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Resolution solution

If you want to shoot in the 60s, good luck. If you prefer practical goals that are attainable, help is here.

By Al PetersenPublished: January, 2013

New Year’s resolutions are often weighty issues that people end up taking lightly as evidenced by those resolutions rarely lasting until Valentine’s Day. The great thing about golf resolutions is that you can enjoy the journey in trying to maintain or attain them.

Also, a resolution doesn’t have to be shoot lower scores or to hit the ball farther. It can be to get more fit, to play more with your children or to get less frustrated on the course.

If you want something realistic to shoot for in 2013, consider adopting one or more of the following manageable resolutions.

SET THE PACE
If you play 25 rounds this year at courses built for walking, then walk at least 10 of those rounds. Who knows? You might enjoy the exercise and the way walking heightens your senses so much that you’ll do it even more in 2014. But don’t pull a hamstring. Baby steps.

STRETCH IT OUT
See those 10 things on the ground? They’re your toes. If you can’t touch them without bending your knees, get into the habit of stretching. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to make a full swing when you’re flexible. And if you can’t see your toes, cut back on the hot dogs, chips and beer at the turn.

SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
When you go to the range, focus on the flags or markers nearest you to become more proficient from 100 yards and in. It’s the best way to turn a “6” into a “5” on your scorecard. If you want it to be a “4,” stop by the practice putting green too.

QUICK FIXES
If you’re good enough to leave a ball mark, be sure to fix it when arriving at the green. The groups behind you will thank you. Maybe not in so many words, but it’s still the right thing to do. And it takes only seconds.

FORWARD THINKING
To shoot better scores, play from the appropriate tee box for your handicap. It makes the game more enjoyable and quicker. If you’d be more comfortable playing a tee box up from the others in your group, step up and say so. No one will think less of you. If they do, it’s time to look for a new group.

SHAPING UP

If you’re going to a fitness center, keep it up. Throw some curveballs into your routine with golf-specific exercises. Bench presses are great for your pecs, but when was the last time you took off your shirt at the course? See those foam rollers, pulley things and exercise balls? They’re good for flexibility and for your core. Learn how to use them -- and then use them.

PLAY FOR REAL
Casual rounds are fun, but mulligans and foot wedges aren’t in golf’s rules. Make it a point to play every fourth round as if you’re in a tournament. It’s good for your focus and the only way to see where you’re really at in your game. A 12 handicap? Hmm.

CHILL OUT
The next time you get hot under the collar because of a poor shot or a perceived bad break, count to 10 so you’ll refrain from yelling – at least for 10 seconds if not longer. It will make the round more enjoyable for you and for your group.

WATCH THE PROS
Southland residents have opportunities to attend events on the PGA, LPGA, Web.com and Champions tour schedules. Taking advantage of that is one of the coolest things about living here. OK, the beaches and weather are pretty nice too.

SPREAD THE WORD
If you have a buddy who says golf is a waste of time and space, get him out to the course at least once this year. Chances are it won’t be his last, which means you’ve helped grow the game a tiny bit.

PASS IT ON
If you’ve got a corner of your garage dedicated to old clubs, let someone else have them. They’re only taking up space for things such as lawn tools or, you know, your car. Donate old cubs to a youth organization or sell them at a consignment shop. They might end up as someone’s first set.

DON’T GO LONG
If you want to improve your putting, take a lesson and learn drills that will help. Just don’t fall in love with a long putter as they’re about to get the kibosh by golf’s governing bodies. Besides, they’re just for old guys, right?

HIT THE ROAD
Plan at least one golf trip this year whether it’s with your family or your buddies. There’s something special about playing golf in another part of the country or world. Don’t forget that you get bragging rights in your group: Take lots of pictures!

BREAK 80
If you shoot a lot of 83s and 84s, you’ve obviously got some game. But how cool would it be to write an occasional 78 or 79 on the card? Get a teaching pro to take a look. It could be that you are one or two simple tweaks from leaving the 80s behind.

HIT IT OFF

The reason the pros take time to discuss shots with their caddies and examine putts from multiple angles is because they’re really good and there’s a lot on the line. Us? Not so much. When it’s time to hit, hit; when it’s time to putt, putt. Enough said.

GET A GRIP
One of the simplest ways to improve your game is to get new grips. As a grip wears out, there’s a tendency to grip the club tighter, which adds stress and tension to your rounds. If you play frequently and it’s been a couple of years since you updated your grips, it’s time for a change.

LOOK GOOD
Resolve to play at least a round a month in a nice-looking shirt and sharp slacks or shorts. If you look better, you might play better. And if you haven’t heard about moisture-wicking fabrics, it’s time to investigate. Sweat stains on a hot day are not only gross but also avoidable.

PLAY GAMES
If practice time is fun, do it more often. Developing putting games or alternating clubs on each shot on the range are just a couple of ways to make a tedious practice session more enjoyable and fulfilling. And you know what they say about practice. Well, it makes perfect sense anyway.