As a golf coach, I see hundreds of different swings every year. No two are the same, and it is my job to help my players make the most of their talent and technique to shoot the lowest scores possible. There’s no question that technique has a very important role in shooting lower scores, but it’s usually not the starting point of the work I do with my golfers. More often than not, I start by helping golfers get the most out of the swing they already have before we start fine tuning things.
Here are five ways you can start getting the most out of your golf swing right now. See how far these tips can take you before you decide to rebuild a golf swing that may already be good enough to help you achieve your golf goals this summer.
1. Pick One Ball Flight
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve worked with high-handicap golfers who tell me that they’re struggling to hit draws, fades and knockdowns. As great as I think it is that golfers want to have total control of their ball flight, it’s my belief that a golfer must first gain command of their natural ball flight before they attempt to work the ball on the course.
Say you’re a 12-handicapper who struggles to hit a draw. That’s OK! You can score very well hitting a fade on every singe shot, no matter the situation, pin placement, wind or distance. You’ll be surprised how much easier the game becomes. Own it, know it, hit it!
2. Have a Game Plan and Stick To It
Before your round, plan out how you are going to play the course. Visualize different scenarios in your head and how you will react to them. Don’t always just plan the good shots, either; know what you’ll do if you hit it in a trouble spot that you tend to find on the course.
I like to have my players write their game plan before a tournament in essay form. Writing out what they’ll do in sentences helps them be more specific in exactly what they’ll do, which makes them better prepared on the course.
3. Know Your Tendencies in Different Situation
Let’s say you’re on the 18th hole hitting your second shot from 145 yards. There is a bunker on the left and water short and right. The last three rounds you hit your second shot in the water because you came up and out of your shot early. Now the match is on the line and you need to hit a good shot.
In this situation, it’s a good idea to be aware of your tendencies. If you’re between clubs, you’ll want to take the longer one to make sure you clear the water no matter what you do, right? Remember, you can make a par or birdie from just about any where besides the water. Once you decide on your club and shot, however, don’t let the past enter your mind. Your only goal is to execute the task at hand.
4. Get Target-Oriented
Far to often when I am on course with a student and I ask them what are you thinking about, they’ll tell me something like, “I’m going to close my stance and adjust my grip so I can hit a draw into this pin.” You don’t want that to be you.
Once you are on the course, let your technical thoughts go. You will be surprised how well your body will react when you let yourself play target-oriented golf. I like to use a basketball analogy to explain. When you catch a pass and go up for a shot are you thinking any of these things?
- Turn and face the hoop
- Bend your knees
- Elbows in
- Extend your arm
- Release the ball
- Follow through
If you’re good at basketball, probably not, right? You look at the hoop and rely on your hours of training to make the shot. I have even experimented with putting a shot clock on my players to force them to simply try and react to the target they have chosen. Pick a target, hit your target. It can be that simple.
5. Be Brutally Honest with Yourself… and Play Within Yourself
This may very well be the most important tip on this list. We all have that “friend” who tells anyone who will listen that he is a scratch golfer, but for some reason every time he plays with you he cant seem to break 80. That golfer is not being honest with himself, and he will never reach his potential because of it.
From time to time, all golfers should take an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. This is when you make the time to break down all the parts of your game, piece by piece. Look at everything from your full swing to your short game to your putting to how you react after a bad shot, and write down what you like and don’t like about each part of your game. If you do, you’ll be surprised how much more positive and accepting of yourself you’ll become on the course. You’ll also be able to better communicate what you need help with to an instructor like me when you’re ready to take your game to the next level.
Put these 5 tips to work if you want to get the most out of your swing right now!