Words of wisdom to get us back in the swing
OUR national Big Freeze is a real downer for golfing enthusiasts who wanted to shake off the Christmas sluggishness by getting out on the fairways.
Hopefully a thaw will set in very soon, but in the meantime, how about some suggestions for a quick fix or two to remedy the faults in your game?
Did I say only two? Forget that. How about "343 techniques, tips, and tricks from the best pros", as contained in an interesting and thought-provoking publication called 'What's a Golfer to Do?'
This is a book containing a cornucopia of information as culled from the extensive files of 'Golf Digest' magazine, which each month presents the best of instruction from the top players.
The highly-respected US publication has for many decades picked the brains of the finest coaches and professionals that have risen to the top of their respective branches of the game.
Ron Kapriske and the editors of 'Golf Digest' have crammed in a plethora of useful information into this book for the benefit of the handicap player.
They have done so with plenty of humour and a genuine desire to cover the main areas that affect the millions of enthusiastic amateurs around the world.
Of course, long-term improvement is best achieved by taking lessons from your friendly PGA professional and then practising what he or she preaches.
However, for the many who don't have the time, or the inclination, to show a modicum of consistent dedication to a steady course of action, what harm is there in availing of a tip or two from some golfing experts?
The book is divided into sections, including Full-Swing Instruction, Short Game, Putting, Specialty/Trouble Shots, Playing Strategy, Rules and Etiquette, Helpful Skills, and Equipment.
Here is a sample of the offerings, starting with a little bustle that could come in handy for your match-play events during the year.
And who better to tap for advice than the great Seve Ballesteros, who was a fearsome opponent in the Ryder Cup matches against the United States?
In this offering, Ballesteros focuses on the key part of the game -- putting.
When to make someone putt out
"Putting, more than any other part of the game, is played in the mind. Try to get your opponent thinking on the greens.
"In a match, pay close attention to his general demeanour as he approaches and strokes his first short putt. It's easy to tell if he is confident or not. If he looks a little unsure, make him hole every short putt.
"Nine times out of 10, he will miss one sooner or later. And, more to the point, he will know that you know he is a little edgy.
"If, however, your opponent holes out well, give him a few short ones -- but not all of them.
"After a while, make him putt one. With luck, that will make him think 'Why is he making me putt? Can he see something I can't?' Sometimes that is enough to win a match."
How to construct a golf swing
"When you pull that club out of the bag for the first time, you can hone a fundamentally sound golf swing by following these simple steps:
1 Take the address position correctly, with the ball midway between the feet.
2 Lift the club upward with the arms and wrists until the hands are opposite the face.
3 Turn the body to the right, with the arms extended to the correct top-of-the-swing position.
4 Turn the body to the left until the hands are in the correct finishing position."
How to hit it 10 yards farther
"When I want extra distance, I make a better shoulder turn, which gives me more time to generate speed on the downswing.
"More important, I make sure not to get lazy with my leg action on the downswing. You want to feel like you're throwing your legs at the target while staying steady. That's how I get good hip turn and hit 300-yard drives."
How to fade it into the fairway
"To hit a fade, I make two adjustments to my set up. First, I aim as far left of the target as I want the ball to start.
"Second, I open the clubface, pointing it to where I want the ball to land. Then I make my normal swing."
How to hit a hybrid solidly
"To use these new clubs correctly, I make more of a sweeping stroke. There is plenty of weight behind the head with these clubs, so you don't have to force them.
"Don't hit down on the ball as you would an iron.
"Instead, make a nice, level blow and don't take a divot. Play the ball where you would for a fairway wood (inside your left heel)."
How to ingrain a unified putting stroke
Rick Smith, coach to Phil Mickleson
"Place a club under your arms, and then hold it there as you grip the putter and set up to the ball.
"To get the ball to the hole with the club under your arms, you have to move your shoulders, arms, and putter as one unit -- that's the key to building an effective stroke."
How to avoid three-putting
"To avoid three-putting when you're faced with a long putt, pick a spot three feet short of the hole and putt aggressively to that spot.
"You'll rarely be short by more than three feet because you 'charged' to that short target.
"If you do hit the putt too hard, it can roll five feet farther than your target, and you'll have only two feet coming back."