24. YOUR HEAD IS OVERFLOWING WITH SWING THOUGHTS
Give yourself a good talking-to, says E.A. Tischler, the director of instruction at Inverness. "On the practice tee, utter a phrase while swinging that captures what you want to do. The phrase should be no more than four or five words and personalized for you. One tall student with a flat swing said, 'Tall Tom Watson!' which fixed his plane. Another student said, 'Turn, draw, finish!' to go from hitting cuts to draws." This works because words have meaning, sending a clear message to your motor skills.
25. AFTER A FEW GOOD HOLES, YOUR WHEELS COME OFF
To sustain focus, play mini-rounds within your full round. "I have my students play six three-hole rounds," says Top 100 Teacher Michael Breed. "For each mini-round, set specific goals like fairways or greens hit, or pick a target score for each one. This helps you reset your focus multiple times over 18 holes."
26. YOU NEED A PUTTING LESSON
Want immediate feedback on your putting stroke? Bypass that $500-an-hour teaching pro and pick up a Putter Wheel. Essentially a ball with two sides lopped off, the device wobbles like a drunken sailor when you hit it with anything less than a pure stroke. Catch it just right, though -- in the center of your putterface and with a slightly ascending blow -- and it rolls like a dream. $17.95 per wheel; 3-packs are $39.95; putterwheel.com
27. YOU'RE NOT SURE HOW OFTEN YOU NEED TO REGRIP YOUR CLUBS
If you play once a week, regrip your sticks once a year, says clubfitter Mitch Voges. If you play twice a week or more, regrip 'em and rip 'em every six months.
28. WARNING! SLOW PLAYERS AHEAD
So you're stuck behind a seemingly slow group. Don't let yourself get agitated. Assume that the ranger is doing all he can to keep things moving, says Doug Hodge, the head pro at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It might not be the group directly in front of you that's the problem," Hodge says. "It may just be one of those slow days." Keep your rhythm by stretching, and sharpen your short game with closest-to-the-tee-marker chipping contests.
29. BLOW-UP HOLES RUIN YOUR ROUNDS
Often, big numbers happen when you try to hit a green that's too far away, says Top 100 Teacher Keith Lyford. Are you sure you can rip that 3-wood 235 yards to a green ringed by pot bunkers? Instead, divide and conquer. Divide the distance by two and hit two safe shots instead of one overly ambitious one that will probably end up in the sand, rough, or water.
30. YOUR CADDIE WON'T STOP YAKKING
Be frank but friendly, says Ken Brooke, director of caddie services at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. No need to create tension. Try, "Hey, bud, I'm not a big talker on the course. I like putting all my focus on shooting my best score, and I'll need your help to do that." Now you're making him a partner -- a silent partner.
31. YOUR MONEY GAME NEEDS SOME SPICING UP
Need a change of pace from the old skins game? Try "Lakewood golf," a game that Lee Trevino cut his teeth on in Texas, according to golf-gambling historian Michael Bohn. Lakewood allows all manner of distractions: coughing, sneezing, name-calling, you name it. (The only no-no: touching a player or his ball while he's hitting.) It's not for the timid, and it will teach you to block out distractions, too.
32. YOU CAN'T ESCAPE GREENSIDE BUNKERS
Forget the laundry-list of bunker do's and don'ts, says A.J. Bonar, of AJ Golf School in San Diego. "Keep it simple. Set up like any other wedge shot. Then imagine that your ball is resting on top of a tee that's hidden beneath the surface. When you swing, just break the tee. It's that easy."
33. YOU CATCH YOUR IRONS FAT
"Fatties occur when you play the ball too far back in your stance and make a backswing that's too vertical," says Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs. "This terrible tandem creates a super steep path that buries the club in the ground. Try this: Move the ball closer to the instep of your left foot and rotate your hips clockwise in the backswing. This flattens your backswing and helps you approach the ball with a shallower attack."
34. YOU MISS LOTS OF PUTTS BUT AREN'T SURE WHY
You may have a stroke-posture disconnect. The more upright you stand, the more the putterhead rotates, says putting expert Marius Filmalter. Players like Tiger who want the clubhead to "release" through impact get better results with a more upright posture, while the straight-back-and-straight-through boys, like Jack Nicklaus, do better from a more bent-over posture. Experiment to see if your stance and your stroke are a good match.
35. IT'S UP TO YOU TO PLAN THE NEXT BUDDY TRIP
There are three basic rules: fun courses, good eats, fair prices. "Make sure you know a course's cancellation/no-show policy," says Tedd Maitland, golf sales manager at Arizona's Zona Hotel and Suites, in Scottsdale. Don't overschedule. Build in plenty of cocktail-and-story-telling time. "Establish payment parameters in advance. And appoint a group leader -- dissension and confusion are buddy-trip busters."
36. YOU GET MID-ROUND FATIGUE
The keys to keeping up your energy are balanced snacks and good hydration, says Sally Bowman, a dietitian with Central Texas Nutrition Consultants. "Don't wait until you get hungry or feel thirsty," Bowman says. "By then, it's too late. Instead, eat and drink in anticipation. Bring some extra snacks -- energy bars, snack mix -- to the course and have one at the sixth hole and the other at the 12th." Proper spacing, she says, will keep you focused, hydrated and ready to finish with a flourish.
37. THE AIRLINE LOST YOUR STICKS
Don't panic. "Most luggage is just delayed, not lost," says Gordon Dalgleish, the founding director of PerryGolf, one of the industry's leading custom travel service companies. "Submit your claim within 24 hours." Follow the process described for tracking luggage. Most airlines update lost-luggage status online. Also, keep receipts for all expenses you incur -- rental clubs, for example. If your sticks never resurface, the airline will reimburse you for their value (less any applicable depreciation). And don't forget to claim other stuff that was in your golf bag -- shoes, that box of pricey balls, that Rolex. . .uh, never mind.
38. YOU DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP YOUR ANCHORED PUTTING STROKE
Not every type of anchoring will be illegal in 2016. Try a grip that places the handle of the putter against your left forearm. This gives you a similar feel of stability without connecting the club to your sternum. Just hold the grip of the putter against the inside of your left forearm with your right palm, and you're good to go.
39. YOUR HANDICAP JUST WON'T BUDGE
If your game's in a rut, identify your biggest weakness and turn it into a strength, suggests PGA Tour winner Robert Garrigus. "Two years ago, my coach, Jim Ahern, asked me what my weakness was, and I told him, 'My wedge game,' " Garrigus says. "He said, 'Why isn't that your strength?' We made it a strength, and it's helped my game tremendously."