Sunday, December 27, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Here are my keys to developing the perfect preshot routine for you:
Start your preshot routine early:
Having a sound preshot routine doesn't mean you should become a slower golfer. Learn to start assessing the conditions as you're approaching your golf ball and while the other members of your group are hitting there shots.
Assess the conditions decisively and thoroughly:
Always consider the lie of your ball, the direction and intensity of the wind, whether the ball is above or below your feet, whether the green is uphill or downhill from your ball or anything else that may affect the path of your shot. Based on the conditions, along with your strategy for setting yourself up properly to score well (i.e. playing away from bunkers or water hazards).
Choose the club and the shot to be played:
Based on your assessment of the shot, make a confident decision on which club to hit and the best trajectory to hit the shot based on the shot at hand. If your shot is an approach shot to the green and you are between clubs, you will almost always be better off taking the longer club and swinging easier.
Pick a tiny target:
Don't pick the "middle of the fairway" or a grove of trees or a building in the distance. Pick the smallest target possible, the branch of a tree, a window of the building, a blade of grass on the green when putting, etc.
Visualize the shot:
While still standing behind the ball, use your imagination and get a vivid image in your mind of your ball following the perfect path and ending up where you want the ball to finish.
Take your grip:
Do this while standing behind the ball. This will help you avoid tinkering with your grip when you are addressing the ball.
Approach the ball, focused on the target:
Once you start walking to the ball, think of nothing but the target. Don't think about where you don't want the ball to go, don't think about any swing thoughts, just think of the target.
Practice swing until you feel the perfect shot:
It may take you 1 practice swing to brush the grass just right on you practice swing, or it may take you five practice swings. It doesn't matter how many you take, as long as your last practice swing gives you confidence.
Address the ball, look at the target, see the perfect shot, pull the trigger:
Once you're ready to address the ball, move in and give one or two last looks at the target, thinking about nothing other than the target, then pull the trigger. Don't waste any time over the ball. In fact, if you have performed your entire routine properly, this last step may only take you a couple seconds. The longer you stand over the ball, the more likely it is that negative thoughts will creep in.
Leave swing thoughts for the range or the putting green:
Don't use swing thoughts when you play. Just enjoy the challenge of the day and focus on your target and staying within your routine.
Enjoy the process, don't worry about the results:
Focus on the process of hitting your shots. Follow the routine described above, not letting any distractions into your mind. If something distracts you, restart the routine by walking back behind the ball and refocusing on your target. Once you've hit your shot, don't worry much about the result. There is nothing you can do about a shot after you have hit it. Don't beat yourself up over bad shots, just try to focus harder on following your routine on the next shot.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I think most people understand that “don’t hit it in the water” is a bad swing thought, especially if it’s the last thing that goes through your mind before you start your swing. Many times, if this is the last thought in your head before swinging, the ball will go right where you don’t want it to go!
One of the best ways to improve your scores is to have a very specific target for every shot, whether it is a tee shot, approach shot, recovery shot, or a chip or putt. If you have a specific target, it helps you to keep the thoughts of where you don’t want the ball out of your head while you’re preparing to swing.
Keys to Picking an Effective Target
Make your target as small as possible. If you have a driver in your hands, don’t just aim for the fairway, or even the left side of the fairway, or even a tree. Instead, aim for a branch, or a pole, or the smallest object you can see that’s on your intended target line. If you’re chipping or putting, a blade of grass or a light or dark spot on the green may be a more appropriate target.
Don’t think about anything other than that target once you get to the ball. As you’re approaching the ball, think only of your small target. Don’t think about your last hole, or even your last shot, don’t think about what you’re going to order the next time the beverage cart arrives, and don’t even think about your swing, just let it happen and focus on the target. You will be surprised at how little your swing matters once you’re focused on a small target.
Pick the right target. Don’t just automatically aim your tee shot down the middle of the fairway, or your approach shot right at the pin. Instead, play the hole in your head from the green back to the tee and think about the smartest place to put each shot to give you the easiest chance of avoiding a big score. If there is a big bunker or water hazard short right of the green, you may want to hit your tee shot to the left side of the fairway (or even into the rough at times) and then your approach shot to the left of the pin.
Read your chips, then play them like a putt. When you are just off the green, think about how your chip or pitch will bounce and roll after landing, and pick the appropriate landing spot. Once you have read the break in your chip, pick the landing spot that will get the ball close to the hole, then practice swinging until you make a swing that you think will land the ball on your target.
Play enough break on your putts. When picking your target on a putt, make sure that you play enough break. A putt has a lot better side of dropping in the top side of the hole than it does dropping in the low side of the hole. Pay attention to where your misses go and if you are missing more putts on the low side of the hole, start playing more break and you will make more putts.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
If you truly want to improve your game, you will need to take the time to learn better fundamentals, whether you do that by going to a professional for lessons, reading about fundamentals or intently watching the pros live or on television and trying to learn from them. You will also need to dedicate some of your golf time on the range or on the practice green to drill these fundamentals in until they feel normal for you and until you can comfortably take them to the course and apply them under increased pressure.
Part of the reason I am writing this is to try to wake people up and get them to devote some time into improving their game, and by doing it the right way, by learning the fundamentals. But a bigger reason I am writing this is to try to encourage people to have more fun when they are playing by setting more appropriate expectations and by just playing the best you can with the current ability you have and not beating yourself up for what you are not capable of doing.
So, go out, have fun, try as hard as you can to hit each shot well, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t pull off every shot. Also, pay attention to the shots that are hurting your scores the most. Be honest in your assessment and dedicate some of your “golf time” to practicing these weaknesses away from the course. Don’t just aimlessly practice these weaknesses though; seek help from someone who is not only good at these shots but also someone that can explain to you how to hit these shots. Then, practice the new techniques you learn until they become habit and enjoy the results the next time you play.
The golf course is where we play the game, not where we practice. So when you go out to the course, have fun but don’t expect to work on your driving, or any other part of your game for that matter. Dance with the swing you brought to the course that day and have fun by trying to work out the best score possible with that swing!