How to Improve Your Golf Game
Barton Creek Golf Academy instructor, Barbara Puett, lays out five ways golfers of any ability can reach new heights.
Jordan Spieth takes to the practice range at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Photography by Weston Carls
Whether you’re the occasional TopGolf patron or a lifelong member of Austin Country Club, any golfer can benefit from going back to the basics. Barbara Puett, a golf instructor at Barton Creek Golf Academy—who instructs golfers of all abilities—provided us with some insight into the most effective steps anyone can take improve their skill. Puett says that the counterintuitive nature of golf can trip up even the most seasoned golfers.Whether you’re the occasional TopGolf patron or a lifelong member of Austin Country Club, any golfer can benefit from going back to the basics. Barbara Puett, a golf instructor at Barton Creek Golf Academy—who instructs golfers of all abilities—provided us with some insight into the most effective steps anyone can take improve their skill. Puett says that the counterintuitive nature of golf can trip up even the most seasoned golfers.
1. Incorporate Interval Training
While golfers aren’t expected to run sprints, they do need the explosive power that comes from developing “fast-twitch” muscles. Puett says that a golfer that she once instructed trained for a marathon and it actually had a negative effect on his golfing. Developing “slow-twitch” muscles through long distance endurance training was not an effective way to build power. To develop the right type of strength, incorporate interval workouts—even ones as simple as fast walking and taking active rest in equal increments—to improve your game.
2. Have a Relaxation Routine
Relaxing while golfing or playing any sport is sometimes easier said than done. While it is tempting to over think your swing, Puett says that spending too much time analyzing it will only build unhelpful tension. She suggests coming up with your own relaxation routine. If there is a sequence of movements or breathing techniques you can quickly and calmly go through before your swing, you’ll release tension and swing more effectively. Then, when it’s time to go, go.
“There's no relaxation staring down at the ball,” Puett says. “You can look out at your target as long as you'd like, if you're on the putting range you can look at the hole as long as you'd like, but once you look down at the ball, go.”
PHIL MICKELSON aligns and adjusts as he practices his iron shots at the 2017 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. | Photo by Weston Carls
3. Always Adjust Your Grip
Puett says that the grip is the part of the stroke that all golfers must focus in on, regardless of skill level. If you’re new to golf or you haven’t golfed in a while, adjusting your grip will make the biggest difference in your swing.
“Check your grip every time. It will come and go and if you haven't played for a couple weeks,” Puett says. “Your grip will change because, those intuitive things that you got rid of through repetition will come back.”
4. Focus on Building Lower Body Strength
To the uninitiated, golf seems like it would be an upper-body focused sport. While male golfers can more easily rely on upper body strength to drive the ball when they’re first learning, women typically have more strength concentrated in their lower body. Both male and female golfers, however, must learn to use lower body and core muscles to swing through effectively. This is where focusing on developing lower body and core strength can make the biggest difference.
“The upper body takes it back and the lower body delivers it,” Puett says. “It’s a more athletic game than people think.”
5. Learn/Practice in a Group
Taking these tips out to the driving range can only get you so far. Consider enrolling in a group class or playing with multiple people to give yourself the unique opportunity to learn from other’s successes and mistakes.