Posted by & filed under Playing Tips.

The article below was written by Jack Backhouse of National Club Golfer.

Golfers can often have a love hate relationship with chipping, but it’s a vital part of the game if you want to shoot low scores. Here’s 5 mistakes to avoid if you want to start chipping better.

Amateur golfers will generally always miss at least 9 greens in regulation, which means on at least half the holes you play on the golf course, you will hit a chip shot, so it makes sense to be handy in this area of the game. Coaches often see 5 stupid mistakes golfers make when chipping. 


Have the right tools for the job

The first place to start when trying to improve your chipping is to ensure you have the right clubs to cover the full range of shots for all the different situations you face on the golf course. Different courses ask different questions about your wedge game, so it is essential to get fit into wedges that suit your swing for the turf type you play the majority of your golf on.

Once you have the right tools, selecting the correct one is the next vital step in improving your wedge play. Too often, amateur golfers and poor chippers take too much loft when it would be much lower risk and easier to play the shot with a 9 or an 8 iron. Low loft chipping has a much more significant margin for error and removes the chance of hitting a horror shot that could cost you a double bogey or worse.

Unless you have something to go over that the ball can’t run through, try chipping with your 8 or 9 iron next time you play and see how much easier it is to get the ball inside 10 feet.


Assess the lie

The next step on the road to short-game mastery is to assess the lie correctly. A common mistake amateur golfers make is getting to their ball and picking a club without considering how the ball is sitting in the grass, which can lead to more regular fat and thin chip shots.

As a general rule, the worse the lie, the less loft you should use. When the ball sits down, shots become more complicated as you have to adjust your angle of attack. If this sounds too complicated and you don’t have hours a week to practice, you are often better off using your pitching wedge and a putting stroke to semi-thin the shot and get it on the green. From a bad lie, it is much easier to make a double bogey than save par, so don’t try to be too clever and just get the ball on the green.


Use your wrists correctly

There is a myth in chipping that needs busting, and that is that you should keep your wrists stiff to stop hitting fat and thin shots. This is just simply not the case. If you want to hit great golf shots, then softer wrists will allow the club to swing more, which not only improves your distance control but also gives you more chance of a solid strike. Some of the greatest chippers of all time have actually been the players with the softest wrists!

Golfers should train themselves to hit the sand 1 inch behind the ball, keeping the ball position the same and then control their distance by varying the length of swing and club head speed, but always hit the sand in the same place. A great drill for this is to put an alignment stick down in the sand roughly 4 or 5 inches behind the ball and hit some shots trying to avoid hitting the stick. Moving your sand entry point closer to the ball will allow you to hit the ball high with spin and with more control than you have ever had before.

It also helps to have a specialised wedge to use in the sand, not just the sand wedge that comes as part of an iron set. This is because they are designed with specialised grinds and lower leading edges that help the club move through the sand smoothly and not dig. Keeping the divot shallow helps get the ball out more often, too.


Know your limitations

Something that gets amateur golfers into trouble all too often is trying to do more than they are capable of. This happens a lot around the greens as we see a lot of unbelievable shots on the PGA Tour coverage week in and week out, so not only are golfers conditioned to think those epic shots are normal when they are not, but also golfers have all at one time or another hit a world-class high-risk shot so believe that they are capable of doing it again.

The quicker amateur golfers realise they need to play for their average, not their best, the faster they start taking fewer shots around the greens. This means sometimes aiming away from flags when in bad short-sided positions or hitting a 9 iron from a bad lie when a sand wedge might allow them to hit it closer. Mid-handsappers need to remember that the way to lower their score is not to make more pars but to make fewer double bogeys, and by playing the easiest, lowest-risk shot around the greens, double bogeys will become a thing of the past.


Use the most simple chipping technique

If you haven’t got the picture by now, it is much easier to chip with your 9 iron than it is with a lofted wedge, and it can be made even easier if you have the right technical ideas in mind. The keys to the foolproof basic chip is in your set-up. A golfer should stand up tall to the ball and near the ball so that the toe of the club is down and the club’s heel is in the air. This will feel very upright but will make you employ a putting style technique which propels the ball low and running, with little chance of hitting it heavy.

It is even a good idea to try and hit these shots slightly thin, as a thin strike and a centred strike will go near enough the same distance with a 9 iron chip, so it is always better to err on the side of too thin rather than hitting the ground first, as this can result in disasters. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you get out onto the practice area and deliberately semi-thin some chip shots, you will not only quickly learn how hard to swing to get the ball to go the right distance, but you will realise how easy it is to chip well.

The fastest way to improve your scoring is to sharpen up your short game. This starts by removing any mistakes or bad shots and then continues by getting better and better at choosing the right club for the shot, picking a good landing spot and then learning how to hit the ball the right distance. Near enough, all good players have a respectable short game, so if you want to improve your scores and lower your handicap, sorting out your chipping is a great place to start.

Posted by & filed under Golf Equipment.

The ability to download free golf apps has never been better. Golf apps offer a multitude of options and features which can save you hundreds of pounds on things like rangefinders, GPS devices, and even lessons.

Most of us spend a lot of our time on our phones, and within a few seconds, we can calculate what club to hit, book a tee time, or watch what’s going on with Rory on the other side of the world. 

In this article, we highlight some of our favourite free golf apps to help you get the most out of your game.


The best free golf apps


1. Arccos Caddie

free golf apps

The average new Arccos Caddie member improves their handicap by 5.71 strokes in the first year—that is some claim.

You’ll need a set of Arccos Caddie Smart Sensors to use this app (these are attached to the top of your grip and chart where your shots have gone), but it allows you to dig deep into your game.

Powered by A.I Custom mapping, there are over 40,000 courses on the system, and every aspect of your game is tracked alongside rangefinder and caddie advice, so you can quickly understand your game, make smarter decisions on the course, and see your scores tumble.



free golf apps

VPAR is a great accompaniment to any golf day, providing GPS technology to 30,000 courses, stat tracking, and challenges to maintain your interest.

This golf app is perhaps best known, though, for its live leaderboards, so whether you’re playing in a competition, society or just in a club roll-up, you can keep track of what all your fellow golfers are up to.

The app also provides great feedback on how you play the game to help you understand where your strengths and weaknesses are—far simpler and more informative than the days of the old-school pencil and scorecard.


3. My England Golf

We’ve seen the introduction of the World Handicap System in the last couple of years, and this app makes keeping your Handicap Index up to date very straightforward.

Everything is done for you in the app, which is well laid out to help you keep check of your overall playing record and where your good (and bad) scores have come. You can also follow your golfing friends for more of a community feel, too. The actual inputting of your scores couldn’t be easier, so you can add cards with minimal fuss.


4. SwingU

free golf apps

SwingU comes highly recommended among all the free golf apps available. There’s a GPS, a digital scorecard with basic stats, a free unofficial handicap after three rounds, manual shot tracking, and Apple watch connectivity that provides front, middle, and back distances.

You can also upgrade to an AI-powered digital caddie to tap into the ‘plays-like’ distances, live wind speed, elevation, and even club recommendations. There’s also the option to take advantage of green-reading maps and hole insights to tally with how you might tackle it.


5. Hole 19

free golf apps

Without paying a penny, this app gives you accurate GPS yardages to the front, middle and back of your green on over 43,000 courses, as well as where the main hazards are located and a complete overview of each hole.

You can also track your scores, and there’s an archive of every shot you’ve hit. The device offers a bright and detailed screen and can be paired with your Apple Watch or Wear OS smartwatch.

Hole 19 claims its users can expect a three-shot reduction each year they use the app!


6. V1 Golf

free golf apps

If you’re interested in monitoring and working on your swing, V1 Golf is brilliant.

There are many functions to take advantage of here; you can accelerate to key positions and view things frame-by-frame, use drawing tools to measure and highlight key moves, compare two swings side-by-side, and everything is saved to the Cloud.

You can also group your swing videos and lessons so you can easily watch them later rather than having to scroll through all your videos. This is a great app to improve your game and to see how your swing marries up with the textbook moves.


7. The Masters

The Masters app is widely considered one of the best sports apps, even though it’s only operational for one week of the year.

No other tournament gets close to what Augusta and IBM pull together. Throughout Masters week, there is what is essentially a streaming service where you can watch every single shot of every single player in the tournament. That’s around 20,000 shots over the course of the week!

The leaderboard is more functional than on other golf apps, too. And it must be said—tuning into the beautiful sights and sounds of Augusta National is a great pick-me-up during the other 51 weeks of the year.


8. BRS Golf

Thousands of golf clubs use this free golf app as their booking system, as it’s an easy way of getting a tee time.

The Tee Sheet takes you straight to your club’s tee times, allowing you to add names and make a booking in a matter of seconds, as well as scroll across the coming weeks to ensure your starting spot.

You can also use this app to keep abreast of club and open competitions and important club messages. It’s far easier than logging on to the club website or even ringing the pro shop (which was still the case not so long ago!)

Posted by & filed under Playing Tips.

The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

Sometimes we enter into something with best intentions. For me, it’s playing the club match play competitions. I know I’m probably not going to have the time to play them, but I can’t help it. The whiff of combat gets the blood flowing.

Most of the time, these games take place for me in a rush. I’m squeezing them into the calendar. More fool me, right?

But are there things I can do to speed things along? If my opponent agrees, can we agree to shorten a match by conceding holes? Before we’ve even teed off, could I give you the 1st and you give me the 2nd? Let’s consider some golf concession rules…


Concession golf rules: can you concede holes to shorten a match?

You can concede the next stroke of your opponent, a hole, or even the match. Rule 3.2b (1) has more.

It says you can concede that stroke at any time before it is made. You are allowed to concede a hole at any time before it’s completed. And you can concede the match at ant point before the result is decided.

What you can’t do, though, is club together and concede holes to ensure you get off the course a bit quicker. You’ll need to delve into the clarifications for this one, but it is there in Rule 3.2b (1)/1.

“A player and opponent are not allowed to agree to concede holes to each other to shorten the match,” it says.

It then gives a clear example of what this looks like in practice. “For example, before starting a match, a player and their opponent agree to alternate the concession of holes 6, 7, 8 and 9 to each other.”

The penalty for doing this depends on how ignorant you are of the rules. If the pair of you know that this is not allowed – and here I am telling you that it isn’t – and you start the match without first cancelling that agreement then you both get disqualified under Rule 1.3b (1).

But, if you didn’t know you were breaking the rules and that the agreement was not allowed then the result of the match would stand.

Posted by & filed under Blog.

Have you ever wondered why golf balls have dimples instead of a smooth surface? We don’t blame you—even experienced golfers question this after years of overlooking it.

Dimples are to golf balls what aglets are to shoelaces. You don’t give them much thought until someone points them out, and then you can’t rest until you know their purpose.

Here, we cover why golf balls have dimples and how to choose the best design for your playing style.


Why do golf balls have dimples?

Golf balls may appear deceptively simple, but their exterior is carefully designed for a reason beyond aesthetics.

The dimples on golf balls are the unsung heroes of the sport, playing a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory, distance, and accuracy of each shot. Here’s why they’re essential to your game:

  • increased lift—as air flows over the dimpled surface, it clings to the ball longer, which generates lift and helps the ball stay in the air longer, resulting in a higher trajectory and increased distance
  • reduced drag—dimples create a turbulent boundary layer of air around the ball as it flies, which delays the separation of air and allows the ball to slice through the air with less resistance
  • improved stability—dimples contribute to the ball’s stability during flight by preventing it from wobbling or veering off course, making it more accurate and predictable in the trajectory
  • spin control—dimples influence the amount of backspin or topspin a golfer can impart on the ball, which is crucial for shaping shots, and different dimple patterns can lead to varying levels of spin

As you can see, the dimples on a golf ball transform it from a smooth sphere into a carefully engineered aerodynamic tool.

They help golfers achieve greater distance, accuracy, and control by manipulating the forces acting on the ball as it travels through the air.

So, next time you tee up, remember that those dimples are the secret sauce behind every impressive drive and precise approach shot.


How were the dimples on golf balls created?

Golf balls didn’t always have dimples. Their invention was down to sheer coincidence during the mid-1800s.

Robert Adams Paterson invented the gutta-percha ball in 1848, which was crafted using dried Malaysian sapodilla tree sap with a rubber feel.

The balls had a smooth surface, but once golfers had damaged them, they discovered they performed more consistently.

This prompted inventors to begin making indentations in new balls, which led to them having a much more powerful and reliable ball flight, and the design has been adapted and mastered throughout modern history.

Advanced technology is now used to thoroughly design and test dimple patterns to optimise them for many purposes. We talk more about finding the ideal golf ball dimple pattern below.


How many dimples should a golf ball have?

why do golf balls have dimples image

Currently, the ideal range for the number of dimples on a golf ball is between 300-500. Anything outside this range isn’t considered optimal for performance, which is why most popular manufacturers adhere to it.  

Two of the most popular golf balls, Srixon AD333 and Titleist Pro V1, have less than 400 dimples—the former has 338, while the latter has 388. Both have tetrahedral dimples.

It’s difficult to state a clear difference between the two, as each ball has a different outcome depending on the golfer, their technique, and other elements of its design, but many say the Pro V1 gives slightly more distance.

Many factors, such as the depth of the dimples and the inner mantle design of the ball, contribute to its overall performance, and only manufacturers with specialist knowledge and testing equipment can properly track the effects of slight changes in design.

The Titleist Pro V1’s tetrahedral dimple design had over 60 different versions tested before the manufacturer landed on a final model—that’s how much thought goes into the design process.

Choosing a ball with a similar number of dimples to the ones the professionals use is always good practice, alongside checking out reviews for which is best for your swing.

You can also get fitted for golf balls as you would your clubs, which could help you get the most out of your equipment.


How do I know which golf ball dimple pattern is best?

Dimple patterns are specific to each golf ball’s design but usually feature a mixture of shallow and deeper dents for optimal performance. They are usually round and have tetrahedral-shaped indents.

Some popular designs still differ, however—Callaway Solaire balls are a hit with golfers and feature hexagonal dimples rather than rounded ones. They supposedly provide better low-speed lift, increased stability, and reduced drag. 

Typically, the deeper the dimples are, the lower the ball flight, and the shallower they are, the higher it is—having a mixture of the two creates a well-balanced and consistent trajectory and distance.

Without specialist equipment and knowledge, it can be difficult to choose a golf ball dimple pattern for your game.

So, you might find it useful to leave this to the manufacturers and instead look at the golf balls’ characteristics to know whether they suit your playing style.

For example, one ball may provide a huge amount of spin while another could be designed to reduce it.

Dimple patterns certainly affect these things, but the science involved in explaining how they affect each aspect is complicated. But if you want to learn more about the technical aspects, check out this video.

As with the number of dimples on a golf ball, it’s best to stick to those with proven performance, whether they’re a market favourite or used by the pros.

Posted by & filed under Blog.

How do you get your additional golf fix when you’re not playing? Magazines, books, live action on the television… all of the above, perhaps?

For those who just can’t get enough of the game, YouTube is a bottomless pit of highlights, equipment reviews, interviews and playing tips.

However, where are the best places to go?

We look at 10 of the best golf YouTube channels worth subscribing to.


The 10 best golf YouTube channels


1. Rick Shiels


Shiels is the No.1 golf YouTuber. The only reason the PGA pro started up a YouTube channel was that he had written to every golf magazine asking whether he could feature in them, and of the few replies he received, the answer was a collective no.

In May 2012, he posted a 47-second video of his swing from above in a bid to try and get a bit more noticed. Fast-forward to now, and he has well over 2.5 million subscribers. His content is premium, and there are various fascinating collaborations—Shiels’ true skill is that he’s relatable, and his challenges make for very easy viewing.


2. Mark Crossfield


Crossfield is the original golf YouTuber and remains a brilliant and insightful follow. The Devon PGA pro has covered everything over the years; his forthright equipment reviews offered something very different in his early days, and his course vlogs are a brilliant watch in terms of getting to know a course and some of the big names he’s playing with.

Like Shiels, he’s self-deprecating and amusing, which is a big part of his appeal, and he knows the golf swing inside out, so he’s highly authentic.


3. No Laying Up


No Laying Up is the game’s leading podcast, and they also have a fantastic YouTube channel that offers something even more different still.

They visit some incredible courses and put together travel videos on the ‘Tourist Sauce’ series that are an absolute must-watch. While some golf YouTube channels could be dismissed as mere clickbait, this one is notably authentic, and the No Laying Up team are brilliant storytellers with access to some of the world’s best. They started 2023 with a fourball match against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.


4. Good Good


Good Good are ‘6 dudes, 1 golf channel’. They are a relevantly recent phenomenon compared to the likes of Shiels and Crossfield, but they already have a huge following due to the unique nature of their content.

They’ve gained popularity for their entertaining and funny golf videos, challenges and course vlogs. The channel focuses on making golf more fun and approachable for a wider audience, and they’ve even collaborated with Shiels and Bryson DeChambeau—which tells you plenty about their popularity. The videos often feature a mix of skilled golf shots and amusing moments.

If you like modern, fun golf, this is a great channel to follow.


5. Golf with Aimee


Cho was born in South Korea before moving to New Zealand at the age of six, and her popular golf tips videos often reach well over a million views.

The golf YouTube channel market is dominated by men, so Cho offers something different, though her tips are generally directed at the same common faults in the game. Cho is a former touring golf pro and is currently an LPGA Class A teaching professional. She also does challenges with some of the leading female players.


6. Me and My Golf


Me And My Golf are a rare double act in PGA professionals Piers Ward and Andy Proudman. They offer excellent and straightforward golf instructions and also coach tour player Aaron Rai, who threatened to make the 2023 Ryder Cup team.

They cover all aspects of coaching and are well known for dressing the same. They often have access to a number of the leading TaylorMade players, and so have collaborated with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa—and they even offer some training aids to help you with your game.


7. Chris Ryan


Ryan is the Director of Coaching at the HIT Golf Academy at the Forest of Arden and a successful golf YouTuber. The PGA professional worked at The Belfry for several years and is one of Today’s Golfer’s Top 50 Coaches.

If you’re looking for tips that are most relevant to the club golfer, Ryan is an excellent starting point. He breaks down the tips into easy-to-follow videos with a written explanation also provided so you can easily navigate your way to what you’re looking for.


8. Danny Maude


With well over a million subscribers, Maude has a phenomenal following but still might not be as well-known as some of his YouTube peers.

He provides a collection of well-thought-out videos to help you improve your game, so he’s well worth a follow.


9. Peter Finch


Finch first attracted many golfers’ attention with his collaborative videos with Shiels. Based in the North West, it’s been a meteoric rise for the PGA coach and, like Shiels, he’s part of Golf Monthly’s Top 50 UK coaches.

Finch joined YouTube in 2011, and while most of his most popular videos remain alongside Shiels, he has since branched out into more varied content. Some of his most captivating videos are his attempts to qualify for The Open.


10. Paige Spiranac


Spiranac is the queen of golf influencers. She turned pro in 2016 and made the cut on a few events on the Ladies European Tour.

She covers all aspects of the game on her golf channel, including instructions, course vlogs, fitness advice and equipment reviews.

Posted by & filed under Debates.

The article below was written by Hannah Holden of National Club Golfer.

Scratch golf is seen as something only achievable for seriously skilled golfers, who make no mistakes out on the course, but is that really the case?

Lots of us have aspirations to play scratch golf. But what does it actually take to get your handicap down to zero, and does it require almost the near-perfect golf we image? I took a look at the Shot Scope stats to find out what you need to do to become a scratch golfer.

According to the latest stats posted by the R&A, there are 66.6 million golfers in the world. Less than 1% of them have a handicap that is scratch or better. Most golfers believe this 1% of golfers have secret skills, but actually, when we delve into the Shot Scope data, some of the stats are mind-boggling and can definitely give you more perspective on how to play like a scratch golfer and that you certainly don’t need the perfect golf swing to achieve this milestone.


‘Scratch golfers make tonnes of birdies’

A big misconception about lower-handicap golfers is that they make more birdies than the average club golfer. When we look at the stats, this isn’t really the case at all. In fact, the average scratch golfer only makes 2.67 birdies a round, which certainly isn’t the birdie fest most of us imagine.

A 15 handicap makes 0.4 birdies a round, so in the fifteen-shot handicap difference, only two of those shots are birdie-related. The real key to shooting lower scores is reducing mistakes and big scores on your card.


‘Scratch golfers never miss the green’

Hitting more greens in regulations is one of the biggest indicators of shooting lower scores. Scratch golfers using Shot Scope hit 62% of greens in regulation. That works out at eleven greens a round. They are still missing seven greens out of eighteen!

In fact, if a scratch golfer had 50 – 70 yards for their approach into every green on the course, they would still miss four greens in regulation.

Can we just let that stat sink in for a second?

From 50 – 70 yards, scratch golfers only hit 78% of greens, from the rough that drops down the 71%. The 1% of best club golfers don’t always hit the green from 70 yards. Maybe that can give you some perspective next time you miss the green from 150 yards and think you’ve hit the worst shot of your life.

From 90 – 110 yards, scratch golfers hit 71% of greens. That means with a gap or sand wedge in hand, they still miss the green one in three times! From 130 – 150 yards, they hit 61% of greens, and from 170 – 190 yards, just 41% of greens. Essentially, once a scratch golfer has a 5-iron or above in their hands, they are more likely to miss the green than hit it.


‘Scratch golfers knock the flags out’

Are scratch golfers hitting it next to the pin every time? Absolutely not. From 150 yards, the average proximity for a scratch golfer is 41.58 feet. If they are hitting from the rough, this jumps to 51.18 feet, and from a fairway bunker, it skyrockets to 113 feet. Only 18% of shots hit by players with zero handicaps from 150 yards end up inside 15 feet.


‘Scratch golfers hole loads of putts’

How often do you get frustrated when you miss a 10-foot putt? It seems almost inconceivable that you didn’t hole such an ‘easy’ putt. When putting from 6 to 12 feet scratch, golfers miss more putts than they hole. Even a tour pro only holes 68.3% of 10-foot putts, so when you miss from the same distance, it isn’t the bad shot you think it is.

Obviously, getting down to a scratch handicap is hard, and only a small percentage of golfers do it, but looking at the stats should show you it doesn’t require perfect golf, and with lots of practice, it is perfectly achievable. So get yourself down to the practice ground.


Scratch golfer FAQs


What is a scratch golfer?

A scratch player is someone who has a handicap between 0.4 and +0. This is your base handicap and not your course handicap.

The R&A, defines a scratch golfer as “a player with a handicap index of 0.0”. According to the USGA, a scratch golfer is defined as “a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.”


Why scratch?

The origin of the word ‘scratch’ comes from a line that was scratched in the ground to denote the start line of a running race. To make the race fairer and more interesting, the fastest runners would start on the scratch line; while the slower ones were given an advantage and could start in front of the scratch. It was an effective form of a handicapping system, and at the end of the race, the result should be very close.

The common phrase ‘starting from scratch’ meaning you start with nothing comes from this. The scratch golfer has nothing while the weak golfers have the advantage of being able to subtract their handicap from their score at the end of the round.