How to putt your best foot forward on the green
We asked Adare Golf Club Pro Gary Howie for his top tips
Developing a taste for the game at the tender age of ten, Scotland-born Gary Howie knows more than a thing or two about how to play a decent round.
"I got into golf because there was a course right beside my house," he says, "and I have always loved it."
Today he teaches amateur golfers how to improve their game and is quick to point out that you don't have to start as young as he did to become a good golfer.
"Nick Faldo didn't play till he was 14 and he has won six major championships, three Open Championships and three Masters," jokes Gary.
"Obviously the older you take up the sport the more natural ability you lose, but the reality is that you can start playing at any age and become very good as long as you practice. With golf, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it."
And according to Gary the best way to get the most out of your game is to enlist the help of a professional.
"It's important for anyone taking up golf to get the basics right. That is to know how to hold the club properly, how to aim and how to stand up to the ball.
"The only way you are going to be able to do that is to go to a driving range or club that has a professional who gives lessons. Once you learn the basics, you can tackle your swing, but it has to be approached in that order.
"In some countries you are not even allowed onto a golf course till you receive a green card from a professional. That's to stop people developing bad habits!"
But what if you're already a seasoned golfer?
According to Gary everyone's game could benefit from some professional tuition.
"Even if you know your way around the fairways you're probably not living up to your full potential."
The good news is that Gary has five tips to get your game up to a higher standard.
1 Concentrate on your short game
Most amateur golfers are too concerned with hitting the ball further. If you have that mind-set you're not going to improve your golf. To improve your game, particularly your handicap, you have to practice your putting and your chipping.
2 Get yourself the correct equipment
Make sure you are playing with clubs that suit you. I often see players playing with clubs that are too heavy or too light, or shafts that are too rigid, and that can really affect your game.
Any professional will be able to tell you in 15 minutes whether the equipment you are using is suitable to you or not.
3 Don't become obsessed with getting your swing perfect
There's no such thing as the perfect swing. It's far more important to have a swing that you can repeat.
4 Practice in the winter time
A lot of amateurs give up the game for four months during the colder parts of the year. When they come back in March they expect their game to pick up where they left off, but that doesn't happen. If you can visit a driving range once a fortnight or even do some putting in the house on a mat in the evening, you will be amazed at how much better your game is when you come back in the spring.
5 Develop a routine
During the rugby, we all saw Johnny Sexton's routine before he hit the ball. He did the same thing every-time. That's very important to a golfer looking to take their game to the next level. Why? Because Johnny knows he's done that routine thousands of times before on the training pitch and that he's taken a kick just as many times. It's all about building your confidence.