50 Best Playing Tips

Easy keys for making the most of every swing during every round

First Green Tips 29. First Green Tips
On the practice green, check the grain by lightly dragging your putter across the grass. If the grass stands up, you’ve scraped your putter against the grain; if it stays down, you’re with the grain. When you’re playing, the Rules of Golf don’t permit you to test the green in this manner, but you can test the collar or apron of the green without penalty. Just make sure it’s the same kind of grass as the putting surface before you factor the information into your read.

In addition to grain direction, learn how the greens drain. A well-designed putting surface has drainage patterns that draw water off to the sides and away from the center of the green. In general, you can expect swales to channel the water away from the bunkers and toward ponds and lakes. Therefore, if you have a putt with a bunker directly behind, the putt probably breaks away from the bunker. Changes in grass color surrounding the green as well as damage from past accumulations of water also are clues to how the drainage flows. The ability to read the drainage patterns is a key to good putting.

30. Lag With A Purpose
Not wanting to be too aggressive on the first hole, you left your iron shot 40 feet from the cup, and the first hole isn’t the place for a three-putt. Here’s the tip: Most good lag putters don’t ascribe to the “three-foot circle” theory. Good putters try to hit the ball in the hole, not three feet from it. Think about this: From a long distance, it’s easy to leave your putt three feet short of where you want it to stop and, if you miss the three-foot circle by that much, you’re six feet from the hole.

Triangulate Your Putts 31. Triangulate Your Putts
You should read all your putts from three vantage points—from behind the hole, from midway between the hole and your ball, and from behind the ball. Using this process of triangulation maps out the putting surface perfectly for your brain to interpret. Anything more is overkill; anything less is not enough.

32. Stop The Nega-Talk
You’re bound to miss some putts you should make, so it’s important to eliminate “nega-talk,” the kind of self-talk where you berate yourself and destroy your self-confidence. If negative autosuggestion works, so must positive autosuggestion. Tell yourself you’re great on the greens.

Safe Vs. Sane

33. Seventh Hole Tips
Your round is one-third complete. It’s time for a tension check. You should feel what I call Selective Tension, where some of your muscles (your lower back, the insides of your thighs, ankles and the inside of each foot) are tense and ready for action, and others (like your jaw, neck and shoulders) are relaxed.

At the 7th is also a good time to check in on your Time IQ (how you handle time during your round). At the first sign of bad shotmaking, you need to do everything in slow motion. Drive the cart slowly, walk slowly, stop at the water cooler, be the last one on the tee, etc. In other words, fake it until you make it.


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