golf skills - how to become better at golf

Golf skills: How to become better at golf

Amon Fearon - September 05, 2022

Want to get better at golf? It may be one of the most popular sports out there but that doesn’t make it any easier to play. Golf requires serious commitment and practice if you want to master the course. But what does that look like and how can you improve your abilities?

Every champion has to first nail the fundamentals. So, let's look at some of the basic golf skills you’ll need to get to grips with, as well as tips and tricks to help you achieve your potential.


Basic golf skills

If you’re relatively new to the green, here are all the basic skills for golf you’ll need to know:


Know what grip feels most comfortable to you. The most common grip types include: interlocked, baseball and overlapping. An interlocking grip is where the little finger of your right-hand fits between the index and middle finger of your left hand. A baseball grip, sometimes called a ten-finger grip, is when all ten fingers touch the club like when you hold a baseball bat. Finally, an overlap grip is when the right little finger is placed on top of the gap between your index finger and middle finger on the left hand. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, it’s just whatever feels most natural for you.


A lot of golf relies on aim. To line up right, place two golf clubs on the ground about 18 inches apart, pointed at your target. Keep your swing between those two clubs. Use this as your guide until you feel confident to eyeball it.


A good golf stance uses soft knees and hinging from the hips. Remember to keep your weight on the balls of your feet. Avoid squatting or leaning back too much as this will limit your play.

Club face control & strike

Get familiar with your club face, the flat bit of your club that hits the ball. It’s all well and good hitting the ball but if you strike it with the wrong angle on your club face, that could make or break a shot.


The swing is what a lot of golfers tend to focus on first. A good swing comes from a consistent back and forth along an arc. To get a good arc and therefore a good swing, keep your arms and hands loose – don’t tense up. Your swing will improve over time so just keep practicing until you’ve perfected your movement.


Your driver is a separate golf club and a little trickier to master. Drivers are usually the longest club and used on par 4 or 5 tee shots as they give the most distance.


Putting is what you’ll see during the tense moments near the hole. A putting stroke is the shortest and slowest swing used to move the ball smaller distances. While that might seem easier, it’s actually pretty difficult to get right when you factor in the terrain, wind and any weather conditions.


While less common, some golf courses have sand pits, which obstruct a typical shot. At some point, you'll want to hone your chipping technique and use a 52 to 56-degree wedge club to get the ball back on to the green.


Can I improve my golf at home?

Absolutely. While actually getting out there any playing the game is essential for improvement, you can make real gains at home when it comes to the basic skills we’ve just discussed. A lot of golf is in the technique. That’s your swing, grip and stance, all things you can work on outside of the golf course.

If you’ve got the space, setting up a net in your garden or garage will create your own mini driving range. Here, you can practice the fundamentals of golf including that all-important swing motion as well as a strong, stable stance.

It’s hard to keep a check on your form when you can’t see yourself. So, it’s also a good idea to watch what you’re doing in a mirror or record yourself while you practice. This is a great way of identifying where you may be going wrong or what seems to be working best for you.

Finally, inside your home is a great place to get some putting practice in. Since you’re focusing on slow and small movements, you can simply drop a ball on your floor and practice putting it into a makeshift hole. This will massively help you in terms of club control and familiarising yourself with the strength needed for different shots.


How quickly can you improve at golf?

That all depends how much you practice. Generally speaking, a total beginner should expect to see improvement within the first six months of playing - at least to the point of hitting the ball properly. But that's only scratching the surface. If you’re wanting to get seriously good and give other players a genuine run for their money, you’re looking at a few years with weekly practice.

Ultimately, it all depends on what you define as ‘good’. If you’re just wanting to get good enough to play competitively with friends, you probably don’t need to train as much. But if you’re hoping to make it into competitions, you’re going to need to really commit to the game.

One of the quickest ways to improve is to wear the right golf attire. Heavy clothing may slow your swing speed and failing to dress adequately for weather and mobility can feel distracting, thus hindering performance.


How to improve consistently at golf

To get better at golf you need to be consistent. Some recreational players only train a few times a month, but if you want to noticeably improve, you should be practicing golf 3-4 times per week as a minimum. That might sound like a lot, and it is. But remember, it’s all up to you and what your goals are. You'll want to exercise muscle memory to master your technique so it's better to make a routine of playing frequently for shorter periods than the occasional long session. Though, you need to be reinforcing correct posture and technique instead of simply repeating mistakes until they become bad habits.

Set measurable goals to bring focus to your game and hone specific skills based on your strengths and weaknesses. A key determining factor of your final score, for example, will be the quality of your putting. So benchmarking and journaling your average putts per round, or 'strokes gained putting' for more serious golfers, gives you a defined number to strive towards.

Driving ranges are great for isolated swings in quick succession but make sure you practice plenty of rounds on the golf course as the physical and mental experience is different. It presents the challenges of sloping surfaces and natural elements that reflect the requirements of playing competitively.


Golf equipment to improve your game

Let’s assume you’re already fitted with performance golf clothing, here are some considerations to get started on improving your game:

  • Drivers and irons with bigger club faces to help improve your strike.
  • Buy the right shaft (the metal pole of your club) for your swing. Too light and you’ll overpower your swings. Too heavy and you’ll struggle to gain momentum in your strikes. Ask to hold someone else’s at your club to get a feel of what works.
  • Go for a wide sole on your clubs and irons to stop the club digging too much into the turf.
  • Make sure your putting club is matched to your stroke. Not sure? Go to a putter fitting at a golf store to find your perfect putting club.


These basics are only the tip of the iceberg but building the right foundations and showing a commitment to marginal gains will drive you to break new scores consistently on the course. You set your limits.