4 Must-Have Golf Skills

When it comes to golf, playing with confidence requires good training; specifically, mental training to ensure one stays motivated and consistent throughout the game and physical training to enhance one’s skills; which ultimately lead to playing with confidence. Both training methods involve mastering certain skills to play a better game. So, let’s take a look at the 4-must have skills all golfers should have to ensure success:

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Physical Skills

1.      Excellent Balance

There is no doubt that BALANCE plays an important role in golf. Every golfer must be able to maintain excellent balance while rotating. Otherwise, they risk serious injuries or may end up striking the ball in a different direction than initially intended. So, how does one go about improving their balance? Well, to do so, we need to work on our swing.

Maintain a proper posture and hold the club perfectly. Once done, make half swings with your right foot crossed over the left. This drill will teach you the ideal combination of body turn and arm swing, while emphasizing on maintaining good balance. As part of a warm-up routine, you can use this stance to hit with a short iron.

2.      Consistent Tempo

This is not something that can be explained, as golfers need to learn it themselves. Typically, every player has a different tempo that works best for them. You too need to find your tempo by using a unique range of rhythms in which you function optimally. This can change depending on how your swing and body feels on the day. One of the best ways to work on consistency is trying full swings, varying the tempo of your forward swings and backswings. Go forward at 75% and back at 25%, then strike using your preferred tempo throughout.

Mental Skills

3.      Self-Perception

When it comes to golf, self-perception is a vital skill for ensuring success. Self-perception is the ability to accurately visualize the result of one’s game. For instance, do you know how many fairways you can hit out of 14? How many consecutive putts you can drain from five feet? How many shots from 150 yards will hit the green? Training for this is simple. Choose a shot, take ten balls, and visualize a measurable result for each shot. Then take all the shots and start counting.

4.      Locus of Control

According to numerous studies from sports psychologists, it is healthy to blame a bad shot on something other than yourself. However, the best golfers DO not blame outside forces for their failures. If you have been to a professional game, you might have noticed some players making a gesture on a missed putt. This signifies they were fooled by the slope or the grain of the green. Seldom will you ever see them looking at the putter, as if there was something wrong with it. So, instead of blaming outside forces, take responsibility for your game and focus on your locus of control to accept your mistakes and work on improving them.

So, if you want to improve your golf game, it’s time you worked on these 4 skills.

How to Lower Ones Handicap during Winter

The winter is perhaps the best time to work on ones golfing technique. For one, it is unlikely for most golfers to head out to the greens for a regular game of golf. Secondly, nearly all golfers, casual or professional, take the winter off. They won’t expect you to be working on your game when the weather is cold. So, make the most of this opportunity and follow the tips provided below to lower your handicap during winter:

Winter Golf Tips

Improve Your Grip

Needless to say, the grip is an important part of any golfers overall game. If the club is not gripped properly, shots can never be executed correctly. This is why you should try and improve your grip over the winter. The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to leave the home. While you are watching TV, keep your golf clubs nearby. Whenever there is a commercial, pick up the club and grip it hard. You can switch between different grips during each commercial.

Get Your Position Right

Your head has to be over the ball and the back at a 90o angle when you hit a shot. This is the golden rule of golf. If you can master this position, you should not have trouble executing any shot you want. To work on your position, you will need a full-length mirror. Watching yourself in the mirror, you will be able to understand how to arch and stretch your body to get the position right.

Perfect Your Backswing

Now this is where you get used to the position you took up in the previous step. You have to keep doing it over and over to develop the habit. This is why you need to work on the top of your backswing. Once you are in the perfect position, start turning very slowly. At the same time, swivel your head around and look directly into the mirror. Observe if your back is in the same position or not. If it is, you have a perfect backswing.

Work on the Downswing

The shot is only complete when you bring the backswing into the downswing mode and hit the ball. For this, you need to bring your arms down while maintaining the position you were in. Again, this is best done in front of a mirror. You can use a club to get the balance perfect when you swing your arms.

Hold the Finish

Now that you have made a complete swing, it is time that you learn to hold the position. You have to hold your position after you have finished the swing to get the distance and elevation you are looking for.

If you get the chance, do visit a golf course and practice what you have learned. By the time golf season is underway, your handicap will have lowered considerably.

Things You Need To Know About Golf Balls

Whether one is a seasoned golfer or just a beginner, it is important to pay a lot of attention to the golf ball one uses. The game cannot be played properly with the wrong golf ball. It is important to consider a few guidelines that will help in choosing the correct ball for one’s game. To the untrained eye, most balls look similar to each other but it is important to find out more about their features in order to achieve the right trajectory and distance. Let’s take a look at some critical factors that will help in choosing the correct golf ball:

Find out how much it will cost you

Be clear about how much you are willing to or can afford to spend on golf balls. Since golf balls come in a variety of brands, models and prices, it is critical to understand one’s exact requirements. Beginners should avoid very expensive brands and models such as the Titleist Pro V1’s. Since beginners tend to lose a lot of golf balls, playing expensive golf balls can be a colossal waste of money. Before investing in expensive new golf balls, it is best to use recycled golf balls that are more affordable and perform just as well.

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Understand the spin of the ball

Advanced golfers should pick a ball that has a softer cover, preferably made of urethane or balata because this gives the ball extra spin, allowing golfers to play better. Golf balls with softer covers stop and back up on the green. Similarly, if you want more spin, go for multi layer construction with a softer cover.

The condition of the ball is important

It is crucial to note that the golf ball you are playing should be in the best condition. Look for cuts on the ball, since the slightest change in its condition can negatively influence the flight and landing ability of the ball.

Trial and error will lead you to the perfect ball for your game

Instead of sticking with just one ball, try experimenting with a few different models. Play different rounds with different golf balls to get a better feel for the ball. The more time you spend playing a ball, the better understanding you will develop.

Know whether your ball is a performance ball or not

Made of multi layer construction and a softer cover material, a high performance ball is the most expensive type of golf ball in the market. The Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls are the golden standard for performance balls. These golf balls are best suited for advanced players, allowing for greater control and spin. Most amateurs do not need to play with high end performance balls.

Following these simple guidelines will help you find the correct ball for your swing and your budget.

Previewing the 2014 Golf Majors

The 2013 Golf Majors brought much excitement with several unexpected results. As the 2014 Major Season begins tomorrow with the Masters tournament in Augusta, this is a perfect time to preview each Major and take a look at some possible contenders.

2014 Majors Preview

Who will take home these trophies in 2014?

The Masters (April 10 – 13)

Like every year, the Majors kick off with the Masters in spring. A lot of stories are going to surround the first Major of the year, particularly Tiger Woods’ performance there for almost a decade and his absence this year due to back surgery. It’s almost unbelievable that Woods’ last victory at Augusta was back in 2005. Last year’s champ Adam Scott is in fine form to repeat while Rory McEllroy looks to break through at Augusta and earn his first green jacket. The 2014 edition will be Jordan Spieth’s first Masters Tournament, another reason to get excited about it.

US Open (June 12 – 15)

Golf fans around the world will be rooting for their beloved ‘Big Phil’ to win the US Open and complete the career Grand Slam. Phil Mickelson announced that he is going to take part in fewer tournaments over the next seasons in a bid to get the US Open under his belt. The venue for the 2014 US Open is Pinehurst No. 2. This is ironic considering this is the exact same site where Mickelson came in second for the first time. Michael Campbell won the last US Open held there, back in 2005.

British Open (July 17 – 20)

If Tiger recovers fully from his injury and regains his form then the 2014 British Open may be his best bet of winning a Major this year. The venue is the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. The site is hosting the British Open for the first time since 2006. Back then, Tiger won the title by two strokes, defeating Chris DiMarco. Briton Lee Westwood would also be eager to win, having never won a Major in his illustrious career. However, all challengers have to get through Big Phil, who won last year, and is in contention to win again.

PGA Championship (August 7 – 10)

The PGA Championship returns to Valhalla for the first time since 2000. Interestingly, Woods also won the last PGA Championship to be held there, playing one of the best rounds of his career. If history is anything to go by, Woods has a great chance to add a second Major to his tally. Jason Dufner won this Major last year in a closely contested final round against Jim Furyk. The change of venue will hurt his chances but a repeat victory is not out of question at this point in time.

2014 is poised to be another eventful and exciting year for golf enthusiasts. Now that you know what to expect in each Major Championship, clear out your calendars so you can follow all the action and cheer on your favorite golfers.

Is Slow Play Killing Golf?

Slow Play is Killing Golf

Golf is, without a doubt, one of the more popular sports in the United States. However, recent surveys and studies indicate that fewer people are picking up the game and a lot of regular golfers are leaving the sport. Those giving up golf or playing fewer rounds site the increasing amount of time required to play a single round as one of the main reasons behind their choice. It goes without saying that the slow pace of play is a major culprit. As observed in both amateur and professional games, some golfers take far too much time setting up their shots and preparing to hit. This creates bottle necks throughout the course leading to increased frustration and poor play by golfers waiting around endlessly to play their next shot. Needless to say, the viewers and even the players’ start feeling bored after a while.  It is apparent that the long term popularity of the game hinges in large part on solving the problem of slow play.

It is heartening to see that the PGA has taken note of this issue and has recently launched a campaign to deal with it. According to the PGA, the pace of the game has to be increased to make it more exciting and attract more people to it. If people start feeling bored, even in the middle of a thrilling contest, they might stop watching or playing golf in the future. The ‘pace of play’ campaign has been titled ‘While We’re Young’, a line taken from the quintessential golf movie Caddyshack.

The interesting aspect of this whole campaign and initiative to eradicate slow play is that this issue has been around for decades. Ever since golf has been played professionally, slow play has been a part of it. Surprisingly, only recently has it become a topic of discussion as more and more people are taking note. The rise of social media has also shed more light onto this growing problem as spectators and golfers alike are sharing their frustrations on Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this year, two players were penalized strokes for slow play during the Majors. If this is a sign of things to come, it would mean that the professionals would have to play quicker and complete their rounds in less time than before. For golfers who have been around for several years, this could mean changing their technique altogether. The recent heckling of Kevin Na for his slow play at the Bay Hill Invitational has renewed focus on the issue of slow play and divided the golf community.

Though there has been no adverse reaction from the pros, Jack Nicklaus has commented that he believes the golf balls being used today are the main reason why it is taking so long for games to be completed. His point of view is that the modern balls don’t travel the desired distance. This has increased the time taken for a golfer to complete his/her round. While his argument may hold some substance, it remains to be seen whether the PGA takes it into consideration.

As of now, penalizing players for slow play seems to be the preferred form of discouraging slow play but more innovative ideas are needed to eradicate this problem. It remains to be seen if any of this will speed up play but it is clear that it is critical to address this growing problem. So, it is time amateurs and professionals take note and look for ways to improve the pace of the game by speeding up their own routines. The future of the game may well rest on it.

Winter Golf Tips: Beat the Cold on the Green

  Winter Golf Tips

Maintaining golf form during winter can be difficult. Playing conditions change drastically from the way they are during the summer. This is why most golfers prefer to stay off the course once temperatures start dropping. Rather than giving up golf for several months and developing rust in the process, it is possible for golfers to beat the cold and enjoy the game during the winter months.

The basics of the game remain the same yet there are certain factors that require golfers to change technique and playing style, including:

  • Feeling cold (obviously)
  • Surface not being ideal for putting
  • Provisional Tees  (usually)
  • Ball accumulating more dirt and grime
  • Lack of distance on shots

To avoid shooting high scores and feeling physically uncomfortable during a round, golfers need to master playing in spite of the cold. Here are some effective tips.

Use Warm Golf Balls

Golf balls, especially the core, get harder in winter. This makes it difficult to achieve the distance golfers crave on certain shots. A simple technique to get around this is using warm golf balls. Now, one cannot barbecue golf balls, but one can put them on a radiator the night before going to the course. Also, keeping the balls in ones pocket when not in use will help preserve the warmth.

Stay Warm

Not only should the golf ball be warm, it’s even more important to keep one’s body adequately warm as well. The cold can make it difficult to execute shots and can even cause injuries. Wearing thick socks, a sweater and thermal underwear is highly recommended. Walking as much as possible between shots and rubbing hands together regularly will help mitigate the cold conditions.

“Lift and Place”

The ‘Lift and Place’ rule is generally allowed at most golf courses. This rule allows golfers to lift the ball, clean it and then place it back on the fairway. This becomes more important during winter because dirt tends to stay stuck on the ball unless it’s lifted up and cleaned. Dirt affects both the flight of the ball as well as the ability to get a clean strike.

Don’t Under Club

Often, the combination of a cold golf ball, a cold golfer and cold wind makes it hard to achieve the desired distance on shots. One of the ways to overcome these issues is to use an extra club on shots. For instance, if a 5-iron is the club of choice for a 160 yard shot, then consider using a 4-iron during winter.

These are some tips that will help golfers beat the cold and lower scores during the winter. Feel free to share your own ideas and tips.

 

 

 

The Best Golf Balls of 2013

2013 was a great year for golfers looking for a new golf ball to better suit their game. Several new models were launched this year, with prices ranging from affordable to expensive. However, not every golf ball launched this year made the cut. Here’s a list of the top golf balls from 2013 as reviewed by the experts at GolfBallsUnlimited.com

TaylorMade Lethal

Taylormade Lethal golf balls

TaylorMade launched their first tour golf ball back in 2010. Earlier this year, they updated the design and shape of the ball and renamed it the ‘Lethal’. There is little doubt that the ball lives up to the name. The Lethal offers superb spin control and perhaps the best wind performance of any golf ball on the market today. The design of the ball is an interesting 322-dimple one. This also helps improves the distance and accuracy of shots. No matter how hard you swing at it, the ball will go long!

Callaway HEX Chrome

The HEX Chrome may well be the best urethane 3-piece ball produced by Callaway. The unique and most impressive feature of the HEX Chrome is the 100% surface area coverage of the dimples. Generally, golf balls have around 90% coverage. This improves the ball’s aerodynamics significantly allowing it to spin better. Moreover, the ball is incredibly durable and allows golfers to achieve the desired distance on their shots even with moderate swings.

Titleist Pro V1

Pro V1 golf balls

The Pro V1 may very well be the most popular golf ball on the market. The 2013 version of the ball lived up to expectations, even surpassing them on some counts. The ball can help improve one’s game significantly by providing a soft feel, consistent flight, outstanding spin control and excellent distance on shots. Add to this its amazing durability and you have yourself one of the best golf balls ever made.

Nike 20XI

If you are looking for speed and nothing else from a golf ball, the Nike 20XI is a great choice. The ball has been made using special proprietary resin core chemistry that helps improve the speed of shots considerably. The ball is lighter, enabling better control on shots and also getting it to travel longer distances. The Nike 20XI works equally well with short irons.

These are some of the best golf balls that hit the market in 2013. With the year due to end in a few weeks, golfers can look forward to the New Year and to more new golf balls launches. Among the most highly anticipated golf balls to be launched in the coming year are the Nike RZN line, the 2014 Tour C4 and the AD333 produced by Srixon.

Invest in high-quality golf balls and you will see a marked improvement in your game. You have to try it to believe it.

Golf in the Fall – Tips to Improve Your Game After the Season Ends

As the end of the golf season approaches, most amateur and casual golfers also plan to stay away from the links till spring comes around. While they are not wrong in doing so, they can use this opportunity to get some quality time on the course. One can easily book a slot as fewer people want to play golf during fall and winter. Moreover, the courses are in the best possible shape as they are being prepared for next season.

Golfing in Fall

Because of these factors, you now have a great chance to improve your game after the season has ended and start the next season with better skills. Here are some tips for playing golf in the fall while trying to take your game to the next level.

  • Increase the amount of time you spend warming up before you start hitting golf balls. As the weather gets cooler, your limbs will be stiffer. You need to get them nice and loose or else you could get injured.
  • Use different golf balls and clubs to see whether there are better options in the market. Since you are likely to be playing on your own, you can experiment and change things up a bit. Getting a softer ball is a good way to start.
  • Wear warmer clothing even during the fall. However, make sure that your clothes don’t get in the way of comfort while you are playing. Keeping yourself warm is your first priority. The warmer you are, the better you will play.
  • Learn to play knockdown shots. Controlling the shot is easier if you can hit the ball under the wind. Achieving low flight is a challenge and now is the best time to master it. You can ask the trainer at your club to help you with this.
  • Play shorter games so that you don’t exert yourself. Leave the 18-hole games for summer and stick to 9 holes during fall.
  • Off-season is the best time to enhance your skills and pick up ones you don’t. So, practice the shots you don’t normally try while playing against an opponent. Also, improve the ones you already have in your repertoire.

These are some key tips that will help you improve your golf game during the fall. Keep in mind that this is the best time to upgrade your equipment. You can find cheap golf balls, accessories and other essentials as most suppliers provide end-of-season discounts. So, make the most of the off-season and work on your golf game while other players take time off.

Please feel free to share your own tips for enjoying golf in the off season.

Recap – The 4 Men’s Golf Majors 2013

Golf Majors

With the golf season drawing to a close, now is the best time to recap the four majors this year. 2013 has been a memorable year for the sport as each of the four majors delivered exciting finishes with dark horses triumphing in at least two of the events. This is the fifth year in a row that the four men’s major golf championships have each produced a different winner.

Masters Tournament

The buildup to the 2013 Masters had been quite unlike any other tournament in the past. The anticipation and expectation was high. Once the event kicked off at Augusta National, it was clear that things weren’t going as planned. Quite surprising was the performance (or lack of) of the three bigwigs, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson had been the odds-on favorite but failed to deliver. McIlroy is going through a dip in form as is Woods .

The tournament featured one of the closest finishes in golf history, instantly making the event a classic. It came down to Aussie Adam Scott and Angel ‘El Pato’ Cabrera. On the 18th hole, Scott hit a birdie placing him in the lead. He thought he had sealed the victory and even started celebrating. However, El Pato hit one of the best No. 18 shots in the tournament’s history, with the ball landing within five feet of the pin. It forced the playoff which Scott won easily. Safe to say, he deserved to win.

This year’s Masters’ also featured 14-year old amateur Chinese golfer Tianlang Guan. He defied the odds by reaching the weekend; however his slow play penalty became one of the biggest talking points of the tournament. Guan easily became the youngest ever golfer to line up a PGA Major.

U.S. Open

Will Big Phil win this time? Having finished runner-up five times before, Phil Mickelson dominated the headlines in the lead up to the 2013 US Open. He led the first and third round before messing up the 16th shot in the final round. True to his reputation, he finished runner-up again, becoming a tournament record.

It was Englishman Justin Rose who managed to make the most of Big Phil’s miss in the last round to take the title, making it his first Major win. Rose’s performance was made even more impressive by the fact that he didn’t card any double-bogeys throughout the duration of the tournament.

British Open Championship

After losing the US Open by a shot, Phil was again the focus of attention as he had never prevailed at the British Open before. Ernie Els entered the tournament as the favorite. However, Mickelson managed to overcome the odds and the pressure to win his first British Open, making it his fifth career major. The highly unpredictable Phil Mickelson always has fans and pundits scratching their heads by finishing runner-up at the tournament he is expected to win and winning the one that he isn’t!

It wasn’t an easy win by any means. Mickelson played an inspired round in the last six holes, managing four birdies. This has to be one of the best golf moments of the year if not in history. He had been five shots off the lead, but his spectacular rally over the last six holes meant that he overtook Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Adam Scott and displaced Henrik Stenson on top of the leader board. The fact that Phil managed to win his first British Open at Muirfield makes it all the more special. Muirfield is described as a golf course for men, not boys.

PGA Championship

The PGA Championship 2013 also produced a first-time winner in American Jason Dufner. It was also his first major title. Fellow countryman Jim Furyk finished runner-up, having been in the lead going into the final round. Second runner-up Henrik Stenson had begun the final round just two shots removed from Furyk, but his performance was not up to the mark. It soon became a contest between the two Americans, with the lead switching after every other shot.

It was at the 17th and 18th holes, the final two holes of the round, that Dufner sealed the win. He managed 11 under par and 10 under par on the holes through the tournament while Furyk scored 9 under par and 8 under par. Compared to the other three majors, the PGA Championship had the least exciting finale. Stenson was never in the contest, and once Dufner took the lead on the 8th hole, the game was virtually over.

This year has been a great one for the PGA Tour. It can be said that golf’s popularity will have increased given the way the four majors panned out. Fans will already be looking forward to the next season’s majors!

Road to the FedEx Cup Tour Championship 2013

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The FedEx Cup is a relatively new addition to the PGA Tour having been introduced in 2007. However, it has become one of the most important competitions and is currently the season closer. The Cup is actually a series of four tournaments contested by the top golfers in the current season. Therefore, the performance in the 33-week long PGA Tour is also taken into account when it comes to determining the golfers who will play in the FedEx Cup.

The FedEx Cup is based mainly on the points the golfers accumulate over the season. Their wins in the Majors and other tournaments contribute not only towards their Official Golf World Ranking, but also their seeding for the FedEx Cup. There are four levels to the points system, namely:

  1. Official PGA Tour Events – The winner earns 500 points
  2. Major Championships – The winner earns 600 points
  3. World Golf Championships – The winner earns 550 points
  4. Additional Tournaments  – The winner earns 300 points

Once the season concludes in mid-August, the official PGA Tour points’ standings are used to determine the standings for the FedEx Cup playoffs. At the conclusion of the 2013 season, Tiger Woods led the standings, having accumulated 3,059 points from the 12 events he took part in. Matt Kuchar was a distant second with 2,293 points despite playing 19 events.

The FedEx Cup carries with it a bonus purse of $35 million. The prize money for the tournaments this year is $32 million, which means that the total purse is $67 million. The winner pockets $10 million while the player ranked 125 receives $70,000.

There are four stages of the FedEx Cup, with week-long tournaments taking place. The format is progressive, with a certain number of players eliminated at each stage. Before the final tournament, the 30 players remaining in the contest are seeded.

The four stages of the FedEx Cup are:

  • The Barclays (New York) – Top 125 Players
  • Deutsche Bank Championship (Boston) – 100 players
  • BMW Championship (Chicago) – 70 players
  • Tour Championship by Coca Cola – 30 players

The Barclays was won by Adam Scott as two of the players who qualified for the tournament withdrew. Of the 123 that took part, 74 progressed to the next round. The Deutsche Bank Championship was won by Henrik Stenson. All 100 players who qualified for the tournament took part. The BMW Championship that is currently in progress will determine the final points and the seeds. Then, the tournament will enter its final stage, i.e. the Tour Championship that starts on Thursday September 19th at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

At this stage, it is difficult to predict who will triumph once the FedEx Cup ends. The picture will become clearer after the BMW Championship concludes by the end of this week. Of the 30 players who make it to the last round, the top five have the best chance of securing the title. Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson are in a strong position having won a tournament each. Stenson, in particular, is in the driver’s seat, as he is currently at the top of the standings.

Regardless of who wins, the two tournaments to be played over the coming weeks are bound to be interesting and exciting.