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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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WATCH: How to swing the driver “from the inside”

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In this video, I show you how to consistently deliver the driver from the inside.

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Golf 101: How to properly grip the golf club

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I’m sure you’ve heard by now that a good grip is one of the cornerstones of a good swing. Clichés become clichés because they’re true, and putting your hands on the club is extremely important… for reasons you know, and for some reasons you probably haven’t heard before.

Let’s start with the big, obvious one you already know. Your grip establishes the default relationship between the clubface and the golf ball. If you set your grip in a way that promotes bringing the club back to impact open or closed, you’re going to have to do something else in your swing to compensate for that. In other words, a sound grip makes the job of squaring the club easier.

The less obvious reason that a good grip is important is speed. If you set the club in your hands correctly—so that the handle runs across the base of the fingers in your left hand and not across the palm—you’re giving your wrists much more freedom to move. This wrist “mobility” is what allows the final transfer of energy from the body to the club. A great swing thought is to envision that your wrist joints were just greased up. They should feel like they are unrestricted and “oily.”

Another less obvious problem caused by a bad grip is that it tends to perpetuate itself. If you have a bad grip and repeatedly make off-center contact on the clubface, the off-center hits will actually jar the face of the club more off-line, and you’ll hit it even more crooked. And the bad feeling those shots produce in your hands will cause you to continually adjust it. There’s no consistency or feel there. It’s like hitting a whole bunch of baseballs off the end of an aluminum bat on a 39-degree day. A recipe for pain.

To fix your grip, start with your left (top) hand. Set the handle along the first joints of your fingers, and hold it like you would carry a suitcase or briefcase by its handle.

When you get the grip in this position, you’re creating an angle (and a lever) between the club and your left arm, and you’re giving the wrist freedom to move. If you turned the handle so that it crossed your palm diagonally—like a putting grip—you’d immediately feel how your wrist would be much more restricted in how it could bend or turn. That’s why it’s great for putting—because it restricts how the face turns. But on a full swing, you want to take full advantage of the range of motion that comes from rotating from open to square. (this is what the club is designed to do!)

Get a firm grip on the handle with all of the fingers of your left hand and get as much of the thumbprint pushed onto the grip as you can. Now, place your right hand on the handle so that the underside of your right thumb covers the left thumb as much as possible, and get as much of the thumbprint on your right hand onto the top of the grip as possible.

Where you place your hand on the grip is more important than if you decide to interlock, overlap or play with all 10 fingers on the handle. I prefer the overlapping grip because it keeps the index finger of your left hand on the handle, and that extra finger can make a difference for many players.

If your grip isn’t great and you make these changes, it’ll definitely feel strange at first. But I’m betting that straighter and longer shots will make up for it.

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WATCH: How to use a sledgehammer to stop swaying in your golf swing

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It is pretty much impossible to sway when swinging a sledgehammer. Take advantage of the feel you get from swinging a sledgehammer and see how easy it is to implant in your own golf swing. You were built for this move!

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