The fact of the matter is: there is NO ONE WAY to play golf. I will repeat this: there is “no one way” to play golf. Just as you are an individual so is your golf swing. Sports Announcer David Feherty was quoted as saying that Jim Furyk’s golf swing looked like “an octopus falling out of a tree.” It might look an octopus,but his scores are remarkable, putting him in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings for over 350 weeks and counting. Turn on any golf tournament and look at the differences between the best players in the world; there are many. These are the folks that have access to the best instruction, trainers, practice facilities, nutritionists, sports psychologists and more! And yet, their swings are as individual as they are.
If cookie cutter golf instruction worked, every pro would swing the same. What may help one golfer can diminish another’s performance, so it is very important that you keep your focus on YOUR BEST SWING. The one similarity between golfers who have become “repeatedly successful” is that they all took the time to develop “their” golf swing.
This season, when you make your plan to improve your golf swing, keep this word in mind: “SIMPLE.” Try not to over-analyze or complicate your swing by trying the latest tip or doing what is working for someone else. You are unique, and finding “your swing” can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. Think SIMPLE!
S – Stay with it! Too often we receive a tip that works for a brief period of time and then we discard it when we have a bad experience. The fact is golf is a motor skill that requires knowledge PLUS doing the correct activity until it becomes habit. Knowing what to do is simply not enough. For those of you who have been playing awhile, this will require extra effort to un-due the habit you have already created. The pros know this is critical to be able to repeatedly perform a skill over and over. What happens to most of us is once in awhile we have “that great golf shot” like a pro and then we expect it over and over again. Without the effort to make your practice a habit your good shots will be random and not repeatable.
I – Individualize Your Practice Plan. It doesn’t take any longer to practice with a plan than without a plan. Knowing what to practice is an important step to improving your game. The next time you play a round of golf make notes as to what parts of your game are working well and what parts are not. This is your game and a practice plan should reflect your needs.
M – Maintain a practice schedule. Change takes time. You will be more successful at developing a repeatable golf swing if you schedule regular practice sessions and commit to this schedule. According to Terry McNamara, Annika’s caddie “we have a rule: If we have a morning tee time, we practice until dark.” Doesn’t matter if it is the 1st or last round, no parties before practice. This was said after Annika’s team had won the Solheim Cup. While everyone else was boarding the bus to go to the victory celebration Terry was on the range waiting for Annika, and yes, Annika showed up. They practiced and then they celebrated! Find an amount of practice time that fits into your lifestyle and make practice work for you.
P- Professional Support. Many golfers think they are practicing when they imitate what others do. However, real practice involves more than hitting golf balls. LPGA & PGA Teaching Professionals can assist you by identifying not only what to practice but how to practice by assessing & designing a performance plan that will work best for your individual goals and lifestyle.
L – Learn from each swing. Often we are critical of missed shots. Learning to view these shots as learning opportunities rather than a disaster will assist us in the long run. When a shot does not go as planned take a moment to think of what could have been done differently to change the outcome.
E – Evaluate your results. If you expect a quick fix more often than not you will be frustrated. Just like watching the stock market it is not about the day to day, it is the long run where you want to see your game improving. Set realistic goals and track your progress.
Do not expect to play like the pros on a shot by shot basis or day by day if you are not committed and prepared to do the work they do. Keep in mind you do not have to play like a pro to enjoy the game. Game improvement plans do not have to be all consuming. Just like a journey of a 100 miles begins with one step, so does your golf game. One skill at a time, one practice session at a time, step by step, and you will be on your way. Be patient and persevere. By setting realistic goals with your golf professional, key steps can be identified to help you. Most of our enjoyment comes from challenging ourselves to become better, to set goals and meet or exceed them.
You can do this; you can improve! It doesn’t matter if you are new to the game or an experienced player. Game improvement is just around the corner if you are willing to let go of all the tips, all the swing thoughts, all the images of what is working for someone else. Simplify your golf game this season to enjoy the great game of golf.