There is not one person who plays golf that doesn’t want to get better. To lower your scores and become the best player you can, there simply are no short cuts. You have to practice.
Practice does not mean going to the driving range for an hour and banging balls. All that gets you is repetition of poor swing habits and sore hands.
When you practice implement the next 6 tips to help you lower your scores and get the most out of your time at the range.
- Use Alignment Sticks.
Whether you are a 30 handicap or a scratch golfer alignment sticks should be part of your practice routine. Good players use them religiously during practice sessions to ensure proper alignment and to engrain the right set up and view of their target. Sticks can be purchased for under $20 at local golf retailers. You can also lay your irons down to achieve a similar result
a) Properly setting up your sticks (the instructions are for a right handed golfer. Reverse for left handed use)
There are many ways to set up alignment sticks; here is one way that PGA of Canada Pro Adrien Wright promotes (featured in the photos, www.awgolfsolutions.com)
The first step is to set up one of the sticks on the inside of your ball. Many players make the mistake of setting up the first stick directly at the target. You need to set the stick up slightly parallel left of the target so that your club face is set up towards your target and the first stick is parallel to that.
The second stick is set up to assist you with aligning your feet properly. The stick should not be placed right on the toe line as there is a risk you may step on it or it may interfere with your swing. This stick will be set up like a “rail road track” parallel left of your target.
b) Using your sticks
It is imperative when you come to set up to your ball, the first thing you do is set your club face up to the target THEN take your stance lined up to the rods. Ensure that your shoulders hips and feet are all lined up facing the same direction. Wright recommends players to think of having your shoulders over your toes so that you are not in a sitting position. You want to have a flat back that is tilted.
c) Common error
Wright notes that a common setup error is having your shoulders not square to your foot line and instead open. Not only is this a power leak it also impairs your ability to hit your shot on line.
2. Be Target Focused
Now that you know you are properly aligned to the target check out what your shot pattern is. Are your balls going mostly left of target, right of target or a mix of both? Use each shot as a form of feedback to help you decide what some of your swing issues are. If you are someone who constantly slices check your grip pressure. If it is too tight your club face will be open at impact. If you decelerate through your shot you will also have an open fact at impact which may also cause your shots to slice.
If your shots are going to the left you may be pulling the ball. If you are pulling the ball check to make sure you are not starting your down swing with your arms. Many players that pull the ball initiate the down swing with their arms and swing across their body instead of initiating the down swing with their lower body and accelerating through the shot.
3. Do Not Hit Rapid Fire
Take time between each shot to evaluate where you are going in relation to your target and do practice swings. If you hit 3 poor shots in a row don’t let yourself hit another ball until you make 3 good practice swings where you are brushing the grass (or matt) and getting the right feeling you are working on (ex: making a good turn, accelerating through your shot, relaxing your grip pressure, holding your finish, etc…)
4.Only Change One Variable at a Time.
Like a good science experiment you can’t change several variables and get a true answer to what is happening. If you think you are slicing because of your grip pressure then only change that. Don’t work on both that and acceleration. Test them out separately. Just work on one fix at a time. As you master or become more comfortable with your new move then you can try to add another change.
Don’t work on 15 different things in any given practice session. Pick a maximum of 2-3 things you want to work on per session whether it is hitting targets, better ball contact, your finish position, etc…
5. Use the Aide of a Video Camera
In this day and age of smart phones and miniature video cameras take the time to use this technology to your advantage on the range. Have a friend video you using a cell phone or camera and watch it for immediate feedback on the range. Sometimes the good turn or swing you THINK you are making isn’t happening when you watch in for yourself. I find this feedback invaluable!
For those golfers that have iphones the V1 Golf app and Tiger Woods: My Swing Golf app are very popular. They take your video and go a step further and offer the ability to draw lines along your swing plane and posture lines to give great feedback.
6. Use Practice Aides
Alignment sticks are fantastic and were discussed earlier in the article. Other great swing aides are weighted clubs for speed training, putting alignment tools, stretching bars and tripods for videoing when practicing alone. The best all in one device I have come across is The Swinkey. It has all of these items in one stick. It is featured in the video camera picture included in the article. It is a Canadian made product by a professional golfer that was tired of buying all the swing tools separately. It is a fabulous investment for the player serious about practicing and improving. Go to www.swinkey.com for more information.
I hope these tips help you practice with a purpose and ultimately drop your scores!
By: Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk
Lisa is the 7-Time Canadian Long Drive Champion for Women, a Golf Entertainer and Motivational Speaker. Lisa can be reached through (Claudio) at email@example.com