1. Not Working with an Experienced Coach. Even Jack Nicklaus needed the analytical eye of a trained professional to keep his game well honed. At the start of every season, the Golden Bear would schedule time with my father to work on the basics. He’d say, “J. Grout, teach me how to play golf.” These days, PGA Tour players have an entourage of swing coaches, mental trainers and fitness gurus – which is my subject in another blog.
2. Going to the First Tee without Warming Up – Ideally, you need at least a half hour to ready yourself both mentally and physically.
Don’t rush from the parking lot or the clubhouse, take out your glove and driver, take two swings at broken tee or a cigarette butt and say, “I’m ready, what are we playing for?”
Do some basic stretching – move your shoulders, arms, neck, the parts you expect to use in the swing
- Place a club behind your back and underneath the arms and turn the shoulders and hips
- Do several shallow knee bends. Pull your knees up to the chest
- Swing Drill: step to the right with the left foot on the backswing and then step back to the left on the forward swing to activate your weight shifting & moving
3. Practicing on the range with your favorite club – instead of working on what you don’t do well. Determine your strengths and weaknesses then, work on the areas that need improvement. Everyone likes to hit their old “Billy Baroo” on the practice tee. Everyone likes to bang out drives. Few people will spend an hour chipping and putting.
It’ll Happen Every Time: The Club Championship comes rolling around. The wannabes and also-rans are out on the rock-pile pounding away at full shots while the defending champ is over at the practice green working on his short game.
4. Not Aiming – every shot you hit at some target. In the fundamental approach – The first action in aiming a shot is to place the club behind the ball with the face square to the target. The second action in aiming is to stand square to the clubface – toes, knees, hips, chest and shoulders parallel to the target line. Paralleling your body to the target line at address gives you the best chance, instinctively and consciously, of swinging the club head along it at impact.
Aligning your body: In the advanced approach – good golfers work into their setup for address from an “open” body position – they step into their stance from left to right. Place your right foot into position first, while half facing and “sighting” the target. Then, ease your left foot into position from the left of the target line.
5. Getting in your own way – on the downswing results from a poor set-up position. How would you stand if you were playing another sport that required you to move from side to side?
- Spread your feet apart wide enough to keep your balance
- Bend over at the hips and not at the waist
- Slightly flex your knees with your weight more or less on the balls of your feet
- Allow your backside to move out and up; your stomach points down
- Your arms and hands hang down and have plenty of room to swing freely
- The spine is straight but tilted because of the bend at the hips
6. When you consider the golf swing as a series of positions or segmented movements – when, in truth, it’s simply a SWING! It is not a hit, although the ball gets hit. It is not a sway or a lunge, although the body weight does transfer from side to side. Instead, it is a swinging motion of the hands and arms, assisted by other body parts in a sequential continuing pattern of movement.
7. When you consider golf to be either a left-handed game or a right-handed game – when, in truth, it’s a two-handed game.
At the moment you place both hands on the club to take your grip, golf becomes a two-sided game with each side having a different function to perform.
Your left hand, arm and entire side are for direction. It keeps the club on path.
- It Guides – Leads – and Brings the club into and through the hitting area
Your right hand, arm and entire side are for distance. It’s where you get your power.
Another great post. In regards to #3, what clubs would you recommend novice players practicing the most? Although the driver is the most common club used on the range, would you recommend each club be practised equally or is there a hierarchy of clubs in which you should practise through?
– Jim W
Start your practice session with short irons – slow and easy swings with a wedge or #9. Next, get a bit more active with middle irons – #7, #6, #5. Aim at a target and try to develop some timing and feel. At times, it’s a good idea to hit a few long irons – #4, #3, #2. More often, though, I’d hit some off the ground using a hybrid or a lofted fairway wood. When you reach for the driver, swing it at the same pace and with the same rhythm as the other clubs.