Whether you're a weekend player or a Tour pro like I am, no one wants to stumble out of the gate to start the golf season. (For me, It leads to shrinking confidence and shrinking paychecks.) Would you like to make a hot start in 2016, and keep that mo' going right into summer? You can. Over the years, I've learned how to kickstart my game, and these techniques can work for you, too -- and you don't need to hit thousands of range balls or play dozens of rounds. Just copy my three keys and you'll find your summer form before spring is through. This is one time when it's good to lose your cool.
1. START SLOW, FINISH FAST
Your timing is the first thing to go after a long layoff -- and that usually means taking the club to the top too quickly. Beware: Fast backswings lead to off-plane downswings -- and bad mis-hits. Take the club back nice and slow, and keep it controlled until you reach the top. Then pour on the speed in the downswing and through impact.
2. SIMPLIFY YOUR SHORT GAME You're probably not a greens-hitting machine when you start your year, so your short game has to pick up the slack. Make things simple -- favor bump-andruns over more lofted chips and pitches. It‘s easier to fly the ball five yards and let it run for 15 than to just try to fly it 20 yards.
For foolproof bump-and-runs, grab your 7-iron, stand closer to the ball than normal and grip almost down to the steel. Shift your weight to your lead foot, raise the club's heel off the turf and swing your arms. Honestly, you can't miss!
3. ‘FEEL' BETTER Layoff or not, you'll make a lot more putts when you instinctively produce the correct speed for the putt at hand. Anyone can hone this ability. I do it with the drill below. A tip: Avoid using specific stroke lengths to produce different distances. Trust your feel, and react to what you see.
My best putting drill: 1) roll a ball while looking at the target; 2) repeat, head down but eyes closed; 3) hit a third putt using your normal technique, eyes open. Vary your distances. Trust me: Your innate sense of speed will skyrocket!