Top 10 golf game improvement tips

To be a great putter, you've got to stay still as you swing your arms to putt, as LPGA star...

To be a great putter, you've got to stay still as you swing your arms to putt, as LPGA star Michelle Wie demonstrates at the Canadian Women's Open last week. (QMI Agency/Marie-Claude Forest)

KEVIN HAIME, For QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

It's hard to believe that Labour day and fall golf are just around the corner.

Every year at this time, I see golfers make the same mistake. Many of you stop practising and working on your swings because the golf season is on the decline and your competitive schedule is probably done.

That's a big mistake. Putting off any swing changes or weaknesses until next year is just wasting the next three months of golf season and potential improvement.

In fact, this is probably the best time to work on better fundamentals and swing changes because you don't have to worry about trusting those changes in competition any time soon.

That said, this is my last column of the season.

Over the past three months, I've listed over 100 tips to help you with your game. Some of the tips are critical if you want to take your game to the next level and others are just suggestions to make your golf more enjoyable.

This week, I thought we'd wrap things up by listing the 10 most important game improvement tips of the year.

10. Write Down A Plan: If you're going to get better, you need to get organized. Sit down and plan out your practice and playing schedule. Write down a step-by-step plan. Just like businesses need a business plan, golfers need a game improvement plan.

9. Prepare To Succeed: Give yourself a chance to play better every time you tee it up by warming up for at least 20 minutes before you play. Jumping on the first tee with a half-eaten sandwich in your mouth and your shoe laces untied is a recipe for stress and high scores. You'll play a lot better if you ditch the BlackBerry, eliminate distractions and get your body and mind ready to play before every round.

8. Know Your Swing: How can you hope to play well if you don't know what you did wrong after you hit a bad shot? To really play better, you need to understand your swing and that's hard to do on your own. Take a lesson and get your swing videotaped so you know your strengths and weaknesses. It will make you a more knowledgeable and confident player and give you your best chance to improve.

7. Get Your Equipment Fitted: The most important thing you can do with your equipment is make sure it fits you and your swing. Even expensive equipment that's a bad fit can actually hurt your game. Off-the-rack clubs and old technology will keep you from playing your best golf.

6. Hold Your Ground On The Greens: To be a great putter, you've got to stay still as you swing your arms to putt. Most of you stay pretty still during your backstroke, but almost all of you move as your club swings through the ball. Golfers are always anxious to have a look at their putt and that leads to a rotating clubface or a miss-hit. When you practise, keep your hips and body still and keep your head looking down until you finish your stroke. Great putters like Steve Stricker hit their putts solidly because they have the patience to stay still until their stroke is finished.

5. Remember Your Short Game: 60% of all shots are made with less than a full swing or on the putting green. Visit any Pga tour practice range and you'll see great players like Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Lee Westwood hit balls for an hour or so, then spend the rest of the day on or around the practice greens. Pros understand that you can never perfect your ball striking, and a better short game is critical to lower scores.

4. Control Your Backswing: Most golfers who come into my teaching studio talk about a bigger backswing to hit the ball further. They all think that their backswing is too short, but all but a couple find out through video that they actually move around too much in their backswings. they're lifting, shifting, tilting and over-rotating to try to add distance, but all they're really doing is compromising forward speed and power. If you want to hit the ball further, focus on your forward swing to a full finish and work on a more controlled, athletic, top-of-backswing position.

3. Consider Your Next Shot: This is my most important course management tip. Great course managers like Jack Nicklaus never hit a shot without thinking about the shot that you'll be left with. Golf is a lot like chess. You have to move your ball around the course as efficiently as possible. Considering your next shot is a huge part of that, you should always hit a shot that leaves you with the easiest next shot.

2. Work On Your Driver Setup: Your driver swing is different than any other swing because your ball is teed up off the ground. You need to hit the ball on the upswing to hit it in the air. try to keep everything centred, balanced and behind the ball. The ball should be positioned opposite your forward heel, with your head and hands starting well behind the ball. Lastly, don't reach for your ball. Your hands should be the same distance from your slacks as they are with your 5-iron.

1. Work On Your Mental Game: There's a lot of luck in golf. You'll get good breaks and bad breaks depending on the day. Approach every shot and situation with confidence and a positive attitude or you're in big trouble. Positive energy provides your only chance to succeed. Always stay in the present and never give up. You'll play a lot better if you play with a smile on your face.


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