15 Ways to Get Better at Golf & Love the Game Again

golf driving range

We all want to get better at golf but may need to learn how to go about it. Some players may need to change their swings, while others only need to play smarter.

There’s no doubt golf is a challenging game to play. And that makes getting better no easy task.

So, we’re going to outline 15 ways to get better at golf.

1. Professional Lessons

This one might seem obvious, but you might be surprised how many golfers don’t take lessons. There are several reasons for this, but lessons are an excellent way to get better at golf.

That’s especially true if your problems originate from your swing technique. Many golfers can improve dramatically by changing their swings.

golf lesson teaching the golf swing

A professional will analyze your swing and pinpoint any issues. They’ll coach you and help you change your swing for the better.

Swing improvements will lead to straighter shots on the course. That means you’ll find less trouble and lower your scores.

Not everyone can take lessons. Many golfers don’t have the time or money to spend on them.

However, there are also practical ways to improve without professional lessons or changing your swing.

2. Know Your Yardages

You may have heard the saying that knowledge is power. That applies to your golf game as well.

Knowing your yardage for each club allows you to hone your accuracy. You should know your carry and total distances.

It’s common for golfers to think they hit the ball further than they actually do. That leads to short approach shots that can end up in danger.

Finding out your distances and recording them eliminates this mistake. You can carry them on your phone or write them down on paper.

With that knowledge, you can hit the ball over that bunker or water hazard the next time. That’ll save you extra shots during your round.

It’s best to use a launch monitor to record your average distances.

3. Keep the Ball Low Around Greens

Always go for the short game shot with the least risk. That usually means keeping the ball low around the greens.

Much more can go wrong if you always try a flop shot. So, it’s more unpredictable than a low shot.

A chip shot needs a smaller swing, so there’s less chance of error. Even if you make a mistake, you won’t get badly punished.

Think like this around the greens.

  • Putt
  • Chip
  • Pitch/Flop

Putt whenever possible, and chip when you can’t putt. Only chip pitch or flop shots as a last resort.

4. Have a Favorite Club

We don’t always hit the ball to the best of our abilities. Sometimes you’re just not swinging well and can’t get your timing down.

That’s when your favorite club can come to the rescue. Use it as much as possible during one of these rounds.

Make sure you can play different shots with your favorite club. If it’s a hybrid, you could use it for chip shots, tee shots, off the fairway, etc.

It’ll keep your confidence up through a bad round. And it can help keep your score from blowing up.

5. Play Defense

You’ll sometimes be on the backfoot out on the golf course. Maybe you hit it into the trees or a deep fairway bunker.

A small gap in the trees can be tempting to play for. There’s nothing like pulling off that ‘hero’ shot.

However, your chances of actually doing it are slim to none. It’s better to accept your mistake and play a safe shot onto the fairway.

You’ll have an easier next shot. And you never know, the next shot could find the green, and you could hole the putt.

6. Take Advantage of Tech

Golf has so much awesome tech these days. Taking advantage of it can help you get better at golf.

Rangefinders and GPS devices give you distances on the course. They allow you to be more accurate with approach shots or avoid hazards.

Technology doesn’t stop there, though. Golf clubs are improving every year.

Take advantage of that by getting clubs that suit your game. Forgiving golf clubs greatly help those who don’t strike the ball consistently.

golfer using a golf rangefinder for distance

They help beginners and higher handicappers lower their scores. That’s because they don’t get badly punished for mishits with forgiving clubs.

Technology in clubs can also help better players. You can get fitted for the clubs that perfectly match your swing.

You can hone various characteristics like launch, spin, and distance. That helps players get better at golf.

7. Correctly Gap Your Wedges

Correctly gapping your wedges helps you with short-game consistency. It’s easier to hit an accurate distance with a full swing than a three-quarter one.

So, the correct gapping with your wedges keeps you consistent and accurate. It gives you a uniform distance between each of your wedges.

Gapping relates to the loft difference between each wedge. That loft variance means you get different distances for each wedge.

An example of good gapping looks like this:

  • Pitching wedge – 44 degrees of loft
  • Gap wedge – 50 degrees of loft
  • Sand Wedge – 56 degrees of loft
  • Lob wedge – 62 degrees of loft

The distances of each club could look like this:

  • Pitching wedge – 112 yards
  • Gap wedge – 100 yards
  • Sand wedge – 88 yards
  • Lob wedge – 76 yards

So, you get a difference of about 12 yards between each wedge. That allows you to be accurate from around 114 yards to 74 yards.

Having those distances dialed in can help you get better at golf.

8. Use a High-Bounce Wedge

Having a high-bounce wedge makes it easier to hit pitch and bunker shots. The bounce is the angle between the leading edge of the club head and the ground when the wedge addresses the ball.

A high-bounce wedge won’t dig into the ground or the sand. It helps you eliminate fat shots and makes it easier to escape bunkers.

woman hitting sand wedge shot

Also, the high bounce offsets minor mistakes like too much forward shaft lean on impact and a closed face. A high-bounce wedge essentially offers players more forgiveness, so it minimizes errors.

9. Hit Diagonally into the Wind

Hitting diagonally into the wind can stop the wind from affecting your ball too much. Sometimes you hit a good shot only for a strong wind to carry the ball into trouble.

You can minimize that risk if you hit diagonally into the wind. It can lessen the curvature of your ball.

The next time it’s windy, try teeing off on the opposite side of the tee box from where the wind is blowing. For instance, tee your ball on the far left of the tee box in a right-to-left wind.

You’ll automatically aim more right from that position. So, you’ll hit diagonally into the wind, and your ball will curve less from the wind.

10. Pre-Shot Routine

A solid pre-shot routine helps you get better at golf. It gets you prepared for the shot and focuses your mind.

A pre-shot routine is a consistent sequence you perform before each shot. Everyone’s is different, but all the best players have one.

golfer lining up her shot

You can break a pre-shot routine into four stages.

Think

Stand behind the ball and think about the shot. Decide on the best way to play it – whether it’s landing on the right or left side of the fairway, for instance.

Prepare

Visualize the shot you want to hit, which might be a draw or fade. Imagine the ball flight and see where it lands on the fairway.

Rehearse

Take a couple of practice swings with the type of shot in mind. Stay relaxed here and try to feel what you’re doing.

Execute

Step up to the ball, clear your mind, and hit the shot. You’ve already done your thinking, preparation, and rehearsal. So, it’s crucial to trust that and hit the ball without any more thoughts.

11. Aim Close

Instead of aiming to a point in the distance, aim at something close to your ball. Pick a spot a few feet ahead of your ball and line up to that.

This can be part of your pre-shot routine in the thinking stage when you stand behind the ball. Use a leaf, a twig, or a bit of discolored grass. Anything that stands out and is in line with your target in the distance.

Aiming at your target from the address position isn’t accurate. Your eyes tilt when you look up, making it look like you’re hitting too far left.

This is called the ‘Parallax Effect.’ Picking a spot close to your ball on your target line improves your accuracy.

12. Know When to Hit Driver

We all love hitting the driver because it’s just fun. But the big stick can get us into unnecessary trouble at times.

You should assess the situation and resist the urge to blast your driver when not needed. For instance, keep the driver in the bag on a short par-4 with a tight fairway.

13. Practice Putting

This one seems obvious, but many golfers go to the range and neglect their putting. Getting better at putting will help your game.

Get yourself an indoor putting green and some training aids. Make sure to practice a wide range of putts. You want to hole the shorter ones, but you need to lag the longer ones to get close.

office putting set

14. Manage Expectations

Managing expectations is another way to get better at golf. It helps you to assess your game realistically and play happier golf.

For instance, a 12-handicapper shouldn’t get frustrated when they don’t shoot 6-over par regularly. That’s an unrealistic expectation and leads to unhappy golf.

Having the correct expectations takes the pressure off. The stress of expectations can destroy your game, so managing them can help you stay relaxed.

Also, it gives you a better understanding of your game. You’ll have a good handle on your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to identify areas that need more work.

15. Count Down Your Swing

You can count down your swing to get better at golf. We react best to events a few seconds into the future because we’re more prepared.

When it’s time to execute your shot, try counting down from four – four, three, two, one. You might be amazed at the results because it can help improve your accuracy.

Also, this simple technique stops you from standing over the ball for too long. That can negatively impact your shot because thoughts can creep into your mind.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that golf is a tough game, so it’s always good to know ways to get better. We’ve given you 15 here to implement into your games.

Try them all and find out what works best for you. You may find more success with some than others, but they all work.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with 25 years of experience playing and coaching golfers around the world. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn and enjoy the game of golf.