I would like to share with you, my thoughts about the golf swing and how to play better golf. Playing better golf is not always about the swing as there are many areas of the game that need to be addressed to play better golf. In this article I will provide answers to questions I often get asked by my students, and I will also try to give you a better understanding of elements of the game based on my 30 plus years of experience as a player and teacher of this great game.
Let’s first talk about consistency. Weather I’m working with one of my students or fine tuning my own swing, I will never make a swing change as result of one or two shots. I’ve seen people hit a bad shot on the range and immediately change something in their swing for the next shot. This can send you down a long road of tinkering with your swing until you are so far off the right path you forget what your proper fundamentals were as you struggle to get your swing back. Now if I hit 5 or 10 bad shots in a row there would be reason for concern.
About making changes in your swing. Changes should always come in baby steps. For instance, if you are hitting weak fades and consistently losing your shots to the right (for right handed players), and you feel you need to strengthen your grip. Start with rotating both hands clockwise on the club a fraction instead of jumping to a very strong grip.
First things first. If you are fairly new to the game or if you live in a colder climate like I do. You need to work on certain things first to get your swing in order so that you can build from there and get into mid season form. At the beginning of every season I make it a goal to just make solid contact on the ball consistently before I go deeper into my swing. This may mean correcting some minor flaws in my fundamentals due to a long winter off but nothing too heavy or any major changes in my swing. Secondly, alignment and ball position. Before your swing gets too grooved with compensating moves because of bad alignment and ball position. Lay a couple of golf clubs on the ground to help you line up to your target and keep your ball position correct. For the first 3 weeks of the season, I always practice with clubs on the ground to help me with alignment and ball position until I can trust my eyes to get me in the right positions. These two fundamentals are very important. Here’s an example of what can happen when you practice in the wrong order. I’m hitting shots on the range and I am missing my target 10 yards to the right every time. I finally start hitting my target somewhat consistently. I go to practice the next day and decide to start my session by checking my alignment and discover I am aiming 10 yards to the right. I have just realized that I spent all of yesterday grooving a swing that pulls my shots 10 yards to the left!
About playing the game. There is a way of getting yourself around the golf course without getting yourself into too much trouble. It’s called playing the percentages. To start with, most people have a natural shape to their shots. Weather it’s a draw or a fade go with it, don’t try to fight it or do too much if you’re not capable of shaping your shots both ways. Also, get a good handle on what your misses are. If for instance, your natural shot is a fade but you tend to pull it straight to the left once in a while you may want to aim accordingly to give yourself room for error on certain shots. Let’s say you have a mid iron into a large green that has the flag on the left side. You can aim slightly right of the flag so the if you hit your usual fade you are still on the green and if you pull your shot it will go right at the flag.
You can also play the percentages when it comes to distance. Let’s say you are on a par 3 that has a long green, the flag is at the back and there is all kinds of trouble behind the green. The distance to the back of the green is 180 yards. Choose the club that you hit 170 yards. If you hit your usual shot you will have a medium length putt. If you don’t get all of it you will have a long putt or maybe a chip but still have a chance at par. Even if you strike it perfectly and it goes a little further than usual, you will be at the back end of the green with a good chance at a birdie. This is a better choice than choosing the club that goes 180 yards and trickles off the back of the green or flies into deep trouble if you strike it perfectly.
I hope this helps you play better golf.
Enjoy your game!