At this time of the year, many golfers get ready to begin their golf season after a period away from the game, which is true this year more than ever. You might be getting ready for your first round of golf in 2021, so we've gathered together some essential tips to ensure your return to the golf course is a memorable one.
We're aware that lockdown restrictions may remain in certain countries for a little longer, but these tips will hopefully help you play your best when you finally get back to the golf course.
Take a Look Around
It's been a challenging 12 months for all of us, and golf opportunities have been limited in quite a few countries across the world. Golf is a wonderful sport enjoyed in the great outdoors, and many golf courses are bursting with nature and stunning scenic backdrops.
When you do get back to the first tee, take a look around and drink in the view that you've been yearning for months. Harness that appreciation throughout the remaining 17 holes, and it'll take your focus away from how you play. Quite weirdly, that approach will probably lead to a better score.
Manage Your Expectations
When you arrive at the golf course expecting to play well, particularly after a long lay-off, it's difficult to stay grounded and deal with any bad shots that do appear.
Your ball control will likely be a little off, so pick intelligent targets and try to play away from hazards more than you might typically. If you can play a slightly less aggressive game, you could shoot a better number.
Loosen That Grip
Yes, we know it's boring to talk about the golf grip, but when you return from a break, your grip pressure will likely be too tight. A tight grip can also indicate a level of mental, emotional and physical tightness that will directly impact your performance on the course.
Loosen that grip pressure to ensure you're not squeezing the club too tightly, but just enough to feel like you have control. Ensure your grip pressure is firm but not too tight and that your shoulders are relaxed before beginning your swing.
Play Your Game and Stick to Your Routine
Don't be tempted to play about with your golf swing on the golf course; it rarely goes well. To help blow those cobwebs away, you'd be better sticking to your routine throughout your first round back.
It might be worth putting in a bit of work the night before your round to ensure you have your pre-shot routine nailed down. From there, try to play as 'automatically' as possible. Automatic golf helps tap into your subconscious to help hit as many great golf shots as possible.
Tempo is King
While it's best to try and play as 'automatically' as possible, if you are going to be aware of any facet of your golf game, tempo is the very one. Good tempo is one of the secrets of longer shots and accuracy in golf.
Suggestion: Jack Nicklaus would often spend hours simply practising better tempo. He formed a mental image of his backswing and downswing happening at the same speed.
And who are we to argue with the 'Golden Bear'?
Commit in the Bunker
One of the biggest problems for amateur golfers when it comes to bunker play is the tendency to decelerate. When that happens, you chunk the ball and often end up with the ball coming back to your feet.
Given that your accuracy will likely be a little off, the balance of probabilities suggests you'll find the sand somewhere along your 18 holes. If you haven't practised bunker shots over the last few months, your technique might be a bit rusty. If you can remember to stay down and follow through with speed, you'll get out far more often.
As a reminder of the standard bunker technique, check out Chris Ryan's video below.
Remember to Have Fun
Golf is a sport to be enjoyed, and that applies whether you're chasing a new low score or just out for a friendly 18 holes.
You can almost guarantee that if you struggle to keep your head in the game, you can forget about hitting your next golfing milestone; that applies irrespective of handicap. Laugh off the bad shots, don't forget to remember the good ones and, if you're with friends, make sure you have a great time and enjoy their company.
And, Don't Forget Your Hole19 App (Obviously)!!
Don't forget to take your Hole19 App to the course. Among the many free features, you'll have access to GPS distances to help with shot selection, a digital scorecard, different scoring modes and the ability to save and share your round.
If you're a Premium user, the many additional features include an Auto-Change Hole feature to save you time as you walk to the next tee, Shot-by-shot Tracking, Club Statistics, and our new and improved distance tracker function - now called Shot Tracker.
If you haven't upgraded to Premium yet, take a look at the full list of game-enhancing features you could be using to unlock your true potential.