Most golfers have limited spare time to spend practicing, so every chance they get should be productive and goal-oriented. All golf swings should have one key objective in mind: direction. When you work on this most sought after result, distance is the actual side-effect, a very nice reward.
So to begin, always start off with the most lofted clubs – either a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, or 9-iron
Your routine should always be focused on direction. For example, go for the shortest target on the practice range, which is usually 50 yards. An analogy would be a baseball pitcher preparing to go to the mound to deliver pitches. The player would never go full throttle in the beginning.
First, achieve accurate pitches at slower speed, then carefully increase velocity, as target objective (direction) is achieved. Golfers should always apply the same incremental process to practice, as it will also lessen your chances of injury.
The goal at 50 yards is to have at least 80% of your shots coming to rest in an area the size of a car parking space. If you are not able to achieve this discipline at the shorter distance, the ball dispersion pattern will not get better at 100 or 150 yards. The shorter distance allows slower movements, so when executed properly, you have a better understanding of what just happened. Thus, you’re able to repeat this on the next swing.
Once you have achieved acceptable ball direction at 50 yards, the next goal is 75 or 100 yards, doubling the car parking space for each additional 25 yards as you increase distance. Gradually and incrementally moving to longer clubs can be done once the direction objective is achieved.
I firmly emphasizes to all of my students that there are only two effects on direction: swing path and club face angle at impact. Ideal path (the shaft direction prior to impact) is slightly from in-to-out while the club face is square-to-closing. Your thought process should be limited to one clear concise thought on back swing and more importantly, one on the forward/downswing. The mental thought leads to the physical movement. Overloading your capacity to process a clear thought leads to indecision, which results in lack of commitment and errant results. Too many students focus on aspects that will make no difference whatsoever. And “hoping to hit a good one” is not a strategy.
Of course posture, grip, alignment, fundamentally sound position at completion of backswing, and ball position are key, but expend your energy on path (direction shaft is traveling on its way to the ball) and club face angle at impact. That is it. A player can literally have one leg and one arm and win numerous tournaments if they can advance the ball far enough, execute on short game and possess excellent putting skills.
The actual golf motion when striking the ball in dynamic speed is less than two seconds. Simplicity is a key factor in creating positive results. Understanding this not only simplifies the learning process, but will shorten your learning curve.
Every single golfer in development has a certain amount of poorly executed swings in their inventory, when you miss a shot, good riddance! It is all part of the process, as long you know what the correction is on next swing: Path (shaft direction) and club face angle at impact!
Yes, golf requires a mental thought that leads to the physical movements. When practiced properly and enough repetition is applied, it will become a reflex. Repetition must be defined. At least two thousand swings with the proper thought process is a good beginning. It should be understood that even when you have become an accomplished player, golf is the most perishable of disciplines. When you stop practicing, your skills will retreat and diminish- even for the top players in the world. Learning how and what to practice will enhance each session and reduce frustration.
We all want that golf ball to cooperate, and it will eventually, if your thought process has clarity. Remember, anything that lasts takes time to develop. If it feels awkward in the beginning, you are doing it correctly. The discomfort is temporary- the results are permanent! By using your practice time wisely you will produce measurable and quantitative results on the golf course.
Patrick Fallon, founder of Fallon Golf School, has been teaching golf professionally since 1991. He can be found at fallongolf.com