Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Golf: Practice Makes Perfect....

Well, actually we're talking about golf here, so it's never going to be perfect. Sure, every once in a while you can hit that perfect drive, or spin a wedge 6" from the hole, but more often than not, your shots are going to be off. To me that's not a bad thing, it's what makes me want to go out and play more, because golf is one game that you will never master, but you will have loads of fun trying.

Surely the best way to get better at golf is to play. The more you play, the more you become comfortable with the game, with your swing, and you learn to relax, which is one important key element in a good golf swing. So how do you develop a good swing? Well, the first thing you can do is find a good instructor, a PGA pro can help you with any number of swing problems and get you on the right track. When I first started seriously trying to get good, I had the pro at a local shop fit me for the proper irons and shafts, and watch while I took advice and developed a swing that was correct. After that phase, there comes a lot of range time, which you can turn into a fun day of practice. It doesn't have to feel like work, although you're constantly learning.

When I go to the range, I enjoy taking my time there, and might spend hours hitting buckets of balls. Over the years I have developed my own swing, my own feel, so that's what I work on. Now, I don't mean to just stand there and hit ball after ball seeing how far you can make it go, though I see many doing that. One of the things I do is use my imagination and play golf, even on the driving range. There are several courses I play quite often and in my mind I know the layout of the holes, I can think to things I have done good and bad at several hole locations, so I practice on that. Let's say I have a problem with #12 at Foxwood, a tee shot over water to an uphill fairway, then a dogleg to the left going into the green. So I want to work on a fade (for me since I'm a left handed golfer). I hit my tee shot at the range, judge where it lands and picture the fairway at that particular hole. Now I can work on my approach shot to get the fade I want, distance, and leave myself on the green, or practice a layup with a short wedge to the green. You can use your imagination while on the driving range and actually play a whole round of golf like this. You will be surprised at a couple of things, how fast the time goes by, and how much you will improve your shot making abilities when you get back on the course.

Range time is the time to work on your shots, try new things, develop new strategies. Maybe you want to learn to fade or draw the ball consistently, hit high or low shots, develop more backspin with your wedges...this is the time and place for it. Don't try to make many swing changes out on the course, by doing that here on the range, you can have your game ready and enjoy that round of golf.

Also, you can get so much information from videos such as the PGA tour produces. Personally I have a whole library of this stuff, and it's not only fun for me to watch on a rainy day, but the information I take away is a lot of what I try when I do go to the range for practice.

And on those days I stay at home, well, I have a flag stick with a small green in the backyard, and a chipping net for accuracy training, and I hit those plastic practice balls quite a bit there. That can help you groove a repeating swing faster than you realize. Oh, and of course, I have my personal trainer, Tanner, who loves to chase them and run put them under his tree.

If you get out to the range, try this little method of practice. Use your imagination and see where it takes you.