Gary Gilchrist's Simple Advice to Help Golf Beginners, High-Handicappers Gary Gilchrist (right) talks with one of his past pro clients, Yani Tseng. On these pages, though, Gilchrist has advice for beginning golfers. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
You'll find quick, easy golf tips for beginners within the following subject areas: Preparing for the round
Hitting it farther
Making good club choices
Swing flaws and fixes
Shots around the green
The mental game
There are multiple tips within each subject, 17 in all, and if you do want to dive in deeper, most sections come with links to help you explore further. Practice and Prep Kelly Funk/All Canada Photos/Getty Images
How Can I Get Better Results from My Practice?
The old saying "practice smarter, not harder," is the key to seeing improvement from your practice time.
Quality practice means having a specific purpose for your practice. And that's only possible if you have a clear understanding and awareness of your strengths and limitations. Don't show up at the driving range and just randomly knock balls around.
Have a plan, pick targets, execute shots.
Don't practice in the dark - it's hard to see the way to improvement.
How Should I Warm Up Before a Round of Golf?
Start on the practice green where you can establish a smooth, deliberate tempo.
Don't putt at the cup, but at tees, or coins, or just a spot on the green. Focus on speed control and tempo. Then I spent a few minutes chipping to a tee on the practice green.
Walk to the practice range and stretch; once you feel loose, start hitting balls. Use your wedges first, then move to the middle irons, then the long irons and finally the woods.
Finish your warmup with the club you intend to use on the first tee, making slow, rhythmic swings. And time your warmup to end so that you can stroll to the first tee and tee off within a few minutes. Hitting It Farther Tom Pennington/Getty Images
How Can I Add Yards to My Drives?
More distance - every golfer's dream.
Adding yards to your drives comes from using different parts of your body to create speed in the clubhead:
The grip must be in your fingers, not the palm.
Your stance should be wide with your feet shoulder-width apart.
The plane of your swing must be around your body, with the club coming from the inside for impact.
An around-the-body swing is helped by a right-to-left (for right-handed players) weight shift, which in turn creates the release from the inside. And the club coming from the inside to impact creates maximum speed and distance.
How Can I Improve My Clubhead Speed?
Improving your clubhead speed starts with the fundamentals - a good grip and an athletic posture.
Once you are set up for success, it is easier for your body motion to move freely behind the ball in the backswing, and into the ball on the way through.
A great drill is to swing a golf club three feet off the ground (sort of a baseball-type swing, but using your golf grip and posture).
This will help you feel the right swing plane and release through impact.
Making Good Club Choices The view from the tee box on a desert golf course. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
The level of difficulty of the tee shot, which might be determined by the hazards or the narrowness of the fairway. The one question you need to ask yourself on every tee is this: "Is this a high-risk or low-risk shot?" If the answer is high-risk, take the 3-wood or other shorter club, which you should be better able to control.
I'm Often Short on My Approach Shots - How Can I Improve My Club Selection? It's very important to have your yardages written down. Most amateur golfers have no idea how far they actually hit the ball because most believe they hit their shots farther than they really do. When we play golf, we are a half player and half caddie. Take the time to prepare for every shot. Confidence comes from knowing our abilities and limitations, so take the time to figure out your real distances. Swing Flaws and Fixes Fore right! Don't let mis-hits get you down, they happen to the best golfers. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Drawing the ball comes from your setup position. The main keys are: Keep your alignment closed.
Put the ball back in your stance.
Take a strong grip (your leading hand - the top hand on the club - should be turned a little more to the inside).
Swing from the inside-out; that is, the club should approach the ball from an inside-to-outside swing path.
These fundamentals should help you produce a shot that goes right to left (for right-handers).
How Can I Improve My Balance through the Finish of My Swing?
Losing your balance during the swing can be caused by basic swing faults. The first is swinging too hard, and another is having too narrow a stance.
The key to a balanced swing is to keep a good rhythm. Swing within yourself and, remember, the longer the club, the wider your stance should be.
I Hit the Ball Very Low - How Can I Get a Higher Trajectory on My Shots?
Take a close look at your clubface. A shut or closed clubface will cause the trajectory of your shots below.
To play a high fade, place the ball forward in your stance and open the clubface slightly. Take a long follow-through and make sure your finish is high.
I Hit the Ball Very High - How Can I Lower the Trajectory of My Shots?
Two reasons for hitting the ball too high are having the ball too far forward in your stance, and having a backswing and follow-through that are too long.
To produce a lower ball flight, but the ball farther back in your stance. And remember that the shorter the follow-through, the lower the flight of the ball.
Around the Green Barrett&MacKay/All Canada Photos/Getty Images
The main reason golfers lift their heads when putting is because they focus too much on results - you want to look at that golf ball as soon as it comes off your putter and see if it goes into the hole. But that desire often causes golfers to come up out of their putting posture too soon, leading to bad putts.
To counteract the impulse to lift your head and watch the ball, the key is to listen for the ball to enter the hole, rather than looking for it to do so.
How Can I Stop Taking Too Much Sand on Bunker Shots?
Great players all understand the importance of the sand wedge. If you're digging too deep into the sand, here's a key.
When setting up for your shot, open the clubface of the wedge first, and then take your grip. This will help you take shallow divots, which will help your consistency in the sand.
How Can I Stop Hitting Fat or Thin Pitch Shots?
The setup is vital for you to hit your pitch shots solid, and for the ball to travel the right distances.
Your clubface and body alignment needs to be open, while the ball should be in the middle of your stance. Make sure your weight is on your left side, and that during the swing your legs stay quiet. Your legs should move only with the momentum of the swing.
How Can I Avoid Hitting the Ball Thin on Soft Lob Shots?
For the lob shot, you have to trust the design of your lob wedge or sand wedge. That is, you must trust that by swinging through the grass, the club will lift the ball into the air and land it softly on the green.
Hitting thin shots with a lob wedge is often caused because the golfer thinks he or she has to "help" the ball into the air, rather than trusting the club to do the job.
Don't try to help the ball into the air (hitting up on the ball). This only causes you to lose your body angles and creates inconsistent shots around the green.
The Mental Game Ron Dahlquist/Perspectives/Getty Images
Taking time to warm up properly will help you prepare mentally before around. For the first tee shot, take the club that you have the most confidence with, regardless of distance. Distance off the tee is not always an advantage.
And learn from the pros. Take a practice swing, focus on the target, and stick to your routine.
How Can I Avoid the Back Nine Collapses that are Common in My Rounds?
Every golfer knows his or her expectations and comfort zone. When you are playing well, the key is to keep your mind off the score. Focus on playing one shot at a time.
Keep your score to yourself.
The more you verbalize your round, the harder it is to keep focusing on the process. Focus and stick to your pre-shot routine.
How Can I Improve My Concentration Throughout My Round of Golf?
Loss of concentration costs every golfer strokes. Most golfers lose their concentration when they start to focus on their score - whether good or bad.
Focusing on the score can make a golfer self-conscious, either technically or emotionally.
You must stay in the present to maintain your concentration, and the most effective way of doing that is to develop a reliable pre-shot routine.
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