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What I’m doing to get better at golf this season

We all want to improve our golf this season, but are we going about it in the right way?

 

I started this season in a very funny position, completely unsure of what competitive golf would look like this year. I have travelled around the country for years, playing all the biggest and best amateur events. With many of my friends turning professional this year, this suddenly became a much more expensive and lonely prospect.

So, when the opportunity to play in the Rose Ladies Series appeared, I was extremely excited to get out on the road with my friends and play some competitive golf at some world-class venues.

The only slight problem was that the competitions were two weeks away, and I hadn’t had an official scorecard in my hand for over seven months. I felt like a school kid cramming for an exam I had forgotten about.

Average driver distance

I felt I had a pretty average season last year so I was eager to track all my competitive golf moving forward to try see where I am performing well and which areas I should work on most.

I have been using Shot Scope to track my stats since 2019. The ease of using the watch to tag my shots has made the whole process of analysing my game a thousand times easier. I charged up my new Shot Scope G5 watch ready to analyse how I got on at both the Sunningdale and Walton Heath Rose Series events.

I learned valuable lessons from playing with the pros and reflecting on my statistics, which I wanted to share to help you shoot lower scores this season.

Rose Ladies Series: The Numbers

For anyone tracking my online scoring, it looked like I was having a great day. I was in the top 5 through eight holes, and my only blemish had been levelled out with a bounce-back birdie.

how to get better at golf

Image courtesy of Andy Crook

The problem is, this wasn’t the reality.

There are no pictures on a scorecard, but you’re not as safe in the Shot Scope app, where every single shot is tracked on a golf course map. It also generates strokes gained analytics to see how well or poorly you perform against your peers.

It’s safe to say I was taking a more unusual route around the golf course and placing some serious pressure on my short game and putting in order to keep my round together.

how to get better at golf

On the back nine, I unravelled. Honestly, I didn’t play differently, but the shot I hit offline ended up in a bad lie or behind a tree. My 15-foot recovery putts were suddenly lipping out rather than dropping in the centre of the cup, and the numbers on my scorecard kept racking up and up and up.

how to get better at golf

Coming off the eighteenth green, I felt hard done by and frustrated. Fifteen minutes later, when I handed in my scorecard and signed off my stats in the Shot Scope app, I was shocked.

I knew my driving was letting me down on the golf course, but I am not sure I had accepted how much.

Due to my offline driving, I lost nearly six shots compared to a tour pro! To make matters worse, I performed worse than a scratch, 5, and 10-handicap golfer in this category.

how to get better at golf

My driving was around 12-handicap standard. Fourteen higher than my actual handicap, clearly, I needed to do something differently.

The fix

The next morning was a practice day at Walton Heath Golf Club. I was at the course four hours before my tee time armed with a TrackMan, three buckets of balls, and our NCG in-house teaching professional Jack Backhouse on Facetime, ready for a full-swing rebuild.

Instead, he asked me more about what I was trying to achieve. What shot are you trying to hit? Where are you aiming? Are you drawing the ball off there or fading it off there? That was a shift in mindset.

We set out some alignment sticks that I had to hit the ball around with and a headcover that I had to avoid hitting.

We then touched on some technical points. I was compounding the left shot shape by having all left misses: a toe strike that sends the ball left, a shut club face that sends the ball left, and a slightly left path that sends the ball left.

The change was hitting the ball with the aim of reversing these. Can I try to strike it out of the heel? How can I open the club face more? Can I do this by feeling rather than analysing my swing on camera?

He also had me practice my pre-shot routines with more intention to where the target was and what shot I was trying to hit. Any ball that didn’t finish left of the target was considered a win.

Rose Ladies Series: The Results

Overall, I hit four more fairways in regulation, and even when I missed the fairway, the ball was much less offline, and I had an unaffected full swing at the green.

This allowed me to hit six extra greens, making scoring considerably easier. I was very pleased with a 74 (+2) on a 6381-yard golf course on a cold and windy day. I finished T15th and beat a few LET players, which was a nice result.

By no means did I play perfect golf, but I got the ball shaping in the right direction to keep my shots in play. This taught me that good golf is more about minimising your bad shots than hitting many good ones.

It also showed that the block technical practice I had been doing prior to this event wasn’t the be-all and end-all, and actually, I needed to test myself a lot more to create the pressure that appears out on the golf course.

How to get better at golf this season

So, what can you learn from my mistakes to help you improve your golf this year?

Know what you need to improve

I really believe collecting stats on your game is crucial to lowering your scores. Although I knew my driving could be better, but seeing the figures really forced me to do something different.

Shot Scope provides the easiest platform to track your stats and learn more about your game. I have been using the V5 watch this season, giving me the bonus of GPS yardages throughout my round and shot tracing. However, if a watch isn’t your thing, you can now track directly with your smartphone using the Shot Scope CONNEX tracking tags.

how to get better at golf

Having data to show you where you need to focus your attention is key, especially for people who are hard-pressed for practice time.

Learn new skills

Practising is not just about going to the driving range, doing drills and trying to make your golf swing look better. The golf ball does not know what your golf swing looks like.

A huge skill people are missing out on is awareness. How do you change something when things are going wrong? Go on the course when it is quiet, stand behind a tree and try to hit low shots under it, high shots over it, draws and fades around it. Learning different skills will be hugely valuable to your game.

If you struggle with heely slices, learn to hit toey snap hooks on the range. If you hit it too high, work on low punch shots.

Practice with pressure

Practice sessions are generally not like the golf course in any way. We hit off a perfectly flat lie, and if we hit a bad shot, we pull another ball and try again. But what if we could practice with more purpose?

Creating challenges to complete on the range is a great way to add pressure to your practice and give it a sense of golf course competition play.

With a driver, I set myself a forty yards wide fairway. You can measure from target to target at your range on Google Maps to pick your fairway. How many balls can I get in the fairway in ten shots? How many do I hit in when playing a fade? How many do I hit in when playing a draw? Is my score improving each week, or do I need some golf lessons to improve?

how to get better at golf

So much of golf is skill-based, which is wider than just swinging the golf club well on a driving range, and our practice sessions should reflect that.

Find out more about tracking your stats with Shot Scope here.

Hannah Holden

hannah holden

Hannah Holden is the Equipment and Instruction Editor here at National Club Golfer. If you’re looking to improve your game, by changing your golf swing or upgrading your golf equipment she’ll have the answers.

As well as writing lots of features and reviews you can find her on our YouTube channel giving you insights on the latest rules, clubs and tips to improve your golf game.

Hannah is a member at Alwoodley golf club. You will either find her here or driving up and down the country playing in a variety of elite amateur events.

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