GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 1: The Ultimate Stroke-Saver

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The first thing developing golfers need to learn is, this game is about getting the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes, not hitting 300-yard drives or launching high-flying iron shots into the greens. The club that finishes off every hole is the putter, and usually with a short putt. In this video, Will Robins shows you how to make those makeable putts—every time.

SWING THOUGHTS

When practicing putting, focus on grooving three-foot putts
On short putts, the No. 1 key is a square face at impact
Pick a target smaller than the hole to improve your aim

DRILLS

Putt Tee to Tee

  • Place two tees in the ground a few feet apart.
  • Start from one tee and putt to the other. This small target teaches precision.
  • See how many times in a row you can hit the tee.

Putting Skills Challenge

  • Place a tee directly behind the center of a hole.
  • Hit putts at the tee, narrowing your focus to a small target.
  • See if you can make at least eight out of 10 putts.
Lesson 2: Start at the Finish
2 Lesson 2: Start at the Finish
  • What all good players get right
  • Appreciating the good miss
  • One swing thought for a lifetime

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 2: Start at the Finish

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Whether you’re a beginner or an established golfer, you’re often a different person on the course then you were on the range. This is likely because you’re getting too technical, trying to make perfect golf swings. Here, Will Robins explains how to avoid that unrealistic mind-set by swinging freely and doing what all good players do: Stick the finish.

SWING THOUGHTS

On the course, avoid thinking about swing mechanics
Don’t obsess about impact; try to swing freely, all the way through
Swing into a good, balanced finish on every shot

DRILLS

Photo Finish

  • Start in a comfortable setup, then focus on getting to a solid finish.
  • After each shot, pose your finish position for three seconds.
  • Work up to holding your finish until the ball comes to a stop.
Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target
3 Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target
  • Avoiding ego shots that don’t work
  • How to think one shot ahead
  • Playing with confidence from the rough

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target

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Even for the best players in the world, hitting the green from 200 yards or more isn’t easy. Beginners might hit the green 1 out of 10 times from long range, with the other nine shots resulting in tough recoveries. In this video, Will Robins discusses how to play these shots safely to avoid big numbers on your scorecard.

SWING THOUGHTS

From 200-plus yards, bag your 3-wood and use an iron or hybrid to advance the ball
On long approaches, keep the ball low and play away from big trouble
From long range in the rough, take a short iron and play for position

DRILLS

Practice Playing Smart

  • At the driving range, groove your middle-distance shots with irons and hybrids.
  • Work on hitting a low “chaser” that advances the ball with control.
  • Practice shots from the rough, learning how much you can take on from different lies.
 Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple
4 Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple
  • Developing a low-stress short game
  • The best chipping club in your bag
  • Forget the “good player” shot

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple

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If you’re a new golfer, you probably waste shots in one of the simplest—and most common—situations: in the fairway right in front of the green. This is likely because you’re overcomplicating an easy chip shot, so you end up chunking or blading it. In this segment, Will Robins walks you through how to handle these shots to score better, not worse.

SWING THOUGHTS

From in front of the green, chip with your hybrid to minimize bad misses
Always play the easiest shot available
On greenside shots, avoid using loft; play the ball along the ground

DRILLS

Foolproof Chipping

  • When practicing your greenside shots, work on the lowest trajectory.
  • Get comfortable chipping with a hybrid.
  • Work on making a simple sweep, like a long putting stroke.
Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand
5 Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand
  • A two-step process for easy outs
  • How to lose your fear—quickly
  • Fixing common bunker faults

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand

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One of the easy shots that beginners tend to make one of the hardest is the greenside bunker shot—and it’s all because of nerves. Many golfers see their ball roll into a bunker and immediately think they’re overmatched, which all but guarantees a bad shot. Will Robins demonstrates how to beat back those nerves and become a competent bunker player.

SWING THOUGHTS

On bunker shots, dig in your feet to get lower so you can slide the club under the ball
From the sand, keep your swing speed up all the way to the finish
Don’t try and help the ball out of the bunker; you’ll catch too much sand
Best swing thought in bunkers: Brush through the sand

DRILLS

The No-Sand Drill

  • From your normal setup, try to pick the ball clean out of a greenside bunker.
  • Once you can do that, experiment with digging in your feet to see how that moves the club’s entry point behind the ball.
  • Get confident swinging to a full finish on a bunker shot.
Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts
6 Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts
  • The best mind-set for long putting
  • Dialing in your touch on the greens
  • Put your practice strokes to work

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts

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Unless you’re a really good player, long putting comes into play on almost every hole. Chances are, you won’t be chipping to tap-in range or hitting your approach shots inside 10 feet. So getting your long putts close to the hole is the No. 1 way to avoid three-putting. In this video, Will Robins shows how to get good from long range.

SWING THOUGHTS

On lag putts, make your goal to roll the ball within three feet of the hole
Focus on the hole, not down at your putterhead, on practice strokes
Use your practice strokes to feel what’s too long, too short, and just right

DRILLS

The Lag Circle

  • Place five tees in a circle six feet in diameter with the hole in the middle.
  • From 30-plus feet, see how many balls out of 10 you can roll inside the circle.
  • Challenge yourself: If you get six on your first try, go for seven on the next.
Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game
7 Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game
  • Why a positive attitude is not enough
  • Tapping your best emotional state
  • How your hat can keep you on track

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game

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Many golfers, even golf experts, will have you believe this is a mental game, but you won’t hear that in this video. Will Robins argues that golf is emotional, not mental. It’s an exercise in imperfection, and it can cause confusion, frustration and anger. The road to better golf is a state of being rather than thinking. Here’s how to tap your emotions when you play.

SWING THOUGHTS

Try to stay relaxed and remove expectations—they only cause stress
Accept whatever happens during the round
Think less when you play, and don’t try so hard
Focus not on your score, but what you can do to improve it

DRILLS

Emotional Rescue

  • Stick a mailing label on the underside of the brim of your hat.
  • Write down two keys you think will help you play better in your next round.
  • Look at those keys throughout the round to remind yourself.
Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver
8 Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver
  • Your best strategies off the tee
  • Avoid careless driving mistakes
  • How to become a confident driver

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

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Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver

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Crushing a driver off the tee is always satisfying, but for developing golfers, the big stick brings trouble into play more often than not. Lofted fairway woods and hybrids are safer choices until you get more confident in your swing. In this video, Will Robins explains why getting the ball in play—not maximizing distance—should be your primary goal.

SWING THOUGHTS

Use a club with more loft than the driver to reduce left and right misses
On tee shots, focus on making a smooth swing to a solid finish
Only after you’ve learned to put the ball in play should you start hitting driver

DRILLS

Practice Hitting Fairways

  • On the practice tee, work on hitting controlled shots with your 3- or 5-wood.
  • Pay attention to direction over distance.
  • Once you feel confident, use the same mind-set when hitting driver.

The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics

Lesson
1 / 8
Lesson 1: The Ultimate Stroke-Saver
2 / 8
Lesson 2: Start at the Finish
3 / 8
Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target
4 / 8
Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple
5 / 8
Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand
6 / 8
Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts
7 / 8
Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game
8 / 8
Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver
The Will Robins Plan: Beginner Basics INDEX
Lesson 1: The Ultimate Stroke-Saver
1/8
Lesson 1: The Ultimate Stroke-Saver
  • The No. 1 key to making short putts
  • Learn to steady your stroke
  • A simple drill for sharper focus
  • The No. 1 key to making short putts
  • Learn to steady your stroke
  • A simple drill for sharper focus
Lesson 2: Start at the Finish
2/8
Lesson 2: Start at the Finish
  • What all good players get right
  • Appreciating the good miss
  • One swing thought for a lifetime
  • What all good players get right
  • Appreciating the good miss
  • One swing thought for a lifetime
Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target
3/8
Lesson 3: When the Green is not Your Target
  • Avoiding ego shots that don’t work
  • How to think one shot ahead
  • Playing with confidence from the rough
  • Avoiding ego shots that don’t work
  • How to think one shot ahead
  • Playing with confidence from the rough
 Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple
4/8
Lesson 4: Let Simple Shots be Simple
  • Developing a low-stress short game
  • The best chipping club in your bag
  • Forget the “good player” shot
  • Developing a low-stress short game
  • The best chipping club in your bag
  • Forget the “good player” shot
Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand
5/8
Lesson 5: Beat Your Nerves in the Sand
  • A two-step process for easy outs
  • How to lose your fear—quickly
  • Fixing common bunker faults
  • A two-step process for easy outs
  • How to lose your fear—quickly
  • Fixing common bunker faults
Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts
6/8
Lesson 6: How to Avoid Three-Putts
  • The best mind-set for long putting
  • Dialing in your touch on the greens
  • Put your practice strokes to work
  • The best mind-set for long putting
  • Dialing in your touch on the greens
  • Put your practice strokes to work
Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game
7/8
Lesson 7: Golf is not a Mental Game
  • Why a positive attitude is not enough
  • Tapping your best emotional state
  • How your hat can keep you on track
  • Why a positive attitude is not enough
  • Tapping your best emotional state
  • How your hat can keep you on track
Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver
8/8
Lesson 8: The Right Time to Hit Driver
  • Your best strategies off the tee
  • Avoid careless driving mistakes
  • How to become a confident driver
  • Your best strategies off the tee
  • Avoid careless driving mistakes
  • How to become a confident driver