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Beat the Heat by Enjoying the Game

It is the time of year for us here in Florida where we need to beat the heat! It’s a time to book an early tee time, stay hydrated and wrap that cold towel around your neck. It’s also a great time to go have fun out on the course. So instead of the standard tips on fixing a fault or faults in your swing, I would like to give you a few tips to help you play better and enjoy your golf more.

 Practice at the range and play on the course. The object of golf is to get the ball into the hole in the least amount of strokes. When you are on the golf course, try to play with the least amount of swing thoughts. Free up your mind to play better and enjoy it more.

 Play from the correct tee box. Nothing good can come from struggling all day to reach the greens. Playing from the wrong tee box can make you swing too hard, ruin your tempo, and ultimately play slowly while looking for errant shots. Play the tee box that is recommended for your handicap. You will thank yourself, perform better, and enjoy the game more.

 Lower your expectations. A common problem with many golfers is that our mind thinks we can perform on a much higher level than we actually can. When I have a playing lesson with students, I will ask them “What was the best game you ever shot?” For example, if they say 90, which is averaging one over par on every hole, then I recommend they try to shoot one stroke over par on each hole. This way, it takes away the pressure of trying to make par on each hole, and often results in better overall scores.

 Perform shots within your capabilities.  I see this in playing lessons also. A golfer who could hit a 5 iron off the ground with their eyes closed tries to hit a 3 wood off the fairway 230 yards to the green. As the ball heads into the hazard, they are upset and say “I really need to get that shot down.” What they really need to do is hit a shot they can perform, keep the ball in play, and build confidence. Wouldn’t you feel better if you hit a beautiful iron into wedge range, and then hit your wedge to 10 feet from the hole?

 Have a dependable advancement shot.  Regardless of how far you hit the ball, you should have a club that you practice with that will advance the ball down the fairway in a consistent manner. It does not matter what club it is, as long as you can rely upon it. Remember, the more loft, the easier it is to hit off the fairway – for example, this may be a 9 wood, or 5 iron. The objective is to advance the ball and stay out of trouble. Typically, your 3 wood doesn’t do either consistently!

 Have a Red-Hot short game. This is the one area that you can be as good as a top professional in a short amount of time. Learn the correct way to chip, pitch, putt, and get out of a bunker, and then practice it. You can search a lifetime for a pure swing, but you could be a short game wizard within a month with some knowledge and practice. Think of how much more freely you could swing at the ball if you didn’t care about slightly missing the green. If you have a great short game, it’s like a built-in insurance policy.

 Be realistic about putting. Here is another scenario I see often. A student hits the green on her third shot and has a 20 footer for par. It just misses and she is upset with herself for missing such an easy putt. She is not being realistic, and here’s why. On the PGA and LPGA Tours, where some of the world’s finest putters reside, they make less than 45% of the putts from 8 FEET AWAY. Yet many of the social golfers I see expect to make everything inside of 20 feet and are disappointed if they miss. There are so many outside influences on a putt (grain, spike marks, debris on the green) that often a perfectly rolled putt still misses. What we don’t want those misses to do is to follow us to the next hole. Be realistic, do your best, and don‘t let a missed putt follow you around.

 Keep a great attitude, stop and smell the roses, and have fun. As a golf professional, I expect to play well. I also know that if my attitude is wrong I can’t perform. I love this game and nothing saddens me more than seeing someone who is not having fun on the golf course. If you are having a bad day, try to keep you spirits up and still be a good playing partner. The greatest compliment I can get is when someone says “It’s fun to play with Max.”  After all, that’s what it’s all about. So get out their, challenge yourself, test your skills, and be kind to yourself. Most of all never forget the reason we play the game - to have fun!