You hit the ball through the clown's mouth on the first try whenever you play mini golf, so you assume you'll be a natural when it's time for the real thing.

Turns out, your short game isn't so impressive if you can't get the ball on the green in the first place. Trips to the driving range are your best bet — once you get there, follow this routine to shame the men who think you're there only to show off your conservative-is-sexy new golf dress (even if it's true).

If you're right-handed, hold the club in your left hand. Grip the club with your fingers rather than your palm, and place your thumb on top, facing down. Now place your right hand so that your left thumb fits into the V in your palm made by your pointer finger and thumb. The V shape formed by your thumb and pointer finger should point at your right shoulder.

Don't hold the club too hard. Your grip shouldn't be especially tight — a relaxed grip will result in a more controlled shot.

Stand with the point of your front foot facing the ball. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart with your weight on the balls of your feet.

Start your backswing by shifting your weight to your back foot. Bring the club so far back that you can almost stick your thumbs into your ears.

During your backswing, keep your head down. Think about keeping your left eye on the ball. It sounds weird, but it will help your aim — you don't want your head tilted toward your target. It feels natural to look where you want the ball to end up, but it will hurt your shot.

To avoid rushing the swing, count it out. The count of one should cover your backswing, hold the club for two, and swing on three.

As you swing, shift your weight to your front foot.

Don't hit the ball too hard. It's counterintuitive, but if you overswing, your ball won't get as much distance and will likely end far from your target.

Keep your elbows in. Once you've hit the ball, keep your elbows close together and straight for as long as possible. Finish the swing over your opposite shoulder.

Follow through with your hips. When you are done with your swing, your hips should be square to your target.

There are a lot of steps to remember, which is why all golfers, even Tiger, are constantly trying to improve their swing. Don't get discouraged if, at the start, the only thing you hit is a patch a grass. Take it one step at a time. And don't forget to rock that hot little golf number.

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