Golf IQ

Do these 9 things to be a smarter golfer in 2023—without changing your golf swing

January 03, 2023

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The start of the new year marks all kinds of possibilities for ourselves—and our golf games. But when we sit down and actually figure out how to implement all those hopes and dreams, things start to get really confusing, really quickly. Sure, we all want to get better at golf. But where’s the best place to even start?

Allow us to help …

1. Get a game plan

Coaches are better and smarter now than ever before. The best around don’t just understand the intricacies of the golf swing, but also how your body moves along the way. If you’re serious about improving this year, think about your game holistically. Ask your coach for the areas of your body where you may be weak or flexible, and if there’s a trainer they can refer you to. If you're not working with a coach directly, look for a golf-focused training program online (or better yet, right here on Golf Digest Schools!). Pros work hard on their mobility, because they know it can help improve their golf swings without much thought.

2. Keep your stats

How can you expect to improve if you don’t know what to improve? Sure, you may have a general idea, but stat-tracking apps like Arccos have become so good nowadays, they’ll instantly reveal the specific areas of your game that are better than others. Even rudimentary stat tracking on your own—fairways, greens, etc.—will provide you insight for where to focus your efforts.


Karl Hendon

3. Plan your practice

… And once you do that, you’ll be making the limited time you have work harder for you when you can sneak away for a range session. If you now, for instance, that you’re losing strokes with your wedges, a little extra time hitting wedge shots will help you enjoy those marginal gains that drop easy shots off your index.

4. Do some smart speed training

Stat after stat, expert after expert, proves that the longer you hit the ball, the better for your game. But that doesn’t mean you should swing for the fences the next time you’re on the tee. There are lots of great speed-training products and programs out there. Find one that works for you, and stick with it.

5. Get a clubfitting checkup

Even if you’re not planning on buying a new set of clubs, think of getting fit like going for a checkup. A fitting will make sure the specs on your clubs match what your swing most need from them. The adjustments could be small—like moving an adjustable weight on your driver, changing to a different size grip, or tweaking the lie angle on your irons—but the benifits will last you a full season.



6. Dial-in your numbers

The pervasiveness of technology in golf nowadays means this is a lot easier than it used to be. Foresight Quad has become the launch monitor of choice for so many tour players because of its data's accuracy, and they have a lower-cost version of the same tech for consumers. There are lots of other options for at-home launch moniters at various other price points, and even booking a couple of hours on a driving range outfitted with a Trackman or other simulator technology could help you through it. But rest assured, it’d be time well spent. If you can get actual numbers so you can answer, specifically, each of the below, you’ll have instantly upgraded your golf IQ:

  • Your average driver ball speed
  • Your average driver clubhead speed
  • Your average driver spin rate
  • Your average carry distance for every club in your bag

7. Aim at fewer pins (and take more club)

Too many mid-to-high handicap golfers make the mistake of thinking they’re not good enough to care about course strategy, when nothing could be further from the truth. They’re not good enough not to care about course strategy. Systems like Scott Fawcett's DECADE Golf App can help highlight some of the specific strategy areas golfers make during their game, and the early part of the season is a great time to brush-up on the mistakes you’re probably making in your game. Three of the most common: Not taking enough club, aiming at too many pins and leaving yourself short-sided too often.

8. Invest in a putting station

One of the reasons why pros use putting mirrors is because it’s a quick, simple and easy way to make sure they’re setting up to the golf ball the same way, every time. A putting mirror and some start line gates that you can use from home on a regular basis won’t set you back much, but is a good investment in your short game.

9. Manage your expectations

Finally, remember that golf is a really difficult game. Statistician Lou Stagner reminds us of this often. If the expectations you have for your own game are unrealistic, you’ll only end up frustrated and squander the progress you have made.