by Kevin Haime, CPGA Class A Professional (www.kevinhaime.com)
Golfers everywhere are trying desperately to get better but most are going about it the wrong way. Golfers have the instinct that if they can hit their driver and their 3 iron they’ll be able to hit any club so they spend a lot of time on the practice tee doing just that. Unfortunately, spending your practice time hitting your longest clubs is not that productive. Practice is all about changing the way your body works and you won’t be able to do that at top speed with your most difficult clubs to hit. You should spend most of your practice time hitting small shots and using drills to force your body away from its comfort zone.
Think of it this way. If you were working on your ski technique you would not head to the steepest, most difficult run to change the way you move or turn because, frankly, it would be dangerous. On a steep run you would revert to your old habits where you’re comfortable to make it down the mountain. The same is true in golf with your driver. Because the club is moving at such high speed, your body will tend to stay where it’s comfortable and any potential swing change or improvement will be prevented. Your long clubs are your test clubs. Use them to see if the swing changes you make during your practice time are working.
Productive practice should include position work in front of a mirror, smaller or partial swings and some effective drills so you can change the way your body moves and feels.
Practice and improvement is all about change. To hit better shots you’ll need to change the way your body, arms and golf club move and that’s easiest to do with drills and smaller swings.
This year in Flagstick, we’re going to look at some of my favourite drills. A good drill should be simple and effective. It should not require some fancy strap or gizmo off an infomercial. Careful practice using simple drills is your surest way to a better swing and lower scores.
Let’s kick things off this year with something very simple but incredibly important. This year take a few extra seconds at the start of your practice to set up a workstation. Better golf swings are built on fundamentals and balance and nothing is more fundamental in golf than your aim and your ball position.
Every time I practice I place two crossed clubs on the ground to check my aim and my ball position. Your starting position is critically linked to how you swing a club. If your aim and/or your ball position are faulty, you’ll be forced to compensate somehow during your swing so you’ll never swing your best and never be a consistent ball striker. It’s pretty hard to argue that aim is anything less than critical or that where the ball is on the ground doesn’t affect your swing motion. That being said, at least 75% of the newer golfers I work with have it wrong or sometimes have it wrong because they’re not paying attention to detail.
It takes no athletic ability or strength to set up to the ball properly so you have a chance to play your best golf. This year try a workstation and make sure you get it right.
Your workstation cross is a great way to check your alignment and your ball position. So many golfers I work with struggle with their alignment and tend to play the ball too far back in their stance. Your workstation will also make you more aware of your width of stance and your hand/arm position. Make sure that your alignment club runs parallel to your target line and make sure that your ball position club is placed perpendicular to that alignment club.
You can really see from this photo how my arms swing freely during my takeaway. Notice how my club is parallel to my alignment club on the ground at waist high. This is another reason to practice with a work station. So many golfers make the killer mistake of pulling the club too far in around them by this point. Building a simple workstation when you practice just takes a couple of seconds but it can really make a big difference with your swing and your ball striking.