You may never break par (or 100) but that doesn’t mean you can’t master the game in other ways. With a little preparation you can become a MacGyver of the links who wows his playing partners with a wondrous catalog of hacks, tricks and shortcuts. Here are 27 do-it-yourself pro tips that’ll save you a few strokes (and dollars) and make you the envy of your foursome.
1. Toast your ball (then roast it!)
On cold days, slip your first-tee ball in your pocket on your way to the course to keep it warm. Studies show that a 40-degree ball carries up to 5 to 10 yards shorter than a 70- to 80-degree ball.
2. Is it in you?
Don’t waste your money on one of those gizmos that helps you draw an alignment line on your ball. The plastic ring from a 64-ounce Gatorade bottle does the trick, while the beverage itself will help keep you refreshed and hydrated.
3. Shoe da man!
Replace your obnoxious, clunky putter cover with an adorable one: a baby’s shoe. Extra style points if you swipe your toddler’s UGGs or Air Jordans.
3. Serenity card
Write down your working swing thoughts (no more than three) on an index card and keep it in your bag. Consulting the card after your first X will help you refocus.
4. Make way for Miller
Remove two irons from your bag (trust us, you’ll survive a round without your 3-iron and 4-iron). That’ll make it harder for the bag boys to detect the six-pack you slipped in your side pocket.
5. Get a (great smelling) grip
Spray deodorant on your hands in the clubhouse bathroom. It’s a tacky move, sure, but that’s kinda the point.
6. Serve and protect
You could protect your clubs in your travel bag with one of those unwieldy accordion poles that are a pain to store. But why bother when a plastic bucket ably performs the same function?
7. Hats off
Oldie but a goodie: After miraculously finding your ball in knee-high rough, you head back to your bag to grab a club only to realize you neglected to keep an eye on the location of your ball. Avoid the drama by dropping a hat near the spot.
8. Use rain gloves — even when it’s not raining
Rain gloves are great in the rain, but they’re also useful on hot, sticky summer days, especially if you’re the sweaty-palms type. The more your hands perspire, the stickier your gloves will become.
9. What a tool
Oldie but a goodie, part II: Propping your clubs on a divot repair tool will keep your grips clean and dry.
10. Bucket lust
Here’s one for home: Run a light bulb through a range bucket and you’ll have a pretty sweet light fixture. Your Brooklyn friends will love it.
11. Follow your nose
Tossing grass blades into the air is so unsophisticated. Instead, point your nose into the wind. When you feel the breeze balanced on your ears, your nose is pointed directly into the wind.
A faulty cart strap is one of the game’s greatest irritants. Good thing you keep a bungee cord in your bag. That cord is also a great tool for helping you get loose on the first tee.
13. Lace up!
If you’ve ever busted a shoelace on the links, you’ll see the wisdom in carrying an extra pair of laces in your bag.
14. Nail it
Carry a carpenter’s nail in your bag. It’s a perfect groove-cleaning tool, and it also makes for a pretty bad-ass ball marker.
15. Make an impact
Impact tape, shmimpact tape. Use a dry-erase marker on your clubface to get immediate feedback on where you’re making contact. (Dr. Scholl’s foot spray also works.)
16. Heads up (most of the time)
Make a habit of marking your ball with the heads side up. Only go tails up if you’re asked to move the mark off a playing partner’s line. It’ll serve as a reminder that you must remark your ball in its original place. (Hey, it worked for Tiger at the 1996 U.S. Amateur!)
17. Best. Towel. Trick. Ever.
Bent putter shaft? Take your golf towel and rub the shaft vigorously up and down. The friction will heat up the shaft to a point where you can straighten a slight bend. (Yes, it actually works.)
18. In the paint
Use nail polish for a custom, Tour-pro-grade paint job on your irons and wedges.
19. Brush it off
If you forgot to clean off your spikes with that whirling brush machine back by the clubhouse, the snowbrush in your trunk is an excellent substitute.
20. Hot rods
Those handy-dandy alignment rods you see on Tour ranges? You can buy them at Home Depot for $2.52 (they’re called “driveway markers”).
21. You could land a 747 out there
On dogleg lefts, tee the ball up on the left side of the box and aim up the right side of the fairway. The landing area will look yuuuge.
22. Box stars
Another one for home: Use the tops and bottoms of empty ball boxes to organize your junk drawer.
23. Mirror, mirror on the moss…
Keep a small makeup mirror in your bag. When your putting goes off the rails, the mirror will help you quickly check your eye alignment.
24. Dry joy
Oldie but a goodie, part III: Wet gloves? Hang them from your umbrella to dry them out.
25. Hole in one pocket
We don’t endorse cheating, but we do begrudgingly respect creative attempts to bend the rules. Cut a hole in one of your pockets and it will come in handy when your ball goes missing. “Oh, hey, guys — just found it!”
26. Snag some extra scorecards
If you’re a walker, throw a couple of extra ‘cards from your home course in your bag. That way if you forget to grab one from the pro shop or starter, you’ll have a spare one on hand.
27. Animal instincts
Your favorite stuffed animal from childhood deserves a grander retirement home than a dusty box in the attic. With a few nips and tucks, Lulu the Lion can become the loyal protector of your $500 driver.