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Here’s why your “perfect” practice swing doesn’t work when there’s a golf ball in the way

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Have you ever wondered why your absolutely perfect practice swing doesn’t produce better shots? 

Your practice swing is perfect; you feel powerful like Tiger Woods, stay in balance like Rory Mcllroy, it looks effortless like Ernie Els, and your technique is flawless like Ben Hogan. It should produce the longest, straightest shots that you are physically capable of executing. But when you actually step up and place the golf ball in the way, your perfect practice swing disappears, and it’s the same old swing flaws that produce terrible golf shots.

Frequently, the answer lies within your practice swing. You’re not correcting the root cause of the problem! Take a look below at an example of what I frequently see up on my practice tee.

This golfer struggles with hitting shots too high, therefore not maximizing distance. His club head frequently reaches the golf ball before the handle does, with his hands behind the ball at impact, so he constantly works on getting more shaft lean into the ball. He wants to see his hands closer to his target leg at impact, which will help him de-loft the golf club and encourage a more solid, lower, penetrating ball flight with more distance.   

When he films his practice swing, he sees his perfect technique! There is more shaft lean, his hands are closer to his target leg, and the overall motion is great. So why can’t he execute this swing for real? 

A closer look at the impact position of his practice swing notes that his face is WIDE open. If this golfer executed his practice swing with the golf ball in the way, he would hit the ball dangerously right, probably out of bounds if he even found the club face. So while his practice swing movement is what he’s striving for, he hasn’t fixed the root cause of his swing issues: the club is wide open at impact! In order for this golfer to execute his practice swing during his real swing, and get the results he wants, he must fix his grip to achieve a more closed club face at impact. Once the grip is fixed — the root issue of his golf game — he will then be freed up to use that practice swing when it actually counts. 

So how can we ensure that our perfect practice swing works? Look at what your club face is doing at impact. Study where the bottom of your swing arc is. Is the bottom of your arc where you want it to be when you’re taking practice swings? Are you taking practice swings starting where your ball position would be for the given shot? Look how you deliver your golf club. Is it on your desired swing path? Is it with your desired angle of attack? Study these components to ensure that your practice swing has an opportunity to perform more efficiently, and ultimately replicate your real swing. 

The moral of this story: there are always reasons why your perfect practice swing doesn’t show up when you’re trying to execute your real swing, including the pressure to actually perform! But, if you fix the root cause of your swing and actually use a practice swing that works for the shot you want to hit, then you can replicate your practice swing and hit better shots, even under pressure.

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. blue

    Aug 25, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    FYI… incompetent golfers have a psychological fear of a golf club… believe it or not… it’s true…

  2. geohogan

    Aug 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A9HrkUSG3Q&feature=youtu.be

    Crude in presentation, but to the point.
    In one hour a right handed golfer takes a lesson to swing left handed and succeeds, not be practice swings but by not looking at the ball.

  3. jason z

    Aug 24, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Let’s say your practice swing happens to be excellent with the club bottoming out in the right spot, the face angle square to target and swing path in-out (all verified by high frame rate video) but your real swing is dramatically different. Any advice on how to get them to match up?

  4. Jack

    Aug 24, 2018 at 5:24 am

    LOL yes totally agreed. I’ve actually replicated practice swings when I’m hitting, and it doesn’t end pretty. Problem is practice swings are done without a ball in mind and as much as we would like to just let the ball get in the way of the swing, most swings are not good enough for that. Also we just do practice swings without regard to path/clubface. If we did it would be just as unnatural (for amateurs that is) as the real swing.

  5. geohogan

    Aug 23, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    IMO, when we play.. dont practice.
    We dont need to give golfers reasons to take more and more time to take a shot. Can you imagine waiting on a golfers as they check impact, path etc etc, with every practice swing. Some will keep at it until they think they get it right….more golfers will quit the game.

  6. Jerry

    Aug 23, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    I thought you were going to say something about the mental game.

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