The practice range is a place where champions have been made. They have spent countless hours hitting balls and working on their swings. Do you think these champions just hit ball after ball with no purpose in mind, without a swing thought, or something they are there to work on? So why would you want to go to the range and just hit ball after ball?
Do you think that one day if you hit enough balls it just comes to you? You wouldn’t be at the practice range if you didn’t want to become a better golfer. So let’s make a little wiser use of our practice time from now on and maybe you can become a champion too.
First things first, let’s reduce the amount of balls we hit. I want you to make the balls you hit last longer. How do you do that you say? By making lot’s of practice swings in between shots. Practice swings are a way to feel the position or movement you need to make before having to do it.
I have a great practice swing but when I hit balls I don’t make the same swing.
This is because when you do a practice swing you are not thinking about hitting the ball. If you are not trying to hit anything you will make a smooth swing because you are not swinging with your arms. As soon as you put a ball on the ground you are then thinking about hitting the ball with just your arms instead of your body which will totally destroy your golf swing. The idea behind doing practice swings is to make 3 to 5 practice swings incorporating one or two things you would like to work on. Feel these things as you do them without the ball, then get the same feeling when you hit the ball. This means that instead of thinking about hitting the ball or worrying about where the ball is going you are going to be thinking about how you are moving your body. You are thinking about the feeling you just had in your practice swings. As much as I keep telling my students to forget about the golf ball they insist on thinking about where it is going.
A good player has learned to isolate movements or feelings throughout their swing. If Pros are making a change to their swing they commit to making the change. The effect of this change will be seen days, weeks or months later. They know what it takes to change something. It takes hard work. After all, you are trying to undo years of bad habits.
Secondly, what you would like to do is have a perfect vision of what you want your golf swing to look like on your mind. With each and every practice session, you are trying to bring your swing one step closer to this goal. As you get closer to a great looking swing the more great shots you will hit. Wouldn’t you like to have a swing that looks like a swing you see on TV? Do you think if your swing looked like, or close to that of your favorite pro you would hit great shots? So why would you not try to make your swing look better? Keep in mind the Pro’s have the right fundamentals so if you model yourself after a Pro you will have them too.
Thirdly, you have to change the way you practice. No longer are you going to immediately reach for the driver and try to bang 300 yard drives all day long. The proper way to practice is to warm up with a few sand wedge or pitching wedge shots. Hit 20-30 yard shots first, then 40-50 yard shots, then 60-80 yard shots. Once you are starting to get warmed up, move up to a 9 or 8 iron. Make a few easy swings with this club before you move up to a 7-or 6 iron. Now you can start to work on your position or swing change for that day. Stick to these mid-irons for the majority of the golf balls in your bucket. As a treat, keep 10-15 balls aside to hit some drivers and then another few balls to warm down with your pitching or sand wedge again. Every Pro in the world would practice like this so, if you want to become a better golfer you must do the same.
Finally, I would like you to practice your short game twice as much as your long game. The best players in the world are only going to hit approximately 75% of their shots well. That means that you are going to hit 10-50% of your shots well. To make up for your mistakes, you must have a great short game. Not only does the short game help you to make up for your mistakes, it also takes the pressure off of your long game. If you have a great short game you have no need to worry when hitting a 3-iron into the green. This is because you know that you can get the ball up and down if it so happens that you miss the green with your approach shot. If you have a poor short game you won’t be too comfortable hitting your 3-iron into the green for fear of not getting it up and down.
This game has enough pressure in it without you adding more. So make sure you work on that chipping, pitching, and putting just as hard as your full swing and you will see dramatic improvement in your scores.
All the best,