We’ve all golfed with somebody who wants to give us advice and constantly tells us what we did wrong after every shot: “You looked up,” “You were aimed over there,” “You were too quick.” Man, that would drive me crazy if I had to listen to it during a game. Sometimes the advice is solicited and sometimes it is not. The good news is it’s actually against the rules of golf to give or receive advice during a game. (See rule 10-2 titled “Advice and Other Help.”)
I think it’s poor etiquette during a friendly game to give people advice relating to their swing mechanics. When I am playing, many golfers ask me for advice during the game. There is a lot going on in golf and we can assist on many things not related to swing mechanics such as distance, swing selection, club selection or even direction (if asked). I tend to steer away from any swing advice during the game if I can.
Swing advice during the game is distracting. It takes the focus off the simple objective of striking the ball toward a target and changes the golfers focus to physical movements that make up their swing. Golf is a motor skill, just like jogging. Do you ever think about the extension or flexion of your left ankle when you are jogging?
Junior golfers are very intuitive and tend to shut out unsolicited advice related to their swings. They are doers, not analysers. Following are a few tips that they seem to learn very quickly without over-analysis. They will help your game without getting into your head about your swing. Try these a few times at the practice areas and then take them on the course:
Fairway bunkers: Take one more club than you normally use from that distance. Stand a little taller at the knee. Focus on the target side of the golf ball. Make a balanced swing.
Side hill / down hill lies: Get into balance on the hillside. Make a practice swing and ensure you are in balance at the end of the swing. Visualize and sense where you think that shot would have gone. Adjust direction based on your swing path (or divot) and also let this determine your ball position. Now commit to that and hit the ball.
Putting: If you have a downhill putt, concentrate on the distance and play for the break. If it is uphill, play for less break and be more aggressive.
Greenside bunker: Try using a square clubface and then graduate to opening it just a little bit. Most golfers open the clubface too much, so be careful with this.
Driving: Have a good routine. See a target in the distance and pick out an intermediate target about 10 yards in front of your ball. Commit to your intermediate target when you set up.
Rough grass around the green: Practice swing to get a sense of the grass and the lie you have. Do it several times. This may lead to you changing clubs or the type of swing. Get your rhythm through this rough. The practice swing will tell you what you need to do. Trust that decision.
My old pro used to tell me that my swing would be the same on the 18th hole as it is on the first hole. Improve your focus and you will improve your shots. Play like a kid, have fun and forget about all the noise.