Winter offers us the chance to devote some time to building the foundations for a better golf game this season. When we are away from the pressure of the course and without judging the quality of each swing by the results, we can make some serious progress. We don’t always have the time to go to a driving range and hit balls but that doesn’t mean we can’t work on the fundamentals needed to master the three clubs that can lower our scores. We just need to do it indoors or if you are like Mike and Edie you can practice your short game in your own back yard.
When we go to the Dome we need a practice plan so that our practice is put towards improvement. Going to the range and hitting even one bucket of balls straight through is tiring both on the body and the mind. Fatigue diminishes our ability to learn so much of your practice time could just be wasted time. Incorporating rest intervals into practice session can give you the most out of your training time. Take time to think about each shot, both before and after you hit it. Not only will you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses but you will be resting your body in between shots.
Here are some drills designed to help improve both your swing and your short game. These can be done either at the range or at home.
There are three “musts” in becoming a good putter: (1) your stroke must follow target line; (2) your putter must remain square to the target line; (3) and your forward stroke must equal (or slightly exceed) your backstroke. The following drill emphasizes these putting musts. The next drill focuses on distance control, also a key aspect of putting.
1. Drop two phone books on the floor. Position them far enough apart so that your putterhead barely squeezes through them. Place a golf ball between the books, assume your putting posture, and make your stroke. At the range use two clubs rather than the books.
Use the books or clubs as a visual guide to match the lengths of your backstroke and forwardstroke. Matching the lengths ensures a smooth stroke with perfect tempo. You’ll find it difficult to guide your putter between the phone books unless your stroke follows the intended putting line. If your putter strikes the side of either book, your stroke strayed off-line.
Also, mark your ball with a straight line. Set that line parallel to your target line. Marking the ball makes it easier to align the putter perpendicular to the target line at address. See if the line falls to the right or left of center as your ball rolls after impact. If it does, then your stroke may have deviated off-line or made contact with a slightly open or closed putter face.
2. This drill improves distance control. Set or balance a ball (or a tee turned upside down) on a penny and putt a second ball to this ball so that it touches the first, but DOESN’T knock it off the penny! Try this at various distances.
These drills can be done just about anywhere. It improves one of the most important parts of your game-wedge play.
Find about 10 feet of open floor space. Put a small towel on the floor and stand about 10 feet away. Use a short, smooth stroke, keeping your hands ahead of the clubface. Try chipping a number balls onto the towel. Practice so the balls land on the towel, not come to rest on the towel. Start with an 8 iron, then move to a 9 iron, and then to a wedge.
The more you practice the better control you’ll have over those short chips. Next time you’re on the practice range, try the same drill. Watch how far each club makes the ball roll on the putting surface. Now you’ll have more control over your chips under different conditions. After awhile, you should be able to nestle every shot close to the pin, or sink it!
Many golfers turn their hips and shoulders simultaneously when swing a club. Too much lower body rotation eliminates torque between the upper and lower body. Adding more backswing torque to your swing generates distance.
1. Sit down in a chair. Spread your feet out wide and keep them flat on the ground. Hold a 7 or 8 iron out in front of you. Hold the clubhead with one hand and the end of the grip in the other hand. Raise the club over your head and rest the shaft across your neck and shoulders. Turn your shoulders to the right. Hold this position for a few seconds. You should feel a lot of torque along your left side. Then turn your shoulders back and face forward. Relax and repeat.
Many golfers use their hands and arms only when swinging the driver. They don’t rotate their shoulders, sapping power from their swing. This drill helps keep your hands, arms, and shoulders in sync as you swing back and through.