Whether you are a scratch golfer or a hacker, here in Oklahoma, the first chance of severe weather also brings with it the opening of golf season. So let me give you a few pro tips you need to know to get you through the early season struggles most of us face every year.
Pro Tip #1: Spend the money early.
The desire to get new equipment is always a thing. This is the time of year, in my opinion, to give in and pull the trigger. Go ahead and get those new sticks now, and then head to the range. The first couple of rounds of a new season are figuring things out for most of us, anyway, so adding a new set of irons or, in my case, a new 3 wood isn’t going to be a huge deal when you know you have some rust to shake off.
Pro Tip #2: Don't flatter yourself.
Everyone seems to think after a two or three month break from doing any real kind of work on their game, they will come out and not notice some obvious things... Not true.
For me, the biggest thing I notice is how much yardage I lose (and I’m not talking five yards a club either...). I have years of experience with this, and I can tell you there’s really no way to target your golf muscles over the winter to keep them in shape. You can keep them limber with stretching, but they will still be weaker come time to tee it up.
The second thing I notice is my compression is a little off, and I’m not hitting my Pro V1’s like I usually do, so I recommend picking up a box or two of Bridgestone E Series balls. I play the E6’s for about the first month of the season until I round into form. It’s a more forgiving ball, and it’s easier on the pocket book.
Pro Tip #3: Save it for the range.
For the love of all things holy, do not try to quick fix swing issues during a round. This doesn’t just apply to your early season rounds; this applies to every round you play, whether it’s with your buddies or in a tournament. The range is the place to straighten things out, not on the course. Straightening things out on the course just ensures you become frustrated and not enjoy your round.
Pro Tip #4: Always warm up.
I know most of us are guilty of sleeping in and having to rush to the first tee on Saturday morning, but please stop doing that. Take the time to show up early, even if it’s just early enough to roll putts for 10-15 minutes and stretch it out for five, I promise it will save you a few strokes.
If you can get there early enough to hit a small bucket of balls just to get an idea how you will hit on that day, it will save you shots. Stuff like that for most people makes a ten shot difference.
Pro Tip #5: You are what you eat and drink.
I know I’m guilty of grabbing a couple of beers and a hot dog before most of my rounds nowadays, but let me tell you, it will show up. It will rear its ugly head at some point during your round.
Grab yourself a chicken salad sandwich, or maybe a bag of sun flower seeds, and a couple bottles of water. Your body will respond much better, and you’ll save a couple of big numbers from coming up on your scorecard.
Pro Tip #6: Stay positive.
Early in the season, it’s important to keep a good attitude. If you have a bad hole or a bad round, it’s okay. If you ask a tour player how many good shots they hit in a round, you’d be surprised to know it’s about the same number you do. Most golfers hit between 5-10 good shots a round. (That’s a humbling number, but it’s very true.) So lighten up, and enjoy it for the infuriating struggle it may be because it always beats any day in the office.
Pro Tip #7: Don't be that guy.
My biggest pet peeve golf-wise is slow play. For 90% of the courses around here, the pace of play is as follows: ten minutes per a par 3, twelve minutes for a par 4, and fifteen minutes for a par 5. These times are for walkers, and most people don’t walk, so I have no idea how the hell people in carts manage to screw this up (but they do).
If you are slowing a group up, let them through. Early in the season, we all hit a shank here or there we have to chase, but if the guys behind you don’t have the shanks, let them go on.
Pro Tip #8: Get a golf GPS or a range finder.
Many courses now have carts with these built in, but if you're like me, and you still like to walk around on occasion, these tools save time, and most of the yardage markers on courses around here are nowhere near accurate. You can get one of these for less than a hundred bucks, and it’s a good investment.
Pro Tip #9: Take time to make sure you have everything you need.
This time of year, the weather can change a lot during the round. So here are a few things you should have in your bag in case you need them:
Removable long sleeves for cold mornings. (I may look like Allen Iverson back in the day, but by the time I make the turn, they come off, and they are much lighter in your bag than a pullover.)
Short sleeve rain gear top to keep your core dry in the rain without you roasting.
Athletic tape to help with blisters. (Until I get my calluses back on my hands, I also like having multiple gloves in a rain-proof bag just in case you need them.)
Wash cloths in a zip lock bag for drying grips off.
Keep an umbrella on you at all times.
In addition, it’s not a bad idea to keep some Ibuprofen or something on you, as well as sunscreen and sunglasses. (I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, but it really isn’t all that heavy, and it doesn’t take up hardly any of even a carry bag.)
Pro Tip #10: Get the grips.
I recommend getting new grips before the start of every season. Grips aren’t that expensive, and they are easy to replace. Once grips are worn down, your scores will go up.
With these few tips and helpful hints, you should be able to get your season of to a good start. #BirdieHits