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8 game-improvement hacks for the time-poor golfer

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Between work, family, and life in general, you barely have time to squeeze in an episode of Westworld or Black Mirror. And when you do have time, your significant other is probably nagging you to do some random chore that’s apparently been sitting there for three months. The last thing on your to-do list is golf practice. We get it, but what if we could give you a 20-minute practice tip that would give you more than the same tired 2-hour practice session?

Sounds too good to be true, right? Hear me out before making any assumptions (or jumping off any cliffs, if we’re sticking with the Westworld theme.)

Game Hack 1 — 20:20 Range Practice

Let us introduce you to 20:20. No, we aren’t talking about vision, although we can see how you’d make that mistake. 20:20 is an easy drill I learned from Motor Learning Expert, Dr. Tim Lee. So, why is it called 20:20? Thought you’d never ask.

Take 20 golf balls, then allocate 20 minutes. There’s your 20:20. Make each golf ball last 1 minute, which gives you time to have practice swings, pick a target, shot type or even a different club. The actual change you select doesn’t matter too much, but the thinking involved does.

Physical Hack 1 — Train Your Swing at Home

As analysis tools become more mobile, it’s now obvious that we unconsciously adapt our movement mechanics to suit the lie, slope, wind, desired trajectory, and outcome. This is good for scoring but bad for training a new pattern.

If you are trying to make a swing change, it’s best to do most of it away from the course without that distracting white object tempting you back into old habits. Training your new move with feedback allows for quality control and no incentive to make your old move. Here’s an example of some useful drills that will help most people to move better using the GravityFit TPro:

Game Hack 2 — Interleaved Practice

You’ve heard of random practice, right? If not, it’s simple. Rather than doing the same thing over and over, do a bunch of things in no order. Interleave practice is an adaptation of that.

Rather than doing the same thing over and over, or a bunch of things in no order (I know, we’re probably starting to sound like your significant other again,) take two or more practice tasks and complete however many repetitions you want, but never in succession. This allows you to focus on particular aspects of your game but encourages the same thinking as random practice. It’s sort of like an organized chaos, but interleaved practice fosters better learning.

Physical Hack 2 — Fuel, Hydrate, Rest

When you don’t have much time to practice, you might as well nail the parts you can control. Cognitive and physical performance is heavily influenced by the intake of food, water, and sleep.

  • Fuel: Unrefined carbs, healthy fats, lean protein. Eggs and oatmeal, nuts and bananas, jerky.
  • Hydrate: Water. Drink lots and lots of water.
  • Rest: Good bed and pillow. Dark, quiet, temperature-controlled room for 7-9 hours.

Game Hack 3 — The Power of One-Putting

How often do you walk on the putting green with more than one golf ball? All the time, right? It’s as habitual as leaving the toilet seat up… we get it. We used to do the same. As it turns out, this isn’t helpful in most cases (taking multiple balls to the green, that is. Leaving the toilet seat is never helpful. NEVER!)

From now on, do everyone a favor and just take one ball to the green. Doing so forces you to do all the things you would do on the golf course. Things like reading the green, picking a target, feeling the speed, taking practice strokes, all are vital when playing for real, and shouldn’t be glazed over during practice.

Physical Hack 3 — Warm Up

If you take 10 minutes to warm up before you play, your body and swing will thank you. Working with PGA Tour professionals, we’ve seen all manner of weird and wonderful things being performed in the name of pre-round preparation. Here are the 3 most common themes across that myriad of approaches:

  • Self Massage/Release: Using a foam roller or massage ball, roll out your feet, hip flexors, glutes, low back, mid back, and pecs. It’s a bonus if you have time for the other bits.
  • Dynamic Movement: Take the 3 key areas for rotation through some range – hips, shoulders, and T-Spine.
  • Posture and Rotation: Set your posture right and practice good quality rotations.

European Tour player David Lipsky working some hip mobility

Game Hack 4 — What is the best miss?

So, you deal with the nagging about chores, the rotating-head mini-possession spawned by leaving the toilet seat up, etc., yet you have no desire to even think about leaving the relationship, right? Why? Because it’s just a part of a relationship. It’s a partnership, and the negatives don’t come close to having the same impact as the positives.

So, what brings us back to this stressful, heart wrenching, God-forsaken game we call golf? Likely, it’s hitting that one shot that reminds us of our favorite PGA Tour player. For the team at GLT, it’s Tiger Woods chip shot at the 16th green of the Masters, the shot that made the Nike Platinum Golf Ball’s ad one of the best ever made.

Anyway, we all like to think we can pull our own particular favorite shot off more often than not, but the reality is we can’t. Rather, using Scott Fawcett’s Decade System approach, we should identify three areas for missing the fairway or green. We should then label them “1” for an easy up and down, “2” for a moderate chance of getting up and down, and “3” for a no go (no chance of getting up and down.)

Arick Zeigel, a quality junior golf coach, uses this system, as do countless other top golf coaches, and they all say that even an average player should have a general idea of their bad shots or tendencies. Use that knowledge to identify where you wouldn’t mind missing it — because you will (we all will) miss it often. If we’re honest, we’d miss the nagging, too.

Physical Hack 4 — Add Golf Stuff to Your Workouts

Hopefully, you do some physical exercise… or are at least considering it. Rather than dedicating precious work out time specifically to golf, kick your aesthetic goals and include some golf relevant exercises while you’re at it. Here are the what’s and why’s of my favorites, which give plenty of golf specific bang for your buck:

  • Standing Cable Row: Balance, stability, rotation, back strength, scapula control
  • Goblet Squat: Leg and glute strength, posture, core, grip
  • Single Arm Over-Head Press: Shoulder strength, postural awareness, core
  • Split Stance Turns (with TPro): Balance, posture, quality rotation, feedback on movement

There you have it, our 8 hacks to get the most out of the precious few moments you’re able to grab your clubs and practice. As for Westworld or Black Mirror, sorry, we can’t help you there. And… relationship advice? Have you tried Oprah? Maybe Cosmo? Listening — as in actual listening — usually does wonders for us. If you find any hacks for that, be sure to send them our way.

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At GLT Golf, we place an emphasis on motor learning and sports psychology research. We take the latest information available, then present it in a way that is practical, easy to understand and easy to replicate. By guiding golfers and golf coaches through the principles of recreating, simulating, regulating and chunking, we're able to help develop a training environment that prepares them to access the best golf swing possible when on the golf course. These articles are brought to you through a collaboration of Matthew Cooke, COO, Iain Highfield, Director of Education, Arick Zeigel, Head Coach, and Joseph Culverhouse, Manager of Content and Communications. GLT Golf - Think Differently. Train Differently.

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Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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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.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

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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.

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Instruction

The Wagon Wheel Drill

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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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