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How to master the art of chipping a golf ball

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All golfers need to be able to chip the ball close to the hole when they miss the green. We know that an eighteen handicapper will hit around three greens in regulation per round and even a scratch golfer will miss around a third of the greens. This means the difference between a good round and a great round of golf is how well you consistently get up and down. In this article we will discuss the art of chipping and give you our three top practice drills to try out on the range.Chip shot golf

Firstly let’s define what we mean by a chip shot. A chip shot is a shot that rises off the ground for a short time and then rolls out to the hole. We have much more control of the shot when it is rolling, so our first thought should be ‘ can we putt the ball’? If not then a chip shot should be our second option.

Next you want to select the club. This will vary from shot to shot and can be any club from a sand wedge through to a seven iron. If the hole is fairly close and you just need to bump the ball over the fringe and roll out for a few feet then a sand or lob wedge would be the club to reach for. However if the hole was further back on the green and you had some distance to cover then a nine or eight iron may be a better club to choose. This will need some practice and experimenting for you to be able to see the shot and select the correct club.

Now you have selected the shot and the club let’s talk about the technique. If you were to play a full shot you would address the ball with you weight evenly distributed between both feet. With a chip shot we want to ensure we hit down on the ball with a clean strike so we shift our weight onto our left foot with something like and eighty twenty weight distribution. We also need to play the ball back in our stance to encourage that downward strike, this will help a clean strike on the back of the ball. One last point with regard to the set up. We want you to aim your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly left of your target line in an open set up. This will help you clear your hips through the shot and prevent any release of the club head. The chip shot is played without any wrist break so keep your wrists as passive as you can.

Now let’s look at our top three drills that will help you on the practice ground.

One handed chipping. This is a great drill to develop feel of the clubhead through the ball. Take six balls and using just your left hand try to chip the balls within a three feet circle of the target. Once you can do this consistently move onto your right hand and do the same. Finish the session by placing both hands back on the club and aim for a smaller circle of eighteen inches. You will soon develop a much better feel for distance control and even start holing a few.

Drill number two is to place a pencil in the strap of your watch on your left hand underneath the watch face. This will prevent you from breaking your wrists during the shot. This is a very effective drill if you have a habit of trying to scoop the ball up to the hole and are consistently hitting bladed shots across the green. Hit a dozen balls with the pencil in place and then remove the pencil and hit a dozen more. Keep repeating this drill until you feel you are getting a consistent strike on the ball.

Our final tip is to help the golfer who seem to shift their weight during the swing and find it difficult to keep their weight on their left side throughout the shot. Get into your set up as previously described and place a golf ball under the heal of your right foot and play your chip shot. Having a golf ball under your right foot will ensure your weight is on your left side and you do not fall back during the shot. Try hitting a dozen shots with the golf ball under your heal and then a dozen without.

These are three great drills that we have seen be very successful. Why not give them a try….

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The Golf Talk team





How to play from a green side bunker

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Do you have a look of dread when you find yourself in a green-side bunker? Unlike the professional golfers many amateurs struggle immensely with green-side bunkers and landing in one usually means a dropped shot. In this post we will give you advice and tips on how to escape from a green-side bunker so you can be more confident when out on the course.How to escape from a green side bunker

As we have said in a previous post on fairway bunkers ‘prevention is better than cure’ and our advice for the green-side bunker remains the same. If you can avoid a green-side bunker, do so. OK, so how can you avoid a green-side bunker? Firstly you will need to know where the green-side bunkers are. On some holes it will be pretty obvious to see them from the fairway, but other holes with blind shots it may not be as easy. If it is a new course you are playing our advice is to buy a course planner from the pro shop and study the scorecard to establish where the bunkers are on each hole. Next you need to know your yardages (how far you hit each club) and if a green-side bunker is in play for you. If it is, then perhaps playing a different club may be a smarter move for you. On many par three holes the green is protected by bunkers at the front of the hole so take an extra club and play to the back of the hole this will take the bunker out of play for you.

If you are unfortunate to land in a green-side bunker then here are our essential tips to help you successfully escape the sand trap and hopefully save par.

Firstly you will need to create a solid base. Shuffle your feet into the sand until to reach firm ground. This will help ensure that you stay balanced throughout the golf swing. This also means that your swing arc will be lower than usual and will result in you hitting behind the ball. This is ok, you are looking for a sand then ball contact. The picture we want you to have in your minds eye is the ball coming out of the bunker on a carpet of sand.

The sand-wedge is designed to bounce off the sand so setting up to the ball you will need to open the clubface compared to your target line. If when you line up to your target line you are at 12 o’clock then we would like your feet, hips, shoulders aiming at 10 o’clock. This open stance will encourage you to swing out-to-in across the target line and keep the clubface open. If you are set up square to your target line the clubhead will simply dig into the sand and the ball will bump along just a few feet.

Next we want you to position the ball in the middle to front part of your stance. You are looking to strike the sand around one to two inches behind the ball so the sand lifts the golf ball out of the bunker. Remember when you are in a bunker to hover the clubhead and not to touch the sand. It is against the rules of golf to touch the ground with your club when in a hazard.

Finally swing smooth. You do not need power out of a green-side bunker. By keeping your swing smooth and relaxed you are less likely to dip your shoulder and fluff the shot. Your grip should remain consistently light throughout the swing and a good swing thought is to let the club do the work.

So now you know the theory of escaping from a green-side bunker, lets go to the practice area and try this out ….

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The Golf Talk team

How to play from a fairway bunker

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Some of managing your golf game is the ability to negotiate around the golf course and avoid any hazards. However, from time to time you will be lured into a fairway bunker. In this post we will discuss the technique needed to play from a fairway bunker and avoid dropping a shot.White Golf Ball in a Sand Trap

Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to bunkers. So if you can avoid a fairway bunker then our advice is do so. OK, so how can you avoid a fairway bunker? Firstly you will need to know where the fairway bunkers are. On some holes it will be pretty obvious to see them from the tee box, but other holes with blind tee shots it may not be as easy. If it is a new course you are playing our advice is to buy a course planner from the pro shop and study the scorecard to establish where the bunkers are on each hole. Next you need to know your yardages (how far you hit each club) and if a fairway bunker is in play for you. If it is, then perhaps playing a lesser club and laying up short may be a smarter move for you. Also do not aim for a bunker and try to shape your shot away from the hazard unless you can consistently pull this shot off under pressure. You never want to be punished for hitting a straight shot. We recommend for the average golfer to aim away from any fairway bunkers just in case you hit that perfect straight shot.

If you have taken the advice above and are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a fairway bunker then here’s our three top tips to help you escape first time without dropping a shot.

Golfshot from fairwaybunkerWhere do you need the put the ball so that you are in a good position to make par? Is the question we want you to ask yourself. There maybe a good chance that you can reach the green from the bunker or you may need to layup and be on the green for three and try to single putt for par. Whatever the situation you are in, where do you need to be to have a chance of making par. Answering this question will help you decide on what club to play and whether you can successfully elevate the ball over the lip of the bunker and out of the sand with enough distance to reach the green. Now you know the type of shot you are trying to play and where you want to play the ball let’s now look at the technique.

Usually with a bunker shot you are advised to shuffle your feet in the sand to get a stable base. We do recommend that you try to achieve a stable base. However, sinking your feet into the sand lowers you swing arc which has the potential issue of you hitting behind the ball and a fat shot. So to counter this you will need to choke (grip) down on the club around the same distance that you have lowered into the sand achieving a balanced comfortable position.

You are now looking to achieve clean contact. For fairway bunkers you want to hit down on the ball with ball then sand contact. This will ensure that you get some compression on the ball and spin, to give the ball a true flight. To achieve this play the ball a little further back in your stance and swing through the ball. Many golfers think that all bunker shots are the same. A green side bunker is a very different type of golf shot. From a green side bunker you are trying to ‘splash’ the ball out of the sand. Green side bunkers will be covered in more detail in a separate post.

Finally swing within yourself. Why not try taking one more club than you would usually need for the distance and take an eighty percent swing. This ensures that you do not swing to hard and dip into the ball creating a fat or heavy shot. Your swing thought should be to stand tall and swing easy.  So now you know the theory of escaping from a fairway bunker, lets go to the practice area and try this out ….

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The Golf Talk team


How to score a stableford round of golf

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If you are going to start playing competitive golf then you will very soon use the Stableford scoring system as a way of marking your scorecard. In this post we will talk you through how to complete your scorecard and what strategies you could be using to play your best golf.

A very common way of scoring a competitive round of golf is the Stableford system. This type of scoring enables you to score points against the course’s par. For example if you are playing a par four hole then the course has already scored a par four. Your challenge is to beat that score, for which you will be awarded points as follows …

Double Eagle    5 points
Eagle                  4 points
Birdie                 3 points
Par                      2 points
Bogey                 1 point
Double Bogey   0 points

Of course this is you nett score allowing for your handicap. So let’s assume you are an eighteen handicapper. This means you will get a shot on each hole to give you your nett score. A par four on the scorecard will in fact be a par 5 for you. Now let’s also assume that you are playing a par four. If you were to achieve a gross score of five on this hole. This would be a nett score of par and two points for you. So if you play to your eighteen handicap and score a gross score of ninety and a nett score of seventy two you will achieve two points per hole and a total of thirty six points.

Now lets look at how you can best use this information to formulate your strategy to play your best golf.

How the stableford game differs from your standard medal play is that t
his form of the game rewards risk. By that we mean, if you decide to go for a shot that would result in a possible birdie (nett eagle) then you will score four points. However, if the shot does not go according to plan and you score a bogey (nett double bogey) then you will lose only two points that could be made up else where. This is very different to medal play where you would play the course much more conservative trying not to put a large number on your scorecard. So with Stableford we would encourage you to look at the scorecard and plan out where you will play safe and accept two points and where you will try the riskier shots and go for nett birdies and more points.

Also if you are playing off a higher than eighteen handicap then this obviously means that on some of the lower stroke index holes you will get more than one shot. Now the golf holes with the lower stroke index means that they play more difficult so you may need to plan how you will use the extra shot. This could be an iron off the tee for safety, or a lay up second shot to avoid a hazard for example. Either way please ensure that you know what shots you get on what holes because this should have an impact on how you play each hole.

Finally look at your score in three hole increments and see how you are progressing against your target score. If you have scored six points over the first three holes then you are playing steady and to handicap. If you are scoring higher or lower than this you may want to start thinking about where you will pick up points and potentially where you may lose a few points. The impact of counting your points over an average of three holes is that it prevents you from making any rushed decisions after just one bad hole. You will start to see patterns and make the correct choices of what shots to play. Or whether to play more aggressive or more defensive.

So next time you have an opportunity to play a Stableford game use these tips to help you out on the course and have fun!

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The Golf Talk team

What is a Texas Scramble in golf

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There are many games within golf that we can play from the traditional stroke play where we play against the par of the course. To medal play where we compete against each other. In this post we will take a look at the format of Texas Scramble and explain what it is, how you score and wGolfhy it is such a fun game to play.

Let us start with the answer to the question in the title. What is a Texas Scramble?

A Texas Scramble is a four person team event where each member of the team plays his or her own ball from tee to green. Each player will hit their tee shot and then as a team you will all decide on the best shot out of the four and all play your ball from that spot. The person who’s tee shot was chosen marks their ball and plays their shot. The rest of the team will then drop a ball within six inches of the marker and all play their shots on to the green assuming this is a par four. Once on the green the process is repeated with the team deciding the best putt with the most chance of holing it. The player who’s shot is chosen will mark their ball and putt first. Assuming that they do not hole the putt they will mark their ball and the team will then all have a chance of holing the putt. You then move onto the next hole and the process is repeated throughout all eighteen holes. Because your team is getting four chances at each shot this is usually a low scoring competition with ten or twelve birdies per team not uncommon.

In some competitions their maybe some local rules to this format. A common one is the number of drives each player has to take. For example, the local rule could be that each player has to take four drives each. This is usually to try and even out the field and make the game more competitive. We have also played a local rule where each team is given an an orange or yellow ball to play. Each team member must play the ball tee to green and then pass onto the next player in the team. The objective is not to loose the orange ball and the team that returns it at the end of the competition gets extra points.

To score you simply play the hole as described previously and write down your score in a ‘medal format’ you may also need to write down who’s drive you used and who had the orange ball?. The handicap for each team is usually calculated as one tenth of the combined handicap. For example if each player is a eighteen handicapper then the total handicap is seventy two and one tenth would be seven point two. You would simply deduct seven point two from your gross score to give your nett score.

This is a great game to play because it lets you contribute to the team score no matter how well you are playing on the day. By that we mean, if on the day you are not striking your irons well you may knock a few putts in as your contribution. This format will also allow you to ‘go for shots’ that you would usually not try in a monthly medal for fear of putting a big number on your scorecard. This can be exciting if you pull off the shot but not devastating if you don’t. Also this is a great format to be used on a corporate days because the round is usually quicker than a medal round and fosters team spirit.

Finally most golf competitions are a medal format throughout the season with some matchplay for the summer and winter leagues. Texas Scramble can give you another format to try which you may find breaks up the repetitiveness of your usual competitions.

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The Golf Talk team

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



Our top 5 golf gadgets to help you play better golf

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We all love our golf gadgets, especially when they can help us play the game better and lower our scores. In this article we give you our top five gadgets that will help do just that.

Our first gadget is the Garmin Approach S3 GPS watch. Knowing your distances is vital to playing your very best. In fact some golf coaches estimate that a GPS device can take off as much as five strokes off your round. We know that there are many devices on the market now however we like the S3 for its style and touch screen (with gloves) functionality. The green view and digital scorecard is also pretty cool. Packed with 38,000 course, if you are looking for a GPS device then the S3 is a must.

Next is the LineFix360 .This is a tool to help you line up your putts. We know that over a third of the average mid-handicapper’s shots are played on the green. So a small improvement here can make a very dramatic difference to your overall score. The LineFix360 is a simple yet brilliant way to mark your golf ball with a line around it so that you can then position your ball and line up the hole and putter. This will give you confidence to strike the putt and concentrate on a good, true swing.

Working to get a great golf swing can seem like a never ending journey. Having the ability to see your swing is a real advantage and can speed up your progress. The Zepp Golf 3D Swing Analyser is a small device that clip onto your golf glove and connects with your iPhone or iPad. Here are just a few of the features –

  • Track club head speed, tempo, club plane, hand path, backswing position and more
  • Review and replay your swing in 360 degrees
  • Compare and share your swings with others
  • Get personalised tips, drills and coaching

When we tried this at the GT headquarters we could immediately see how this would be useful to the golfers who are working on specific aspects of their swing. For example if you are trying to keep a good tempo throughout your swing (something that we have discussed a lot recently) then the Zepp can give you the necessary feedback you need. Also the tips and drills are also very helpful.

We now seem to be taking more and more electronic devices out on the course with us, GPS devices, mobile phones etc. All of which need an emergency battery charger just in case they run out of power. We have tried many of these devices and the one that makes our list is the PowerGen 12000mAh External Battery Pack . This device will charge almost anything from an iPhone to an iPad and will extend an average mobile phone (iPhone 4 tested) for up to 70 hours. It has three USB outlets so you can charge more than one item at a time. We found this very useful for charging the Garmin S3 when we had forgotten to charge it.

Number five golf gadget is one that will help you out on the practice tee. The Voice Caddie SC100 portable golf launch monitor swing trainer. This is a small, simple and portable
device that allows you to monitor your swing speed, ball speed and distance. Here’s how it works. You simply stand the SC100 behind you on the practice tee and swing through the ball. The device will will then record your swing statistics. This is great device for managing the best use of your practice time and gaining consistency. Another cool feature is Target Mode this feature allows you to set a distance and for you to try and hit that distance consistently. Or on random the device will give you random target distances to achieve.

These gadgets have been carefully selected to help you play better golf, why not give them a try …

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The Golf Talk team

Hard, soft or no spikes at all, that is the question?

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In this post, Golf Talk is discussing the issue. With most golf clubs requesting the use of soft spikes and banning metal spikes from their greens, which is better?  Are golfers better off using hard, soft or no spike shoes when playing.

Golf shoes have come a long way over the years, originally they had longer metal spikes which allowed good traction and stability whilst swinging the club but as you know, the spikes were the main culprits for spike marks and the damage caused to greens.  Some golf tour players still use this method of spike but as the rules of golf state ‘players cannot repair spike marks on greens’, everyday club players have moved away from metal.

A lot of research and technology has been put into this question, which has allowed the use of plastic or soft spike shoes to become more wide spread, many golf courses now only allow play with this type of shoe as they help keep the fairways and the greens in good condition.  Although golfers say they the metal ones sounded better when walking to the 19th hole!

Another advantage to the soft spike is they are lighter which I’m sure your feet will like better, they also flex and bend whilst walking, which adds to the comfortability.  When purchasing soft spike check how to remove the old spikes and replace with the new ones – you may need tools to do this properly.  These tools can be bought from the same retailers as the spikes.

In recent times, the spike-less shoe has made an appearance, these shoes have dimpled rubber soles and have proven to be good on the driving range and in the summer where the ground is harder.  However, they do not have the same traction as a spike (they have been found to be less helpful when you are trying to play out of the rough) but look like a sports shoe so its down to choice – good looking shoes with less grip or a lightweight shoe with a soft spike that will help not to mark the green.

You have heard our thoughts, we will leave the decision to you …

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The Golf Talk team

How to play out of the rough?

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No matter how well you are playing on the day you will, on occasion find yourself in the rough. Even the professionals play out of the longer grass a few times per round. So if it is inevitable that you will stray off the fairways. Then how best is it for you to deal with this situation? In this post we will give you a simple traffic light system that should help you make the right decision out on the golf course and keep those big numbers off your scorecard.

“Never follow a bad shot with a bad decision”golf ball

First things first. When you see that your ball is going off-line keep your eye on the ball and try to see where it lands. Try using a tree or other landmark to give you a reference point for your search. If you have a positive line on where you think the ball has landed you will find your playing partners much more motivated to help you look for your ball. Many golfers get so disappointed when they play a bad shot that they forget to look at the ball and usually have a difficult time finding it.

Now you have found your ball there are a few questions we want you to ask yourself to help you make the decision of whether you should play safe and get the ball back on the fairway or go for it!. What is the lie like? Playing out of the rough is more difficult than the fairway because of the lie. The ball can settle down into the grass which means that you cannot get a clean strike on the ball. On a score of 1-10, 1 being very poor and 10 being great. Asses your lie and if is less than 5 then you should really be looking to just chop the ball back out onto the fairway.

Next we want you to consider the position. Can you get on the green in regulation? Again assuming the 1-10 score. If you feel that the line or distance will prevent you from getting on the green you will need to seriously consider the safer play. However if you are striking the ball well and you think a fairly average shot could get you back in contention for a par then going for the green may worth it.

Finally we want you to consider your score. We have all seen good scorecards ruined by bad decisions. So if you are protecting a good score then the safer play might be the correct one to choose. After all, if you are protecting a good score then you must be playing pretty well up to now, so the chances of you dropping a shot and not being able to pick it back up somewhere else is low.

All in all, when you approach your ball in the rough ask yourself these three questions with an image of a traffic light signal. Red means that you will take the safer option and play the ball back onto the fairway. Amber is a 50/50 and you will need to consider the lie, position and your score. And green is go for it!

Now you have made your decision, what next?

Playing the ball back onto the fairway is considered the safer option, however we often see golfers get this wrong. The number one mistake we see is the golfer lifting their head to look for the ball. You want to see where the ball has gone and that you are back in play. This often leads to a poor shot and the ball remaining in the rough. Next time you are faced with this situation ask your playing partner to look out for the ball so you can keep you head down and play through the ball.

Also you will need to consider he strike you get on the ball when it is in the longer grass. It is not as clean. The ball does not have as much backspin because longer grass will get in between the ball and the clubface so the ball cannot compress against its grooves. This means that the ball will come out of the rough ‘hot’ and will roll more than usual. It is often advisable to play a lesser club to allow for this.

One last point to consider. Do you ever practice out of the rough? We have said that it is inevitable, so why do we not practice for this situation. The next time you are on the practice tee head over to the longer grass and play a few shot from there. You will soon start to develop a feel for playing out of the rough and increase your confidence for when this happens out on the course.

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The Golf Talk team

How to mark a golf scorecard for your Monthly Medal or Stableford competition

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When you arrive at the golf course you will get your golf gear ready, put on your shoes and then head into the Pro shop. This is where you will sign in, pay for your round and be given a scorecard.

If you are new to golf then you may be wondering how to score your golf gameGolf scorecard for the different types of competitions. In this post we will discuss how to complete a golf scorecard for a monthly medal and a stableford competition. This will not only give you a better understanding of the types of games but also how to score well out on the course.

Lets start with the scorecard itself. On your scorecard you will see the hole number from 1 to 18. This is obviously the holes you will play throughout your round. Just a note of caution. Many golf courses have more than eighteen holes on them. So check which two loops of nine holes you are playing and ensure you are marking the correct ones.

Next to the hole number will be the tees. These are usually blue, white, yellow and red. The blue tees are usually for tournament play by the professional golfers often seen at championship courses. The white tees are usually mens local competition tees, the monthly medal for example. The yellow tees are usually for mens general play and the red tees are for lady and junior golfers. Each tee will have the distance from the tee box to the centre of the green and the par for the hole. You will be told in the pro shop which tees you are playing off on the day. If in doubt, for a general rounds men use yellow tees and for competitions use white. Ladies and juniors are always off the reds.

The par for the hole is the number of shots that you should complete the hole. For example a par 3 hole should be completed in 3 shots, a par 4 in 4 shots and a par 5 in 5 shots.

Next you will see the stroke index or handicap for the hole. The course staff have decided which of the holes is the most difficult to play and which is the easiest. With stroke index 1 being the most difficult hole and stroke index 18 being the easiest hole to achieve par. The stroke index of the course is regularly checked against competition scores to ensure that this remains consistent.

Finally you will see places to write in scores, totals and the players name and handicap. It is your responsibility to ensure that your card is completed correctly. There are many sad stories of golf professionals handing in scorecards only to find that their playing partner has made a mistake and they have been disqualified. Don’t let this happen to you. Check your scorecard to ensure it is correct.

As you may have gathered by now your playing partner marks your card and you will mark theirs. Just before you all tee off swap your card ensuring that you have completed your name and handicap. You will then confirm your scores to each other at the end of each hole for you to record on the scorecard.

Now we know what all the numbers mean lets look at the different scoring games starting with medal play. This is the easiest game to score because you are just writing in your total strokes for the hole and your playing partners total strokes for the hole. When you have completed all 18 holes then simply add them up and deduct their handicap. For example if your playing partner shoots a total score of  90 and they play off an eighteen handicap then you would record a nett score of 72. This is considered the toughest game in golf because you have to return a score for each and every hole. Which means one bad hole where you lose a couple of balls could be a ‘card wrecker’ which could ruin your day.

The next game we will look at is stableford. This game scores each hole against the par for the hole. The easiest way to think about this is that you are playing the course and the course has already scored. If you score better than the hole, the same, or worse there are different points awarded. For example if you score a nett birdie then you get 3 points, a net par is 2 points and a net bogey is 1 point. Lets say I am an 18 handicapper which means I get a shot on each hole, and on the first hole I get a par. Because I get a shot for my handicap this is a net birdie and 3 points. On the next hole I get a bogey (one over par) again because I am an 18 handicapper I get a shot on each hole so this for me is a nett par which would be 2 points. At the end of the game add up all the points to see the final score. A score of 36 means you have played to your handicap. For beginner golfers this is a much easier game to play and we recommend that when you start scoring your rounds then use this stableford method. This is because you will definitely lose a ball or two per round and with this type of game you simply do not record a score for that hole. You can then clear your mind and concentrate on playing a good shot on the next hole.

Finally we did mention at the beginning of this post that understanding the scorecard can help you score well on the course. When you are new to golf and want to get your first handicap you will be asked to score three rounds of golf with an existing member who will mark your card. Usually when you first start playing your handicap will be over 18. This means that you will have more than 1 shot per hole. In these situations play the hole and use all of your shots. By that we mean if you are on the most difficult hole on the course, lets say a par 4, and you have two shots. Then you can play 4 shots easy shots to get to the green and then 2 putts for your nett par. Instead of reaching for the driver and slicing your tee shot out of bounds and finishing the hole with a 10 on the card and no score. Remember golf is as much about playing the game strategically as it is about the technicality of ball striking.

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The Golf Talk team