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Tips from the Pro

Check your equipment.
Do you need new grips? Are your shafts adequate for your swing speed? Are you playing with the right loft in your driver to maximize distance? Do you have the right set makeup to benefit your game (wedges, hybrids, fairway woods, etc.)? These are questions that you'll want to answer before going to work on your game.

Practice first with short swings, then full swings.
Start with putting to establish rhythm and tempo. Chipping and pitching also require a lot of feel and tempo and therefore are another great place to start practicing. Think of these shots as a miniature full swing, which will allow you to make a smoother transition to a correct full swing. Once you move to the full swing, make sure your grip, posture and setup are correct. I like to think of these three areas as the engine that starts the golf swing. Without the grip, posture and setup being correct, it becomes almost impossible to swing the club correctly and to get consistent results.

Set realistic expectations for the course.
Remember that those first few rounds of the year will be a little rusty; therefore, do not get frustrated on the golf course when your scores are not where you would like them to be. While on the course, I suggest you take notes on what you think you need to practice so that when you return to the range you can work on the things that will improve your game most. Remember also to set aside some practice time for all aspects of your game. I like my students to spend about 25 percent of their time on the range and 75 percent of their time practicing short game (putting, chipping, pitching and bunker shots).

Get some help.
I would strongly suggest that everyone at least consider taking some lessons or attending a golf school or clinic to be certain that you are starting the year off with the correct fundamentals. This also will allow you to have more focused practice sessions given that you will know what you need to work on, and that will benefit your overall game.