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Golf is big these days. More and more people are flocking to courses and learning this game with varying degrees of jubilation and frustration. New and beautiful courses are being built rapidly and in great numbers, but not fast enough to keep up with the popularity of the sport.

What is it that we all seek to accomplish in this most difficult game of golf? What intrigues us? What makes us keep coming back, in a lot of cases, for more punishment? What can turn a smiling pussycat into a raving maniac all in one swing of a club? Or vice versa? It is not usually the score, my avid player; it’s the shot! We either love it or hate it. It’s the shot we remember.

Think of one of your great shots from last summer. Perhaps it was the drive which carried to the top of the hill on that tough #14, a thing of beauty. Or maybe the putt on #11, that little gem of 40 feet that took three breaks before it fell in the side of the cup for your first birdie ever on that hole.

We remember those. I, like you, try to forget the bad ones. But it’s hard. I hit so many. If I could just make those bad ones not so bad.

The Shot. That’s what this game is all about. The PGA Tour player hits a whole bunch of good shots, hopefully makes a lot of money, and maybe steals a tournament win if the putter works just right. The average high handicapper hits very few good shots, but when he does, he is very proud and happy.

Making the good shot is fun. It’s that simple. You don’t whisper about the good shot, you tell the whole world. That’s a big reason why I play golf. I’m guessing that’s why more people are playing, too. It’s fun to win some battles along the way–even if you don’t always win the war.

Another Swing Lesson?

No, not another swing lesson. There are good teachers to be found to help you with that. Books and videos are plentiful and full of information backed by history and scientific facts. But I can only associate good swings with good shots. That’s what I would like to convey.

I honestly don’t know what a good swing is. Results seem to justify what the player is doing with the swing. I have observed many swings, and the only absolute in each of them is that they are all different.

There is one constant in swings of great players. They appear to be in good balance throughout the swing. This is testimony to their set-up which allows them to hold steadier than the average bear as they get into motion without rushing things.

Try to develop a productive swing–one you can understand so you can make minor adjustments to it when the ball is going crooked. Get a swing that you can trust in tense situations. It’s fun to be able to face a shot, step up and swing the club without thinking of a dozen things. Players who constantly review aspects of their swing have developed that well known disease, Paralysis through Analysis. These players should seek help in isolating their thoughts. Good players have only one swing thought–if that.

Never play a careless shot. Think out the possibilities in a positive way. Make a decision on a club and shot. Know what to do prior to stepping up to the ball. Then try hard to execute. We are all guilty of neglect here. Get in better position by thinking each shot out.

Mind Your Manners

This increased play results in extremely crowded courses. Thus, it reflects the need for a definite awareness of golf etiquette. Rather than list all the things etiquette entails, let’s give it an easy definition and go from there.

Etiquette is no more and no less than taking the time to be kind and friendly to other players or competitors and taking the time to repair any damage to the course you might cause during play of the game.

If you carry the game beyond the skill level, you find you can be successful at golf if you play fairly, by the rules, following the concepts of courtesy and proper conduct.

Finally, some parting advice for all players–new and not-so-new.

  • Each time you play, try to enjoy the swing you have that day, the people you are playing with and the beauty of the course.
  • Always play by the rules of golf.
  • Determination can overcome many swing ills.
  • More play–less handicap; less play–more handicap.
  • Have your equipment checked to be sure you are playing with the right stuff.
  • The more you hit, the better you get!
  • We all get anxious in this game. Take your time and be cool.
  • Study the rules. You’ll feel on top of things and play better.

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