Golf expert Robert Lee has made some of the toughest golf courses on the planet cry for mercy. The presenter of Sky Sports’ US Masters coverage is a former European Tour professional and has the golfing know-how to swing your game out of the rough and onto the green.
The first thing new golfers need to do is book lessons with a PGA-qualified golf pro. I always advise three lessons, because most pros offer discounts for buying in bulk and because after three lessons you know whether you like golf or hate it.
EYE THE BALL
One thing all good putters have in common is they position the ball underneath their eyes. The best way of seeing if you’ve got the ball in the right place is setting up to hit it, then getting a second ball, placing it in front of your eyes and dropping it. If it hits the ball on the ground, you’re in the right position. If it doesn’t, you’re not.
All golf clubs are decent nowadays. Pick a set that feels good and fits your budget. If you walk into a golf shop, the salesman will probably start going on about custom fitting. This is great for people who play regularly, but if you’re just beginning don’t worry about it.
Repeating the same process before every shot helps golfers perform well under pressure. Try it. Begin doing the same thing before every shot – for example, two practice swings, a look at the hole, then a hit – and you’ll be amazed how much it helps.
The golf ball is not key for beginners; so don’t get lured into spending £15 on a three-pack. Buy as cheap a ball as you like. Just make sure it is round and you like the look of it.
If you just want to hit the ball as far as you can, tee it high and let it fly. Put your ball on a really high tee, move it forward so it’s level with the big toe of your front foot, take a big swing and make sure you hit up on the ball.
Hitting up on the ball is the crucial part. If you do this, then you will launch the ball high in the air without much spin and it’ll go for miles. Whereas if you hit down on the ball, it’ll set off low, spin lots and land before you have the chance to flex your bicep and scream, ‘Who’s the daddy?’
DON'T BE A PRINGLE
People who say you have to dress like a fuddy duddy to play golf are wrong. Thanks to improvements in technology and fashion-conscious golfers like Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler, you can now wear clothes that are as bold, bright and trendsetting as you like.
Core strength is handy, but flexibility is more important. The golf swing places strains on your hips and spine, so if you want to stay fit, flexible and healthy, while rotating far enough to give the ball a good smack, find a golf-specific stretching programme you can do two or three times a week.
In skins each hole is worth one skin (or point) and the person with the lowest score on that hole wins the skin. If there is no clear winner the skin is carried over and the next hole is worth two skins.
Often several holes in a row are drawn, so you find yourselves playing a hole for four or five skins. When this happens, you only need a couple of lucky holes to win.
Know the Lingo
When any shot (other than a putt) skims along the turf without ever rising into the air.
A score of three shots under par on any hole. Two shots under is called an Eagle; one shot under is a birdie.
The edge of a bunker – a sand hazard – that is furthest from the green.
When nerves get the better of a golfer and they fudge a seemingly unmissable short putt.
A novice or beginner player, pointlessly bouncing their way around the course.
Words by Stuart Hood
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