Keep your head down. Follow through. Align your toes. There are many patented guidelines for the traditional golf swing and on how to play the game of golf. Lay up, give your putt enough pace and the list goes on. The golf swing is one of the most complex and intricate movements found in any sport but these lessons, tips, and advice about how to play better really do work.
Some of the most valuable golf lessons we will ever learn, however, aren’t typically found in the manual of golf for dummies or under the tutelage of a golf instructor. These are the lessons taught by years of experience, history and handed down from those who have lived the game, these are the lessons that aren’t found in the book…
Lesson 1: Comfortable Clothing Matters
It doesn’t matter what the season is, golfers unlike many of the other sports, is played outside – and that doesn’t mean under an open dome. It could be 40 degrees and bitter cold but playable. It could be damp, 96 degrees and miserable but playable and everything in between. Sometimes it feels like all of it in the same day, just watch the last British Open played at St. Andrews.
Being able to adjust to the temperature, the conditions and being able to play comfortably matters. Even on the perfect golfing day, feeling free and unhindered in your swing can play a role in the outcome of your game, just ask Tiger Woods about his recent wardrobe adjustment!
Lesson 2: Go for It!
When prudence and golf don’t agree. This is when you practice that Phil Mickelson behind the tree, required 207 yd shot off the pine straw into a sloping green shot, circa the 2010 Masters. The moments in real play action are going to be rare when these opportunities exist. You don’t want to practice the impossible shot when you are on course to challenge your personal best. You don’t want to try and see if you can finally carry that bunker when you are in contention at your local golf scramble or league match.
It also isn’t a bad idea to practice some of those less-than-traditional shots during practice rounds or with a state-of-the-art simulator to get more accurate evaluations in these rare shots. That doesn’t mean that going for it when scores are being kept isn’t an option, however, because it is and a good one at times.
Lesson 3: Take a Day Off
Too much golf… seriously? Look, we don’t want to discourage anyone from playing. First and foremost we are the greatest fans of the game. Secondly, we sort of depend on it as our livelihood here at the Golf shop too! By all means, play and play often, it really will help your game. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t such a thing as playing too much or for too long.
Most of us don’t play golf every single day, we leave that for the professionals and even they take days off. There are some of us who do find the luxury and advantage of playing perhaps four or five times a week, maybe for months. While the importance of practice in the game of golf can’t be overstated, there is such a thing as too much. There is also – believe it or not – such a thing as “burnout.” When golf begins to feel more like work than fun more often than not, it may be time to take a small golf vacation.
A Game of Tradition
Don’t be mistaken, golf is a game of tradition and the best practices in the game are still that, the best practices, techniques, and fundamentals. Like everything though, there is room for improvement and sometimes that improvement comes by way of the unorthodox.