Creating A Little Chaos Can Be Good For Your Golf Game
Doesn’t it seem at times that golf is the ultimate game of randomness and that the way you play is total and utter chaos? One day you are in perfect control, and the next day you are so frustrated you want to go Happy Gilmore crazy and beat up Bob Barker.
In Jurassic Park, the character Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum) uses “Chaos Theory” to explain occurrences in the world: “seemingly random and unpredictable occurrences that nevertheless follows precise rules.” I certainly see players take unpredictable, random actions on the golf course and in practice that create less than perfect outcomes.
But what if introducing a little chaos is a good thing for your golf game? What if it can make you focus better and can improve your aim? As a player’s coach, I try to limit the chaos a player deals with on a day-to-day basis on the golf course. Golf introduces chaos as an outside influence, however, and it makes what I try to control uncontrollable… unless I create awareness.
Things like the cut of the grass, the direction the tee markers point, or how the hole is designed create can create chaos for golfers. I have to help golfers find order in the chaos so they can keep their golf ball out of the water, the trees, the palmettos, the creek, and the Haverkamp’s backyard. To do this, I have to get them to focus. This is where my chaos drill comes in. It can help golfers see where they want to go instead of allowing the tee markers or the cut of grass to point them in the wrong direction.
The Chaos Drill
Start by laying down a bunch of clubs or alignment sticks in front of your ball. The more it looks like a game of pickup sticks, the better. You want them to point in a lot of different directions. Your job as you stand behind the ball is to fight through all the random lines pointing you in the wrong direction and see the ideal line, which is where you want the ball to go. You can even hold up your club and use the shaft as a pointer if that helps you see the correct line.
Seeing through all the chaos will help you learn to visualize the right line of play, which will get you on the right track before you even address the ball. And when you take the “chaos” away, it will be that much harder for an outside influence to get you off track.
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The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
Clement: It’s hard to hit the driver badly when you’re doing this
Mu and I go through the swing of the driver in slow motion to show the difference between hitting at the ball and then trying to move it to target versus collecting the ball from the top of the tee and releasing it into the flight plan. Check out the video to learn what this means for your golf swing.
Also: Congrats on Savy getting another personal best of 337 yards at the WLD event in Mesquite!
How to hit a fade…according to YouTube, a robot, and GolfWRX members
How to hit a fade. At some point, if you aren’t a habitual slicer of the golf ball and are able to hit a draw with regularity, in your quest to become a better golfer, you’re going to want to know how to do this.
Without debating the relative merits of a draw versus a fade, it’s agreed that working the golf ball both ways is key to to scoring, positioning off the tee, and risk minimization. If you’re a golfer who is currently only slinging draws, we have some advice for you on how to hit a fade from three very different sources.
How to hit a fade…
…according to a robot (that is, A.I. language model ChatGPT):
A fade is a type of golf shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer). If you want to know how to hit a fade, follow these steps:
- Set up for the shot: Aim your clubface at the target, but align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target. This open stance will help promote a left-to-right spin on the ball.
- Grip the club: Hold the club normally, but slightly weaken your grip by turning your hands slightly to the left (again, for a right-handed golfer). This will help you hit the ball with an open clubface.
- Swing the club: On your backswing, keep your clubface square to the target for as long as possible. Then, on your downswing, try to swing slightly from the inside to out, which will help produce the left-to-right spin on the ball. Finally, make sure to follow through towards the target with a high finish.
- Practice: Hitting a consistent fade can take some practice. Spend time on the driving range and experiment with different grip and swing adjustments until you find what works best for you.
Remember, hitting a fade is not about hitting the ball harder, it’s about controlling the spin and direction of the ball. With practice, you can learn to hit a reliable fade that can help you navigate tricky golf course layouts.
Hitting a fade takes practice, and it may take some trial and error to find the right adjustments for your swing. It’s also important to note that a fade is not necessarily the ideal shot shape for every situation, so it’s important to be comfortable with hitting a variety of shots on the golf course.
How to hit a fade…according to the most-watched video on YouTube on the subject
With more than one million views on YouTube, this video from Any and Piers of MeAndMyGolf not only covers hitting a fade but also discussing drawing the golf ball as well as hitting it high and low.
…according to GolfWRXers
And of course, our GolfWRX forum members have opinions on the subject.
The appropriately named PreppySlapCut said: “If the face is open to the path, the ball is going to fade. There’s several adjustments you can make to encourage that to happen, it’s just a question of what feels best for you and allows you to do it most consistently.”
Bladehunter says: “For me just the sensation of taking the club back outside your hands , and then swing left with a face square to target , while turning hard as you can makes for a pretty straight flight that won’t hook. Unless you stall and let your hands pass you.”
“That’s my take as an upright swinger If you’re really flat it’s going to be tough to time up and never have the two way miss Because you’re always coming from the inside and will rely on timing the face open or shut to see a fade or draw . For me it’s just set the face at address and feel like you hold it there until impact”
Dpd5031 says: “Had a pro teach me this. Aim a little left, stance slightly open, still hit it from the inside (just like your draw), but unwind chest hard letting handle follow your rotation so toe never passes heel. He called it a “drawy fade.” Ball takes off almost looking like it’s going to draw, but tumbles over to the right instead of left. Cool thing is ya dont give up any distance doing it this way as opposed to cutting across it.”
Scottbox says: “Jon Rahm is a good example. Watch the hand path of his backswing– his hands are not as “deep” as someone who draws the ball (i.e. Rory). And even though he has a slightly shut face, Rahm rotates his chest and hips very hard. Because there’s less depth to his backswing, the club gets more in front of him at P6. He’s most likely 1-2* outside in at last parallel. Brooks Koepka has a longer swing, but similar, in terms of his hand path– well above the shaft plane going up with less depth to his hands at the top, and slightly above the plane coming down.”
“Most good modern players rotate pretty hard with their hips and chest to stabilize the face, but the difference between those who draw it and those who hit a baby cut is often seen in the way they “engineer” their backswing patterns.”
Check out more of the “how to hit a fade” discussion in the forum thread.
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Sep 22, 2017 at 8:30 am
Thanks for the comments and feedback.
I have just one thing to say:
Dont comment until you have tried it
If you struggle with focus and seeing where to hit the ball this works wonders on making you see past the sticks and see your line only. It works 100% of the time I have to use it. I guarantee you if I had any tour players do this they wouldn’t even see the sticks. That is how focused they get over the shot. When getting someone to aim better and focus I will try anything that will get the job done. This gets the job done.
And regarding the length of the article being shorter than my bio…I guess I have a really good bio and also can get my point across without being overly “wordy”. And that is a good thing! Plus I have editors lol…
Sep 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm
Rob! Is that a new driver? I hope that you didn’t get that because of me!! I gotta tell ya the time spent with you back in July has helped me tremendously. I do the finger point to the sky drill every day and the improvement in my putting from just the literally 5-10 minutes we spent is amazing. You are the man and I will be back next time I am on vacation.
Sep 22, 2017 at 8:31 am
Thanks for the great feedback Micky! Keep up the good work and see you next time you are at the beach!
Sep 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm
Interesting psycho-experiment you teach. What you are doing is messing up with the mind, the brain, by asking the student to allow chaos to reign, consciously.
It’s conscious chaos versus unconscious orderliness. One way to eliminate conscious chaos is to practice intensively, in an obsessive-compulsive manner. If you survive massive practice and ingrain your brain and neuro-muscular system with proper golfswing mechanics, chaos is mostly eliminated or well controlled.
The problem with recreational golfers is they don’t know how to control their mental states and invariably crash into chaos. They get frustrated and angry with their clubs, but not themselves because to do so would be to psychologically admit they are incompetent to play golf. Off to the golf store to buy ‘better’ clubs.
Sep 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Yup, and the first sign of mental chaos is the guy who obsessively buys new clubs annually or semi-annually to get rid of his swing problems. The same goes for searching for ‘golf tips’.
Sep 21, 2017 at 6:39 am
You know nothing AllanA. You are psychologically incompetent to post a cogent comment.
Sep 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm
No, it’s you who is “psychologically incompetent” because “your” comment is not cogent nor mature. You have the intellect of a snobby 12 y.o. …. so obvious.
Sep 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm
I can ignore all those things in front me no problem like I do when I am in the trees so what’s the point of this drill? lol
Sep 22, 2017 at 8:34 am
Thanks for the question and comment Boss…
If you can do what you say above then this drill is not for you. I use this for the folks that are not able to find the line and focus on whats in front of them. You have succeeded in training yourself to do something a lot of players have not.
Continued success on the course
Double Mocha Man
Sep 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm
Hey Rob… good start on an interesting concept. But remember one rule of journalism: The article should always be longer than the author’s bio.
Sep 22, 2017 at 8:35 am
I guess I have a really good bio, and on the positive side can say what I want to say without using a ton of words. Which is good right?!!!
Also, I have editors that do a really good job.
Thanks for the comment and laugh
Sep 20, 2017 at 9:01 am
If you gave me that drill, I’d find a butt end of one of those sticks to make my “aim point” and just fire right over it. If you want to mess with my head, find a pristine surface that gives me no marker or blemish or spot to aim over.
Introducing “chaos” is an important idea, IMO. It’s particularly important if you practice off mats which give you a built in alignment aid (the square mat itself). When I’m on a mat, I like to make sure I’m hitting at targets that are at an angle to the mat, usually one left, one square, and one right. Even a rope on a grass range can provide a type of alignment aid you don’t normally get.
The more you can screw with your head while practicing, the better you’ll deal with stuff on the course, but people want to go to a range and practice their swing, hit positions, etc. They don’t want to hit balls from bad lies, or try to hit 3 different clubs the same difference. or practice things that really translate to the course, or go play a round with 5 clubs in their bag, or whatever.
I’ve got a million ways to mess with my practice. I’ll stand way too close to the ball, stand too far from the ball, stand with legs too close, too far, start the backswing with the clubhead hovering a foot off the ground, start the backswing with the club already in motion, rapid fire balls, stand over the ball a LONG TIME before starting the backswing, etc etc.
None of that directly might come up on the course, but it’s like golf-athlete-cross-training — working on being athletic and reactionary.
Sep 20, 2017 at 3:49 pm
Well put, +1
Sep 22, 2017 at 8:38 am
Thanks for the comment
Even finding the ability to aim over the butt end of a stick and fire right over it is dialing in your focus. That little end is a small spot in the middle of lots of lines and angles that all go off in different directions. By picking an end you are creating a start point that lines up with YOUR end point. Now we have order out of chaos and you are going where you want to go.
Continued success and keep up the good practice