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Keep your resolution to improve your game

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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It’s that time of the year when we make a few New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds, spend more time with the family or quit a bad habit. If improving your golf game is on your list, you’ll need a game plan to help improve your game. Finding time to practice will be the toughest thing to do to improve your game. I have always said, “Life gets in the way of golf, all the time,” because it’s difficult to set aside time in our lives to practice. Here is what I do to improve my game when it’s hard to find that time. n Do drills at home. When I have a quiet moment, I will do repetitions of drills that help me feel squareness and a balanced swing. Usually I do these drills in front of a mirror for visual feedback. n Make your practice time on the range more efficient. With every bucket of balls you should work on your wedge game for half the bucket and your pre-shot routine for the second half. I don’t like to work too much on my swing at the range because it can give you a lot of negative feedback, which can put you on the bogey train. n Putt, putt, putt. The more you practice your putting, the better your game will be. n Play nine holes. Play early or late. Most courses offer nine-hole rates on the back nine in the morning or late in the evening. When you don’t have the time for 18 holes, this is better than not playing at all. n Take a lesson. This can be the best way to improve all aspects of your game, especially if you are really serious about improving. Find a PGA professional to help you figure out the last 18 tips you have seen on the Golf Channel or in one of the many golf magazines. A professional eye can give you some understanding of your swing and some ideas that will help you improve. n Make sure your equipment is properly fitted. Too many people try as hard as they can to improve, but with clubs that don’t fit it will always be a struggle. A PGA professional club fitter will certainly be able to find the correct fit for you. n Be patient. Pebble Beach wasn’t built in a day. Keep in mind that changes take time. To create the correct feel, many repetitions must be completed. Make a plan and stay with it as best you can. Don’t get down on yourself if the handicap doesn’t come down as quickly as you’d like. Hard work will pay off. I know resolutions are hard to stay with, but with a little work and commitment, improving your golf game will be the best-kept resolution you’ve ever made. I wish all of you and your families a happy and healthy New Year. May your golf cup runneth over with birdies and pars in 2010.