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Golf Gazette: Here are some ways to improve games and lower handicaps

According to Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, “A New Year’s resolution is most common in the Western Hemisphere in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement.” 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to get more exercise, eat healthier, lose weight, reduce stress, stop smoking and to try something new.

Most people after a few weeks, unfortunately, fall back into their old ways. Hopefully, they didn’t get rid of their clothes thinking they would soon be jumping into a smaller size for the July Fourth barbecue. And those new January joggers, all decked out in fancy and brightly colored, tight-fitting sweats will probably not be running in the Shelter Island 10K come June.

Many golfers make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to improve their games in the new year and to lower their handicaps. Your golf guy has a few of his own such as to stop peeking and to keep my head down, swing slower with tempo, and to spend more time practicing my short game. As they say, “Drive for show, putt for dough.”

I caught up with a few of our local linksters and asked them what golfing resolutions they have made for 2016.

Devon Higgins of Aquebogue: “To get my back to every target and see the actual moment of impact. Only use my arms to bring the club back and turn to generate power.”

Muhammet Ilgin of Southold: “I’d like to learn something new and important about playing golf that doesn’t include the mechanics and to focus on playing in the moment and not dwell on the last shot, especially if it was a bad shot.”

Nancy Reeve of Mattituck: “I hope to become more consistent this year and get used to my new sand wedge. I’m looking forward to another fun season at Cedar’s with the Cedarettes. I don’t want to self-destruct after making a poor shot.”

Scott Klipp of Greenport: “I want to become a better chipper and putter, to play the game and not the swing, and to just have fun.”

Anonymous of Cutchogue: “To buy a boat.”

TEE TIMES This is a great time of year to give your golf game a checkup. Start by giving your equipment a thorough going-over — clubs, bag, shoes. Clean out and reorganize your bag. You probably have some stale crushed energy bars, fruit, and half-eaten sandwiches in there, so give it a good shakedown. Check your equipment inventory. Do you have enough golf balls and tees? What kind of shape is your glove in? I’ll bet it’s time for a new one. And how about the grips on your clubs? It’s a good idea to replace your grips every year. It’s a far less expensive alternative to purchasing new clubs.

Set some goals for yourself such as making a commitment to practicing the weaker parts of your game on a regular basis. Better players go to the practice range and work on the scoring clubs — short irons, wedges and putters. And most important, remind yourself that you are out there to have fun. One last thing: Try to do whatever you can to pick up the pace of play. If it’s taking you more than four hours to play 18 holes, step on the gas.

19TH HOLE Bunker Boes, a 15-handicap golfer, was playing in a tournament at his club and had a difficult 60-foot downhill putt on the 18th green. With quite a few spectators looking on, Bunker announced to the gallery, “I’ve got a twenty that says I can make this putt.” The crowd couldn’t believe it and everyone watching took him up on the bet. Bunker proceeded to miss the putt by five feet and then said, “You each owe me twenty bucks.” The confused spectators looked at Bunker like he was crazy until Bunker reached into his pocket and produced a $20 dollar bill upon which he had written, “I can make this putt.”