PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
All of our lives we have heard that to do anything well requires a lot of practice. We’ve heard that in school, in sports, you name it. Why should golf be any different. Some players have natural talent and pick up the game easily. However, even these players who quickly move to the 90’s, then 80’s and into the 70’s play a lot of golf to get there. They also put in a lot of practice. Most of us have a harder time. The golf swing does not seem to be a natural movement and most people find it somewhat awkward.
Most of the golfers just don’t have the time to practice or even play as much as they would like. For most amateurs an average round of golf takes 4 hours. Plus you need to add in travel time to and from the course and of course a little warm-up time. That amount of time is hard to find when you have a family and a job. Weekends may be taken up with kids sports or other activities. My older son Matt likes to play but has the problem of finding time.
Here comes the Golf World According to Saul. Not having time and needing practice brings me to the reason for this particular blog. You have your own Private Practice Facility in your home. Most likely in your back yard, or your basement, or any room in your home. There are ways you can practice with minimal space, just enough room to swing a club. I’ve even been in a situation that I needed a short club in order to swing. There are short practice clubs you can buy or you can take an old metal shaft club, cut it to whatever length you want and put a grip on it. I actually used an old club that was cut down for a young kid.
In my opinion, hitting golf balls is not the only way to practice. The golf swing starts with a grip, a stance and a backswing. These are 3 very important things in golf. I think if you ask any professional golfer they will agree. I also believe that the backswing is critical to hitting a good shot. If you are not in a good position at the top of your backswing, you need to do a lot of work to get the club face square at impact. Jim Furyk’s swing is an anomaly that no one would ever teach. Somehow, he manages to get the club face back into position at impact, and he does it consistently. Most of us would hit all over the place with his swing.
I offer the following ideas for how to practice in your own home:
- The Grip: I’ve heard teaching professional say that your left wrist (right wrist for left handed players) needs to be facing down the target line at impact. If you start with the club face square to the target line and then grip the club so your left wrist is facing the target at what should be your impact position, you are setting up for a good shot. You can practice setting up the club face and then placing your hands in the proper position. You can practice this over and over without hitting a ball.
- The Set-up (ball position): Use your full length club, place a ball on the carpet or other floor surface, place your club behind the ball with a square face and your feet together with the ball in front of you. Let your arms drop down in front of you so they are at least straight down or slightly forward. Adjust you foot distance from the ball to accomplish this. Bend at the waist, shoving your rear end backwards and slightly bending your knees, keeping your arms in position. Separate your feet so the ball is approximately in the middle of your stance. Practice this set-up over and over again. Make it comfortable, almost natural.
- The Backswing: I believe this is a critical step to hit the ball well. If your backswing is out of position, you will have a difficult time squaring the clubface at impact. The backswing needs to have you rotating around your spine and not swaying backwards. It requires a shoulder turn, dropping your left shoulder and raising your right shoulder as you bring the club back. How far you come back will effect your club head speed and therefore distance the ball will travel. However, the longer your backswing the harder it may be to square the clubface. As I’ve said before, although we all want distance, hitting the ball square on your target line is more important. Once you consistently hit the ball on your target line, you can work on increasing speed and distance.
A number of years ago I played golf sparingly. I started to go into my backyard most evenings and practice my backswing, my body turn. A few weeks later, on the first tee at the Stanford Golf Course, I stepped up to the ball and drove it straight down the fairway. I think, at that time, it was my best drive ever. My playing partner was amazed.
Hank Haney recommends swinging your club about 100 times a day. Give it a try!