Does golf make you mental? 5 tips to break 90

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Mastering the game of golf is a task too tough for the majority of players. | File Photo

Slamming of clubs, a bevy of curse words and temper tantrums all around are not behavior you would expect from those playing a gentleman’s game.

“A lot of people are leaving [golf] because of frustration,” said Connie DeMattia, head golf professional at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton.

The majority of people that play golf shoot in the mid-90s. Breaking 90 is the obstacle that most golfers have the most difficulty overcoming.

“Not a lot of people shoot less than 90,” said Mike Lyzun, head golf professional at Naperville’s Springbrook Golf Course. “It’s a major hurdle to break 90. Getting off the tee and having the ability to get it up and down around the green are the two most important things. Around the green, everybody, with practice, and understanding some technique around the green, should be able to get up and down more consistently than they do.”

Here are some tips from Lyzun and DeMattia to help make golf more enjoyeable and will get you closer to your scoring goals:

1. Break down your golf swing

“I try to get people to think of their lesson in two parts,” Lyzun said. “Pre-swing and in-swing. Pre-swing fundamentals are a little more controllable because there aren’t as many moving parts. Everyone, in theory, should be able to set up properly.”

Lyzun said the grip is one of the most important aspects of pre-swing fundamentals, and needs to be conquered first before moving on to the swing itself.

2. Learn to control the club

“The two greatest skills someone can acquire in golf is the ability to control the clubface and knowing where the bottom of their golf swing is,” DeMattia said. “The majority of people I see have no sense of how open their clubface is.”

3. Don’t overspend on shiny, new equipment

Golf manufacturers would like you to believe that you need to replace your existing clubs much more frequently than what is actually necessary.

“Just about every manufacturer is making really good stuff,” DeMattia said. “It’s so good people are getting quite a good amount of Band-Aids in their golf game.

“A sweet spot is a sweet spot, though. If you have a set of clubs that is 15 to 20 years old you’re due for an upgrade. I have a set of irons that is 11 years old. I did get a new driver and hybrid this year, since they need to be updated more frequently.”

4. Play the right tees to have more fun

For those not as skilled, DeMattia offered some suggestions to keep the game fun for everyone.

“If a person is not playing the right tees, they are not going to enjoy the game,” said DeMattia, referencing the importance of choosing the correct tees to play from. “If you’re driving the ball 200 yards you should play tees 5,700 to 6,200 yards. We have family golf tees that advocate getting out as a family.”

Lyzun stressed that just because the front tees are often misrepresented as the “ladies tees,” doesn’t mean men cannot play from them. A group of men in their 80s that play from the forward tees at Springbrook has him trying to push more players to play the proper tees for their length.

5. Invest in your skills, not just equipment

Golf can be an expensive hobby when you factor in the cost of green fees, equipment and apparel.

Lyzun says you are much better off investing your money in instruction than the latest, cutting-edge technology.

“Take one lesson a month,” Lyzun said. “The wrong thought is that you’ll be OK taking just one a year. Take a lesson once a month in April, June, July and August if you’re committed to improving your game.”

Follow Matthew Schwerha on Twitter @MatthewSchwerha