1. Get a Grip – Everything in golf is based on one’s grip. There are numerous right ways to grip the club including overlap, interlock, and baseball grip. However, every golfer needs to have their grip checked by a golf instructor to see if their grip will support, or even allow them, to hit good golf shots.
2. Create a Real Purpose for Playing the Game and Seeking To Improve. In order to benefit from playing golf, each person must find their own purpose and their own joy from the game, and must determine for themselves if they want to put in the time, focus, energy, and discipline to improve their game. Violate this commandment and golf is simply frustrating and expensive in terms of time and money. Honor this commitment and great achievement and great rewards will be yours from the game of golf.
3. Set Up For Success (Stance, Posture, Aim). Your “set up” can either propel you to execute a good golf swing or permanently keep you from hitting good golf shots. The rules to set up are pretty straightforward and variations in set up, to some degree, can be beneficial to many players. However, this maxim is clear: You can do everything perfectly with your swing, but if you are improperly aimed, or lined up badly, you will hit a poor, off line shot. Also, posture is about having good angles, not curves in your set up. Have a good golf instructor check your set up on a periodic basis.
4. Get Fit or at least “Fitter.” Fitness increases your capacity not only to play golf well, but to enjoy life as well. Improving your physical fitness and walking rather than riding in golf carts when the course is set up for walking, are great ways to enjoy not only the game of golf more fully, but also enjoy golf more fully.
5. Get Lessons and Use Mirrors, Video and equipment that helps you “see” your swing and the statistics your golf shot produces. The game of golf is not intuitive. Yes, there are self-taught players, but every one of them watched other players carefully, hit lots of balls, and learned from others. In today’s world with mirrors and video equipment cheap, today’s golfers have a unique advantage over previous generations. Nick Faldo said, “I wish I had Track-Man when I was playing tournament golf.” Group lessons are not expensive and all beginning players should take group lessons. As you progress in the game, lessons are important because you cannot properly analyze your own golf swing. Almost every mistake you make in a golf swing that you can see is the result of your doing something wrong prior to the mistake you see. When most golfers try to correct a mistake they usually focusing on correcting the result, like a bad slice or a bad hook, and that often just introduces another big mistake into their golf swing. Golf lessons are as important to enjoying golf as snow skiing lessons are to skiing without injuring yourself. When you reach the intermediate level of golf skill, golf lessons are essential to help guide you to improvement and promote satisfaction with your game of golf.
6. Golf is actually 26 “games” all rolled into one. For each “game,” like putting, driving, sand shots, etc. (the others will be described in the book), you will have different abilities and you should recognize that improving in one area of your game usually does not improve the other areas of your game. Only be separating “golf” into the 26 different games which golf comprises, will you be able to practice intelligently enough and with a solid enough plan to improve your overall game and your overall score.
7. Keep A Good Pace. Slow play is killing the game of golf. Play quickly. Study every shot as you approach it. Even begin reading the green from 50 yards away if you are lucky enough to be on the green or even hitting a chip or pitch to the green. Golf should take no more than 4 and one-half hours to play 18 holes. Do your part not to make people wait on you as you play the game.
8. Set a Clear Goal for Every Shot. Many shots are not be hit directly at the pin due to the risks around it. But, every shot must have a clear and precise goal as to its line, its distance, its trajectory, and the direction in which the ball curves. Once you set this goal, and set up for the shot, do not doubt the goal or the thinking behind creating this goal. Commit to the shot, commit to the goal, and be clear headed with full confidence that you have selected the most appropriate goal for that shot.
9. Golf is your friend. Golf courses can be beautiful and watching the flight of a golf ball can also be a thing of beauty that brings great joy. Golfers, most often, are great companions on the golf course, and often, off the golf course as well. You can develop great personal and business relationships through golf, and you can find golf courses in the world that you admire due to their beauty.
10. Learn and Obey The Rules – Sometimes. Let’s face it. Golf has some stupid rules and recently the US Golf Association changed some of the stupid rules of the game that not only made little sense, they also slowed down the pace of play of the game tremendously. One rule that is great is to hit the ball where it comes to rest, unless there is some human made structure like a cart path, or yardage marker, or sprinkler obstructing your stance or shot. If you lose your ball, and have not hit a provisional (a second ball) then look for the ball for three minutes, the maximum allotted time and just drop a ball near where you thought the ball would be and add two strokes. If you can’t find the ball due to leaves, just drop the ball near where you thought it should be and don’t add a penalty at all. Now, you can’t do this during tournaments where the rules should be enforced, but even when you are playing for a few bucks, create rules that your group likes and don’t be ruled by the tournament gods who set up the rules for the highest level of competition where millions of dollars are at stake every week.
These ten commandments, when followed, will be your guide to the better game. Teach them to your children and to your playing partners.
-We acknowledge there is some overlap between our Ten Commandments of Golf and the excellent book by Dr. Robert Winters, Ph.D, titled The Ten Commandments of Mindpower Golf. We developed our Ten Commandments of Golf prior to reading Dr. Winters’ book. For those who want to improve their mental approach to the game of golf, we recommend his book, For golfers who want to compete in golf tournaments at the highest level we believe a sports psychologist can be a very important advisor who can help golfers reach their full potential on the course during the pressure and challenges of tournament play. We also acknowledge that Dr. Robert Rotella’s Ten Commandments of Golf found in his book, The Golfer’s Mind, is also a very good approach to the mental game of golf, well worth reading.