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Ask Stina

All's Fair In Love And Golf

February 2012

Q: I know I need to practice, but I find the range an intimidating place. Any suggestions for making practice less stressful?
A: Your fear isn't that uncommon. A busy range can lead to a worse case of nerves than first-tee jitters. On the first tee, even if you're playing with strangers, there are only a few people watching. But at the range, you think that your swing is on display for dozens of people. Here's the thing: It's not. No one cares what you're doing. Honest. They're too busy focusing on their own swing. Knowing this should help you overcome your fear. But if you still feel uncomfortable, here are a few things you can do to attract as little attention as possible. (1) Practice on the far left of the range. Right-handed players will have their backs to you. (2) Practice quietly. When you hit a poor shot, don't curse, moan or complain. Doing so will only draw attention. (3) Practice with purpose. Switch clubs frequently, aim at different targets and use a pre-shot routine before every swing. That way you'll get more out of your range time, and you'll be so focused on your game that you won't notice if anybody is watching.

Q: My buddy insists on driving the cart when we play, but he's a horrible driver. He adds half an hour to our round with the way he drives. I've tried telling him, but he thinks I'm kidding. What can I do?
A: I suggest you rent a pushcart and walk. Seriously. Walking will allow the two of you to get to your balls at your own pace, and you'll probably play better. If walking isn't an option at your course (though few courses forbid walking if you ask nicely), and your friend won't give up the wheel, grab a few clubs and jump out and walk as often as you can during the round. That'll send a clear message. Next time play rock-paper-scissors to decide who drives.

Q: I'm new to golf, and each time I play, I get blisters on my non-gloved hand. Why aren't you supposed to wear gloves on both hands?
A: You can if you want--tour pro Tommy (Two Gloves) Gainey does. Golf shops carry gloves for both hands. Golfers typically wear a glove on their top hand (left hand for righties) because that's the hand that grips the club more firmly. The lower hand is supposed to be your feel hand, which is why it's common to leave it bare. It's normal to develop blisters when you start playing, but those blisters will soon turn into calluses. If you keep having prob- lems with your lower hand, you're probably gripping the club too tightly. Before spending money on another glove, try holding the club a little lighter.

To submit your comments or questions, please email stina@golfdigest.com.

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