The Best Way to Improve Your Golf Game: Instructors Weigh In
Every golfer wants to get better. But what’s the best way to improve your game? From understanding grips to going back to basics, everyone seems to have an opinion about how to reach the next level.
We recently asked our Golf Academy of America instructors to share their thoughts on the best way to improve your golf game. Here’s what they had to say.
Take golf fitness seriously.
Before you can play golf at a high level, you have to get your body ready.
“Comparing one’s body to a car is a good analogy,” says PGA Golf Instructor Rachel Lee from Golf Academy of America in Dallas. “If one puts in cheap gas (fast food), doesn’t change the oil or rotate the tires on the car, but expects their Porsche to operate at a high level, eventually the car (body) will deteriorate and break down, thus not operating at that high level.”
“Being flexible allows us to rotate properly, and aids in keeping our bodies in the proper posture as we come to impact,” Brode says. “Long loose muscles allow us to create more clubhead speed than tight short muscles.”
Golf club fitting — the fastest way to improve your golf game?
Some of our instructors say the key to improving your golf game is to make sure that your golf clubs are properly fitted.
“The fastest way to improve your golf game is to make sure your golf clubs are properly fitted, regardless of your playing ability,” says Timothy Eberlein, campus president of Golf Academy of America in Phoenix. “Properly fitted clubs will improve distance, direction and accuracy, and bring out the athlete in each golfer.”
David Estabrook, director of club fitting at Golf Academy of America in Dallas, agrees.
“Professionals can adjust to poorly fitted equipment, while amateurs cannot,” Estabrook says. “If you are serious about your game, and you play or practice at least once a week, you are doing yourself a disservice by not getting a custom fit.”
Understand proper golf grips.
Gary Balliet, a PGA golf professional at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix, says after giving thousands of lessons, there is little doubt in his mind that it all comes down to understanding your golf grip.
“The basic golf grip makes players eliminate bad angles and swing paths. Good golf grips provide for athletic golf swings, making the club head feel lighter and the swing faster,” he notes. “A proper grip allows for the natural hinging of the wrist on the backswing, through impact and into the finish position.”
With 40 years of experience teaching golfers, Academic Dean at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix Timothy X. Wilkins also feels strongly that the grip makes or breaks your play.
“It’s not coincidental that, when looking at all of the great players in the history of the game, their hands and fingers are holding the club in almost the same way,” he points out. “When your grip is inefficient, a number of wasted movements and attempted compensations will appear.”
Nail golf fundamentals like aim and setup.
Both Andrew Lundberg, PGA golf instructor at Golf Academy of America in Dallas and Jay Friedman, a PGA instructor at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix, also believe that grip makes a big difference — but so do aim and setup.
“The grip controls the clubface, which gives the golfer the best chance of starting the golf ball on line. Aim is the biggest factor in controlling the correct path, which determines, along with the clubface, how much the ball will or will not curve. Setup consists of ball position and body posture, which when done properly, gives the golfer the best chance to have correct body motions,” Friedman explains.
Lundberg advises that for setup, you want to have your knees slightly flexed and bend toward the ball from the hips, with your weight in the balls of your feet. As you aim, he says that your body should be parallel to the intended path of the ball.
“Pay special attention to the shoulders, as they have the biggest impact on the path of the club,” Lundberg notes. “Following these fundamentals is extremely important because under pressure, a player will resort to what feels right. Practicing these movements until they become routine gives the player the best chance for a good swing.”
Golf Academy of America in Dallas PGA Instructor Nathan Grafe adds that there is no substitute for center contact when hitting the ball and recommends using foot spray to see where you’re making contact on your clubface before adjusting your swing.
Your short game goes a long way.
PGA Instructor Warren Pitman, who teaches at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix, observes that most players’ scores are made up from shots around the green. He advises working on bunker shots, short pitch shots, chipping, lag putting and short putts until you can make them consistently.
Campus President of Golf Academy of America in Dallas Mike McDonald concurs:
“Start next to the hole and move out from there as you practice,” he says. “If you focus on your short game this year, you will see a dramatic improvement in your game and scoring!”
“Get a short game partner and challenge each other to improve this vital part of your golf game. There are so many drills and games you can play to help you develop the skills you need to score better,” she says.
Practice with a purpose.
Matt McConnin, director of career development at Golf Academy of America in San Diego, believes the best piece of advice is to hold your finish until the ball stops moving.
He says it’s helpful for many reasons, including focusing the mind, regulating the force of the swing and keeping players balanced.
As for Director of Career Development at Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach Scott DeVaux, his advice is to look for constant improvement and have a goal in mind.
“Practice with a purpose,” he says.