Despite being one of the world’s most popular sports, getting into golf can be difficult. Not only is the equipment hard to find and often expensive but the sport is also highly technical. Learning how to swing a club or even how to position the body can take time.
Most professionals today had the benefit of practice and careful instruction—and it shows. After all, fans love watching players like Bryson DeChambeau put his muscles to work on a long drive or budding stars like Colin Morikawa stick an eagle putt at Harding Park.
As the 2020 PGA Masters approaches in November, more and more of golf’s top talent are confirming their attendance. While the likes of Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are likely to attend, spectators won’t be on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club.
Fans can get in on the action through apps that offer betting deals on the PGA—or even take a swing at the sport themselves with top advice from golf pros. Even if in-person instruction or top-tier golf clubs are out of range, there’s plenty of advice available from golf’s top talents. Here are some of our favorite tips.
Tip 1: Watch the Knees!
Every professional golfer and instructor begins with this advice: watch the knees while you swing. In order to advance in the golf world, a strong drive is necessary. However, a solid stance is the only way to perfect the long drive or putting.
Theories abound about which stance is best, but the basics involve keeping the knees bent at an appropriate angle, keeping the legs set shoulder-width apart, and utilizing force from the lower body and abdomen rather than the arms.
Tip 2: Read the Green
Five-time PGA Tour winner Jesper Parnevik has this advice for those looking to get into golf: know how to read the green. Simple things like knowing which direction the grass is growing will help a player determine how the golf ball will move.
The trick? Observe the color and shade of the grass. Now if you don’t have a background in ecology, here’s what that means. If the grass appears darker when looking in one direction and lighter when looking in the opposite, then a player can deduce the darker-shaded grass will slow the put. A put into the lighter-shaded grass will move quicker.
Tip 3: Make Putting Practice Fun
2011 Arnold Palmer invitational victor Martin Laird offers this advice for newcomers: get a putting technique down pat—but have fun while doing it. The main component of a strong put is the position of the body.
When playing on a course, putting on the greens helps familiarize a golfer with the pace the grass will provide, as well as angles. However, setting up a course in the backyard is another way to practice that gentle-yet-assertive put. Just watch out for solar panels and other obstacles.
Tip Four: Solid Hits vs. Swinging Hard
Baden Schaff, a PGA teaching professional with 17 years of experience, emphasizes how to hit the golf ball in a long drive. While stance is a beginner’s first challenge to tackle, Schaff also helps explain the theory behind the long drive.
In terms of the body, be sure to check that the knees aren’t too bent, the arms aren’t too straight, the shoulders aren’t rolled forward, and the head isn’t drawn too much toward the chest.
Regarding theory, driving the ball should be about placement rather than strength. Getting behind the ball and directing it toward a specific area is the goal of the drive. Don’t get hung up on swinging as hard as possible.
Tip 5: Personal Rhythm
PGA star Dustin Johnson offers this advice to new golfers: find a rhythm. For Johnson, this involves bending his wrists toward the ball right before he drives. Though he’s known for his strong short game and powerful swing speed, he emphasizes form over everything.
The above technique about bending the wrist is known as ‘triggering the swing’. As with all the tips mentioned above, triggering the swing or getting a solid hit behind the golf ball is about practice.
In fact, top pros are known to put in dizzying hours at the putting greens so that their bodies can develop muscle memory. Eventually, a player doesn’t have to think about wrists or knees. Their body simply remembers the form and replicates it.
Now, that you have these tips in your golf bag, it’s time to hit the fairways and green and put them into practice. Who knows, you might just turn out to be a great golfer.