How to Make Your Long Game a Strength in Golf

by Scott McCormick on August 20, 2013

The tee off and long iron shots in golf are critical for a number of reasons. For one, they represent the long game, which is an integral part to success on the links. This part of a golfer’s hole progression covers a large amount of distance and also sets the table for the remaining strokes.

However, the meaning of the long game doesn’t prevent people from struggling with it. Players of all levels, including professionals, have trouble maintaining accuracy with distance strokes. This is a problem without a quick fix that affects each and every player differently.

While the solution to your particular long game struggles will be tailored specifically to your technique and mindset, there are some near-universal ways to at least improve your chances of succeeding in this facet of golf. They’re listed below for your benefit.


Push your focus on power to the backburner

Too often players focus specifically on power and strength when it comes to their long game. I’ve been guilty of it and I’m sure you have at some point in time on the golf course. Just because you’re hitting a driver or a low iron doesn’t necessarily mean you need to swing harder.

When golfers swing as hard as they can at a shot, they develop tendencies like closing their eyes through ball contact and losing focus. These issues directly influence the contact, trajectory and result of the shot. Sure, you may get a really long drive every nine holes that lands in the fairway, but that doesn’t make up for the four or five that landed in the deep rough.

Solution: Realize that the long game is similar to the short game in the sense that it’s largely dependent on finesse and accuracy. It’s tempting to always try and outdrive your playing partner or hit the furthest yard marker, but getting your shot in the fairway 100 yards back will better serve you on the next shot and the rest of the hole. Take your time, take a breath and avoid turning your long game into a power struggle. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t be afraid to give your driver a timeout

It’s common for golfers to be overly loyal when it comes to their driver. If you’re one of them, at least consider the alternative. If you’ve sliced terribly off the tee on three of four holes, consider shelving it for a firm two iron on the next. Switching things up never hurts, and with golf this idea holds very true.

The sport of golf is all about mindset and repetitiveness. If you sliced hard on one hole, you may just need a fresh club. Golfers tend to feel obligated to maintain their driver commitment even through tee box adversity, but it’s not necessary. Again, getting your shot to land in the fairway is more important than distance. If your driver isn’t helping you get this done, a change may be in order.

Solution: Start out with your driver on the first tee box, but don’t make a promise with yourself to stick by its side. If you start hitting errant tee shots, don’t be afraid to go with an iron off the tee for a few holes before switching back. There’s nothing more detrimental to a golf game than having a second shot from the rough each and every hole. Parting with your driver is a good step toward understanding your game better and putting club selection in perspective.

Develop a consistent stroke, whether it’s on the tee or in the fairway

Part of making your long game a strength within your play is obvious: you need to have a technically-sound swing. This often means hiring a local golf pro to correct and fine tune the way you’re going about the sport.

The reality is that even professionals seek expert opinion, sometimes on a daily and weekly basis. Golf is an extremely difficult sport, so much so that it’s safe to say it’s impossible to master. You need to always be improving your fundamentals and overall swing. As you do so, your long game will gradually improve as it’s directly correlated to the way you swing the club.

Solution: Golf lessons are expensive, and that’s no secret. However, you don’t need to seek assistance each and every week. Work the costs of expert lessons into your budget without going overboard. Whether you’re getting a lesson every Sunday or every three months, the principle is the same: your long game, and overall play, will improve dramatically.

The long game is critical to a golfer’s success. For one, this part of golf is comprised of very important shots. Second, the potential for a player’s short game is often determined by their success on previous strokes. This adds significance to making long game improvement a focus for many golfers. If you want to enhance this area of your skillset on the links, there are many ways to do it. Pushing any focus on power to the backburner, taking a break from your driver and developing a consistent technique are sweet spots to target. From there, you’ll find yourself with a good shot.

Scott McCormick

Scott McCormick writes about Fort Worth golf courses and other places to play near Dallas.

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