8 Experts Share Their Secrets on Making More Birdies
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 13, 2023

You know your way around the golf course and have improved your golf swing mechanics. Now your mission is to shave strokes off your handicap. This is achieved by carding fewer bogeys and making more birdies.

In this guide, I relay the information shared by 8 experts on how to make more birdies. You don’t need to follow each tip religiously. The idea is to extract the information that makes the most sense to your game and run with it. A large part of increasing your birdie count is improving your putting and chipping.

I will touch on some of these tips below. However, if you prefer to jump straight into a detailed rundown, read our guide of the 8 best putting drills to make more birdies.

 

Tip 1 – Routine Is Vital (Jordan Spieth)

If you are to card more birdies, you need consistency in your game. One erratic shot can ruin your ability to make one under par on a hole. The best way to produce a consistent swing is to develop a pre-shot routine.

Jordan Spieth says this is vital to start your swing on the correct path and execute your shots as intended.

A pre-shot routine helps you in two predominant forms. Firstly, it ensures that you are comfortable at address. Secondly, it enables you to double-check that your clubhead is set up to strike the ball at the intended point of the swing.

For example, a driver needs to strike the ball on the up for a tee shot. Conversely, an iron should connect the ball at the low point of your swing to optimize compression. Following this procedure gets you into a rhythm and helps you focus and achieve consistent results.

 

Tip 2 – Position Is Key (Matt Callcott-Stevens)

This is the best piece of advice I can give amateur golfers. The position is everything. You may scramble your heart out and get lucky with a birdie on a par 5 on the odd occasion. However, a wayward drive puts many of us out of birdie contention.

My fairway in regulation record directly correlates to my birdies per round. The fewer fairways I hit, the fewer greens in regulation I achieve, which reduces my chances of making a birdie. Conversely, the more fairways I hit, the better my green in regulation record is on my second shot on par 4s.

Let me use the example of a left-hand dogleg. You need to drive the ball to the right side of the fairway to open up the green for your next shot. Even if you are short, it is better to be on this side than long and left.

As a result, I enjoy a higher ratio of birdie putts, and it is only a matter of time before one or two find their way to the bottom of the cup.

Play for position, and keep away from the hazards. The golfing gods reward this astute strategy. However, your putting stroke needs to fire to capitalize on your positional play. The lack of yardage from this strategy requires

 

Tip 3 – Aim For The Middle Of The Green On Long Shots (Anne Cain)

I follow golf coach Anne Cain’s advice and aim for the green and not the flag. The diameter of the cup is 4.25-inches, while the average putting surface on the PGA Tour is 6,600-square feet. Naturally, aiming for the middle of the green leaves golfers more room for error than going for the pin.

In addition, attacking the flag requires pinpoint accuracy, and a mishit could land you in the bunker or the drink. At least when your approach shot ends on the green, you give yourself a look at birdie. However, if your putting stroke is garbage, you always run the risk of a 3-putt bogey.

Therefore, it is imperative to optimize your practice sessions and dedicate the time to your short game. In particular, hone your skills with the putter and watch those strokes drop off your handicap.

Now, when you play short par 3s, which are 120 to 130-yards, you may as well have a crack at an ace. As long as there is minimal danger surrounding the dancefloor.

 

Tip 4 – Attack The Flag On Short Shots (Clay Ballard)

Golf coach Clay Ballard agrees with Anne Cain that you should aim for the middle of the green on longer par 3s. However, Ballard believes that safety is not always the best approach. He feels many amateurs leave birdies on the table by not capitalizing on shorter holes:

Ballard suggests that all golfers attack the pin on shorter par 3s to give themselves a look at birdie. The chances are that a mishit will still leave you in the proximity of the cup to attempt your putt for birdie.

The same structure applies for par 5s and 4s, where you can swing one of your wedges. A short approach into the green gives you the right to have a crack at glory. You did well to put yourself into a promising position, and now you deserve to go for the flagstick.

On the contrary, the average golfer should not attack the flag when swinging anything longer than a mid-iron. Under those circumstances, you are too far out to have a realistic shot of sticking it close. Your best option is to employ tip 3 and aim for the center of the green.

 

Tip 5 – Dial-In Your Short Game (Patrick Reed)

Paddy has not done himself any favors with his outlandish rule interpretations over the years, but you cannot ignore his talents. Reed says that the best way to make more birdies is to master your short game.

You will enjoy a lower average score if you can control the distance of your wedge shots and confidently stroke every putt.

A killer wedge game helps you stick your wedge shots close to the pin, leaving you with a makeable birdie putt. That is especially relevant to your approach shot on par 5s. In addition, a solid putting stroke increases your one-putt percentage, helping your card more birdies.

 

Tip 6 – Fewer Distractions (Tiger Woods)

At the height of the COVID pandemic, Tiger remarked that players were making more birdies because of fewer distractions. The distractions he referred to was the pressure brought on by cheering fans.

Woods felt that golfers could get into and stay in the zone throughout the round. Although cheering fans offer an adrenaline rush like no other, it can break a player’s focus.

We average golfers don’t need to worry about cheering fans. However, we have other distractions. One issue is that some amateurs struggle to detach from their mobile devices during a round. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, many are distracted by messaging apps and social media platforms.

If you lack self-restraint, turn off the device and bury it deep in your bag. Limit any exterior distractions to maintain your focus.

 

Tip 7 – Study The Green (Jordan Spieth)

You need to know how to putt if you are to make more birdies. Besides your ability to stroke a putter, you need to possess the knowledge of turf. You cannot rely on your chipping in or holing out from the fairway.

Jordan urges golfers not to overthink their putting stroke and instead focus their attention on the speed and break of the putt. Focus on the point that the green breaks and takes the ball towards the cup. Ensure that alignment aid on your putter points at your chosen target.

When you are putting with the Bermuda grass grain, it produces less break and a faster roll. Conversely, putting against the grain slows the ball down and increases the break. Bentgrass greens grow upright and tend to impact the break of your ball.

It takes time and a lot of practice to master the read of a green. However, this enables you to confidently stroke your putts and increases your ability to make more birdies.

 

Tip 8 – Learn To Shape Your Shots (Hunter Mahan)

Hunter Mahan is a 6 time PGA Tour winner and knows a thing or two about making birdies. His tip is to learn to shape your shots. This gives you the upper hand in two scenarios:

Firstly, it allows you to work the ball towards the hole and eliminate the risk of water hazards and sand traps. This also enables you to induce side spin that propels the ball in the intended direction upon landing.

The second advantage is that it gives you options to reach the green and position yourself to make a birdie. If your drive ends behind a tree, you can draw or fade it around the greenery and still give yourself a chance. Without the ability to work your ball, your options would be limited.

I recommend reading our guide on 7 types of golf shots to play. This knowledge will help you escape trouble and improve your control.

 

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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8