Practice indeed. I wonder how much thought we actually put into our practices. I ask because I can guarantee we’ve all been at the range when the guy next to you plops down a humongous bag and the first club out is the driver. Better yet, how about the guy who shows up at the range with “JUST” a driver!!!
There’s a big difference between banging balls and practice. There’s also a difference between practice and practice. Huh?
Often I see people at the range bound up with mechanics. I see them stumble through grip, stance, posture, set position, take away and every other swing thought known to man. Then, when the club finally goes in motion, it’s a staccato, herky-jerky moves that resembles nothing of what they are trying to accomplish. While mechanics have their place, it often interferes with “just hitting golf shots”.
Treat yourself to a day at the range where you just hit shots. Hit three or four balls to a target and vary the trajectory, curvature and even the club.Two, three, four balls to a target and then pick another target. Make it a game. make it fun.
I can share with you that in my own practice, I love to make the ball do things I’d never attempt on the golf course, but by doing them, I reinforce the other work I’ve done with my mechanics. Often, when hitting balls alongside a friend or a student, I’ll go ahead and “call my shots”. The time flies and I leave the range with a great self-image of me and my game.
While I’ll always preach that we should “Practice with a purpose”, I’ll also preach that practice should be fun. Now go and “hit some shots”.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take "hits" against a bucket of range balls...
"Swing" vs "Hit"
One of the more famous questions we, the teaching staff at Harbor Links, ask our students is , " Are we supposed to hit the ball or swing the club?" We ask this question about a gazillion times a day!
How did you answer? Did you say "hit the ball"? If you did, you answered with the overwhelming majority.
Now, before I go any further, let me share the analogy we use, also a gazillion times a day.
Picture kids in a park on the swings. Would you walk in front of them? No! Of course not. You wouldn't because you'd get hit!!!! Now think about the original question. I'll bet you changed your answer.
The answer is "Swing the club". We get in trouble when we try and to "Hit the ball." If we keep in mind that "Two pieces of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time" we then learn that ball merely gets in the way.
The next time your hitting balls, work on swinging to a full balanced finish. Don't try and "hit" the ball. Swing the club and let the ball get in the way.
So, what word did you fill in the blank with? Tense? Tentative? Scared? Nervous? or Confident?
How many times a round have we all had to stare down a putt that most see as “in three putt range” and then proceed to go ahead and three putt? Well, it is my belief, that many long range three putts are a reult of attitude.
Volumes have been written about putting and I’m sure there’s more to come. Stance, shoulder alignment, grip, eye dominance, shaft length, MOI, and on and on and on. All good stuff, but good putting starts with a good attitude.
I’ve had the privledge to spend many a day on the fairways and greens with the owner of this blog and I can tell you this…a more confident putter I’ve never seen!
Putting is about attitude. Putting is about accepting the challenge, not being afraid of it.
As this new season slowly begins, you too should begin anew. Instead of trying to putt the ball into the classic three foot circle on your long lag putts, stand over them and think “I can make this”.
The answer is, we all have.
Each and every one of us have all been faced with the “which club” question during a round. Sometimes the question arises numerous times during a round. How you answer it typically dictates the day’s results.
“Hard 7 or a soft 6?” “Feather in a 3 wood go after the 3 hybrid?” And the list goes on an on.
My best advice? Take the club that allows you to take your “most normal” swing. Many times the answer lies in not altering your swing or trying to “finesse” a club, but in simply changing the length of the longer club and making a regular swing.
Instead of trying to the soft 6, which can lead to deceleration, take an inch or so off the 6 by gripping down and then making your normal swing. You’ll gaurantee that you accelerate through the ball. One of the keys to consistant ball striking.
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, A girl with kaleidoscope eyes. …”
OK so maybe you can’t picture “marmalade skies” per se, but I’ll bet you can picture your ball taking the break and rolling in. Or, how about the short sided flip wedge over a bunker to a tight pin? Maybe it’s just a majestic tee shot that splits the fairway center cut?
Visualization is as important to us as our clubs and balls.
When we discussed pre-shot routine last time, we should also note that we must include the visualization of the successful shot. “See” the ball rising. “See” the ball landing. “See” the ball roll out. “See” the ball go in the hole.
The next time you’re at the range or on the course, “Picture yourself…” You’ll be glad you did.
You know the song, but do know how it relates to golf? Well sing these lyrics instead.
“Stick to your pre-shot! You’d better stick to your pre-shot! Stick to your pre-shot! Fire away!”
THE PRE-SHOT ROUTINE. Of all the things we do on the range and on the course the pre-shot routine stands alone in its importance and in its uniqueness. I say uniqueness because we all should have one and it should be our own.
All too often I see pre-shot routines that range from a silent movie impersonation of TV golf to the classic “I know I should be doing something, but I have no idea what” walk around.
A pre-shot routine should be something that accomplishes two goals. It should help you visualize the upcoming shot and it should tell your body what’s about to happen. Those two elements combined, should help create a calm, relaxed YOU!
Keep the time of your pre-shot routine short. Don’t let it be so long that you begin to doubt everything you had previously thought. I like my pre-shot routine to take me right to the ball, a waggle and then…”Fire Away!”
One thing I can say with 100% certainty is that when my pre-shot routine is off my game will typically be off. Remember our discussion of “Tempo and Timing”? Well your pre-shot routine should be given the same respect with regard to “The 2 T’s”.
I’ve always used Super Bowl Sunday as the proverbial “Line in the sand” and despite about 40′ of snow still on the ground here in the Northeast, this year is no different.
Today is a day that we can all look at as the day we begin our preparation(s) for the upcoming campaign. It’s a day to take stock of where you are with regard to your fitness, flexibility, golf swing and your equipment. It’s a good day to make it your first day of the new golf season.
Today is a great day to go for a walk. Maybe even a light jog. Go through your bag and do some house cleaning in it. How are your grips? Clean them up a little and get the dirt out of the grooves as well.
Today is the day to let your loved ones know that for at least one day a week, the “Honey-Do” list has to wait because you’ll be at the range or the gym.
Today is the day to start a stretching routine. Stretching is important as we work to elongate our muscle groups back to “golf shape” as opposed to the short, tight muscles we develop over the winter especailly one which saw us shoveling record breaking snow.
As we slowly turn the pages of our calendars towards spring, this is a good time to lay out your season.
I find that by placing my events on a calendar, it helps direct and motivate me through my practices. KNOWING when an event is coming up tends to get me to make the neccessary trips to the range and putting green neeeded.
So get a calendar. Put the name and location of events you are playing in or wish to play in. Design your practices so that you peak for those days. You’ll find the added motivation of “a date on the wall” a great way to create focus and desire for additional practice time.
I’ll bet you never knew that when Zero Mostel sang those words that they would become a golf lesson! OK, maybe not the words, but certainly the music. So let’s all sing along…
“Tempo and Timing, Tempo and Timing,
Something for everyone: A better ball strike”
Tempo and Timing. You can be as technically correct as an Iron Byron, but if you don’t have these two components of your swing under control, well, you’re just flailing away ain’t ya’?
Each one of us has a rythm. We need to find it and maintain it during our swing. How many times have I seen good looking swing ruined due to a breakdown in tempo? Once the tempo gets lost, the timing of the swing usually becomes one of recovery to get back to the ball and at that point, who knows what’s gonna happen?
So, if you’re reading this and you can see yourself as one whose tempo and timing goes awry, grab your driver (cause it makes a nice long smooth arc) and head out to your backyard. Now, with your eyes closed, make some long, slow swings. “Feel” the club move back and the lower body drive it through. Finish nice and high with those hands and instead of holding your finish position, allow the club to “fall” backwards all the way up to your set position again. Then….”Lather. Rinse. Repeat”
Do this drill over and over and you’ll build your rythm. You’ll create YOUR “Tempo and Timing”.
So while “A Funny Thing” may have happened to Zero Mostel on his way to “The Forum”, you can tell your Sunday morning foursome that “A Funny Thing Happened To You On Your Way To The First Tee”.
You can tell them while they’re “paying up”!!!