how to play golf

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.

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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