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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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Stickney: 8 quick tips for better golf

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One of the biggest myths in the golf swing is that you only “rotate or turn your hips” during the transition. Of course, you must rotate them at some point but as you see Tiger here in the photo above there is a very distinct bump AS the hips begin to rotate. If you only rotate you will tend to stay on your rear foot during the downswing causing over the top transitions and poor quality impact!

Most average players have trouble compressing the golf ball and hitting the ball solidly during impact. In fact, the thin and “clicky” shot is more often hit than not. This shot comes from the absence of longer arms through impact and whenever you “pull up” through the shot you will tend to hit the equator of the golf ball. As you look at this LPGA Tour player in the left frame you will see long arms and more solid impact!

Attention women, you have more flexibility than 10 men and this can be an issue when you play golf. As you can see in these photos the LPGA player on the left has a tighter turn to the top allowing a more explosive downswing! The player on the right has wasted too much motion on the backswing and therefore will have trouble producing speed through impact!

When pitching, it’s easy to forget about using the pivot of the body and only focusing on using the arms. As you can see in the photo above this player is rotating his rear shoulder through the shot keeping the rear wrist in a great condition for solid impact. If you only use your arms here you will tend to “flip” at the ball and use your hands too much making quality impact a fleeting thing.

One of my favorite ways to look at the putting stroke is from the hole back to the player. As you can see, Rory has hit the ball in the left frame and continues into his follow through in the right frame. What you can see is that the putter continues down the line with little twisting and turning of the blade post-impact. As we know the stroke works in an arc and the face will close on its own but it’s not your job to “release” it or try and make it happen on your own. Just let it flow!

To be a good pitcher of the golf ball you must do two things around the green…number one, just bruise the turf coming through impact and have some type of shaft lean forward (SLIGHT). If you possess these two things then you will have a much better chance of hitting good solid shots around the green. If you come into the golf ball too steeply or have the shaft backing up through impact then you will find that you will have impact quality issues.

When it comes to club fitting most golfers have clubs that are fit to them when it pertains to the length and hopefully the lie but with putters 99% of all golfer don’t even consider fitting. Most putters come off the rack around 35 inches with a lie angle of 71 degrees…great if you fit this mold but if you do not your impact will tend to look like this one above. The putter is toe-up with a faulty impact location giving you inconsistent misses. Get your putter fit—length, loft, and lie and you will thank me.

If you want more distance and more consistent impact then you should work on having more “width” at the top. When the lead arm is straighter you will find that these things will happen automatically. If you want the lead arm in a better condition then check out your rear arm…that is the controller! If the rear arm is at 90 degrees or more, you will find the lead arm will be straighter. Try it and you’ll be walking farther down the fairway.

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Have you ever become frozen over the ball, unable to initiate the swing? In this video, Michael Powers of Northbound Golf identifies and defines the cause of the problem.

Also, Northbound Golf have launched a new app (for IOS only).  It can be accessed through a search of in the App Store.

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Stickney: How to gather speed for more distance

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Top 100 teacher Tom Stickney points out a common, distance-sapping fault he sees from amateurs and the simple solution that will build speed in the golf swing, leading to longer drives.

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