18 ways to get your golf game in shape for summer
Hear that? That’s the sound of summer on its way. Are you and your golf game ready to hit the fairways?
We like to repost this every year. Because every year many golfers need reminding that your golf game doesn’t just switch one because summer is here. Just like the pros, our poor excuse for a golf game still requires some work if we want to shoot 40 points or take out the club comp.
Footy finals, hoodies, chilly mornings and thankfully all that rain, are starting to give way to sunshine, longer days and the lure of a summer on the golf course. Your hibernating golfing buddies are now dusting off the teledex, itching to give you a call and tee up that next round of golf.
But ask yourself this – are you ready?
Is your game in good enough shape to set yourself up for a great summer of golf? Do you have all the necessary ingredients in place to make this a summer of golf one to never forget? After all, it would be a pity to go and ruin the whole thing by going out there and playing crap golf.
Here are 18 tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming summer of golf that should go some way towards making this summer an enjoyable time on the golf course.
1. Practice putting
By all means, play lots of rounds and hit lots of balls but don’t forget your short game, particularly your putting. Spend a good couple of hours at least on the putting green before summer arrives. Then spend a few more hours on the putting green. It can be boring but stick with it. Convince yourself you can putt the ball along a straight line on a flat surface too. ‘Cause, you may be the king of reading the greens, but if you can’t putt the ball on a straight line then you know nothing, Jon Snow.
2. Clean out your golf bag
Now is the time to toss out those manky gloves, crumpled scorecards, chocolate bar wrappers and beaten-up golf balls. Turn the golf bag upside down, throw out that muesli bar you dropped down the driver shaft and score yourself $5 in change. You’ve got a big summer ahead, it’s time for a spring clean. And make sure you add a fresh tube of sun cream to the bag while you’re at it.
3. Practice properly
There is a large body of evidence suggesting that just beating lots of golf balls at the range isn’t a very effective way of practising. You’re better off employing a random practice routine (playing different shots with different shapes, using different clubs) instead of hitting the same shot with the same club over and over. Practice your golf game as if you are on the golf course. Hit the driver followed by a chip out of the trees, followed by a pitch onto the green. If you miss a shot, make sure you return to it later to make sure you get it right.
4. Get fit, get flexible
Ever play a round of golf only to find you’re knackered for the rest of the day? Walking 18 holes not only requires a certain degree of fitness but to make sure your game doesn’t suffer due to fatigue late in your round it’s wise to be even fitter. But don’t just get fit and increase strength – make sure you’re flexible too. If you want that McIlroy-like shoulder turn perhaps you should start the stretching, yoga or pilates classes immediately.
5. Get new grips
While not a guarantee for lower scores, the golf club grips are often overlooked. Ask the pro shop staff if your clubs need new grips. It’s often cheaper than you expect and will make sure there is no need to grip the club too tightly during your golf swing.
6. Get real
Vow to keep a check on your golf game this summer and set realistic expectations. Don’t get angry if you haven’t played well if you’re simply arriving at the first tee straight from the car park. Don’t utter the phrase “played well but scored badly” and think twice before attempting that has very little chance of paying off.
7. Get new golf shoes
If you have new shoes, you can ignore this one but now is a good time to not just get new shoes, but the right ones. You’re going to be walking a lot in these shoes; up to 10km, sometimes more. I’m usually averse to buying new stuff just for the sake of it, but good golf shoes, with firm support, can make a bad day on the golf course a much more bearable one.
8. Get a lesson
Any time is a good time to get a golf lesson but the start of spring is ideal. Get a professional to analyse your swing and knock out those winter cobwebs before the summer sunshine truly breaks through. Book in a follow-up lesson as soon as the first one is finished. It’ll make you practice what you’ve just learned.
9. Get a pre-shot routine
If you don’t have a pre-shot routine, get one. And drum it in until it’s a habit. Pick the shot, pick the club, pick a target, maybe a practice swing and pull the trigger. Same thing, every shot, every week. From the driver right down to the putter. And make it snappy.
10. Pre-round warm-up and stretch
If you’re in the majority of golfers who simply turn up to a golf course, hit a few practice putts and tee it up – change this now. Find out the best warm-up exercises to do before a round and make sure you are at the course in time to do them. At the very least it will most likely increase your flexibility leading to better swings and a longer lifespan playing decent golf.
11. Book a golf trip
Get your mates organised and lock in a date for that golf trip away you’ve all been talking about. Don’t stand for anything less than a paid deposit or pre-booked flights. Hound them until you get total commitment and then prepare for it the same way Adam Scott prepares for majors. It’ll be one of the highlights of your summer.
12. Spend some time on the short game
If there is one aspect of golf you simply can’t expect to be any good at without practising, it’s the short game. It’s the place where you can turn bad rounds into good rounds, and good rounds into great rounds. The good news is that if you practice your short game, you’re almost certain to get better at it. Lock in some time around the practice green before the days get much longer. Hurry.
13. Speed up
Most golfers can play a little quicker. Myself included. Even if you’re not a slow player, think about ways to play the game quicker. One less practice swing, don’t mark your ball as often or get a quicker read. This will make for a more enjoyable summer for you and your playing partners.
14. Go and watch a golf tournament
There are some great golf tournaments this summer featuring some of Australia’s best golfers including Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Cameron Davis and Adam Scott. The Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship will be played in November and December. Go watch their game up close, check out their incredible shoulder turn and their sublime short game. Watch and learn.
15. Lock in a regular 9-hole round before or after work
It doesn’t matter what golf course, just get yourself and your mates out playing 9-holes once or twice a month. Even if you’re game is bad you’ll remember why the game is so much fun and most clubs have reasonable rates for early morning or twilight rounds.
16. Do you have the right clubs for YOU?
We’re not suggesting you should go out and buy yourselves a brand new set of golf clubs for the summer – but it is worthwhile making sure that the clubs you’re using suit your swing and stature. Ask your local golf pro to check your clubs. You may be using the wrong shafts for example. A pro will tell you if you have any large distance gap in your arsenal too. You may also need to swap that 1-iron for a more forgiving hybrid club.
17. Learn the rules
Most golfers I know love talking about the rules of golf, but with such a huge number of rules and decisions, very few of us know them all. Pick a few that have nagged at you over the years and make sure you know them perfectly before you hit the fairways this summer. It may just save you or your playing partners a few strokes.
18. Join a golf club
If you want to get set for a big summer of golf then joining a golf club is a great idea. You’ll get yourself an official handicap, have access to practice facilities and have plenty of competitions to test your game. Not to mention meeting loads of other golfers. Look for clubs close to home offering low (or zero) joining fees, deals for you and your friends to join, and an active golf social media presence. Ask if they offer social rounds for handicapping too so that you even your summer evening rounds contribute to your official handicap.