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Golfing tips from the man who trained Tiger

Monday - 4/8/2013, 10:34am  ET

Golf instructor Hank Haney says setting realistic expectations and focusing on the short game are keys for playing early in the season. He stopped at TPC Potomac on Saturday for an event with young golfers. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

Andrew Mollenbeck,

POTOMAC, Md. - For golfers, it doesn't get a lot better than this. The weather has finally turned, and the year's first major, the Masters, begins Thursday.

But the glory of spring doesn't automatically fix the shanks from an idle winter.

"The most important thing is to have realistic expectations when you go out," says Hank Haney, considered to be among the top golf instructors in the world.

Haney, who coached Tiger Woods and other tour pros, was at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm on Saturday to host an event for junior golfers.

"Golf is a little tougher in the spring the courses play longer. It's usually a little windier and the ball doesn't go as far," he says.

He offered some tips for golfers anxious to get on the course for the first time this spring.

"Work on the short game because that's the thing that goes the quickest," he says.

"The swing will come back, but the short game is the part that takes a little longer."

Haney recommends dividing practice time into thirds, with work on the short game, putting and then the full swing.

He suggests breaking those into smaller subsets. On the greens, he encourages golfers to take time focusing on long putts, short putts and putts that can be made.

With wedges, he divides practice time among chipping, pitching and the sand game, or hitting from the bunker.

"Everyone wants to hit the long ball. It's funny on the driving range the first club people hit is their driver, but that's usually an indication that they're not a very good golfer."

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