As we finally begin another season of golf, here are some suggestions as to how to make our preparation more efficient and effective.
1. PREPARE YOUR BODY. In most cases we have had less physical activity over the winter than during the summer. Light stretching on a daily basis will help you prepare your muscles for their future activity. Stretching your abdominals, back, shoulders, neck, hamstrings and calves is a good start. Exercises that strengthen your back and abdominals are helpful for good golf. Golf specific conditioning programs are becoming more and more available in most areas. A strong and flexible body can create greater speed and help to prevent injury.
2. MAKE RHYTHM AND TIMING A PRIORITY. Begin your practice with a short club (sand wedge, wedge or 9-iron). Start with waist or shoulder high swings, hit short shots practicing good rhythm by making your body move back and through at the same speed. One of the most common faults of players is their body running away from their arms. Keeping an even rhythm of our body allows our arms a chance to keep up with our body. When our arms are properly coordinated with our body (timing), the clubface has the best chance to square up without manipulation. You will feel your arms become very active. In many cases a fast body locks out our upper arm and shoulder and reduces our speed. Proper coordination of our arms and body increases our speed potential and helps to make control of our swing path and clubface much easier. This coordination helps to make it possible for a proper release to happen naturally.
3. PRACTICE GOOD POSTURE FOR GOOD BALANCE. It is very difficult to create a balanced and powerful top of the backswing position if we do not have good golf posture. Good posture is a habit. It is developed best by conscious effort. The most important purpose of our backswing is to coil our upper body into our right side (left side for left handers) behind the ball. This is much easier to do if we set up with a straight spine, tilted slightly to the right. From there, if we simply turn, not slide, our hips and shoulders, our shoulders and head will move behind th ball. If when we make a backswing, our lower body moves to the right (left for lefty) our upper body will have to move forward to keep balance. This is called a reverse weight shift. In order to address the club to the ball our body must bend forward. When watching golf on television, watch how the players set up, and practice that in front of a mirror. Face the mirror to check your spine tilt. If your chin is to the left of your belt buckle your hips are too far to the right. Move your hips left to move your head to the right at set-up.
4. DON’T IGNORE THE PHYSICS OF GOLF. When developing an efficient golf swing, one of our most important jobs is to coordinate our alignment with the impact position of our clubface, with the direction of our swing. When practicing, observe the flight pattern of your ball. If it has curve in it, that reveals the impact position of the clubface. Open for slice, closed for hook. Physics says that in order to create a straight ball flight (no curve), the clubface must be square to the swing path of the clubhead at impact. If you are trying to hit straight shots, but consistently do not, that would mean that your feel and reality are not in sync. To have the best chance to create a square face at impact we need to understand the proper position and movement of our arms, body and hands through the impact area. With a good understanding of proper movement, even a player with below average athletic ability can hit straight and solid golf shots. Understanding how to create left ball flight and right ball flight will help us to understand and create a straight ball flight. The ability to create a straight ball flight consistently will go a long way to determining how good we become.
5. EQUAL PRACTICE TIME FOR SHORT GAME. Hitting long straight shots make us feel good about our golf. Developing a good short game helps us feel good about our score. Both are important to playing our best golf. For most players, devoting about 2/3 of our practice time to our short game will help us to score most effectively on the course. Try to find a place to be able to practice chipping, pitching, and putting. Seek help from a qualified professional to design a program of development from you. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a Professional that helps you to understand the game better and most importantly helps you to get better results.
Hopefully these ideas will provide food for thought. Challenge yourself to improve your golf by improving your concept of what creates better golf. If you continue to approach your golf the way you have always approached it, why should your results be any different? Good golf is a lifetime pursuit. Let’s keep it moving in the right direction.