Fail to prepare…

Does proper preparation really matter for club golfers?

Does arriving early, having spent a few hours at the range through the week with a quick lesson thrown in, really affect your scores in the Saturday medal?

While I’m never going to put the time into the game to reach an elite level, even high club level, a little bit of effort can go a long way. Last season, I struggled to maintain my handicap of 11 – clinging on with the odd good result while riding the rollercoaster of .1 lifts.

If I was going to get back to enjoying competitive golf, something had to change – and I knew it was going to take more effort than I’d been putting in. Some work on my swing, the first in years with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, has been huge – as has a renewed passion for practising. It’s amazing how your desire to practise grows when you have something to work on properly.

The second thing I’ve been doing this year, and one I really notice if I miss it out, is hitting balls before I play. While I’m not going through a 45 minute session before the Saturday medal at my home club, hitting a few balls and getting a feel for chipping and putting makes a huge difference standing on the first tee or looking at a chip over a bunker at the first. If you do nothing else, I’d add this into your weekend golf routine as it definitely makes a huge difference compared to rushing to the tee juggling a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee.

A couple of range sessions a week, along with regular putting and chipping work, is yielding results. Last year after 10 competitions, I’d been below or in the buffer zone once and had nine .1 lifts. This year, with a bit of effort through most weeks, not all of them, and taking the time to hit balls before the first shot of the day, I’ve been below the buffer zone three times, in the buffer three times and over the buffer four times – and two of those were by a single shot. A huge change on last year!

It’s amazing how much a little bit of knowledge and a bit of practising can improve the results for a very average club golfer. Working with a professional is also a huge bonus and I can honestly say I’m enjoying my time on the course and the practice ground more than I have in the last few years – even when things aren’t going exactly to plan.

Some people reading this won’t have the time to commit to a proper structure of lessons and practising, but you can fit good practice into a small timeframe if you need to. You’ll enjoy your golf more for it, and your scores are sure to improve too – it’s well worth the effort.