Most golfers regularly suffer from the inability to take their game from the practice area to the course. Why is this? Why can they hit it, chip it or putt it so great when practicing, but struggle once they set foot on the course? To answer this question, we first need to understand what most golfers are experiencing when they’re on the course.
Common answers include:
- I only get one try.
- I’m thinking about my score too much.
- There’s a consequence to a bad shot.
- I get too mechanical.
- I experience different lies on the course.
- I feel a lot of pressure.
After reading that list, it may be more obvious why practice is easy and playing well on the golf course is a different story. It also makes sense that those who perform better on the course bring the elements of variability, consequence, pressure and score to their practice sessions.
“How do you prepare for such pressure-packed situations like the Ryder Cup?” Ian Poulter, Europe’s most clutch Ryder Cup player, was asked. His answer: “Everything is a game.” He, too, turns his practice sessions into competitive, game-like situations.
My name is Trent Wearner, and I’m the author of a new GolfWRX series called “Game of the Weekend” that I know will help you shoot lower scores. I’m going to introduce you to a great new golf game every Friday, and you can take my training further by logging your scores into an interactive practice website called www.golfscrimmages.com. There you can find a couple dozen games for every area of the game that will help you make practice as difficult as, or even more challenging than what you experience on the golf course.
Game of the Weekend: Drawback
- Gear needed: A putter and one ball. Ball marker is encouraged.
- Time needed: About 15 minutes to play one round.
If Drawback was the only putting game you ever practiced, you would become a fantastic pressure putter from all distances.
The Rules: You will play 9 holes of this putting game. The first hole should be from 20 feet away, the second hole from 30 feet away, and the third from 40 feet away. Then repeat that process an additional two times for a total of 9 holes. If your first putt goes in the cup on each hole, you record a score of one. If it doesn’t go in, you must draw the ball back one putter length. (Note: Those of you who use a long putter or belly putter should only draw it back 3 feet). If that putt goes in, you score a 2. If it misses, you must draw the ball back one putter length again, continuing in this same manner until the ball is holed. Total the number of putts it takes you on all nine holes and enter that score.
The Benefits: Here’s what this game helps you with.
- On the first putt of each hole, your mindset will soon change from “a good lag putt is acceptable” to “I want to hole this first putt.” Trust me, you won’t want to fiddle with all of the drawing back business. The mentality of striving to hole putts instead of just getting them close is a big step to lowering your scores.
- Odds are that you won’t be able to make the majority of your 20-, 30- and 40-foot putts, so it’s inevitable that you will have a large number of pressure-packed short putts from 3-8 feet and that’s where you’ll gain ice in your veins.
- By playing this game often, you’ll become accustomed to drawing it back after your first putt. When you get on the course and don’t have to draw it back, however, the on-course play will feel so much easier. And when the course feels easier than the practice area, you know you’re doing something great for your game!
For this game, I encourage golfers to go through their entire pre-shot routine before every putt. Depending on your routine, that probably means marking your ball, reading the putt and taking a certain amount of practice strokes. Remember, we want this drill to feel just like putts on the golf course.
Have fun getting better this weekend!
- Game of the Weekend: 100
- Game of the Weekend: Go Low
- Game of the Weekend: Chipping Median
- Game of the Weekend: 18 holes of up-and-down… with a twist
Kelley: How to easily find your ideal impact position
If you look at any sport, the greats seem to do more with less. Whether it be a swimmer gliding through the water or a quarterback throwing a pass, they make it look it easy and effortless.
In golf, there are a variety of distinct swing patterns to get into a dynamic impact position. I believe in efficiency to find that impact position for effortless power and center contact. Efficiency is defined as “the ability to produce something with a minimum amount of effort.” This can easily apply to the golf swing.
It all starts with the address position. The closer we can set up to an impact position, the less we have to do to get back there. Think of it like throwing a ball. If your body is already in a throwing position, you can simply make the throw without repositioning your body for accuracy. This throwing motion is also similar to an efficient direction of turn in the golf swing.
Once you set up to the ball with your impact angles, if you retain your angles in the backswing, the downswing is just a more leveraged or dynamic version of your backswing. If you can take the club back correctly, the takeaway at hip-high level will mirror that position in the downswing (the desired pre-impact position). In the picture below, the body has become slightly more dynamic in the downswing due to speed, but the body levels have not changed from the takeaway position.
This stays true for halfway back in the backswing and halfway down in the downswing. Note how the body has never had to reposition or “recover” to find impact.
At the top of the swing, you will notice how the body has coiled around its original spine angle. There was no left-side bend or “titling” of the body. All the original address position angles were retained. From this position, the arms can simply return back down with speed, pulling the body through.
The key to an efficient swing lies in the setup. Luckily for players working on their swing, this is the easiest part to work on and control. If you can learn to start in an efficient position, all you need to do is hold the angles you started with. This is a simple and effective way to swing the golf club.
Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)
In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?
I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:
“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below. I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time. I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135. My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards. No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances. It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away. What am I doing wrong?
Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:
Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.
Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.
Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.
Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?
Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.
So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.
Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill
When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!
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