If you’re like most players, I’m sure you love watching golf on TV.
It’s great to see guys bomb 300+ yard drives, hit towering approach shots, get creative around the greens, and drain putts. All this with millions of dollars at stake, week in and out.
Not only is this great entertainment, it’s also a great way to improve your own game. Instead of watching the best players on the planet entertain you, learn from them! Don’t forget, these guys get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (and millions of dollars) to play golf.
Needless to say, there’s a lot you can learn and apply to your own golf game. Here are 15 things that you can learn from watching professionals compete at the highest levels.
If you’re like most golfers, I bet you get to the golf course 30-40 minutes ahead of your tee time (at most). While I’m sure you have some friends that pay for the round and run straight to the first tee box also.
The pros warm up differently. They often arrive at the range 90 to 120 minutes before their tee times. They warm up on the range, chip and pitch, hit bunker shots, as well as make many putts.
You should do something similar but in a shorter time frame as it’s more realistic. It is important to arrive at the putting green at least 30 minutes prior, preferably between 45-60 minutes. Next, you should always hit the green and stretch.
Proper warm-ups will help you avoid injury and build confidence for your first few holes.
You might be thinking I’m totally contradicting myself based on the first point, but hear me out.
It is essential to warm up before the round to loosen your muscles and improve your swing. But your warm-up doesn’t necessarily relate to how you will play during the round.
Justin Thomas, for example, said that he had a bad warm-up but shot 65 on the course. You can also have a great warm-up session and still play terrible. That’s just golf!
You can warm up with a good warm-up. ThinkIt will correspond to the golf course. If you can’t find the clubface on the range, ThinkYou’re saving the best shots for last. That’s the attitude you need to succeed!
Every golfer on PGA Tour has a unique swing. Some golfers have a crazy backswing, like Jim Furyk or Matt Wolfe. Others have the perfect swing, like Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
They all swing differently but they all share a preshot routine.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this post it’s the importance of developing your own pre-shot routine too. You do not need to replicate anyone else’s either – instead, develop one that works for you.
Pre-shot practice should have one goal: to help you focus for each shot and block out noise. Make one at the range, and then practice it constantly on the range to make it automatic on the course.
This has ever happened to anyone?
Let’s say you normally play a draw, but you get to the range before the round and can’t hit a draw to save your life. Instead, you’re hitting it straight and maybe even cutting it left to right.
What do you do at the course? Do you prefer to play with the results or force yourself to reach your standard draw?
If you’re like most golfers, you try to force it, instead of playing with what the Golf Gods gave you that day. But I’ve heard several Tour pros say they’ll play with what they had on their range.
Sometimes the Golf Gods have other plans for your round. You can relax and let the cards roll to avoid a sloppy round.
PGA Tour pros still miss bad shots despite being paid millions to play this crazy game. Sometimes, they make poor shots that make them look less like a PGA Tour professional than an ordinary amateur.
No judgment, we’ve all been there.
But when they hit these big mishits, you don’t see much of a reaction from them. Sure, some of them get angry with a club slam, but it’s very short-lived. By the time they get ready to hit the next shot, they’re 100% focused on the task at hand.
They are present and they don’t dwell on past mistakes. Don’t forget to take the time to analyze your game. After the round, not while you’re grinding away.
Try to move quickly after you make a mistake. The more you can turn your attention to the next shot, the sooner you’ll get the momentum back in your round.
Don’t let one bad shot spiral into a few bad shots or bad holes!
I love watching players and caddies discuss a shot before picking the club. They discuss the lie, pin, weather conditions, and where they want the ball landing before picking a club. The last thing they discuss is the number that they want the ball carry in the air.
Each shot requires a number.
For example, let’s say you laser the flag and it’s 128 yards with 10mph wind behind you. In this case, you don’t want to hit it 128, you want to hit it 120, let the wind take it and it won’t spin as much as normal. Too many golfers laser the pin and then think that’s the number, when forgetting about slope, weather, and roll out.
Don’t get me wrong, picking a number will not guarantee (by any means) that you’ll actually hit it that far. However, it helps you focus and gives your mind a clear idea about the goal.
Specificity is key to golf. To give yourself the best chance of success, you should set a target and a number for each approach shot.
Statistically speaking, par 3’s are the hardest type of hole on the PGA Tour.
For most par 3s, if they make a par they’re happy with it and move on. Sure, they make birdies but a lot of times that’s not even the goal. Their goal is usually a par, especially on par 3s that are longer than 200 yards.
They want to hit the green from 20-35 feet. If the birdie putt goes in they will be happy. If not, they’ll take a 2-putt par and move on.
The same attitude should be applied to par 3. Take a par, and have fun with it. If your birdie putt goes in, awesome, but don’t stress over a three on the scorecard.
It is a rule that you should only aim for the fat portion of the green if a par 3 is more than 150 yards. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll hit it every time but it gives you a better chance of three.
Plus, when you aim for the middle and miss the green, you’re less likely to short side yourself. This should result in fewer double bogeys, which are too common on par 3s for many amateur golfers.
Remember, even though they are the shortest type of hole on the golf course, a par won’t hurt you.
Par 3s are the most difficult, but par 4s can be a challenge for professional golfers. Some par 4s are driveable, while others require a wedge to the green. Few are long enough for a long iron to reach the green.
You can adapt their play style to your game.
Here are the pros who make a lot of their birdies. If they can reach a par 4, they almost always hit driver and 3-wood to get as close as possible to the green.
They are likely to hit the green and make a birdie. Eagles may also be possible. If they miss the green, it’s a short up and down for birdie. Par is the worst they usually make, unless there’s a ton of hazards around the green.
The same should be done with short 4s. Even if you’re in the light rough, a shot from close range is more likely to get closer than 100+ yards away.
Think about it, I’m sure you can get a 20 yard chip closer than a 100-yard shot after laying up off the tee. Unless there’s a ton of trouble by the green or it doesn’t suit your eye, take a driver on short par 4s.
For par 4s of medium length, pros usually have a wedge or a short iron into the hole. But they don’t hit it as close as you might think.
Here are the numbers of the nearest hole to the hole at three distances. PGA TourIn the 2021 season
- 100-125 yards: 20.1 feet
- 125-150 yards: 23.2 feet
- 150-175 yards: 27.8 feet
Needless to say, they don’t hit their approach shots into par 4s as close as you think.
The same shot strategy should be used with your game. Don’t aim at the flag too often. If you have a short iron or wedge, you can aim closer at the flag, but you don’t have to attack it every shot. You can aim for the middle portion of the green, and make as many birdie shots as you can.
Play it like a par 3 when you have a long, par-4 where you will need a hybrid, long iron, or fairwaywood for your second shot. Play it like a par. Aim for the middle of the green and realize that a bogey isn’t the end of the world.
Let’s not forget about par 5s. These holes were played below the average par score in the 2021 PGA Tour season.
They almost always hit par 5s in just two shots. Because of the fact that they know that scoring averages decrease from short range, PGA Tour golfers try to get on or close to the green whenever possible.
This means that you should not lay back at 100 yards as often as possible and instead aim to hit it as close as possible. This will allow you to hit it closer and make more birdies.
Too many golfers let their ego dictate which clubs they use for certain shots and which clubs they carry in their bags. When in reality, who cares what you use… as long as it gets the job done!
I carried a 7-wood in high school and got a lot of grief from my classmates. They stopped judging me when I used it for long par 3s. They also noticed that the green was more frequent than their long irons.
The same applies to the PGA Tour pros. These pros are among the most skilled ball strikers on Earth, but they also use utility irons, high-altitude fairway woods, hybrids, and utility clubs.
Always choose the right club for your game. Who cares if they’re labeled as “game improvement” or extra forgiving.
That includes playing the right shafts. Don’t play heavy steel shafts just because your friends use them. Choose the ones that are the right weight and flex for you swing.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about your score, not your clubs.
Amateur golfers often try to hit all of their approach shots. Meanwhile, professionals tend to hit more punch shots or ¾ knockdown shots for their approach shots.
A few reasons…
- Punch shots are easier than you might think. By choking up on a club an inch or two, it’s shorter and easier to hit consistently instead of a full swing at 100% speed.
- Punch shots don’t spin as much.Although you don’t have to worry about as much backspin in wedges as pros, knockdowns can be great to use with wedges. Instead of spinning too many wedges, try a knockdown. It should hit the green only once, then stop.
- Punch shots aren’t as affected by the wind. Finally, hitting less than full shots will result in a lower trajectory that isn’t as impacted by wind.
By choking up an inch and taking a shorter backswing, it’s easier to hit approach shots more consistently. It’s easy to improve your accuracy when you do this.
Pros making wedge shots is something I enjoy watching. They have so much creativity within 100 yards. This is the largest area of their game you could learn from.
One thing is the frequency they hit different wedge trajectories. Dustin Johnson is a great example.
For a long time he was near the top of driving distance but didn’t win as many events as he should have. Everything changed when he mastered his wedges.
He began to use different trajectories in order to reduce spin and keep his ball out of the wind. He said that he had a tendency to hit different trajectories to reduce spin and keep the ball out of the wind. Golf.com article, “I’ve got three swings with each wedge: a half, a three-quarter and a stock swing, “I work on all three swings with all three wedges.”
You will need at least two wedge shots to get you started. You can have your regular full shot, and then a choke-up, knockdown shot. As you improve your golf game, you will be able to add another one.
While they have the ability to hit high-fool shots and spin pitches that spin a lot, most pros keep it low around greens. Sure, they need to hit those high, sexy shots sometimes, but a lot of times they’ll bump a hybrid or putt from the fringe.
Do the same, as keeping it lower around greens is a better percentage play.If you attempt to hit a high pitch, and things go wrong with your game, your chances of getting double bogey increase significantly.
Keep your ball low on the greens. Putt if possible, chip, then pitch as a last resort. The more likely you are for the ball to roll like a putt on the green, the better.
Although you can learn a lot watching pros play the PGA Tour, it is also a great way to learn a lot about them by listening. I love hearing the stories of players as they stand on a heater on their back nine and walk into a press event.
They’re always talking about things like:
- “I was just saying in the moment.”
- “My goal was to hit one shot at the time.”
- “I just focused on my targets and committed to my number.”
They don’t ever talk about technical swing thoughts. They will never say,
- “I was just focused on taking the club outside on my takeaway so I could The bottom it on the way down.”
- “I made sure to pause at the top so I could get my hips moving left on the downswing.”
The reason they never talk about technical swing thoughts after a great round is because they aren’t thinking of them while playing. Instead, they just go through their routine and pick their targets. Then, they let go. They trust their swing based on the extensive practice they’ve put in the past.
This is another way you can learn a lot. When you go out and play golf… do just that, play golf. Don’t practice your golf swing.
Don’t let age dictate your ability as a golfer.
Phil Mickelson won PGA Championship at age 50. Tiger Woods won his fifth green jacket at 43!
Needless to say, don’t ever feel like age means you won’t play well anymore. You can score low for many years or even decades if your health is in good shape.
There are many things that the best players do that you can duplicate. Although you might not be able to swing as hard, fast or as consistently as the pros, you can still think like them on the course.
While it’s fun to admire their swing and great shots on TV, always try to learn something you can add to your game. But don’t think about swing thoughts, instead, think about course strategy, short game, and attitude.
The announcers often have tons of knowledge. You should pay attention to the best players around the world making golf look easy.