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Primer on how to read or watch golf tips

Many of us watch The Golf Channel for instruction, read Golf Digest, surf web-sites like hookedongolf.com. Some of you even read this column to try to improve your games. I’d like to offer a few ideas on how to use the above media to your best advantage.

Let’s start with the concept of knowing your game and your swing to a degree that you know what works, and what does not. Do assessments of your game like a report card from your school days. Where are you an “A”, and where are you a “C-“? This will be a good place to start.

In the instructional items you see or read, I think of them in two categories; shot ideas, or swing ideas.

You need to have a filter for these ideas as you read, to know if it is something that pertains to you, or will confuse you. Most shot ideas are good to learn from, but swing ideas need careful consideration.

Let’s say you have a correct back-swing, and it is not an issue for you. If you tinker with something new in that part of your swing it could well be harmful. Possibly use it as a double check, or confirmation of your technique.

The best players have several ways to approach golf shots, especially trouble shorts, or short game shots. To be a really versatile player is to the ability to handle any situation that confronts you. Get to a point where you are not surprised. A good way to become more versatile is to take the shot ideas you read about and go out and try them. Be creative and make a game of it.

As an example, go to a spot about 40-yards short of a green. Try this shot with about 4 different clubs. A sand wedge to fly into the green. A pitching wedge landing on the front edge. A 9-iron 10-feet short of the green, and maybe a pitch and run with a 7-iron. See how each responds and imagine when you could use each variation.

Another idea is pitching out of the trees. A lot of people will go the 3-iron to keep it low. It may be so low the rough will grab it. Think of a 5-iron to stay above the rough, but below the limbs. Learn your options, and you’ll be better prepared.

If you can get a grasp of the above ideas and really know your game, both the good and the bad, you can then learn more from the instructional material out there, and improve your game.

Happy reading or watching, and good luck with your golf.

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