“Swing tip to start the season: Work on your setup, and make sure your feet, knees, hips, shoulders are all in line with your target. By starting with a good setup, you’re more likely to make solid contact and hit more greens. You also need to dial in your clubs, knowing the distance that you hit each club. Start off by hitting each club 10 to 15 times to determine the distance for each club.
—Ryan Kidwell, director of golf, White Clay Creek Country Club,Wilmington, Del.
“Start off slow with some stretching. Or hit some practice balls with short irons to stretch out your golfing muscles. Gradually work your way through your clubs to the driver. So many people jump right onto the course and start hitting the driver—an injury waiting to happen.”
—Dale Loeslein, director of golf, Odessa National Golf Club, Townsend, Del.
“Twofold tip: Have a plan and ease in. Look and analyze your game. Where are you losing strokes? Come up with a plan, work on your trouble spots and stay with it. Two-thirds of your practice should be putting and short game, so ease in with wedges and pitches and putting. Don’t start with a big bucket of balls pounding drivers.”
—Dave McNabb, head pro, Applebrook Golf Club, Malvern, Pa.
“Beginning golf season tip: If you haven’t picked up a golf club since early November my best tip for you is to first work on your overall golf flexibility. The key to a healthy lower back is hamstring muscle flexibility. Start slow and easy for your first practice session, and focus on your short game. Your body will thank you.”
—Jeff Haas, head pro, French Creek Golf Club, Elverson, Pa.
“Best tip to start off the season: Your total score is made up of 33 percent full swings and 67 percent non-full swings (pitching, chipping, putting and bunkers). Practice accordingly.”
—Eric Shillinger, head pro, Moselem Springs Golf Club, Fleetwood, Pa.
“Stretch, and then stretch again. For the new season, I’d also re-grip all of your clubs.”
—Dale Lafferty, head pro, Broad Run Golf Club, West Chester, Pa.
“The first few practice sessions of the season, hit less than full wedges, hinging at 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock positions. Work on tempo, feel, squareness and aiming.”
—Scott Nye, head pro, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
“During the layoff, you lose swing speed. So start out by going light, swinging a thin wooden dowel or the driver by gripping the club upside-down. Swing slow at first, then work your way up to the last 20 swings as faster. Do it every day for a few days, and you should get your swing speed back. But don’t swing heavy clubs or two clubs—that just helps with position, not speed.”
—Scott Reilly, head pro, Philadelphia Country Club, Gladwyne, Pa.
“Look at it like a 10,000-mile checkup. Work on grip, aim, posture alignment, half-swing wedges; work on getting it on the face. Start short and work your way back to tee.”
—Peter Bollman, head pro, Bulle Rock Golf Course, Havre de Grace, Md.
“Practicing your short game will help you to score better if you’re not striking the ball as solidly as you normally do. The other benefit is that your pitching motion is a mini-golf swing, and you can often see great benefits in your full swing by working on good technique in your pitching motion. So it’s kind of a two-for-one.”
—Jeff Kiddie, head pro, Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Pa.
“The best thing people can do before they get back on the course is some basic stretches to help loosen the back and legs, so nothing gets hurt in the beginning of the season. Flexibility and strength are the first things to go in our golf swing as we get older, so it’s always good to focus on maintaining both whenever possible.”
—Linda Nevatt, head pro, The Ace Club, Lafayette Hills, Pa.
“Focus on your setup. Pay closest attention to your alignment and ball position. These are the two most neglected items by most amateurs. Yet, if you watch tour pros practice, they always have alignment sticks to help them with ball position and alignment to the target. If the best players in the world focus on it, there’s a good chance that amateurs should focus on it more.”
—Andy Watters, head pro, Inniscrone Golf Club, Avondale, Pa.
“A solid setup is a must: grip, posture, alignment and ball position. Any of these that are not in your normal—or always in a poor—position lead to adjustments that need to be made during the swing to produce an acceptable shot.”
—Ken Dixon, head pro, Downingtown Country Club, Downingtown, Pa.