New Year’s Resolutions for a Hack

Make 2014 the year of improving your golf game

OK, so you’re a bad golfer. Really bad. Regardless, you still love the game, have fun, and don’t really care you need a bucket of balls to play 18 without begging your foursome for loaners.

But, let’s say you want to toast to a realistic resolution of better golf this coming year. Where in the world would you start?

1. Get an on-course playing lesson from a golf professional. Haven’t taken lessons because you don’t want to be one of those players grinding on the range? Or have you, but the effort hasn’t yielded results? Here’s a thought: Take a “playing lesson,” where you go out on the course and learn how to actually play the game of golf, instead of just honing your swing. You’ll be happy you did.

2. Attend a tour event and watch the pros practice. An hour spent near the range, short game area or putting green of any major tour event will be a HUGE help to your own game. Not only is it fun to see your favorite players up close and in person, but you’ll also pick up a lot of ‘what to do’ tips for your own game by watching how the pros practice theirs.

3. Watch as much golf on TV as you can. If you can’t watch an event in person, you can still pick up a lot of ideas for your own game by really paying attention to how the pros play. Ever see Tiger hit a tee shot and then fall back five feet after impact, or Phil hit a basic chip shot with his feet shoulder-width apart like during a full swing? It’s a good indicator that, if the pros aren’t doing it, maybe you shouldn’t either.

4. Put down the magazine and pick up a tip from the best golfer you know. Stay away from that ‘Cure Your Slice!’ article and instead pick the brain of your best golfing friend about everything and anything golf. Just by asking why he or she pulls a certain club or sets up a specific way to different shots you’ll understand the game, and your game, better.

5. Practice your short game! Well, you knew some sort of practice tip was coming. Bar none, the quickest way to become a better golfer is to improve your short game. Chips and putts comprise more than 60 percent of shots during a round. Ramp up your lag-putting practice, try to get comfortable out of the bunker, and chip and pitch around the practice area until your hands hurt.

Jon Levy is a former touring professional, NJCAA National Coach of the Year, and Assistant Men’s Golf Coach at the University of Colorado. His Boulder-based company, inspire Golf, focuses on teaching clients the finer aspects of playing the game of golf instead of just improving technique.