How would you like to go from shooting in the 90s to the 70s within one year? You might not believe me when I say that I have a student who accomplished this unlikely feat.
Most golfers don’t break 100, let alone break 90 in their entire lifetime,let alone in 12 months. My player did it and swept the field in a two-day tournament shooting 76-72 in windy and wet weather conditions… and she did it with less than 20 hours of golf instruction over the course of a year.
I’m going to give you the secret to her success.
As a full-time golf instructor, I work with a group of players that have a variety of different athletic aptitudes, body types, motivation levels, cognitive function, etc. I can say with confidence that no one formula works for everyone, but at the same time, I know there is a formula that works. If you can manage to get over yourself, or whatever excuses you create and just do it, you’ll see results.
My student followed the formula to a T, and because of this, she was able to pull off such a dramatic improvement in her game. I believe that everyone can improve, including you. Perhaps a 20-shot improvement in a tournament is a stretch, but it’s possible.
Here were the three key elements in the success of my student that are markers in every other success story that I’ve been a part of.
1. Find Weaknesses and Fix Them
My student was positive by nature and optimistic about her improvement, but she wasn’t delusional about her successes. She enjoyed playing well, and when she did, I recognized it. But her focus in our time together was largely on errors. We realized them, worked on ways to feel the difference between the error and the correction, and then I sent her off with drills to improve her patterns to eliminate the errors.
When her body was unable to produce the patterns due to lack of strength, I needed to outsource the job to a trusted fitness professional. She started regular sessions with Jason Meisch, my go-to for strength, conditioning, and 3D work (Jason is a TPI MP-3, GB-2, Owner of PEAK Golf Fitness). Jason and I coordinated our plan so that she was working specifically on the areas that I had outlined, beginning with his full 3D and movement evaluation. She joined his six-month, off-season program designed to structure a student’s workouts in five hours per week. The program also gave her access to a bio-feedback golf device from K-Vest called K-Player for unsupervised practice and workouts.
Her practice program was developed with her swing goals in mind. They were incorporated into workouts, which were built to work on weaknesses in her movement patterns as well as other performance limitations that were affecting her swing goals.
2. Practice with Feedback
It’s so easy to hit balls until you think you “have it,” but by then you’ve already rehearsed the wrong way for the entire time that it took you to figure it out. Some people get lucky and actually do figure it out (see: Ben Hogan or Bubba Watson), but for the rest of us mere mortals, figuring it out on our own is not a wise idea. The reason is simple; golf is a very complex movement with many required parts. The likelihood that you’re going to simply figure it out is low. You might, but in my 1,000+ hours of lessons a year, I rarely see it happen.
My student was not about figuring it out entirely on her own. Yes, she needed to feel the swing on her own, but she was open and interested in my guidance. She used 3D feedback through K-Vest that Jason and I set up for her, and she was at his gym several times a week working on her movements. Through this method of feedback, she could learn how to do some of the movements that she was supposed to do.
3. Leave Your Excuses at the Door
I can think of two-dozen reasons why I should eat more raw vegetables, but until I actually do it, it’s just a dream. The students who improve actually do what is on their game plan. They don’t make excuses for not working on it, and they don’t cut corners. My player didn’t push back along the way to her 20-shot drop. She was focused, accepted the tasks I gave her, didn’t find reasons why she couldn’t do it, and didn’t show frustration. I’m sure motivation or drive plays a big part in this piece, so perhaps the next time you’re wondering whether you really want to improve, ask yourself honestly if you’re ready to put some sweat into it. Nothing good comes for free, and that saying absolutely applies to golf.
I wish there was a magic pill that someone could take and his or her game would instantly improve. Sometimes, small technical improvements do seem like magic pills, and it’s fun when those breakthroughs happen. Keep in mind, however, that old habits die hard. Just because your swing is working in a lesson or on Sunday of your practice round doesn’t guarantee it will work all the time.
In order to keep the new movement or movements that you’re working on, you’ll have to repeat it with enough reps and in a way that your brain will remember and store as a recent memory. Often we forget, and we revert to the same old, same old. Be sure to keep an eye on whatever it is you’re supposed to be attending to in your game until you know you can repeat it under pressure in a relatively permanent way. If you do, a drop in your scores is sure to come.
3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand
One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.
The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.
1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce
Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.
2) Control your Angle of Attack
As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.
So what do I mean by this?
The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.
The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.
3) Keep your pivot moving
It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.
You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.
So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.
WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact
Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.
The Wagon Wheel Drill
For many golfers, the ability to hit shots golf ball to the target is a difficult task, especially when you take into account the rough, trees or hazards lining the hole. In this video, I share “The Wagon Wheel Drill,” a simple idea of how to practice intentionally hitting the ball left, right and on target.
Practice this and you will soon be hitting the target more often.
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