I'm not a huge devotee to "New Year's Resolutions", but it is a great time of year to reassess where we're going in life, business, relationships and our golf games. Too many of us get stuck at a level of play that is just not quite satisfactory. Or even worse, we see our games going backwards and need to stop the slide. This is a great time to take stock and set goals for 2013.
But more important than setting goals ... is to lay out a game plan for achieving or even exceeding those we set.
Even here in usually-sunny South Texas, we are in the winter doldrum pattern. Most of the past week or so has either been cold, windy, wet or a combination of all three. So the golf course has been rather abandoned by us fair-weather golfers. [Some of you guys in the north would have been out there anyway, I'm sure.]
So here are some thoughts for how to make sure that 2013 is the year your golf game moves in the right direction:
- Understand your game. How many of you really know where your "low hanging fruit" is in your golf game? You just have to really know where you are giving up the most strokes. It's easy to say "putting", or "the short game", but is that really it? Could your putting woes be the result of just not hitting it close enough? Even the tour pros only make 1% of their putts outside 35 feet. Or is your short game performance possibly because you are always short-siding your approach shots, leaving yourself the toughest recoveries? Take an honest and deep assessment of where you are losing strokes on the golf course.
- Pick no more than two skill sets to improve. Don't just make an effort to "practice more" or "work harder". I'd suggest you eat this elephant one bite at a time. Work on your chipping diligently, if that is a weakness. Or drill like crazy on short putts. Work on your driver if you are not hitting enough fairways. Find the one or two areas where improvement will have the most impact and start the year with a commitment to improving them.
- Get a grip. I wrote recently about the crucial importance of a good solid grip on the golf club. If you will take the next month or two practicing that simple aspect of golf, it will reap big rewards. Keep a golf club next to your office desk and your favorite TV chair. When you are on the phone or otherwise chillin' out, pick up that club and work on your hold on the club. By the time the snow thaws and spring is really here, you could have a new classy grip that will yield big dividends.
- Improve your fundamentals. This is a great time of year to work on your basics. After the grip, improve your posture, set up and ball position. You can practice your swing in pieces inside, with no golf ball to get in the way and mislead you as to whether you did it right or not. Watch videos, read books and make a commitment to gaining a more clear understanding of how the golf swing really works.
- It's about scoring range performance. Yes, it's my business. But that's because I know that – even on the PGA Tour – your performance inside 9-iron range is the key to scoring. If you can hit the green most of the time, and knock it close some of the time when you have a scoring club in your hands, your scores will come down. You are not going to beat the golf course with your long clubs and middle irons — the pros don't either. [The best guy on tour averages over 40 feet from the hole on approach shots with a 5-iron or more.] Learn how to master your full swing wedges and short irons and you'll be surprised how many more pars and birdies you'll be making, regardless of your handicap.
So, there are five ideas for how you can start your 2013 game improvement program. I'd like to hear from all of you with your ideas, too.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf
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