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3 tips to help you reach your 2013 golfing resolutions

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As we move into 2013 and a new year in the life of a golfer, I hear plenty of resolutions withoutcome focused goals. In 2013 I want to:

  • “Lower my handicap by 5 shots”
  • “Break 80 for the first time”
  • “Make it onto my school/college/club team”

Resolutions can be great, but what really makes the difference is the action we take towards reaching these goals. It is admirable to dream of lowering your handicap by 5 shots, but action needs to be taken too!

So, I want to give you some more ways to make your dreams into reality.

I am sure that you have heard the quote attributed to Einstein, which describes insanity as:

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well, in this article I want to focus on your practice time and how to make some changes that will ultimately get you closer to achieving your golfing resolutions. Remember also, that YOU can choose to make changes whenever you want; you don’t have to wait till society decides you are allowed a “new start” in January!

The next time you are at the driving range, on your practice ground or even making swing motions inside due to adverse weather conditions; give these three tips a try, to give you extra awareness of what you are currently doing in your golf game.

Slow motion: When I learned how to play the drums, I found I needed to use this technique all of the time. When learning a new complex beat for example, I got the best results from slowing the beat down, often to unrecognisably slow speeds, before piecing it together and building up the speed. You will have done the same as you have acquired many life skills, yet it hasn’t caught on that much in golf.

Don’t beat yourself up; the golf swing is a very complex movement; so make it easier to gain some important awareness of the club and your body, by slowing it down when hitting some practice shots. As a starter, try making a swing that lasts for 30 seconds, that’s right…30 seconds! It will be tougher than you think but correct repetitions at this pace rather than full-speed attempts are likely to give better results at changing a movement pattern.

It can’t be THAT crazy an idea if it used by former LPGA No. 1 player Ai Miyazato, and one of the best ball strikers of all time, Ben Hogan.

Watch: Ai Miyazato, Ben Hogan

“Whenever I’m working on something I always do it in slow motion,” Hogan said. That way I can monitor what I’m doing.”

Exaggeration: Let’s take a common mistake that stops golfers from making solid contact with their irons. The flaw is that at impact the clubhead is often out in front of the grip, which adds loft, reduces efficiency and leaks speed and power. For those of you that struggle with this, I want you to go to the range and try to really exaggerate of all these feelings on your next shot. Try to get the grip leading the clubhead to the ball, with your arms in hands in front of the ball through the external thought of trying to start the shot as low as possible.

You may not believe me, but your golfing brain is often a lot smarter than you imagined! Just exaggerating a movement and trying to hit super-low shots with your hands way in front of the clubface gives us a heightened awareness and completely different feeling which we can then take into our practice shots. Ever see Tiger or Graeme McDowell standing on the tee exaggerating an “over the top” move to start their downswing? This is exactly what they are doing; exaggerating the move and then getting it just right when they take their real swings.

Eyes closed: One more way to give you that extra feeling of awareness is to make your swing with your eyes closed. Awareness of the clubface is something that tour players have developed through many, many hours of hitting shots, but this little tip can help you build your awareness too. Close your eyes and make a swing, stopping at impact and feeling where the clubface is. Then open your eyes and check. Use this in any area of your swing to start to develop some extra feel and awareness of the movements as an alternative to using your eyes to check.

If 2013 really is going to be different in your golfing life, these three tips are a simple way to improve your practice time, stop you being on the “insanity loop” and instead get you playing your best golf ever!

Click here for more discussion in the “Instruction & Academy” forum. 

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Andy is currently coaching in Shanghai, China. He is a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. Andy has coached in more than 30 countries and traveled to work with many of the best minds in golf to constantly improve his coaching. His No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process! Website: andygriffithsgolf.com Online Lessons: swingfix.golfchannel.com/instructors/andy-griffiths Twitter: twitter.com/andygriffiths1 Facebook: facebook.com/andygriffithsgolf

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. cugwen

    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

    great article. love the eyes closed idea

  2. pablo

    Feb 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    have always practiced putting eyes closed. tried chipping eyes closed (harder) last night. also now using slow mo to try to groove a slightly new swing caused by a necessary grip change (my right hand grip had slowly migrated to really strong – causing hooks on longer clups). thx for the tips Andy!!

  3. rahrah

    Jan 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Must try these Tips at the range ASAP… thank you

  4. paul

    Jan 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I got in front of a mirror the other day in my house for the first time, I started swinging in slow motion. I noticed me wrist wasn’t flat like it should be, voila, pull hook gone.

  5. Phil Akerd

    Jan 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Nice article Andy.

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Instruction

A Drill To Build Better Club Face Awareness

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When it comes to playing good golf, where you strike the ball on the club face is vital.

One of the key skills in golf is being aware of where the club face is as you swing the club around your body in order to be able to strike the ball in the center of the club face. In this video, I share one of my favorite drills for you to practice to improve your club face awareness. It will help you to hit the center of the club face more often.

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Instruction

How the Trail Arm Should Work In Backswing

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Stop getting stuck! In this video, I demonstrate a great drill to help you move your trail arm correctly in the backswing.

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Instruction

Self-discovery: Why golf lessons aren’t helping you improve

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Of all the things I teach or have taught in golf, I think this is the most important: It’s not what we cover in a lesson, it’s what you discover. 

Some years ago, I had a student in golf school for a few days. She was topping every single shot. Zero were airborne. I explained that she was opening her body and moving forward before her arms and club were coming down. “Late” we call it. I had her feel like her arms were coming down first and her body was staying behind, a common correction for late tops. Bingo! Every ball went up into the air. She was ecstatic.

Some time later, she called and said she was topping every shot. She scheduled a lesson. She topped every shot. I asked her why she was topping the ball. “I think I’m picking up my head,” she said to my look of utter disbelief!

I had another student who was shanking the ball. At least 3 out of 5 came off the hosel with his wedges. I explained that his golf club was pointed seriously left at the top of his backswing. It was positioned well OUTSIDE his hands, which caused it to come down too wide and swing OUTSIDE his hands into impact. This is a really common cause of shanking. We were able to get the club more down the line at the top and come down a bit narrower and more inside the ball. No shanks… not a one!  He called me sometime later. The shanks had returned. You get the rest. When I asked what was causing him to shank, he told me “I get too quick.”

If you are hitting the golf ball better during a golf lesson, you have proven to yourself that you CAN do it. But what comes after the lesson is out of a teacher’s hands. It’s as simple as that. I cannot control what you do after you leave my lesson tee. Now, if you are NOT hitting the ball better during a lesson or don’t understand why you’re not hitting it better, I will take the blame. And…you do not have to compensate me for my time. That is the extent to which I’ll go to display my commitment and accept my responsibility. What we as teachers ask is the same level of commitment from the learners.

Improving at golf is a two-way street. My way is making the correct diagnosis and offering you a personalized correction, possibly several of them. Pick the ONE that works for you. What is your way on the street? Well, here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you are taking a lesson at 10 a.m. with a tee time at 11 a.m. and you’re playing a $20 Nassau with your buddies, you pretty much wasted your time and money.
  • If the only time you hit balls is to warm up for your round, you have to be realistic about your results.
  • If you are expecting 250-yard drives with an 85 mph club head speed, well… let’s get real.
  • If you “fake it” during a lesson, you’re not going to realize any lasting improvement. When the teacher asks if you understand or can feel what’s being explained and you say yes when in fact you DO NOT understand, you’re giving misleading feedback and hurting only yourself. Speak up!

Here’s a piece of advise I have NEVER seen fail. If you don’t get it during the lesson, there is no chance you’ll get it later. It’s not enough to just hit it better; you have to fully understand WHY you hit it better. Or if you miss, WHY you missed.

I have a rule I follow when conducting a golf lesson. After I explain the diagnosis and offer the correction, I’ll usually get some better results. So I continue to offer that advice swing after swing. But at some point in the lesson, I say NOTHING. Typically, before long the old ball flight returns and I wait– THREE SWINGS. If the student was a slicer and slices THREE IN A ROW, then it’s time for me to step in again. I have to allow for self discovery at some point. You have to wean yourself off my guidance and internalize the corrections. You have to FEEL IT.

When you can say, “If the ball did this then I know I did that” you are likely getting it. There is always an individual cause and effect you need to understand in order to go off by yourself and continue self improvement. If you hit a better shot but do not know why, please tell your teacher. What did I do? That way you’re playing to learn, not simply learning to play.

A golf lesson is a guidance, not an hour of how to do this or that. The teacher is trying to get you to discover what YOU need to feel to get more desirable outcomes. If all you’re getting out of it is “how,” you are not likely to stay “fixed.” Remember this: It’s not what we cover in the lesson; it’s what you discover!

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