The Christmas holidays and New Year are a wonderful time to celebrate. They also offer many of us a break when we can catch up on some golf games!
What people tend to do however, is go so full-tilt in to it that many times we feel like we have played too much golf, haven’t got any better and cannot wait to get back to work!
What I want to do is provide you with a very simple plan that will help you practice a little more effectively and also play with a little more focus so you get the very best out of your game as well.
Practice with purpose
I am not asking you to hit thousands of golf balls, nor am I asking you to completely revamp your golf swings.
I think where most golfers go wrong when practicing is they try to hit the golf ball as far as they do on the golf course. Practicing should serve to train the swing as well as training the mind and get us prepared for the round ahead.
Practicing before a round of golf
Start off with five 20 metre sand wedge pitch shots just to take the tension out of your body and try to build some synchronicity between your arms, club and body.
Also try hit the shots as easy as possible to mentally feel what an easy swing feels like, this is so important as it can come in handy on the golf course when trying to get rid of tension.
Next go on to hit five 9 irons, and again try to hit them as easy as possible. You will be surprised how much distance you start generating through the tension free swings. Remember that a lack of tension helps generate natural speed through the hands, wrists and forearms.
- Note – Try to maintain a pre-shot routine when practicing as it is very easy to lose focus and just start hitting shots, followed by raking another ball and not really thinking about why the last shot was good or not.
5 iron follows the 9 irons and again it’s five balls really focusing on tension levels and start getting the feeling that the combination of the length and loft of the club are contributing to the distance generated.
- Note – It is essential to try and understand as well as feel why some of the shots are going well and others not, because we can refer back to these feelings during the round and help us bounce back from bad shots or continue hitting those good shots.
Hybrids or woods are next with five balls and you should really start thinking about your first few holes and how you are going to approach them. Remember you do not have to hit a driver of the first hole or any hole for that matter, so these hybrids or woods can come in really handy. Easy swings continue!
- Note – When practicing, use the entire range as a target and by that I mean pick specific targets out and give yourself areas where you cannot afford to hit it and areas that you absolutely have to hit it. This puts a little pressure on you but also allows you to visualise your shots a bit better.
Finish with five drivers and all your efforts should be on trying to prepare for your first tee shot and focusing on releasing all tension from the body. It is not imperative to hit driver off the first tee, but if it feels good on the range you should be good to go with it!
- Note – There is no need to really focus on technical aspects of the swing before a round, we are just trying to release tension and get a general feel for the swing.
That’s only 25 shots and should stand you in really good stead for a round of golf!
Playing a round of stress-free golf
Unfortunately for most golfers, there is no luxury of getting out on the golf course during the week and hitting a couple of balls on each hole without really thinking about the consequences. Your average golfer plays their round of golf with a scorecard in their hand and thinking that they need to post a good score in their club competition.
If you can, do try get out there and play those few holes with very little care so to speak and don’t really worry about your score. This will get you in the right headspace for a round of golf whether it be in a competition or a round against friends.
Before you get on the first tee set yourself a goal either physically, mentally or both. That goal should be a simple swing thought or a physical feeling. Below are a few examples:
- Today I am only going to swing the club at 60% throughout the entire round.
- Easy swing all day long.
- Rotate back with the left shoulder, accelerate through with the right arm.
- Smooth, smooth, smooth.
- Swing from in to out.
- Be the ball Danny!
As you can see, there are all sorts of phrases or mantras you can use. Use what is most relevant to you and use it throughout the entire round without wavering! Even if you hit the worst shot of your life, stay with it as it will keep you coming back to the moment.
Visualise your shots and where you want to hit them, block out all the hazards or obstacles that line the fairway and focus on where you want the ball to finish. This will allow you to commit to your shots and erase any negative thoughts. Again, the clearer your mind is, the less tension the rest of your body will carry.
Finally, the most important part of a stress free round is to brush off those bad shots. There are 18 holes to contend with filled with par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s but at the end of the day it comes down to one shot at a time. A good shot helps but a bad shot shouldn’t hurt.
When you'd like for me to take a look at your swing, come and see me at the Sydney Golf Academy, Moore Park Driving Range (Wed - Sat).
I am always happy to help and answer any questions.
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