What’s your lowest golf round ever? Whatever it is, shooting your personal best round of golf is a challenge. Even Tour pros find this goal difficult to achieve. But you can do it by remembering these three keys —persistence, patience, and practice. They help you maximize your scoring potential.
Here’s something else to remember while trying to break your personal best: Little things can make a huge difference in your game. For example, making a minor change to your putting stroke can help you drain more putts. The same holds true for Tour pros. Seemingly minor changes to their games can often make a big difference to their games.
Minor changes to Jimmy Walker’s game in the 2013-2014 season generated a breakthrough season for him. Below are the five game-changing golf moves the veteran Tour player made at the beginning of that year—changes that launched him to the top of the midseason Fed Ex Cup Standings.
- Stop overswinging (driver) — Overswinging is among the most common swing flaws in golf. It hurts accuracy and consistency. To stop overswinging with the driver—a problem for him in the past—Walker practice stopping his backswing when his left shoulder turns. This move stops him from going past parallel at the top of the golf swing and shifting his weight left, which throws off your golf swing.
- Move the ball back (irons) — Compression is the key to hitting solid irons. When you compress your irons, you feel like you’re pinching the ball between the ground and the clubface. To achieve this on every swing, Walker plays the ball slightly back in his stance from where he had it. He then focuses on leading the clubhead into impact with the handle of his club. This move stops him from casting the clubhead past his hands.
- Shape your shots (approaches) — Straight shots are among the hardest to produce. They’re also not often need during a round. So Walker stopped trying to groove one swing. Instead, he worked on shaping his shots when he needs to do it. For an easy draw, he finishes with the shaft perpendicular to his spine. For an easy cut shot, he finishes with the shaft parallel to his spine. He also plays the ball an inch or two farther up in his stance and stands an inch closer to the ball with the cut shot. Master the ability to shape your shots and you’ll cut strokes from your golf handicap.
- “Slice” short game shots (chips/pitches) — Some players like to hook chips and pitches. Hooking short game shots doesn’t work for everyone. It didn’t work for Walker. An inside-out swing promotes overspin, which causes the ball to run when it hits. Instead, Walker started cutting all his short game shots. The key move for him: “sticking” the butt of the club in his front pocket at the finish. This move creates crisp, controllable short shots that don’t roll too far.
- Use an arcing swing path (putting) — That’s what the best putters do. An arcing path creates a tight roll and squares the putter face at impact. To promote an arcing swing path, Walker now soles his putter so that the heel just touches the ground. That reminds him to make an arcing stroke.
A good drill to ingrain an arcing stroke is to hit putts using your dominant hand while placing the other hand behind your back. (That would be the right hand for right-handers. Vice versa for left-handers.). Your dominant hand will automatically roll over whenever you do this.
These five small changes helped Jimmy Walker have a breakout season in 2013-2014. Try them the next time you’re at the range. Of course, they may not all work for you. But ingraining the golf tips that do work for you can help you shoot you lowest score ever. And remember, persistence, patience, and practice are the keys to going low and reducing your golf handicap.