Sunday, February 1, 2004
50 Best Playing Tips
Easy keys for making the most of every swing during every round
15. First Tee Tips
When you arrive at the first tee, take a moment to identify the shape of the hole and what the architect had in mind. The word “fairway” comes from a nautical term that describes a safe passageway through potentially dangerous waters. If you keep the ball on the short grass, it stays out of harm’s way. Most of the danger in golf lies to the sides of your route, so make it part of your plan to start each hole by hitting the fairway, even if you have to sacrifice some distance. In other words, don’t immediately opt for driver.
If you’ve got the first-tee jitters, here’s how to calm down: Look straight ahead, then close your eyes and, without moving your head, angle them so they look up at the sky. As soon as you feel your eyes begin to flutter, take a deep breath and hold it for a count; then expel the air and open your eyes.
Once you’re calm, it’s target time. Most of your clubs have a distance and a landing area built in, but your driver distance is open-ended, and this can lead to mindlessly overpowering the ball. Therefore, anytime you have a driver in hand, choose both a direction and a destination—a specific landing area for your tee ball. For the direction, aim at something on the line on which you want your ball to fly. It might be a mound, a tree in the background or even a cloud in the sky. For the destination, pick a tire track or a discolored patch of grass in the section of the fairway from which you want to play your next shot.
16. Get Some Skills
All great golfers develop “skills packages”—shots that are often hit back-to-back during the course of play. Practice your fairway wood swing in combination with pitching wedge shots, so you’ll be ready to link them for your second and third shots on a par-5. When was the last time you saw a golfer on the driving range alternating a 3-wood with a pitch to the flag? Other packages: sand wedge/putter; driver/short iron; driver/3-wood.
17. Make The Right Choice
One thing you have complete control of on the golf course is deciding which 14 clubs you’ll use for the round. While you have a core set composition that doesn’t vary much, there should be room for specialty clubs in your gameday set, depending on the course and the conditions. For example, if you’re playing a course with large greens, you might carry two putters—a chest-anchored one for short putts and a regular-length model for lags. Other choices include wedges with varying degrees of bounce and loft for varying sand textures, utility woods, a four-degree closed and a four-degree open driver for doglegs, a long-shafted driver for long courses and a rescue club for courses with high rough.
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