Golf Instruction: Resolve to Break 80

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2013 will be the year that you break your next scoring barrier. To help you get started, we asked Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers to recommend a New Year's Resolution to help us play better. Check out the gallery for tips to get started on your best scoring year yet!
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"Find a good instructor in 2013, take a series of 10-12 lessons, and commit to a regularly scheduled practice session, and play 25-50 (some in competition if possible) rounds of golf and turn in all scores for handicap purposes. #gamewillgetbetter" Fred Griffin, Grand Cypress Academy of Golf, Orlando, Fla. See Fred's tip for fixing your swing in less than 10 second here.
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"Respect for the course and the other golfers. Knowing how to act on the golf course is the essence of etiquette and because golf is often linked with doing business, it can pay off to know what you're doing when you step on a golf course with a boss or client. Many corporations want their employees to know the basics of how act on the golf course, and the connection between golf and business is so strong that college courses across the country are offered to help the new golfer. But whether you use golf for business or have no other agenda besides having fun, the guidelines for etiquette are simple and most are common sense -- like don't use foul or abusive language; don't cheat, throw clubs or talk when another golfer is ready to play. Others are a bit more specific." T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance Port St. Lucie, Fla. See more from T.J. on how to play golf the right way in 2013 here.
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"Work on your short game as much as your full swing." Charlie King, Reynolds Golf Academy at Reynolds Golf Plantation, Greensboro, Ga. See Charlie's tip on how to use a credit card to check your aim on putts here.
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"Play golf tension-free and all the way through the bag, driver to the putter." Kip Puterbaugh, The Aviara Golf Academy, Carlsbad, Calif. See Kip's tip on how to get your mojo back after a tough round here.
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Purchase the ES12 ($225) [LINK:] to make an assessment of your skills. It is a radar launch monitor that connects to your smart phone or iPad. The machine will tell you how far you hit the ball within a yard and it will help you practice your distance control. It will also help you calibrate all your clubs. Laird Small, Pebble Beach Golf Academy, Pebble Beach, Calif. See Laird's tip to make lob shots automatic here.
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"Instead of trying to practice away your faults, find an expert to help you find the root cause of your struggle and then practice the answer until it's comfortable." Brian Manzella, English Turn Golf and Country Club, New Orleans, La. See Brian's tip for hitting the green from fairway bunkers
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"Spend more time with their PGA Professional working on your Chipping and Putting for 2013!" Lou Guzzi, Talamore Country Club, Ambler, Pa. See Lou's tip on how to shorten your backswing to hit knockdown shots here.
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"Think in your 'Think Box,' decide and commit, then play in your 'Play Box.' Keep this clear and your game is bound to get better NOW!" Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, Vision 54, Phoenix, Ariz. Try Pia's drill to fine-tune your tempo here.
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"Stop trying to be perfect in your golf swing! Vince Lombardi said, 'Perfection is unattainable, but in the pursuit of it you will experience excellence.' When we try to achieve perfection, our mind gets over occupied with excessive details trying to intellectualize the golf swing. This technique will never allow you to access all the necessary components of a good golf shot. All good shots come from a clear mind, not one occupied with a laundry list of items to achieve. When we think of less, we tend to accomplish more and experience some excellent results." Rick McCord, McCord Golf Academy at Orange Lake Country Club, Orlando, Fla. See Rick's simple tip to find your natural backswing here.
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"Do something everyday for the whole year to improve, even if it is only for 5 minutes. It will add up to more than you can imagine." Martin Hall, Ibis Golf & Country Club, West Palm Beach, Fla. Read Martin's tip on how to take a power grip here.
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"You need to have a practice menu and stick to it. Preferably your practice menu would entail working two-thirds of your allotted practice time to short-game drills and games and one-third of your time to hitting balls perfecting your swing and shaping shots." Mike Bender, Timacuan Golf Club, Lake Mary, Fla. See Mike's tip for getting the most out of your driver practice here.
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"Spend more time practicing your short game. That's where you can save the most strikes." Mike Davis, Walters Golf Academy, Las Vegas, Nev. See Mike's tip on the best shot to use from 80-100 yards here.
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"Get professionally fit for a driver. The upside is well worth it." Mitchell Spearman, Manhattan Woods Golf Club, West Nyack, N.Y. See Mitchell's tip for high and soft long iron shots here.
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"Accept and own your game. Accept the outcome of their game based upon the amount of time and effort they put back into their game. Own up to their outcome and once again accept or change. Nancy Quarcelino, Kings Creek G.C., Spring Hill, Tenn. See Nancy's tip on how to use your watch to create straighter shots here.
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"Make better decisions when you play in that so you don't let your emotions and ego overrule the smart play." Peter Krause, Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, Hilton Head, S.C. See Peter's tip on how to keep your balance from an awkward lie here.
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"When playing a round of golf arrive at the course an extra ten minutes early to practice your putting." Rod Lidenberg, Prestwick Golf Club, Woodbury, Minn. See Rod's drill to catch it on the sweet spot every time here.
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"Swing a club for one minute every day! Hit five putts every day. This will make anyone better!" Scott Munroe, Adios Golf Club, Coconut Creek, Fla. See Scott's tip on how to remove tension from your swing and create more power here.
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"One resolution: You need to have a system to follow for their short-game. Technique, know how to train yourself, and build your strategy." Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine, Texas See Shawn's tip on how to chip with your hybrid here.
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"Promise to see your PGA instructor early in the year. Come to your lesson with some goals of your own and work out a measurable plan to reach them. It could be swing or short-game fixes, or you might need some new equipment. Work out a plan with your pro." Ted Sheftic, Bridges Golf Club, Abbottstown, Pa. See Ted's nine New Year's resolutions for golfers here.
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"Always hold your finish. Three full seconds, good shot or bad." Tom Ness, Reunion Golf Club, Hoschton, Ga. (Photo: Tiger Woods at the Chevron World Challenge
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To all my recreational golfers out there in Golfville, USA, let me help you with a New Year's resolution that is guaranteed NO-BRAINER to severely change the last box of your scorecard each and every time!! You need to do two very simple common sense things each time you find time to play: 1.) You must always a minimum of 45 minutes to warm-up before every round you play next season. I would much rather see you warn up and play nine then not warm up and play 18. 2.) Each time you warm up, start from the hole and work backward: Stretch for 10 minutes, then three 3-inch putts, three 10-foot putts, three 20-foot putts, 10 greenside chips, 10 greenside pitches, 10 sand shots, then go to range and hit 30 balls (10 wedges, five irons, five hybrids, five drivers then five wedges. You will become much more prepared and confident walking to the first tee! Tom Patri, Friar's Head Golf Club, Riverhead, N.Y. See Tom's tips on how to play the bump-and-roll shot here.
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"In 2013, I will cut by handicap by 25% by spending half my practice time on the short game." Keith Lyford, Golf Academy at Old Greenwood, North Lake Tahoe, Calif. See Keith's tip on how to use your 5-wood to groove your putting stroke here.
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"Lower your expectations and start having FUN again!" John Elliott Jr., Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, Ocala, Fla. See John's tip on how to roll your right ankle for solid pitch shots here.
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"Learn to hit the golf ball and then the earth. All good players hit what I call 'ball- divot,' which means the handle is forward of the clubhead at impact, or the shaft is leaning just a bit toward the target. This means the player is hitting downward on the ball, which promotes more distance, more backspin, and more consistent shots. Learning this one thing WILL make you a better golfer and lower your scores!" Steve Bosdosh, Members Club at Four Streatms, Beallsville, Md. See Steve's tip on how to master 60-yard pitch shots here.
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"Train yourself to think only about what you want. Most golfers are guilty of thinking about what they don't want to do: 'I don't want to pull it' or 'I don't want to slice it.' What you give energy to will grow, so in 2013 choose to create what you want in your game by changing your thinking habits. Missed shots should be used as an opportunity to get back focused on what you wanted to feel." Brad Brewer, Brad Brewer Golf Academy at Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, Fla. See Brad's three steps to a perfect chipping setup here.
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"Include some squats into your daily routine. It'll pay dividends in yards gained when the golf season rolls into full swing. Take a hour to get with a physical therapist too. Ask them to give your feet and ankles a check up. The game begins with your connection with the ground. Then spend time with a club in your hand, working on a stronger grip, and start the year worrying about a hook not a slice. It's a high-class issue fixing hook rather than slice!" Jon Tattersall, Golf Performance Partners. Atlanta, Ga. See Jon's tip for how to fix your swing by reading your divots here.
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"To work hard on your short game in all areas: chipping, pitching, sand and putting. Your goal is to shave 2 shots off per round by getting the ball up and down more than you normally do. This means you will save one shot for every nine holes I play." Brian Mogg, Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene's Point, Windermere, Fla. See Brian's tip to plant your right thigh for powerful drivers.
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"Make a New Year's resolution to make at least half of your practice time putting!" Bryan Gathright, Oak Hills Country Club, San Antonio, Texas See Bryan's tip on how to use your elbow to kill your slice here.
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First, define your objective: better ball-striking, lower scores, etc., then create a plan to achieve this objective. An objective is nothing more than a wish; how are you going to make your wish come true is the great question. Once you have your plan and the steps involved in that plan, then tackle those steps one at a time from easiest to hardest. And have some sort of accountability to determine if progress is being made. This accountability could be via video (relating to swing mechanic changes ) or performance benchmarks (e.g., total putts per round). Very few things worth perusing are easy. Courage is mandatory to change. Carl Rabito, Bolingbrook Golf Club, Bolingbrook, Ill. See Carl's tip to get behind the ball in your backswing here.
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"Make a New Year's resolution to make more putts by taking an AimPoint Green Reading class [LINK:]. After going through the AimPoint Green Reading education, you will never again have to guess at how much a putt breaks. Learn that putting is predictable and discover the most effective and reliable ways to determine the direction and precise amount of break for any putt, all based on gravity (only works on earth)." Carol Preisinger, The Kiawah Island Club, Kiawah Island, S.C. See Carol's tip for how to chip out of the thick rough here.
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"Spend 15 minutes a day doing mirror work! You can build a repeatable golf swing without hitting golf balls." Chuck Evans, Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Golf Canyon, Ariz. See Chuck's tip on how to stop you chips close to the hole here.
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"No. 1, Play more than you practice; No. 2, Practice your chip shots and pitch shots more than your putting; No. 3, Practice your putting more than your full swing; No. 4, Take golf lessons to make sure you're practicing the right things." Glenn Deck, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast, Calif. See Glenn's drill to make a correct pivot here. Photo: Glenn Deck gives a golf lesson to actress Julie Bowen.
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"In 2013, I will seek the advice of an experienced instructor who will help me assess my game and learn how to practice intelligently and efficiently." Jason Carbone, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield Township, N.J. See Jason's three-step instant slice killer here.
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"Instead of offering a specific New Year's resolution, I would like to relay a concept that can help everyone achieve their own unique goals in life and golf. I ask that everyone truly COMMIT to their resolutions. With that said, here is my definition of commitment: doing what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you. Happy New Year!" Jerry King, Kapalua Golf Academy, Lahaina, Hawaii See Jerry's tip on how get the right pace on your putts every time here.
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"Improve your practice habits. Fix your weaknesses rather than just hammering balls." Jerry Mowlds, Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, North Plain, Ore. See Jerry's five keys for long bunker shots here.
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"Keep track of your statistics (fairways, greens, putts, up/downs) and decide you are going to put more time and practice into those areas that are weak. If your are an 80-shooter then there are areas of your game that are better than 80 and areas that are worse than 80 and 80 is the number that you shoot at the end of the day. Players then tend to practice their strengths more than their weaknesses. If you switch to practicing your weaknesses, your game will definitely improve in the New Year." Jim Murphy, Sugar Creek Country Club, Sugar Creek, Texas See Jim's easy way to hit a flop shot here.
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"Keep both elbows pointed down to the ground throughout the swing." Jimmy Ballard, Ballard Swing Connection, Key Largo, Fla.
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"It is proven that practice in small increments is as beneficial or more than beating balls on the range for 12 hours. Set aside 20 minutes 2 to 3 times a week at the course or at your home, and break it into all parts of your game to work on." Joe Hallett, PGA Center for Learning and Performance, Port St. Lucie, Fla. See Joe's drill to stay on place in your backswing here.
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"Understand your physical, mental, and fundamental limitations and create solid attainable goals this season. The golf ball does not care how good of a football player you were or how many widgets your business sold -- it's all about realizing where you mechanics are currently and where you need to go...and patience goes a LONG way towards getting better on the golf course." Tom Stickney, The Club at Cordillera, Vail, Colo. See Tom's simple drill to cure your slice for good here.