Hello golfers. Welcome to this weeks tips & tricks. I hope you all enjoyed the summer while it lasted because we have very quickly stepped into the colder, wetter, darker parts of the year. Now the golf courses are getting progressively wetter and the chances of playing are getting slimmer I would like to take the time to talk about range practice. The winter months are the time to get your swing and overall game ready for the next season. Ensuring that you practice constructively and preventing hitting the ball for the sake of it (ball bashing) are crucial for improvement.
You should always head to the driving range with a plan. Try to get an idea of what you need to improve the most and work on that. Too many people practice with just a pitching wedge, 7 iron, and driver. What happens then when you get on the course and have a 9 iron or a 6 iron? Don’t just use the clubs you like. The driving range is about learning so try to learn how to use clubs that are outside of your comfort zone. You want to feel productive when you leave and hitting the same 7 iron 50 times is not giving your brain new feedback. When you plan your session try to remember to take supplies. Having a drinks and food break is very important. You don’t realise quite how much energy you use when you practice.
We are all different as human beings. Some of us have short attention spans some longer, some are physically fit some aren’t, some prefer hitting wedges others prefer hitting woods. There isn’t a one size fits all method when it comes to practice but there are ways to make it more beneficial.
I very often see people with 100 balls and they’re done within 20 minutes. Firstly, I don’t know how that’s physically possible. Secondly, there is no way 100% effort was put into every shot. Like I previously mentioned we are all different. Some people may have all the time in the world to practice and others may be on a very tight schedule. Some people may not fatigue when hitting balls, others might. This shouldn’t mean one has a better practice session compared to the other. It’s the quality of the practice that matters and ensuring that your mind and body took something from the session. If you’re on a time restraint you’re better off getting too few balls so you don’t rush them.
Another way to slow yourself down is to step off the mat after each shot. With our Powertees it’s way too easy to let the ball come out of the shoot and hit before its even stopped moving. You can keep your feet where they are and just fire away. This isn’t constructive. You can rehearse a pre-shot routine also so it’s like being on the course.
When it comes to the process of improvements there are some key points to note. Firstly make sure to have a warm up. It sounds boring but it is scientifically proven to enhance performance. Your first 25 balls on the range are a waste of time if you haven’t done some kind of warm up. Part of a warm up then could be hitting some half chip or pitch shots. I always start with wedges then work my way up through the back and then finish back with the wedges.
The next part for me is one of the most important. Alignment. How do you know if you’re hitting good shots if you don’t check alignment? I always practice with sticks down when I’m working towards a target so I know I’m aiming correctly. Too many people assume their alignment is correct and therefore make unnecessary adjustments in their swing. Sticks for clubface alignment, feet alignment, and ball position are the ones to get right.
Once you have checked alignment you can rehearse drills. Try working on things I have given you in lessons or online. Work on creating feelings and exaggerate then. Slow down the movements and really feel what you’re working on. This could be body rotation, clubface angles, club path, wrist angles, anything! Try to use the mirrors on the back of the range to see if what you’re feeling looks correct. Try some slow motion swings or swings with pauses in to feel the movements. Not every shot has to be an attempt of the “perfect golf shot”.
When you have practiced the drills and added that into a full swing you can switch it up a bit. Now try to put yourself into more of a game situation. Imagine a narrow fairway or a small green and try to hit within it. Change the club and change the target every time to make it random. This is now like real golf. This will give you some feedback and adds some pressure with consequence. If you miss the targets don’t get deflated, it’s all part of the learning process.
Trackman can be used to practice in lots of different ways. It can give you specific yardages as well as playing games, playing real courses and completing tests. This can be added to your practice for only £20 for 30 minutes! This can really add value to your practice and make it much more productive. I’m lucky I can use it when I do practice and I really do believe it’s what separates good players from average ones.
Practice is hard work. Finding the correct amount of balls, length of time, warm up time, drills and routines takes time. Take this Winter to actually find out how you learn best. Perhaps make a practice log and then try to work out what gives you the best results. Try to make your practice as enjoyable as possible and hopefully you will see the results at the start of next season.
If you would like any guidance on practice or would like me to guide you through the winter months you know where I am.