Nepali Times
Tee Break


After having learned the game of golf, it is everyone's dream to improve and look for a breakthrough. For instance, beginners would at first want to make some bogeys on a round. Next, after playing for a few months, they start to think of breaking 100, and this ambition to be better never ends.

Some people define a 'breakthrough' as that magical day when they have a fantastic round and shatter their personal best score by several strokes. In reality though, that old score barrier should be consistently broken for it to be called a breakthrough. Obviously, for such long lasting improvement you will need help from somebody who can teach you new techniques and check and correct your swing.

When people want to improve, they start dedicating more time towards practicing. However practice without proper guidance will lead to bad habits. Therefore, it is very important to take lessons to improve the standard of your game. There is a saying: quality supersedes quantity. In golf, this applies equally well. The quality of practice is more significant than the quantity of practice.

Breaking 100
At this level, golf is a social game, often for the sake of starting golf and perhaps for exercise. However, if the standard of play does not improve it soon gets boring. In my opinion, most high handicappers are much too anxious about playing a shot, and overwhelmingly preoccupy their minds with the anticipated outcome of the shot. This creates tension in the grip and body, and not surprisingly, the result is rarely a normal swing.
The idea at this level is to relax before every shot and concentrate on preswing fundamentals like grip, alignment, posture and ball position. Then just hit the ball without worrying too much about the result.

Breaking 90
If you are in the vicinity of breaking 90, you have become a bogey player. You probably advance the ball well enough on those full shots, but might be struggling inside the 70 yards range. These shots, the half wedges, soft pitches and longer putts need honing, even though it isn't as much fun as practicing long drives.

Breaking 80
Here, the yearnings to be a single digit handicapper beckon, and the level of transformation taking place is from being a mere golfer to becoming 'a player'. To consistently break 80, the short game has to be worked on. You should be able to make at least 60 percent of your ups and downs from around the green. The other point to keep in mind is that too many shots are wasted by trying to hit the ball too far. Therefore, it is very important to keep 'the ball in play', which means, keep it away from trouble.

These thoughts are not a magical solution to improving the standard of your golf. They are just some observations I have made over my teaching career. A reasonable amount of practice with proper supervision is the key to improvement at any level. So don't spend too much time on the quantity of practice. Remember the importance of the quality.

Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)