Golf tips

Golf Course Management – How to play a par 5

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How to make the most out of Par-5s is a question we are often asked here at Golftalk.Golfer performs a golf shot from the fairway.

When we get to the Par-5 tee box many of us instantly reach for our driver with a plan of hitting the ball as far as we can. We hope that we will be able to get to the green in two and make an eagle or at worst a birdie, seldom does this happen so is this the right strategy? In this article we look at the course management of how to play a Par-5 and give you some thoughts on your own decision making.

The distance of a Par-5 is 471 yards – 690 yards for men and 401 yards – 575 yards for women and juniors. So the length of the hole and how it plays must be a key decision factor in deciding how to play a Par-5. For example if a good drive is 250 yards for you, and a well struck 3 wood in 220 yards then any hole over 470 yards is a three shot hole for you and only at the shorter Par-5 holes when the circumstances allow should you go for the green in two shots.

So which club should you play off the tee? Well again, this will be determined by how you are playing on the day and the golf hole. You will have to consider any hazards that you need to avoid, and the chances of pulling off that shot consistently well. It maybe that you are striking your driver well and are feeling confident with that club. So if using that club will enable you to hit the fairway even if you have a slight mishit then that may be a good club for you to select. On the other hand if you have consistently missed the fairway with your driver then maybe a 3 wood or longer iron maybe a better choice for you. Hitting the fairway is your number one priority off the tee. We all know that playing golf off the fairway is much easier than out of the rough.

We also need to consider how the course architect has designed the hole to be played. Sometimes they will have designed the hole so the green is fairly open, encouraging the golfer to have a go! Or the architect may have intended the hole to be played in 3 shots to the green and placed hazards strategically in the fairway and around the green. A quick glance at the course planned will soon show you how the hole should be played and what you will need to consider.

Man playing golfFor most amateurs hitting the green in regulation will give them the best chance of making a par, so this must be the your first thought. A conservative three shot strategy onto the green in most cases will outplay the two shot strategy. Think back to your last round of golf, how did you play the par-5s?

Finally, here’s something to try. When you are next on the course playing a practice round. Play two balls off the Par-5s. One where you intend to lay up and one where you will go for the green in two. Mark both score on your card and at the end of the round see where you came out best. In our experience for most amateur golfers the first option usually provides a better score.

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The Golf Talk team

 

Do you want to sharpen up your short game?

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Do you want to sharpen up your short game?

There are many putting and chipping training aids on the market and most of them are very good. The one that we have been testing here at Golf Talk is the Ultimate GOLF Ball Training Aid THE PILL . We have found The Pill to be very easy to use both indoors and outdoors for both putting and chipping practice.

What we liked the most about The Pill is that it gives instant feedback so you can work on specific detailed areas of your game like trying to keep the putter face square at impact or hitting down on the ball when chipping.

The Pill is used by many PGA tour players and has a number of drills on youtube to keep your practice sessions interesting.

Why not give The Pill a try for yourself and see if it improves your short game?

Course Management – How can you play your best golf if you don’t know your distances?

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Golf is a game where you play to a target. This means that to hit that target you need to know how far away you are from it, right? In this article we discuss a simple way for you to determine how far you hit each club and give you our recommendations of the best golf GPS devices.

First things first, you need to know how far you hit each club in your bag, excluding your putter. Our recommendation is to choose a calm day and take a bucket of balls to the practice tee. Hit ten balls starting with your Sand Wedge and pace out the average distance. Discard the furthest two and shortest two balls and mark that distance in a notebook. If you mishit a shot, shank, duff etc. then simply take another. Remember, you are just trying to find your average distances. Next choose your Pitching Wedge and do the same. Complete this task right the way through your bag, pacing out the average distance for each club. After 60 minutes you should have a clear picture of how far you hit each club. This will not only give you a boost in confidence when you are faced with a shot that you know you can easily achieve. It will also help you avoid certain obstacles on the course if you know you can either lay up short or play over them. This exercise should be done two or three times a year just to ensure that your distances are consistent.

So now you know how far you hit the ball with each club. Next you need to find a simple way to establish the distances to the green. Many courses will have the two hundred, one hundred and fifty and one hundred yards marked out with a coloured disc in the fairway. Others will have a distance marked from each sprinkler head on the fairway. Some, just have a post for one hundred and fifty yards. All of these are better than nothing, however they are assuming you are on the fairway. What happens when you find yourself out of position, maybe on another fairway?

A simple and effective device is the golf GPS. This will give you accurate distances around the course, for example to the green and to hazards. But there are so many to choose from. So which is best for you?

Firstly, lets look at the cheapest method which is simply an app on your phone. We have used many of these over the years and the one we would recommend is Golfshot: Golf GPS this is an extremely accurate application with distances to hazards, front, centre and back of the greens. It can also give you a fly over of the hole in the paid version. Which you may find useful if you are playing a course for the first time. The only downside to these types of applications is the hardware that they are on. Not only do they zap your phone battery but there is also the inconvenience of keep getting your phone out of your bag. When I have used these types of apps I can sometimes start checking messages and get distracted. Overall though they are better than nothing and usually have a lite version for free so worth giving it a try.

Next is the GPS watches. This is now a very popular choice for many golfers. Mainly because of their convenience. You simply charge it up, select your course and you are ready to play. A quick glance at your watch will give you distances to hazards, and as before front, middle and back of the green.
These devices are now very affordable and look stylish too. In fact when we have tested GPS watches we couldn’t really find a downside to them.

Another device that is popular amongst golfers is the Laser Rangefinder . These devices as the name suggests use laser technology to return distances to anything that you aim it at. We have found that for distances of two hundred yards and over you may need a few tries to return the distance. Again, they are extremely accurate, relatively inexpensive and very easy to use. Where these devices have the advantage is on your approach to the green. With a laser you can aim it at the pin and get the precise distance. With all the other devices you are aiming to a part of the green where you think the pin is located.

Finally, there are the new handheld devices that not only give you GPS data for your round but also tracks your shots as you play. You place a small disc that fits into the grip of each golf club. Start the device, and before you play each shot you tap the disc onto the device. This will then register your position on the golf course and the club that you are using. When you are ready to play your next shot you tap the device again with the club that you are about to play. The device then knows that this is a new shot and will mark the distance and whether you hit the fairway or green.
When you have finished your round you upload the data and you now have a statistical representation of your game. Including number of shots, fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts. It will also give you the distances that you hit each club. Overtime this will help you build up a picture of your game and where you can improve. We have used this GPS device and it works very well to identify areas for improvement. Mainly for the GT team missing fairways with the driver.

In summary there are lots of choices on the market to fit all budgets, so really there is no reason why you should be guessing your distance to the green. Get your device now and start lowering your scores and improving your game.

If you have enjoyed this article please comment and share below. You can also email any questions you may have to info@golftalk.club

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The Golf Talk team

Golf fundamentals – How to grip the golf club

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grip de golfeurHaving a good golf grip is imperative to playing well. As the saying goes ‘ you’ll never see a good golfer with a poor grip’, after all your grip is the only connection you have with the golf club. A good repeatable golf grip will help you control the position of the clubface and ultimately give you more consistency out on the course. In this article we discuss the benefits of a good golf grip and how you can master one of golf’s fundamentals.

Let’s start by saying that the best golf grip is one that works for the individual player. We have seen many golf professionals with unorthodox grips that can play the game very well. This is usually due to the fact that they practice for many hours and over time have honed this grip to work for them. We are assuming that you are a mid to high handicap golfer who does not have thousands of hours to train an unorthodox golf grip so a more orthodox option may work better for you.

Take your golf stance and hang your arms down in front of you with your palms facing inwards. Now take hold of a golf club with you left hand. The grip of the club should be across the centre of your index finger and the fleshy pad of your palm rests on the top of the golf handle. Close your fingers around the golf grip and feel that you are gripping the club lightly with all fingers but giving more support from the last three fingers. Your left thumb should be slightly to the right of the centre of the golf grip with the ‘v’ formed between your thumb and index finger pointing towards your right shoulder. As you look down at your left hand on the golf grip you should be able to see two or three knuckles. If you are seeing more knuckles then the grip is to strong and may result in a shot that travels to the left or if you see less knuckles then your grip is considered weak and will result in a shot that travels to the right.

Next place your right hand on the golf grip. As you do so your right hand should cover your left thumb. Again the ‘v’ formed between your thumb and index finger will point towards your right shoulder. As a checkpoint you should now only be able to see the knuckle of your index finger on your right hand.

There are three ways in which you can connect your left and right hands on the golf club. The Vardon grip as developed by Harry Vardon where the left hand holds the club as already described and the right hand little finger overlaps the index finger of the left hand. The interlocking grip as the name suggest interlocks the little finger of the right hand with the index finger of the left hand. This is a great grip for beginner golfers and easily give the correct feeling of both hands working together. Finally the Baseball grip is where both hands are placed on the golf grip with no interlocking. The left and right hand butt together. Again a useful grip for beginners whose grip tends to be weak with shots tending to go to the right.

Which ever grip you decide to use one thing that is common thought is how tight you hold the club. You must ensure that you hold the golf club in your fingers with a light grip that allows your wrists to hinge properly and swing freely through the ball. If you imagine a scale of one to ten. One being the lightest grip and ten the strongest. You should be holding the club no higher than a six. Your playing partner should be able to pull the club out of your hands with little effort. If you are holding the club to tight you will struggle to play to your potential and lose valuable distance with your clubs.

Trying to change any part of your golf game can feel very strange. The slightest change not even visible to you or your playing partners can feel very dramatic to you. We suggest that if you are trying to change your grip then have golf clubs around you house and back yard so you can practice your golf grip throughout the day. Alternatively why not try a swing trainer with a grip already formed.

If you have enjoyed this article please comment and share below. You can also email any questions you may have to info@golftalk.club

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The Golf Talk team

Can I break 90 with just a set of irons?

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Many mid to high handicappers are seeking to break the elusive ninety and will try anything to write a score that starts with an eight on their card. So is it possible to break ninety with just a set of irons? In this article we discuss how to break ninety and whether leaving your woods at home really does help.

The good news is that if you are scoring in the mid nineties now then you can obviously strike the ball well. It may be just a case of managing your bad shots that’s going to take a few strokes off your round. Let’s take a minute to remember that a score of ninety on an average par seventy-two course is an eighteen handicap or bogey golf. So why can’t we play to that? It sounds so simple, three seven irons onto the green and a two putt for a bogey.

In our experience the higher handicappers amongst us usually get into trouble with the longer clubs and do not play enough to really master the driver. The result is a three off the tee, or a lost ball out-of-bounds and a couple of big numbers on the scorecard. This is then very difficult to recover from and post a good score.

So consider, are you are playing the wrong clubs off the tee? The next time you are out playing a practise round of golf with your buddies leave your driver and three wood in the car as an experiment. You will be forced to play more conservatively off the tee with more thought of how you are going to play your second and third shots. Also playing in a more controlled way will mean that your iron shots into the green will be nearer to the pin and you may have a few chances of holing a putt for a par.

So to answer the question ‘Can I break ninety with just a set of irons?’ we say a resounding yes!

If you have enjoyed this article please comment and share below. You can also email any questions you may have to info@golftalk.club

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The Golf Talk team

What are the odds of a hole in one?

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There are approximately one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) holes-in-one per year around the Golfer happy with his shotworld,  and all golfers at one time or another have stood on the tee and have hit a shot that is tracking right online to the flag stick. We hold our breath as the ball lands and rolls to the hole thinking this could be the one where we ace the hole. But what are the chances of making a hole-in-one? GT has been looking at the odds of this great achievement to see how we fare.

Let’s start by looking at the odds for the professional golfer. The pro’s chances of hitting a hole-in-one are around two thousand five hundred to one (2,500 – 1). So what about us mere amateurs? Well, the low handicappers odds of an ace are around five thousand to one (5,000 – 1) and the odds climb even further for the higher handicapper. We are now at twelve thousand five hundred to one (12,500 – 1). These statistics are for many of us a once in a lifetime event.

However if you are lucky enough to get a hole-in-one then the good news is that your chances of making another are increased. Statistics show that those lucky golfers who make an ace are fourteen percent (14%) more likely to make another.

Now let’s look at club selection. Did you know that 40 percent (40%) of all holes-in-one are made with either a seven, eight or nine iron. With the most popular club being the seven iron.

Finally if you are lucky enough to get an ace then be prepared to buy everyone in the clubhouse a round of drinks. This is an old golfing tradition and can be an expensive celebration. You can even buy an annual insurance to cover the cost.

We hope you have enjoyed this article. if so then please comment and share below. You can also email any questions you may have to info@golftalk.club

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The Golf Talk team

 

Golf tips for beginners – Where to start?

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The GolferIf you are fairly new to golf and are just starting to get to grips with the game then you maybe feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of technical golf instruction out there on the web. For some of us we are not yet ready to consume this level of instruction and actually may find it detrimental to our game. In this article we want to give you our golf fundamentals of where to start to instantly start improving your game and hopefully your enjoyment out on the course.

Let’s start at the beginning. Can you teach yourself golf? Well yes of course you can and you may achieve a reasonable level of success. Many golfers never have any lessons at all and can get their handicap down to single figures. For the rest of us however there is a potential to build in some fundamental errors into our golf swing that may give us some kind of immediate success but also may leave us regretting not getting the basics right in the first place. So our advice to any new golfer is to seek out your local golf professional and book a set of lessons. This will give you a good start to the game and avoid any swing flaws that could creep into your game. You will notice that we said seek out your local professional. Your friends or relatives may be good natured and offer to give you lessons. Be careful that they are not teaching you their own swing flaws and doing more harm than good.

During your lessons you will be taught how to hold the club, the correct setup, the basic turn and co-ordination of movement and good tempo. Our second piece of advice is to dedicate time on the practise tee honing your swing and practising these movements. Little and often is what we would like to see. Hitting balls aimlessly on the range is not a productive way to learn how to play golf. In previous articles we have discussed deliberate practice which is a worthwhile read and should help you.

Many of us feel we need to rush out to the golf course to play eighteen holes and we are enthusiastic as to what score you can achieve. We seem to get obsessed by breaking one hundred or even ninety. For us playing the course and hitting good shots is more important than keeping a score. So our third piece of advice is to leave the scorecard behind and concentrate on good ball striking and mastering the fundamentals of the golf swing.

One part of golf that is not often discussed (except on Golf Talk) is the amount of concentration needed out on the course to play well. This is a learned behaviour so playing nine holes two or three times a week maybe more beneficial to learning concentration then trying to do this over eighteen holes. Why not give this advice a try for a few weeks and see what difference it makes to your game. You can then step this up to a full eighteen hole game.

Finally for the new golfer have a realistic target of where you want to be by the end of the season and accept where you are now. You are then in a strong position, along with your golf professional to put a plan together of how you are going to improve your game. This will consist of lessons, practise and of course competitive play.

If you have enjoyed this article please comment and share below. You can also email any questions you may have to info@golftalk.club

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The Golf Talk team

 

Golf Tips – How to play off a tight lie

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I’m sure you will agree playing golf in the warm sunshine is how the game should be played. This also gives the green keepers an opportunity to manicure the fairways and expose some bare lies. In this post we will teach you how to play off a tight lie so it does not cause you any problems out on the course.Golf club hitting a ball

So what do we mean by the term a tight lie? A tight lie is when the grass is cut very short or is non-existent underneath the ball which means there is a potential for the club to bounce on the hard ground slightly behind the ball and cause a topped or thinned shot.

For many golfers, when we find ourselves in this position we immediately try to help the ball in the air which only makes matters worse. Anytime we scoop at the ball the shot is less than perfect.

So how do you play this shot? Firstly club selection is important. Try to choose a club with a sharp leading edge. We are not saying that playing off a tight lie with a sand or lob wedge is impossible. However, there is a very small margin of error. The bounce of these clubs mean that it is more difficult to get the leading edge of the club face on the back of the ball.  So if you are feeling anxious over this type of shot then a pitching wedge or nine iron maybe a better choice for you.

Now that you have selected your club we need to play this shot with a steeper angle of approach. To do this place the ball a little further back in your stance and fix your eyes on the back of the ball throughout the shot. You may even want to close the clubface slightly to ensure a consistent strike. You are certainly less likely to hit behind the ball and thin a shot if the clubface is slightly closed. If you do this then don’t forget to adapt your stance and aim slightly to the right to compensate.

Finally good tempo is essential. You must not allow you swing to quicken up because of any worries you may have. Use your pre-shot routine, visualise the shot and swing with a smooth controlled action. If you take these recommendations then we are sure that you will soon build your confidence and success with a tight lie.

Try these tips and see how they improve you score and enjoyment out on the course. And don’t forget to try this type of shot when next on the practise tee.

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The Golf Talk team

 

How to play great golf in the wind

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yellow golf flagOne of the attractions to our great game for many golfers is that it is an outdoor sport, so we can get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. This also means that during our round we may need to deal with all the elements including wind. We have previously covered how to play well in the rain and in this article we will give you our recommendations to achieving a good score when the wind is blowing.

Ok, so let’s accept that the wind is blowing and the course is going to be playing more difficult as a result. We must be able to adapt our game to these challenging conditions or else we will never be able to score our best. So how will the wind effect the golf course?

Golf courses will be constructed with the wind in mind. The course architect will play close attention to the wind direction and will try not to design long and difficult holes into the prevailing wind.  Also the wind is often used to protect some holes on the golf course and make them more difficult to play. Depending on where in the world you play the wind can have a very dramatic effect on your game. With some links courses on the coasts of Scotland almost unplayable with a standard golf shot.

The wind will blow from four general directions from behind, against or into, across from left to right or across from right to left with many combinations in between. Here are GT’s recommendations to playing in these challenging conditions.

Let’s start with the wind behind. The ball is pushed forward with less backspin this means that the ball will roll more on landing with a lower trajectory. This is great for those long par four’s and five’s when the extra distance off the tee is welcomed. However, this may also bring hazards into play that would usually not be in reach so noting the distances and taking a lesser club maybe the safer option. Also when playing into the green with the wind behind makes the ball more difficult to land and control on the green so you will need to adapt your shot making to compensate.

Playing the ball slightly higher is the answer to more consistency when the wind is blowing from behind. You will need to calculate how hard the wind is blowing in clubs. For example, a two or three club wind will mean you take two or three clubs less to achieve the same distance. Playing the ball higher will mean a longer flight and a softer landing with less forward roll. If you are able to, playing a fade shot down wind will also give you a higher trajectory and more control on landing. One great aspect of the wind blowing hard from behind is it tends to straighten out any unwanted side spin so a slice becomes a fade and a hook becomes a draw shot. Another option is to play the ball lower trying to keep the ball below the wind so it does not effect the balls flight. You will need to practise this type of shot and be confident with the distances you can achieve. When the wind is really blowing hard this may be the only option you have.

Playing into the wind for many is the most difficult. This is sometimes because feeling the wind on your face can cause you to swing at the ball much harder with a lack of tempo. Also when the wind is blowing hard you can find it difficult to keep your balance resulting in an off centred strike of the ball. When playing into the wind the strike on the ball is critical. Any unnecessary side spin will be exaggerated by the wind so a slight fade will become a big slice and a slight draw will become a hook. The obvious challenge when playing into the wind is the effect the wind will have on the ball distance. This will make long holes even longer and you will be using the longer clubs in your bag more often. When playing into the wind we want you to concentrate on your timing trying not to swing to fast. ‘ Into the breeze swing with ease’ is the swing thought we would like you to carry around the course with you. As previously mentioned measuring the wind in clubs is also useful when the wind is in your face. In this situation a two club wind means you will take two clubs more and swing easy to achieve the same distance.

Cross winds can be equally as difficult partly because golfers are unsure whether to play a shot that works with the wind or one that holds up against it. Our recommendation is to play shots that let the wind shape your golf ball. Try to play the ball with a lower trajectory to minimise the cross winds affect on the ball. Also when on the tee play close attention to where you are teeing up on the tee box. Teeing up on the right hand side of the tee box into a left to right wind may help you aim more confidently and get the shape from the wind that you have visualised.

One final note on good wind play. To play well when the wind is blowing is a lot to do with your attitude. If you have the mental toughness to accept that the round is going to be more challenging, and you are up for the challenge, then you are more likely to succeed out on the course and play reasonably well. After all, the course is playing just as difficult for your fellow competitors.

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The Golf Talk team

 

How to use meditation to play better golf

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Girl golfer sitting in yoga posture on golf course.I’m sure you’ll agree, there are times when you are swinging your club you can feel you are in the ‘zone’ – the golf club is connecting with the ball and your shots are great.  However, on the other hand there are times where nothing is working right and you just want to throw your clubs into a lake.  Golf Talk have been looking into meditation and how this might help improve your game.

Golf is a sport where good concentration and focus can improve your round immensely, helping you to have less wayward shots and missed putts.  Better focus will not only mean you have less tension but also will allow you to play a more relaxing round.  Also, by having positive thoughts, you can have total focus through your pre-shot routine and swing.

So what is meditation?

Golf Talk believes meditation is mental concentration where thoughts and reflection can give clarity of the mind and improve concentration. It can be used to focus your mind and control your breathing both before and during the game. So how do you get into a meditative state.

Firstly, take three to five minutes quiet time – three to four times a week – to sit in a quiet place and clear your mind. Close your eyes and concentrate on your surroundings and yourself within them.  Whilst doing this, breathe in and out through your nose, taking longer breaths each time, which will help you relax and have positive thoughts. Once you can do this without to much trouble and are starting to feel the benefits then we can move on to taking this out on the course.

The technique of deep breathing can be used before you take a shot with the club, in fact, you can control your breathing with the practice swings so you are focused on the shot at hand before you hit the ball. Use this focused breathing and you swing the club and visualise your shot in hand. Now step into the shot in a relaxed state ready to strike the ball.

Another important factor is to have plenty of rest and sleep, this can help in many situations outside of golf too but can improve concentration within the game. The amount of sleep you need will vary from person to person however the National Sleep foundation recommends adults get between seven and nine hours sleep and school aged children get between nine and eleven hours of sleep. So if you have a big game this weekend get plenty of rest and have better focus out on the course.

We hope these tips on meditation, concentration and focus will help to ensure your mind remains clear in order for you to enjoy your next round of golf with less shots and hopefully a better handicap!

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The Golf Talk team