5 Essential Golf Rules from Ted Kiegiel

The Carolina Country Club pro, who’s trained elite golfers including Raleigh’s Webb Simpson, shares his tips to perfect your golf game.
by Charles Upchurch | photography by Bob Karp

1. Practice with Purpose

Each time you head out to the golf course, have a plan. Choose any club and focus on one skill for 50% of your time. Divide this time into block and simulated practice. Block practice is hitting one club, 50 shots, focusing on swing corrections. Simulated practice is hitting one shot to one target, changing angles, 50 times. Step behind, check aim lines and walk into your setup, simulating how you play on the golf course.

2. Dial in Your Bag

Be sure every club in your bag is well-suited to your game. It’s your responsibility to have 14 clubs you enjoy hitting, as opposed to avoiding. Have the proper equipment and know the distances of each club. If you’re unsure, schedule a fitting session with a PGA Professional—you may be hitting a club that doesn’t fit your game.

3. Perfect Your Scoring Shots

Two key scoring shots that can lower your scores—ranging 30-80 yards—are classified as flighted and floater. The flighted, a lower-flying shot, requires the simplest swing motion. Address the ball with the grip end of the club just in front of the ball. Take your backswing halfway back and swing through to a similar position on the follow-through. Your left arm (for right-handers) is parallel to the ground for the backswing and the right arm is parallel to the ground at the finish. For the high-arching floater, the ball position needs to move up toward your front foot. Take a long backswing and finish into a normal complete position. A slow backswing and a slightly quicker downswing, accelerating through, will elevate the ball.

4. Work Toward Putting Efficiency

Focus your time on speed control and start line. Putts break the most when the ball loses pace near the hole. A high percentage of putts break very little in the first third. Account for green speed as you determine the necessary pace. To improve your aim, practice the “gate” drill: On a relatively flat six-foot putt, place two tees into the green, 12 inches in front of your ball allowing a 4-inch gap. Putt in blocks of 10 and review your results. Four out of 10 puts you in the 40% category. Keep at it and get your success rate above 80%.

5. Tune Out the Noise

This is about your mindset. Where is your attention? Distractions can hamper your ability to hit quality shots. Each shot has an analytic and athletic stage. Analytics involve determining aim line and distance. Your mindset then needs to shift into an athletic, spontaneous function. Walk into the ball, get comfortable with your setup, rotate your head toward the target, then back to the ball. and within two seconds, begin your backswing. No inner conversations allowed. This is golf at its highest form.