Golf is a game played between the ears as much as on the fairways, and I can’t help but wish there are a few things I’d known before I started playing.
Originally published at Golf Link, ( See them all here.) I’ve listed 13 things I wish I’d known before I began learning the game many years ago now – from the time it takes to play, to the art of playing a golf shot while a bird is swooping.
IF only I’d known then what I know now. It’s a common lament that is as applicable to the complex game of golf as it is to life.
The ride could’ve been a lot smoother, and hence happier had I known a few things about golf before I started playing.
Some of these things I have known all along, but just chosen to ignore – and probably always will.
I’m sure you have your own list and there are certainly more I could have added to this one but these are a few of the things I feel could have made a difference if I’d realised them sooner.
I’ve never hit the ball as far as I think I do
One thing that has come out of golf GPS tracking software is that most golfers don’t hit the ball as far as they think they do.
Sure we hit the occasional one out of the screws, or really smoke an approach shot over the green, but on average we are probably hitting the ball about a half-club less than we think we are.
But this is tough information to swallow and even if I’d known this years ago, I would’ve stayed in denial.
You need to be able to putt straight
Even if you’re the world’s best at reading greens you need to be able putt the ball along that line.
If you can’t putt the ball straight over a perfectly flat surface, then get practising. It’s an easy drill that can be done at home
Lie about the time it takes to play
If someone asks you what time you’ll be finished your golf round, never give the expected answer.
Because unfortunately driving to golf, warming up, playing golf, a quick drink afterwards and the drive home always takes longer than you, or anybody else expects.
Shut up and listen
Sometimes the best thing about playing golf is telling people about it afterwards. Often a golfer’s closest family members aren’t interested so do your golf mates a a favour and listen to them ramble on about their last round.
It’s the greatest thing you can do for your fellow golfer and they might just pretend to listen to you about your round afterwards.
A pro can fix your swing better than your mate can
Just because your mate read a swing tip in a golf magazine on the weekend, doesn’t mean it will fix your swing.
I think about this each time I read a golf tip in a golf magazine.
A pre-shot routine is not just for the professionals
Having a pre-shot routine isn’t just for the pros. It’s a boring aspect of golf, but if you want to get better and creep up on the elusive world of consistent golf then you need to have a consistent pre-shot routine.
Just make sure it’s quick.
If there is a bird-swooping, just pick up your ball and move on
This is the hardest shot to play in golf and it’s not worth the stress no matter how many of your playing partners are swinging their clubs above their heads.
This round of golf is insignificant
Unless you’re Jordan Spieth and have just played the 12th hole at Augusta, no one else will remember this round of golf in a few weeks.
It will fade into insignificance as life goes on.
Take a break if you’re not enjoying it
Golf should always be fun. Or at least engaging. If it’s not then don’t be afraid to put the clubs away for a while.
It may be just the break you need to save yourself, and your playing partners, from a few unpleasant days on the golf course.
Putting from off the green
I used to have this false belief that if you’re just off the green then you should be a good enough golfer to execute the perfect chip shot. The fact is that there are many lies around the green when a putter will do just fine.
I wish Adam Scott had used his on the final hole of the 2013 Australian Open. Swallow your pride and just pull out the putter.
Forget about the back tees
I was one of those golfers who always wanted to play from the back tees. But it isn’t always much fun especially if you’re not at the top of your game.
I’ve played golf courses from the very front tees and would argue it makes for a far more interesting and cerebral round of golf.
Avoid the headache and drink water
For many years I assumed a headache was normal after a round of golf. It isn’t if I’ve had enough water to drink. A sip here and there doesn’t cut it.
Drink plenty of water. And while I’m at it, sun cream. Wear it and reapply after nine holes. Just do it.
Stay fit and flexible
This is not so important in your 20s but it’s hugely important to stay on top of this before your shoulder turn gets a little shorter, or that follow through starts to creak.
By all means stretch before a round but also stay fit and healthy in between rounds too.
Golf is a game you can play well into your later years of life, make sure you’re fit enough to be doing it. Prepare now.