If you’re like most golfers you’ve asked yourself… “How do I start getting better at golf?”
When it comes to learning how to get better at golf I could probably list out 100+ ideas after playing for 20+ years. But I want to keep things simple and not overwhelm you with swing changes or tons of mechanical adjustments.
Instead, these tips will help you play better without spending too much time on the range.
How to Get Better At Golf – 11 Tips
What’s great about golf is that the learning never stops. I know golfers that are 70+ years old who are still learning and always trying to get better. Because as Tiger Woods once said, “No matter how good you get, you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.”
Before getting into tons of useful tips and tricks to improve your game, first remind yourself that the quest to greatness never ends. In a world where we’re always looking to lose weight fast, get delivery overnight or other instant hacks (thanks a lot Amazon), play the long game with golf. If you have the right mindset you can always keep improving and reach your potential.
- Every shot counts.
- Track your progress over time.
- Work on your wedge shots more often.
- Play the right equipment for your swing.
- Golf requires consistent practice in all areas of the game.
- Work on your short game 2X as much as your long game for faster results.
Keep reading to learn 11 strategies to help you get better at golf so you can shoot your best scores fast.
1. Play the Right Golf Ball
Golf is a complicated sport but we make it harder by playing the wrong equipment at times. I’m not talking about golf clubs either but instead, your ball of choice. Because if your ball doesn’t match your clubhead speed, it’s going to hold you back from hitting your best shots.
One thing I see with a lot of high handicap golfers is trying to play a ball that their favorite PGA Tour uses. But if you don’t swing as fast as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, or whoever else you like, it might not be a good idea to play the same ball as them.
For example, if your driver swing speed is only 90 mph, you should not play a Titleist Pro V1. It will limit your total distance as you don’t have a high enough swing speed to reap the rewards of these golf balls. Plus, you’re probably losing more golf balls too which can get quite expensive too.
Instead, make sure to test out different golf balls and find one that is right for you clubhead speed. While you don’t need to study the core or covers too much, here are a few basics:
- Firmer golf balls require higher swing speeds.
- Use a golf ball selector tool to find the right ball for your game.
- Four piece golf balls tend to be more expensive than two or three pieces (and designed for better golfers).
2. Use a Golf GPS, Golf Watch or Rangefinder
Playing the right golf ball is key but you also need to make sure you have a device to help navigate each hole. In the past, most golfers relied on their golf cart GPS but more and more courses don’t include them anymore.
Because the vast majority of players carry a rangefinder, golf GPS, or golf watch. And you should too. Otherwise, you’re making the sport even harder on yourself.
If you’re a member at a country club and play the same course regularly, you likely don’t need a golf GPS. Instead, you’ll probably benefit from a rangefinder more often to dial in the distance to the flag and other hazards. But if you play a lot of new golf courses and like to travel, a golf GPS can help a ton.
Golf GPS devices are great because they allow you to preview the hole with a birds eye view. No more guessing if you’re aiming at the right part of the fairway and can see all the hazards in sight. Plus, GPS devices are easier to use if you have shaky hands and can’t focus a rangefinder on obstacles.
Or, you can always use more than one device like a golf watch and a rangefinder. A golf watch has GPS capabilities and can give you distances to the front, middle, and back of the green. Plus, easily track your stats and score during the round.
Paired with a rangefinder, you can hit the flag on every shot to confirm your distance. Together, these two devices can help you not waste shots from playing blind.
3. Always Warm Up
I love watching golfers on the driving range and practice 2-4X per week myself. But it pains me to see so many golfers go from sitting in their car, straight to the range with no stretching or warm up at all. In fact, a lot of golfers go straight to hitting drivers too. Then when they hit it badly can’t figure out why?
This lack of a warm-up routine is an injury waiting to happen and killing your chances of playing good golf. You need a warm-up routine before you start hitting golf balls at high speeds.
Think about it, most of us live sedentary lives hunched over a desk most of the day. If you don’t prime your body for the golf swing, you can injure yourself but also just not swing as consistently.
Instead, make sure you’re always warming up more than just a few practice swings. Here is a simple warm up routine to help you play better, hit it longer, and keep your body in golf shape.
- Foam roll or stretch at home (5-10+ minutes).
- Use SuperSpeed golf training sticks or the Momentus swing trainer in the parking lot (10-15 swings). Weighed clubs warm up your body and make it easy to swing faster once you start hitting golf balls.
- Hit the driving range and start with wedges, then irons, then woods. Start at 50-75% swing speed and work your way up to 100%. Don’t rush it!
- During the day, make sure to stretch regularly when waiting on shots or between holes.
It’s simple but it’s needed to keep your body ready to play golf more often. On days when you aren’t playing golf make sure to check out these golf workouts too. Plus, these golf stretches will help your flexibility and mobility too.
4. Add More Hybrids and Fairway Woods
Long irons are hard to hit consistently well, even for the best golfers in the world. This is why it’s crucial to replace them with driving irons, hybrids, and/or high lofted fairway woods.
Don’t make golf more difficult by playing clubs that aren’t right for your game.
Long irons are hard to hit due to a smaller sweet spot, lower loft, and longer length than mid or short irons. But their replacements are lighter, easier to hit, and much more forgiving. Some golfers like irons or smaller hybrids… while others prefer wood-like hybrids or a 7-wood.
Play with whatever suits your game the best. It’s okay to have a mix of fairway woods, hybrids, and/or driving irons too. Just make sure each one has a specific distance in your game so you’re not wasting one of your 14 clubs.
This simple golf tip will help you 10X your long game and swing with confidence on tougher, longer shots. Plus, your misses will be substantially better too.
5. Use Training Aids Strategically
Golfers love to practice but unfortunately, more practice doesn’t always mean better golf or lower scores. As Harvey Penick said in For All Who Love the Game,Every day I see golfers out there banging away at bucket after bucket. If I ask them what they’re doing, they say, ‘What does it look like I’m doing, Harvey? I’m practicing!’ Well, they’re getting exercise all right. But few of them are really practicing.“
So let me ask, are you practicing or are you exercising during some of your range sessions? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there but it’s important to make sure each practice session has a plan. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time, energy, and money at the driving range.
One thing I see with so many players is using training aids too often. Don’t get me wrong, we love training aids and think they’re a valuable tool to help you groove a more consistent golf swing. But less is more sometimes.
If you use the same training aids over and over again, it’s easy to get too dependent on them. This makes it easy to forget how to swing unassisted on the golf course and become more of a “range player” than a consistent golfer.
Use training aids (like the Lag Shot, Tour Striker Planemate, etc.) only 25% of the time. It’s good to start your sessions with these aids to build a solid foundation but don’t overdo it.
Remember, less is more when it comes to swing trainers. Plus, don’t forget that alignment sticks are some of the best ways to improve your golf game!
6. Have a Strategy
Golf is more than just creating a consistent swing. Heck, I know golfers with amazing swings but can’t break 85 sometimes due to a poor mental game or bad course management.
You need a strategy for every shot you hit! Otherwise, you’re wasting shots from tee to green, no matter how good your swing.
Tee Box Strategy
The first thing you need on each hole is a tee box strategy. Ask yourself questions like, “How should I play this hole? What golf club should I hit? Are there any hazards to avoid?”
Getting yourself in good position more often off the tee will lead to more consistent scores. If you’re losing golf balls or playing from the trees all day, it’s going to be nearly impossible to score well.
Click here to learn more about creating a solid tee box strategy.
Approach Shot Strategy
Another thing you need to strategize is how to attack (or not attack) each green. One of the biggest mistakes most golfers make is playing overly aggressive on their approach shots. This leads to getting short sided, having difficult pitch shots, and allowing double bogeys in the equation.
The middle of the green is a great target anytime you’re outside about 140 yards. As Boo Weekley said, “The middle of the green never moves.”
The more chances you can give yourself for birdie, the better. Plus, aiming at the middle of the green makes it less likely to short side yourself and eliminate doubles from your scorecard.
Click here to learn more about creating an approach shot strategy.
7. Play One Shot Shape
If you’re like most golfers chances are you try to hit shots in both directions. Sure, it’s fun to curve it right to left or left to right on demand but it’s also not a consistent strategy either.
In an on-course interview during the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open, Max Homa (the eventual winner) was asked about his shot shape on a particular hole. The hole seemed to require a draw off the tee but Max hit his trusty fade. He answered the question with, “Fade… I always hit the fade no matter what. I get about one draw swing a week.”
This is one of the top golfers in the world with six PGA Tour wins (as of this writing) and only plays one shot shape! Can he hit a draw with his driver? My guess is yes but it’s not as consistent as his trusty fade.
Yet, so many average golfers try to hit high cuts, low draws, and all other types of shots during the round. This is a failing formula (unless you’re Tiger Woods).
Don’t make golf harder on yourself by trying to play all different types of shots.
If you’re behind a tree or have some other sort of obstacle, it’s fine to go against your normal swing. But 99% of the time, it will greatly benefit you to play one shot shape.
Don’t pick a draw or a cut either – instead, pick the one that is most natural to your swing motion. Swing your swing so you can pick targets and trust your swing on any shot during the round.
8. Practice on the Golf Course
The driving range is almost nothing like the actual golf course. Golf is maybe the only sport where you play on the course but practice on the driving range.
Ironically, how many times when you’re playing golf on the course do you have a flat lie with the ball sitting perfectly? In most cases, it only happens a few times. Instead, most of the time you have a lie in the rough, on a slope, or both.
This is why you should start practicing on the golf course, not just the driving range. No, that doesn’t mean you take a bucket of range balls to the course either. But you should have rounds where you don’t keep score and work on certain shots that you can only practice on the golf course.
Here are some examples of shots you can only practice on the golf course:
- Long bunker shots.
- Hitting from the rough.
- Hitting over water or bunkers.
- Playing punch shots under trees.
- Putts from long range and/or two-tier putts.
While you can’t do this at every course (or during prime golf times), it’s one of the best things to help your game. Click here to learn more about practicing on the golf course.
9. Practice From Inside 125 Yards
Speaking of practice, how much time do you spend inside 125 yards? If you’re like most golfers, the answer is probably not enough!
Think about it… an overwhelming amount of the time most shots happen from inside 125 yards. But most golfers hit mid-irons and drivers on the range endlessly. While you should learn to love your driver, replace mid or long iron practice with short game practice.
Dial in your wedges, learn how to hit knockdown shots, and putt more frequently. Getting your wedges and game dialed in will have a big impact on your score, much faster than any swing changes.
Read about the 50 to 75 yard wedge shot.
10. Stop Hitting 3-Wood
Most golfers think “I’ll hit three wood to play it safe and hit the fairway.” But is that statement actually true?
Not so much… I recently read an article on Golf Monthly debunking some amateur golf statistics. One of them was how hitting a 3-wood doesn’t always lead to more fairways.
They found that 5 handicappers hit the fairway 49.7% of the time with the driver. When hitting 3-wood instead, the fairway percentage increased to 52.6%.
That’s right, only three percent increase when clubbing down to “play it safe.” And these are five handicappers!
The point is, your driver is the better play more often. Because hitting a three wood barely gets you in the fairway more often and also leaves your approach shot 20+ yards longer.
Also, hitting 3-wood off the deck isn’t always the best idea either. A lot of golfers struggle hitting it consistently from the turf since it’s so long and has such little loft. Instead, hit a 5-wood or hybrid (especially if you can’t get to the green either way) to give yourself a better third shot.
11. Club Up on Approach Shots
Where is the most trouble around the green at most golf courses? The answer: short of the green.
And where do most golfers tend to miss on their approach shots? The answer: short of the green.
Needless to say, one of the easiest tips to play better is to club up on approach shots. So many golfers try to use a club that they need to hit 100% perfect to get to the green. But if they don’t, they’re short and in thick rough, bunker, or worse.
Always take a club that you can hit 85% well and still make it to the front of the green. If you do hit perfect, you’ll still be in the middle or back of the green. Or possibly just over with a less complicated chip shot.
If you don’t hit it well, you’re still going to have a putt from the fringe or easy chip shot. Leave the ego at home and make sure to club up on your approach shots.
Hit More Knockdown Shots
Taking more club on your approach shots will help you hit more greens in regulation. Another way to increase the odds is to take an extra club and choke up one inch to hit a knockdown shot.
If you watch professional golf, you’ll notice they hit a ton of ¾ shots. The reason is because less can go wrong, they have more consistent spin rates, and they’re easier to hit than full shots.
So when you club up, choke up and hit a knockdown shot to hit more greens in regulation.
More Tips to Improve Your Golf Game
Looking for more tips to improve your golf game without getting golf lessons? Keep reading…
- Adjust Your Short Game Tempo: Change your tempo from 2:1 (vs. 3:1) on shots inside 60 yards – something the average golf instructor won’t tell you!
- Track Your Golf Stats: Study your game so you can. This will make practice time 10X more effective.
- Create a Pre Shot Routine: Pre-shot routines are one of the most important parts of golf! Click here to create your routine now.
- Practice Putting From Two Distances: In your practice sessions work on putts from 3-6 feet and 30 feet (the distance you’ll likely have when you hit the green in regulation).
- Keep Breathing on the Golf Course: Take a deep breath before each shot (especially an important tee shot) to keep your mind calm.
- Swing Daily: To hit more good shots make sure to swing daily! Practice swings, with a trainer, putting, or some other activity to avoid bad habits and groove your swing.
- Get Off YouTube University: To become a scratch golfer you don’t need to watch more YouTube videos about swing changes! A good golf swing happens from playing your own swing and getting comfortable with it on the range. If you’re set on swing changes, think about if it’s time to get real golf lessons.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Good at Golf
Don’t forget, a bad shot (or several golf shots) is part of the game. Don’t let bad shots ruin your round like the average golfer and stay strong mentally so you can bounce back. It’s the next shot that matters the most.
Need even more tips to become a better golfer? Check out these golf tips now.