golf game just falls apart when the rain starts to fall.

In this article we will give you 3 essential tips to playing well in the rain an shooting your best score in these challenging course conditions.

Firstly I want to ensure that you have the correct attire. The advancements in golf clothing over recent years has been phenomenal with the addition of Gor-tex. This is a waterproof and breathable material that will allow you to swing the club and keep dry. Invest in a good set of waterproofs and keep them in your golf bag. Here’s a jacket that we have tried and loved Gore-Tex Waterproof Golf Jacket . Also ensure you have a couple of golf towels with you. One to keep in your golf bag and one to keep on the inside of your umbrella. This will help keep you golf club grips and hands dry. A final point on trying to keep dry golf. Golf can be an expensive hobby and your waterproof kit is definitely not the area to buy cheap. Our recommendation is to buy the best you can afford.

Secondly to play your best in the rain you will need to club up. The ball will not travel as far in the rain and if the ground is soft and wet the ball will not roll as much either. Start by just taking one club more and asses the next five shots. If you are still finding yourself short of your intended distances then club up again.

Our third essential tip to playing well in the rain is to set yourself a target score for your round and be realistic. If you have watched any professional golf in bad weather the standard scratch for the day will increase. The pro’s know and accept this. They keep calm when they miss a putt or don’t hit the drive they want. Keeping your head will definitely help you keep your score together and enjoy your round of golf. Remember that your playing competitors are also facing the same conditions as you.

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How to develop a Perfect Pitching technique

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The average amateur golfer with a score of 90 strokes will hit around three or four greens in regulation. Even the pro’s shooting a level par round with only achieve 12 out of 18 greens in regulation. This means having a solid pitching technique is essential for you to get ‘up and down’ and save par. In this article we will give you a some practical advice on a perfect pitching technique that you can take out on the course with you.

Many of the golf professionals use a gearing technique to control the distance of their pitches. This gearing technique means that when they are faced with a 50 yard shot to the green they automatically know which club to hit and how hard. Enabling them to get closer to the hole and sink the putt.

What is the gearing technique?

What we want you to imagine a clock face, with you standing at 12 o’clock . Gear 1 is your backswing going back to 9 o’clock (for a right handed golfer), or a half backswing. Gear 2Clock is 11 o’clock or a three quarter back swing, and finally Gear 3 is 1 o’clock or a full backswing. This will give you three shots to choose from when faced with a pitch shot. Either gear 1,2,or 3.

Next we want you to practice these three gears with your LBW, SW, PW, 9 Iron, 8 Iron and 7 Iron. This will now give you 18 pitch shot options. For example if you are faced with a 30 yard pitch shot then all you need to think is gear 1 with a Pitch Wedge. This technique will also help if you have any hazards in front of you. An 80 yard distance to the green could be either gear 3 with a LBW if there is a bunker in the way or gear 1 with an 8 Iron for a pitch and run shot.

Spending some time on the practice ground is essential for perfecting this technique and will certainly help you get more pars and lower your score. Our advice is to hit 10 balls with each club, in each gear an note down the average distance. As you develop your pitching technique keep an ongoing record of your distances.

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Six tips for hitting long straight drives off the tee

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If you ask the club golfer which shot they would most like to improve a huge number would say the driver. After all, hitting a long straight drive sets up the hole and give us a reasonable chance of hitting the green in regulation. Also striking the driver well gives us confidence on the course that can filter down the the rest of the clubs in our bag. In this article we will give you six tips to help you when you are next on the tee.

Golf driveHitting a long straight means firstly hitting the ball out of the sweet spot of the club. It dosen’t matter how well you swing the club. If you are not hitting the ball out of the middle of the clubface you will lose direction and yards off the tee. We recommend swinging the club in a slow and controlled manner until you are making the correct contact out of the sweet spot. You can then begin to increase the pace of your swing until you can match good clubhead speed with good contact.

Tip number two is to loosen your grip. Many poor shots off the tee are the result of the golfer gripping the club to hard and tightening up the arms and chest. Having a tight grip makes it more difficult for you to swing the club smoothly and will often result in a poor strike.

Tip number three is to pay attention to where you place the tee peg on the tee box. Some tee boxes are deliberately angled away from the natural direction of the fairway in an attempt to lure you off track. Also teeing from the left hand side of the tee or the right hand side of the tee can drastically change the hole perspective. Finally look for a flat even part of the tee where you are comfortable over the ball. If you are not feeling comfortable over the ball then do not swing the club until you are!

Tip number four is to keep the club head as low to the ground for as long as possible in the first few feet of the backswing. This will encourage the correct swing path in the backswing. Getting the swing on path in the first few feet is critical to making a long smooth back swing with the correct shoulder turn. If you want a practice drill for on the driving range, place a headcover on the target line about two feet behind the ball. Try to touch this on your back swing, once you are achieving the correct takeaway remove the headcover and repeat your swing.

Tip number five is to tee the ball at the correct height. A driver is best struck on an up-strike. If the ball is hit before the up-strike you will get a lower trajectory and will lose vital distance. Many tee’s have markings on them to help you tee up at a consistent height. Experiment on the practise tee with different heights for your driver. Once you are gaining consistency make a note of the height you are teeing the ball.

Finally tip number six is keep a note of where your tee shots are going. Are they consistently going to the right with a slice? Or are you hooking the ball to the left?. Having a clear understanding of the shape of your bad shots will help you on the practice tee to eliminate them. Also it may help you keep a score together in your monthly medal. If you know that your bad shots are slicing to the right you could aim a little more left to compensate or opt for another club off the tee to avoid a hazard.

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Deliberate Practice – The quickest way to lower your golf handicap

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Practice really does make perfect. The more you practise your golf game the sharper you will become on the course. That said, going to the driving range and aimlessly hitting hundreds of ball into the abyss is definitely not the answer. So what is?
seau rempli de balles de golf

You may have heard the term ‘Deliberate Practice’. This term was first used by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson who published research on how we can achieve mastery in any subject or skill with 10,000 hours of practice. Now we are not suggesting that you need to spend 10,000 hours on the driving range. What we are recommending is that your practise sessions going forward are deliberate.

Deliberate practice means consciously working on certain aspects of your swing to get the best results. This may be your take away, or your address or even your timing. Go to the practice ground with a goal in mind. I want to improve my ? is the question we want you to ask yourself. This will give you purpose to your deliberate practise sessions.

When you are out on the course with your buddies playing a non-competitive round of golf why not analyse your round in more detail than just the score. Keep a note of how many fairways you hit, how many greens in regulation you get and how many putts to take. this will help you structure your practise session to work on the areas that will help you improve the most.

To help even further, what we would like you to think about ahead of your next practice session is where did you drop shots on your last round of golf and why? For example, was it that you missed the fairway from the tee due to a slice? If so, then we would recommend practising a slice cure only in that session. Or it maybe that you are not hitting the green from 100 yards. Then practise this shot only with a number of different clubs to a target a 100 yards away.

By having your deliberate practice sessions tailored to improving your golf game you will get the very best out of your practise time and you may find it more enjoyable.

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The Golf Talk team

 

How to cure a golf slice

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The golf slice affects more than 80% of new golfers and can be one of the most irritating parts of the game. To get the most out of your golf game is essential that you learn how to cure your slice. In this article we talk through three main drills you can use today to stop slicing the golf ball.

Let’s start by looking at why we slice the golf ball. The slice is a result of an out-to-in golf swing with the clubface open to the target line. This means you are taking a glancing blow (slice) of the golf ball. The result is a shot that either starts left of the target line or on the target line and curves to the right. This shot will usually have a higher trajectory and will be of shorter distance.

Are all slice shots bad? Well no sometimes you will need to curve a ball from left to right around an obstacle, a tree for example. Or because these shots have a higher trajectory and stop quicker. You may want to use this type of shot as an approach into a green.

Where we see the slice the most is with a driver off the tee. This is because you are using a club with the least amount of loft that will enhance any side spin on the ball. Also the ball is travelling the furthest distance with a driver so again side spin will be exaggerated.

OK, so what drills can I use to try and cure my slice I hear you ask?

Drill #1 Get the golf ball above your feet. Try teeing up on a slope with the ball above your feet. This will encourage a flatter more rounded swing resulting in a more in-to-out swing path and a square or closed club face at impact. The ball should start right and curve to the left.

Drill #2  Close your stance. Address the ball with your normal square stance and then move your right foot (for a right handed golfer) 18 inches back. This will force you to swing at the ball from inside the target line. This drill is a favourite of Golf Talk’s because it can be used on the driving range. You can also use Golf Alignment Sticks to help you set up to the ball with the correct alignment.

Drill #3 Slow down your swing. Often the slice is exaggerated with the longer clubs in your bag because we sometimes feel we need to swing harder with these clubs. Start counting your swing one and two. ONE – is your back swing AND is the transition and TWO is the down swing. This will slow down your swing and give you a chance of striking the ball more solidly.

We hope these tips help you. Please comment and share below.

The Golf Talk team