Your New Year’s Resolution – Shoot Lower Scores!

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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It is that time of year again to establish those resolutions that hopefully you will keep! Did you get better or worse at golf in 2013? If you played better last year… great job! If you were one that found the handicap index rise, please continue to read this column!

There are many barriers that exist and keep us from reaching our true potential.  One of the biggest is time. I have written about time, or lack thereof, in previous columns. The reality remains, most golfers don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to practice. The result is that our golf games suffer because of this. New Year’s Resolution #1 – if you don’t have time to make it to the golf course on a consistent basis, make time at home. There are so many things you can do at home that will make you a better golfer. For example, you can work on your Grip, Posture and Alignment (GPA) from home. By perfecting GPA you will increase the ability to shoot lower scores. You can also perform practice swings at home without the golf ball. Anything you do at home is better than not doing anything at all.

A second barrier that exists is too much misinformation. When was the last time you followed that unsolicited golf advice from your golf buddy? Would you follow investment advice if it came from your mechanic? Our friends mean well when they offer advice, but unfortunately in most cases it will not help you improve. I would highly recommend leaving the golf advice to a qualified teaching professional. We have 3 really good ones at the TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale.

Finally, how effective is your practice? What I mean is do you practice the art of playing golf as often as you practice rake and hit? Most golfers hit one 7- iron after the other on the practice tee. I would hope that your 37th - 7 iron in a row would be better than your 1st. The problem is, where on the golf course would you ever hit (37) 7 irons in a row, let alone 2 in a row? If you want to improve the art of playing golf, it is important to practice like you play. Hit to different targets and vary your club selection. This is more random practice versus block practice.  Block practice is good when trying to improve a skill but you need to sprinkle some random practice in, as well.

So there you go. I have laid out 3 New Year’s Resolutions. Try and adopt them and 2014 will be a banner year!

John Stahlschmidt is the Senior Head Instructor and Director of Operations for the TOURAcademy. John currently teaches at the PGA TOUR Academy at the World Golf Village and TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass in Florida. To comment on this column, email John at